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Why Are Nugget Ice Makers So Expensive? 3 Affordable Alternatives

By trk

Last Updated: July 28, 2023

Made popular by fast food chains like Sonic and Chick-fil-A, nugget ice has become a fan favorite because of how soft and chewable it is.

Sometimes, you want the nugget ice without the rest of the meal or the trip through the drive-through. This is where at-home nugget ice makers come in. 

Why are nugget ice makers so expensive? What are the best affordable at-home alternatives? Here, we’ll dive into what drives the cost of these appliances up and where you can find more affordable options. 

Why Are At Home Nugget Ice Makers So Expensive?

Put simply, at-home nugget ice makers are so expensive because they’re pretty technologically advanced. Nugget ice cubes are made by mashing together several thin layers of ice into a single cube, which causes tiny air pockets to form inside. It’s these air pockets that create the fluffy, chewable ice texture that’s made nugget ice so popular. 

To do this, nugget ice makers have a lot of internal moving parts, including a rotating auger that continually scrapes the thin ice layers off the walls of the chamber. Some fancier models also include more advanced functions like automated overflow control and self-cleaning cycles, which can also drive the price up. 

When you’re looking for the best nugget ice maker for you, think through what features you really need and if you can opt for an option with fewer add-ons to keep the price down. 

Affordable Ice Nugget Makers for Home

There are tons of ice makers on the market, and they all have different pros and cons. Here are two of the best nugget ice makers for your home. 

GE Profile Opal 2.0 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker

See all GE Opal buying options on Amazon

This countertop ice maker has a slim design and a side tank that makes it easy to refill the water, even if you don’t have a lot of clearance under your kitchen cabinets. The Opal nugget ice maker creates up to 24 pounds of ice a day, and is self-cleaning. It also has built-in Wifi connectivity, so you can connect this nugget ice machine to smart home devices like Google Nest or Alexa to get device updates and schedule fresh ice. 

While many nugget ice makers don’t last much longer than two years, the Opal nugget ice maker is one of the longest lasting ice makers, making it worth the investment upfront.

Prime Home Direct Stainless Steel Countertop Ice Maker Machine

Prime Home Direct Portable Nugget Ice Maker

See the Prime Home Direct Nugget Ice Maker on Amazon

At $145, this ice nugget maker is one of the more affordable options you can find. This model also fits on most countertops and has a self-cleaning feature, and can make up to 26 pounds of ice a day—the same as larger and more expensive models. 

One thing to note about this model is that it technically makes bullet ice, not nugget ice. Bullet ice is pretty similar in shape, but can be a little more firm and less chewy than real nugget ice. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative this can be a good option, but if you’re after the real nugget ice experience, you may want to keep looking. 

Find Out More About the Best Nugget Ice Machines

When you’re looking for your at-home nugget ice maker, consider how much ice you need, any extra features you might want, and if the company offers a warranty. 

With so many different features and options, this can be an overwhelming choice. Check out our review of the best nugget ice makers to help narrow down your decision.

Thanks for reading!

About the Author

The Rational Kitchen (TRK) is a collaborative effort, but the founder, editor, and writer of most of our articles is Melanie Johnson, an avid cook, kitchenware expert, and technical communications specialist for more than 20 years. Her love of cooking and the frustrating lack of good information about kitchen products led her to create The Rational Kitchen. TRK's mission is to help people make the best decisions they can when buying kitchen gear. 

When not working on product reviews, Melanie enjoys reading, playing with her dog Ruby, vintage video games, and spending time outdoors and with her family.

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