Our Honest Review of the Ninja Creami
This multi-use ice cream machine churns out stellar smoothie bowls (yes, smoothie bowls!).
By Rachel Trujillo for Food Network Kitchen
Ice cream, smoothie bowls and "nice cream" remain a top-choice for a sweet treat, mid-day snack or refreshing dessert. And while stopping by your favorite parlor or stocking your freezer with pints is always an option, the rise in popularity of at-home ice cream machines makes a case for doing it yourself. While you might be thinking you don’t need another single-use appliance clogging up your countertop or cupboards, the Ninja Creami, which has settings for ice cream, sorbet, gelato, milkshake, smoothie bowl, lite ice cream and mix-in, proves it can do much more. Intrigued by a machine that promises completely customizable treats with the ability to add chocolate, candy and nuts, thick smoothie bowls and creamy milkshakes and ice cream, we decided to take the Ninja Creami for a spin.
What Is the Ninja Creami?
Similar to other at-home ice cream machines, the Ninja Creami works by using three-step process that includes freezing your mixture overnight, which does require a bit of planning (keep a couple mixtures in the freezer if you tend to have last-minute ice cream cravings). The machine includes a motor base, which is sizable and will definitely take up some space in your kitchen, two pints with storage lids, an outer bowl with lid (which the two pints go into when mixing) and a Creamerizer paddle.
Unlike some ice cream machines, you only need to freeze the pints of food instead of a large bowl, which we liked. It didn’t take up much space in our freezer and creates the opportunity to make a couple smoothie bowls or ice cream pints ahead of time for quick mixing whenever you want them.
The machine comes with a recipe book, which we found to be helpful but slightly contradictory to the online library of recipes on the brand’s site (the inconsistencies included some measurements or ingredients differentiating from the recipe book). Overall, we decided to stick to the recipes listed on the site when testing out the machine.
Smoothie Bowls Were the Standout
To say we was impressed with the smoothie bowl feature would be an understatement: The texture was thick and creamy (similar to the gelato and sorbet feature), and the recipe was simple but beyond flavorful. If you’re experiencing homemade smoothies that taste watered down or smoothie bowls with texture more closely resembling a smoothie, this machine is your new must-have.
Our only caveat was that we did have to run the smoothie bowl setting twice to get our desired texture (after one pass it was slightly crumbly). In our opinion, this machine is worth it solely for making smoothie bowls, which we have served for both breakfast and dessert.
Ice Cream Texture Wasn’t Quite Right
After a few rounds of trial and error, we found that the standard ice cream setting wasn’t giving us as good of results as the smoothie bowl setting. While the flavor was there, and the process of mixing the ingredients, freezing overnight and selecting a one-touch setting was equally easy, the resulting texture was a little drier and more crumbly than smooth and creamy, almost resembling Dippin’ Dots. We tested out the mix-in feature with the ice cream and were surprised how well it incorporated the cookies and chocolate evenly throughout the bowl. For a fun activity, it gave results that would pass as dessert but not something that would replace buying ice cream at the store.
Who Should Buy This?
For anyone looking for a machine to churn out ice cream, we would point you in the direction of our best ice cream machine picks first. But, if you’re looking for a multi-purpose appliance that can make a delicious smoothie bowl and okay ice cream (that may get better with more practice and experimenting), the Ninja Creami might be for you. We recommend this for anyone with kids who want a fun and healthy snack or anyone who needs the ability to completely customize their frozen treats.