We Tested the Ninja Creami. The Ice Cream Tastes Great. But That Burning Smell ... (2024)

If your TikTok For You page looks anything like mine, you’ve heard of the Ninja Creami—an ice cream blending machine that fans claim can turn basically anything into a delicious frozen treat in minutes.

Here at Wirecutter, we’ve been testing ice cream makers for nearly a decade. The Creami works a little differently from a conventional maker, but we were impressed by how quickly it could spin a frozen pint of ingredients into a mostly smooth ice cream, even with tricky, low-fat bases. Plus, its ice cream was ready to eat, unlike ice cream from conventional makers, which usually requires more freezing. But that convenience comes at a cost—we have serious doubts about the safety and longevity of the Ninja Creami.

The Creami is bulky, and it takes some practice

We Tested the Ninja Creami. The Ice Cream Tastes Great. But That Burning Smell ... (1)

The Creami is big and heavy—the base is mostly metal and plastic, and the pints and the bowl that holds the pints are thick plastic. It doesn’t exactly feel premium, but it’s not flimsy by any means.

Setting up the Creami takes practice, as a bit of twisting, locking, and releasing is involved before you’re ready to blend.

It made pretty good ice cream

We put the Creami through our standard run of tests alongside conventional ice cream makers. I made vanilla custard, vegan coconut, sorbet, and eggless Philly-style bases in the Creami. (The “sorbet” was just coconut milk with frozen raspberries thrown in—an example of the “chuck anything in there” convenience that this machine’s owners love about it.)

The Creami surprised us, successfully producing tasty ice cream with a dense, smooth texture. Sometimes a recipe turned out crumbly, but the manual assured us that this was a normal occurrence with an easy fix: Just spin it again, using the “re-spin” button.

The custard and Philly bases were smooth after one spin, while the coconut and sorbet bases took two or three spins. In the end, each pint came out smooth and mostly iceless. I used the mix-in setting to add Oreos to the Philly base, and those results tasted great, too.

But consistency was an issue

Because the thick blades of the Creami can’t fully reach the edges or bottom of the pint containers, the appliance leaves sections of totally unmixed, frozen base. So even if the blended parts are impressively smooth, depending on how carefully you scoop, you’re likely to get some crunchy, icy bits in your bowl.

And we saw a lot of red flags

We were skeptical about the Ninja Creami because of the herculean task it undertakes at a relatively low price tag. This is a pretty niche machine—most similar to the Pacojet, a commercial appliance that uses the same sort of drill function to blend through frozen bases. The Pacojet, however, costs thousands of dollars, whereas the Creami attempts to do the same thing for around $200.

But it takes a lot of force to repeatedly drill a blade through material that’s frozen solid, and we could tell that the machine was working hard—maybe too hard. As we tested the Creami, it shook and smelled of burning plastic more than once. One taster even detected a burnt-plastic flavor in the ice cream.

The $6,000 Pacojet uses steel pint containers, while the Creami uses plastic ones. Online, Creami owners have complained that their machine’s blades dug into either the black plastic lid or the sides of the containers during use, introducing plastic shreds into their ice cream. We noted about 15 Amazon reviews that mention this issue. In early 2023, a moderator in the Ninja Creami Community Facebook group introduced a new rule: No more posts about the plastic issue, lest they clog up the group.

The Creami is also hard to clean thoroughly. After using it a couple of times, we noticed water and ice cream gunk building up inside the outer bowl’s translucent plastic lid (which doesn’t come apart for cleaning). The spindle of the Creami also gets covered in ice cream, after which it retreats into the base of the machine, presumably allowing some ice cream residue to build up inside the drill housing.

The Creami is pricey

Considering its flaws and durability issues, a price tag of more than $200 is hard to swallow. Unless you're absolutely set on having one appliance that can make both ice creams and smoothie bowls, we'd recommend considering other products that offer more value and durability.

Cuisinart ICE-21

Our favorite ice cream maker

This ice cream maker is a simple, tried-and-true workhorse, churning out dense, chewy, smooth ice cream—no plastic shavings in sight.

Buying Options

$70 from Amazon

$70 from Wayfair

$73 from Home Depot

If you’re mainly interested in making ice cream, you could get our top-pick ice cream maker, the Cuisinart ICE-21, for around a third of that price.

The Cuisinart ICE-21 doesn’t provide recipes for making smoothie bowls, but it makes both ice cream and sorbet with aplomb—as long as you remember to freeze the insert bowl beforehand. For around $70, you get a reliable machine that comes with a three-year warranty (as opposed to the Creami’s one year of coverage).

Vitamix 5200

The best blender

Pricey but powerful and durable, this is the gold standard of full-size blenders. It can blend silky smoothie bowls, soups, and nut butters with ease.

Buying Options

$400 from Amazon

It’s harder to find a budget-friendly alternative to the more blender-esque attributes of the Creami. If you’re committed to making excellent smoothie bowls, you could invest in the Vitamix 5200, the gold standard of powerful, durable blenders.

The Vitamix 5200 has the power to blend thick textures on a regular basis without burning out. Plus, it’s backed by a seven-year warranty. And if you can wait for Black Friday or an Amazon Prime Day, you can often find this premium blender going for around $300 or less.

When we recommend expensive appliances to our readers, we take it seriously. We want you to love what you buy, and we don’t want to contribute to trend cycles that will leave your wallet empty and landfills full. We’re not convinced that the Ninja Creami would last you a year, much less a lifetime.

Is it a keeper?

We plan to continue to use the Creami—not because we love it, but because we’re curious how long it can last before it breaks.

This article was edited by Alexander Aciman and Marilyn Ong.

Mentioned above

  • We’ve tested 21 ice cream makers, and our favorite is the Cuisinart ICE-21. It’s a great tool for beginners and pros alike.The Best Ice Cream Maker

Further reading

  • The Best Ice Cream Sandwiches

    by Rachel Cericola

    We all scream for ice cream—but when it comes to ice cream sandwiches, these choices had us screaming the loudest.

  • The Best Vegan Ice Cream

    by Mace Dent Johnson

    We tried 35 pints of vegan ice cream from 16 ice cream brands. We loved nine of them, including flavors from Jeni’s, Van Leeuwen, and Trader Joe’s.

  • The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

    by Marguerite Preston

    Vanilla may be the most basic ice cream, but there is surprising variety among the options in the freezer aisle. We tasted 16 and found two favorites.

  • How to Get Smells Out of Silicone Kitchenware

    by Marguerite Preston

    Silicone absorbs smells like crazy. Here’s how we like to clean and maintain our various kitchenware items to keep clingy odors away.

We Tested the Ninja Creami. The Ice Cream Tastes Great. But That Burning Smell ... (2024)
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