Our Honest Review of the Viral Ninja Creami Ice Cream Maker

Say hello to delicious frozen treats in three minutes or less.

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May 23, 2024

Photo by: Amazon

Amazon

Tested by Rebecca Norris

I love ice cream, smoothies and pretty much any other cold sweet treat. I don’t, however, love the price tag that often comes along with my favorite store-bought scoops and blends. ($15 for a smoothie? Outrageous.) That’s why I was intrigued by the Ninja Creami — a countertop appliance capable of transforming just about any frozen mixture into ice cream, gelato, sorbet and more — that it seems everyone on social media is raving about. Sure, the Ninja Creami 7-in-1 Ice Cream Maker and Ninja Creami Deluxe 11-in-1 Ice Cream and Frozen Treat Maker, the two current models Ninja sells, are pricey, but if they could save me (and you!) money in the long run, I figured they’d be worth testing out.

What Is the Ninja Creami and How Does It Work?

The Ninja Creami is a newfangled ice cream maker beloved for its convenience. It’s sold in two iterations: the Creami 7-in-1 Ice Cream Maker and Creami Deluxe 11-in-1 Ice Cream and Frozen Treat Maker. (There used to be a Breeze model, which I previously tested, but it was discontinued last fall). Both small kitchen appliances are designed to transform frozen liquids into delicious ice cream, gelato, sorbet and more with a press of a button thanks to their many preset functions.

What We Like
  1. Easy-to-use interface
  2. Makes great smoothie bowls
What We Don't Like
  1. Very loud
  2. Doesn't have as many preset functions as Creami Deluxe
What We Like
  1. Easy-to-use interface
  2. Many preset options
  3. Digital countdown timer
  4. Advanced Creamify Technology allows user to spin top, bottom or full container to make multiple flavors or mix-ins
What We Don't Like
  1. No preset Smoothie Bowl option
  2. Very loud

The Ninja Creami has six preset functions: Ice Cream, Sorbet, Lite Ice Cream, Smoothie Bowl, Gelato and Milkshake. The seventh function is the Mix-In setting that folds toppings into your frozen creation. The Ninja Creami Deluxe has 10 preset functions divided between Scoopable and Drinkable options. Scoopable programs include Ice Cream, Lite Ice Cream, Sorbet, Gelato, Frozen Yogurt and Creami Italian Ice. The Drinkable Programs include Creamiccino, Frozen Drink, Slushi and Milkshake. The eleventh function is the Mix-In feature. Both machines feature a Re-Spin button that gives the concoction an even creamier result.

Conventional ice cream makers come with a bulky freezer bowl that must be frozen before use. The chilled ice cream base is poured into the freezer bowl, and a paddle churns the mixture until it’s frozen to the desired consistency, which often takes as long as 30 minutes.

The Ninja Creami models work a little differently: The ice cream base is prepared and frozen for 24 hours in one of the two provided containers. When it’s time to make ice cream, the container fits inside a larger container, which is covered with a lid that holds a metal blending blade called a Creamerizer Paddle. After the appropriate program is selected, the appliance gets to work by rapidly spinning the blade to shave and mix the frozen-solid contents, boring its way to the bottom as the ice cream becomes creamy and then reversing to blend the ice cream mixture as it returns to the top.

Photo by: Rebecca Norris

Rebecca Norris

What Is the Difference Between the Ninja Creami and the Ninja Creami Deluxe?

While the Ninja Creami Deluxe 11-in-1 model generally has more preset features, it does lack the Smoothie Bowl function the Ninja Creami 7-in-1 model has.

Other differentiations between the Ninja Creami and the Ninja Creami Deluxe include the overall design and process. Where the Ninja Creami has manual buttons for each setting, the Ninja Creami Deluxe model has a spinning dial you turn to select settings and press to start the program. The Ninja Creami Deluxe also features a digital countdown timer to display how much time is left in the ice cream-making process and lights that indicate when the bowl isn't assembled correctly and which program is selected.

Additionally, the Ninja Creami Deluxe model features Advanced Creamify Technology to let users spin the top, bottom or full Deluxe pint, depending on how full the pint is and how much they plan to eat. This feature allows you to make two different flavors with one base by processing the mix-ins in just the top part of the ice cream, scooping it out and adding a different ingredient to the bottom half.

Photo by: Rebecca Norris

Rebecca Norris

How We Tested the Ninja Creami

To determine if the Ninja Creami is worth buying, we tested both available models: the Ninja Creami and Ninja Creami Deluxe model. (We also previously tested the Ninja Creami Breeze, which was discontinued last fall.) We tested each machine by making three recipes in each machine: Ninja's Death by Chocolate Ice Cream, Ninja's Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie Bowl and Food Network's Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. We assessed the consistency, taste, how scoopable the result was and whether or not the recipes required the Re-Spin function. Beyond the recipe tests, we observed the user-friendliness, the provided manual and recipes and how easy the machines were to wash and store.

What We Loved About the Ninja Creami Machines

The Ninja Creami 7-in-1 Model Transforms Whole Fruits Into Whipped Perfection

As someone who admittedly needs to eat more fruit, I love how the Ninja Creami 7-in-1 transforms whole fruits into delicious scoopable treats. I tested the machine with the Ninja Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie Bowl recipe and was floored by the final concoction. After freezing a pint filled with freshly sliced strawberries and bananas, whole milk, Core Power Elite Vanilla, pineapple-orange juice and agave, the Ninja Creami 7-in-1 cut through the solid mixture and created the creamiest, most delectable smoothie bowl (though, it did require a re-spin because there were still a few frozen berries and banana slices after the initial spin).

