The Best Outdoor Ice Maker for 2020

Sure, if you’re looking for an icemaker you can use outdoors, you can use a countertop ice maker like the ones featured in this other guide I wrote, but those things aren’t weather proof, so you’d need to bring them inside every time you head in.

Either that, or you’d have to sacrifice some space in one of your outdoor kitchen’s cupboards, if you have any. It’s not ideal.

Besides, being able to relax outside with refreshments on hand is exactly what an outdoor kitchen is for. An ice maker is pretty much a cornerstone of that, so you’d be nuts not to get one.

So, let’s start by taking a look at the best outdoor ice machine out there.

The Best Outdoor Ice Makers Reviewed

Best Outdoor Ice Maker: Blaze Built-in / Freestanding Outdoor Ice Maker

This one wins because it makes actual ice cubes, rather than oversized gourmet ice like the Scotsman ice machines make. If you want gourmet style ice, then check the review below.

The gourmet-style ice is clearer than this machine’s ice cubes, and it melts less quickly because it’s much bigger, but I definitely prefer this kind of ice. It’s like a nice middle ground between nugget ice and gourmet ice. It has that kind of frostiness to its cubes that you don’t get with gourmet-style ice cylinders.

If you’re unsure about what kind of ice you like, just bear in mind that most people say they prefer smaller ice than the gourmet style. Ice like this machine makes. You can see what it looks like in the photo to the right.

As for the machine itself, it’s actually better than Scotsman products are. The reversible door closes much better than the Scotsman ones tend to, and it even has a self cleaning mode.

The self cleaning mode is important, because even gourmet style ice machines will end up cloudy if they’re not cleaned properly, and it can be an issue trying to clean a Scotsman machine manually.

As for extra features, this machine also comes with an in-line water filter too, which is a nice addition. Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward machine. It’s one-button operation, and it just works.

It doesn’t have a freezer, but it reuses melted ice to become more ice, so you don’t get water pooling in it. Besides, it’s well insulated, so the temperature inside tends to be low enough for the ice to last for hours. That even goes for the hottest of summer days. Only direct sunlight on the machine would really make the ice melt somewhat quickly, but you can still grab fresh ice every time it’s made.

Speaking of which, when this machine makes ice, it’s not so much of a huge banging sound when it does it. There’s the sound of the ice dropping into the ice bin, but it’s not that noisy of a machine compared to most others.

Finally, this thing can put out 50 lbs of ice cubes per day, and it can store 25 lbs at once. That’s a lot of ice. No issues there.

What We Like:

  • Refreshing, Frosty Ice Cubes – This machine puts out true ice cubes. They’re a refreshing middle ground between nugget ice and gourmet ice. It’s impossible not to like, unlike either of the two extremes, where especially gourmet ice isn’t liked by some people.
  • Better Durability than the Competition – The door seals more tightly than the Scotsman undercounter ice makers, and the stainless steel quality seems to be better too.
  • Self-Cleaning Function – A really nice addition, even though it’s by no means a necessity. A clean ice maker means you get consistently good quality ice cubes, because the machine isn’t having to deal with any buildup getting in the way.

Things to Consider:

  • Gravity Drain – Remember, you’ll need a water line running to it and a drain below it. If you’re reasonably handy with tools, you can fit it yourself.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

Best Gourmet Ice Maker: Scotsman CU50GA Undercounter Ice Maker

Ah, the leader in gourmet ice machines.

Really, if you know you want gourmet ice, then you know that this is really the only option. Scotsman have pretty much set the standard for gourmet ice.

The handle is a little misleading, since it opens sideways, but it’s not really an issue. Like I said in the previous review, the only potential issue with this machine is that the door doesn’t close tightly, but it does close. Think of a freezer that doesn’t close super tightly. It’s not an issue really, but it just would be nicer if it had a stronger seal.

But the whole point of this machine is the ice, and I can say for certain that this is real gourmet ice. It’s crystal clear all the way through, and it’s pretty large.

This is the kind of ice you put in your glass of scotch to show off how refined you are. Of course, you can use it for any drink, but that’s just the image that comes to mind.

While this machine doesn’t have a cube-cutting mesh, which is usually the hardest part of an ice maker to clean, it doesn’t have a proper self-cleaning cycle. It doesn’t necessarily need cleaning that often, but it’s something to keep in mind.

What We Like:

  • The Ice is Crystal Clear All the Way Through – If you’re looking for real gourmet ice, then this machine makes exactly that… and a lot of it. They’re also pretty big ice cubes, but obviously not bigger than will fit in your glass. If you’ve had a drink with gourmet ice cubes before, you’ll know what to expect.

Things to Consider:

  • Gravity Drain – Again, you’ll need a water line and a drain for this one. There’s a pump drain version too though, but gravity drains are much more ideal. Less hassle, and less parts that can run into problems in the long term. You can take a look at the pump drain version of this Scotsman outdoor ice maker here on Amazon if a gravity drain simply wouldn’t be possible in your outdoor kitchen.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

Best Outdoor Nugget Ice Maker: U-Line Outdoor Series Nugget Ice Maker UONB115-SS01A

Nugget ice is small, soft, and crunchy. It’s easily the fastest type of ice at cooling drinks because of the significantly larger surface area of ice that’s in contact with your drink than any other type of ice has.

And, of course, it’s deliciously crunchy, and takes in the flavor of your drink somewhat. It’s a much more fun style of ice, and it’s much more sip-friendly. Big ice cubes make sipping drinks less than ideal, because they just float to your lips and get in the way.

Nugget ice, however, is just great, and this machine makes great nugget ice. It’s the right kind of consistency that you’re looking for.

Something to note is that this machine doesn’t have a self cleaning function, like the Scotsman, but it isn’t too hard to clean, and you don’t have to do it too often. It’s only like your other outdoor kitchen appliances that aren’t self cleaning either. It’s not at all something that makes or breaks a product, even though it is nice to have.

Because the ice isn’t in big, heavy chunks, the machine isn’t too noisy whenever it drops more ice into the ice bin. That’s a plus.

As for the machine itself, it’s better quality than Scotsman’s nugget ice maker, and the ice itself is flawless. It can make a whopping 90 lbs of nugget ice per day, and it’s able to store 30 lbs in the ice bin. That’s almost twice the amount of output as the top pick, which is by no means slow.

Of course, nugget ice melts quicker than ice cubes, but that’s more than made up for by this machine’s incredible output. Like the other machines in this guide, it doesn’t pool water at the bottom. It just takes any melted ice nuggets and turns then back into fresh ice nuggets.

Finally, like the others, this outdoor ice maker is can be built in, or be freestanding. This one is the nicest looking of the lot, so it’s a bonus if you intend to have it freestanding in your outdoor kitchen.

What We Like:

  • Flawless Nugget Ice – If you’re addicted to the soft crunchiness of nugget ice like Sonic’s, then this machine makes 90 lbs of it per day. It’s a pretty impressive output that’s almost double that of other ice machines.
  • A Step Up in Quality – This outdoor ice maker gives off the vibe that it’s a truly premium product. It’s also my favorite design out of all the best performing ice makers, both inside and out. It’s especially impressive seeing such a huge amount of nugget ice sitting there neatly inside when you open the door.

Things to Consider:

  • Gravity Drain – Like the others, you’ll need a water line running to it and a drain below it. It’s still a better drain setup than a pump drain, so it’s worth doing. It’s far simpler, and less prone to issues over the years.

Check the latest price on Amazon.