You’ll notice my recipe varies slightly from the Ninja one. My recommendation? Swap the protein powder for a half-and-half mixture of whole milk and a liquid vanilla protein drink — I used the Core Power Elite Vanilla — it tastes much better than using the powder, as it doesn’t have that signature aftertaste. I know this because back before the Ninja Cream Breeze was discontinued, I tested it with powder, and I much prefer my new method with Core Power.

Both Machines Spin Up Delicious Ice Cream at Home

Both the Ninja Creami and Ninja Creami Deluxe concoct some of the most delicious ice cream I’ve had in years. Truly, when I tested the Ninja Death by Chocolate Ice Cream recipe, I really didn’t have high hopes seeing as I typically reach for Ben & Jerry’s or Jeni’s. However, after spinning out the rich chocolate mixture with the ice cream function and using the mix-in function to disperse peanut butter fudge chunks and mini chocolate chips throughout, I was left with the richest, most decadent chocolate ice cream that was easy to scoop out without a re-spin. That’s another thing I love about this machine: It creates the perfect ice cream consistency, so you don’t have to wait for your pint to thaw — you can eat it immediately. (One note: Be sure to follow your instructions to a tee. I also tested the Food Network Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, and while it was supremely flavorful, I couldn’t perfectly drain the custard prior to freezing since I didn't have a mesh sieve, which made for a slightly gritty texture. It was still delicious, though.)

Both Machines Are Easy to Use

The Ninja Creami machines come with a refreshingly short quick-start guide. The pamphlet clearly explains how to set up and use each machine, as well as how to clean it. All pieces of the pints are dishwasher safe, but you shouldn’t heat dry them, so I found that a quick hand rinse was easier.

To make stellar blends with the Ninja Creami machines, all you have to do is mix your base, freeze it for 24 hours, pop off the flat lid and replace it with the processing lid (which has the blade), place the pint into the outer, handled processing bowl, twist it up counter-clockwise to “install” it, turn the machine on and press (or turn the dial to) the function of your choosing. Within mere moments (we’re talking less than three minutes), you’ll have a scrumptious homemade frozen treat. Does it get any better than that?

Photo by: Rebecca Norris

Rebecca Norris

What We Didn’t Love About the Ninja Creami Machines

Let me be clear: The Ninja Creami 7-in-1 and 11-in-1 models are spectacular small kitchen appliances. They’re not without downfalls, though.

They’re Very Loud

Once the machines are powered on and the chosen function is initiated, you can expect your kitchen to sound like an airstrip. The machines are so incredibly loud. They resemble the sound of jet engines firing up. They cause such a commotion that the brand literally put rubber grippy feet on the bottom of each machine to ensure they stay in place. Still, with such a loud output, I was nervous they might explode, so I steered clear of the kitchen while they were in use (even though they didn’t move from their footprint while processing).

They Smell While in Use

Another thing that happens when the Creami machines are powered up mid-spin? They smell like burnt plastic. While the blades don’t come in contact with the sides of the pints (so there’s no need to fear tiny plastic particles in your frozen treats), I suppose the machines are getting used to working at full power after being idle in a box, meaning the brand-new scent is wearing off while the inner workings of the machines go full tilt. It’s worth mentioning that I did notice the scent fades after multiple uses, so I think it’s just part of the appliance’s acclimation process, much like an air fryer.

They Require Patience and Recipe Precision

Although the Ninja Creami machines create delicious frozen treats with the press of a button, they do require first blending the bases and waiting 24 hours (the duration Ninja recommends) for them to freeze. Only then can you start spinning. Still, for tasty desserts, out-of-this-world fruit infusions and a satisfying knowledge of present ingredients, I say they’re worth it.

The Creami machines also require the user to follow the directions precisely, which slightly takes away from the experimentation process (or it might inspire you to keep trying until you nail a new recipe). For example, when I tried the Ninja Strawberry Frozen Yogurt recipe for the CREAMi 11-in-1, I swapped out the whole-milk yogurt for 2% Oikos Pro Protein Yogurt. While it froze well, it blended poorly, leaving me with a crumbly, unscoopable mixture more on par with deconstructed Dippin’ Dots (which you can see above, pictured on the left). While the texture was less than stellar, the cool flavor was still satisfying.

Is a Ninja Creami Worth the Splurge?

A $200+ appliance might seem like an unnecessary splurge for an ice cream maker, but, thanks to the way the Ninja Creami machines transform just about anything into delightfully smooth ice cream, sorbet, gelato, smoothie bowls, and more, we think it’s well worth the investment if you have the cabinet (or counter) space to spare. The big thing to consider when purchasing a Ninja Creami machine is what functions you feel most drawn to. Hoping to indulge in healthy, dessert-worthy smoothie bowls every day? Opt for the Ninja Creami 7-in-1 model. Prefer the possibilities of Italian ice, slushies and other frozen drinks? Go all out with the Ninja Creami Deluxe 11-in-1 model.

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