Nugget Ice is fantastic!
That soft, chewable ice that soaks in the flavor of your delicious beverage is the best ice available.
Nugget ice is so much better for your teeth because you don’t have to crunch it and chop down on it. It just slowly falls about in your mouth. It’s so soft that it takes no effect at all to bite.
Nugget ice is also perfect for hospitals, nursing homes, or any health care business because it doesn’t pose a significant choking threat to health patients as regular ice.
Nugget ice is often called hospital ice, sonic ice, or nugget ice.
In this article, I am going to discuss how you can create nugget ice at home, at your business, or anywhere using one of these easy-to-operate nugget ice makers.
Why Nugget, Sonic, or Pellet Ice?
Nugget ice is the talk of the town. As mentioned above, it’s soft, porous ice that soaks up the flavor of the ice.
Nugget ice is easily blended and perfect for cocktails and smoothies.
If you’re always going to Sonic or any other fast food restaurant to get nugget ice, then purchasing one of these ice makers will save you money.
If you have a business or healthcare client, and you’re looking for an ice maker, then I would suggest that you purchase a nugget ice maker.
If you have pica, which is an appetite for substances that are largely non-nutritive, such as ice, then this nugget will be your best friend.
We’re going to break down each ice maker for you and give you reasons why we believe they might be right for you.
Years ago, it would cost thousands of dollars to have an ice maker that produced nugget ice installed in your home. Times have changed! Now with the units that are listed below, you can enjoy nugget ice for a fraction of the cost.
The Top 5 Nugget or Sonic Ice Makers Reviewed
Here are our best picks for a nugget ice maker.
Below you’ll see a chart with an overview of our top picks, and below are the complete review of each ice maker we have chosen.
We have added links to each choice below, with the best prices we could find.
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker
Our best overall pick for an ice maker for producing fantastic, chewable nugget ice is to purchase the Opal Nugget Ice Maker from General Electric.
Most portable ice makers produce bullet-shaped ice, and not soft chewable nugget ice. The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is a great portable unit that produces genuine nugget ice.
|Ice Production||24 lbs a day|
|Weight||Weighs 44 lbs|
|Ice Cycle Speed||20 Minutes|
|Storage Capacity||3 lbs|
|Ice Maker Type||Portable|
|Uses||Home, Home Bar, Small Business, RV and Camping|
As far as the price as concerned, this ice maker cannot be beaten. For around $500, you’re going to get an elegant, powerful nugget ice maker for your home, cottage, home bar, or business.
Features We Loved
This portable ice maker doesn’t produce the most nugget ice, but it’s an excellent tool for homes, offices, and even small businesses.
This unit has a sleek stainless-steel design, LED-lit storage bin, and Bluetooth technology.
The Bluetooth on this unit allows you to create a schedule when you would like your ice to be made. It’s important to note that this isn’t a WIFI connection, so you have to be in the same house for it to connect.
The Opal produces 24 lbs of nugget ice every day. It weighs 44 pounds and measures 17.2 by 10.5 by 15.5 inches. This unit isn’t the lightest portable ice maker on the market, but it is portable. What do I mean by portable? I mean, you don’t need a water line or a drain line to make ice.
The Opal also has a side tank that allows you more water for making ice.
Now you do not need to keep filling up the water reservoir, with the side tank, you can make more ice without the hassle.
Making ice is simple. All you have to do is set up the unit, plug it in, and add some water and you’re ready to make ice.
This unit also has a self-cleaning function, which makes keeping the unit clean is a breeze. It comes with an ice bin and a scoop for transferring the ice.
What We Didn’t Like
I’ve been using this unit for several months now and enjoy using it. It’s well built, performs well, and makes excellent nugget ice. The design fits my kitchen well; it has a VERY luxurious look to it. The picture above is the Opal Nugget Ice Maker in my kitchen, and the glass is filled with chilled cream soda thanks to the power of the Opal.
I guess the negative with this ice maker is that it’s heavy. It weighs 40 pounds, which is a little much for a portable ice maker. They claim that you can use this ice maker on a camping trip or in your RV, but I wouldn’t be carrying it around much – it’s a tank.
I also find that it’s a little loud, though it’s pretty comparable to other portable ice makers I have tried.
As far as I know, the Opal is the only portable ice maker on the market that makes genuine nugget ice.
If you find another portable ice maker that claims they make nugget ice, then I would question those claims. Portable ice makers are known for producing hat-shaped ice that isn’t as chewable or soft as sonic ice. Just be aware.
NewAir Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
The NewAir Countertop Nugget Ice Maker gives you another option for a portable ice maker that produce nugget ice.
This stainless steel unit, with its one button simple design, is sure to impress you with its user-friendly features.
This countertop ice maker produces 40 pounds of ice each day, and will produce the ice in only 5 minutes. This is an incredible victory.
It comes with self-cleaning capability, a storage bin that can hold 4.8 pounds of ice at one time, and a one year warranty for those that are on the fence. We also added links to NewAir.com, where you can buy the ice maker with a 30-day return policy.
|Ice Production||40 lbs a day|
|Weight||Weighs 34 lbs|
|Ice Cycle Speed||5 Minutes|
|Storage Capacity||4.8 lbs|
|Ice Maker Type||Portable|
|Best Features||Speed, Nugget Ice in only 5 minutes|
|Uses||Home, Home Bar, Small Business, RV and Camping|
Features We Loved
We loved that this nugget ice maker produces lots of ice fast.
It didn’t take long at all, and we had enough ice for our glass.
We loved that operating the ice maker was easy, and setup was fast right out of the box. The ice maker was easy to clean as well.
What We Didn’t Like
We didn’t like that this unit was a tad bit heavy, and a little loud.
We also didn’t like that this ice maker looks like a portable ice maker (I know that may sound weird), but we were hoping for some more flare – like the Opal Nugget Ice Maker above.
Both the NewAir and the Opal Nugget Ice Maker are great units, and will produce great nugget ice for your home or business. They are priced at the same price-point, and both have their PROS and CONS.
If you are looking to choose between the Opal and the NewAir, then I suggest you read my comparison article here.
The Scotsman SCN60PA-1SS
Features We Loved
This 15″ under-the-counter ice maker produces 80 lbs of nugget ice every day. It’s a well-constructed machine, aesthetically pleasing, and is made for superior performance.
This undercounter ice maker can store 26 pounds of ice at one time, uses 40% less energy and 50% less water, making it an ice maker that’s perfect for any home or business.
I found that this ice maker produced just enough ice for busy family functions. There were times when we had several people over to our house, and we never had to worry about running out of our precious nugget ice. Oh! People loved the ice as well. I found that people kept going back for more.
|Ice Production||80 lbs a day|
|Weight||Weighs 129 lbs|
|Ice Cycle Speed||26 lbs|
|Ice Maker Type||Undercounter|
|Best Features||Add custom Panels to the front|
|Measurements||22.8 x 14.9 x 33.4 inches|
|Uses||Home kitchen, home bar, office or recreation room|
Another great feature with this ice maker is that you can install custom door panels to the front of the unit. Custom door panels allow the ice maker to fit into any kitchen decor. If you are looking at a Kitchen remodeling, then this is a great ice maker for you.
If you like to entertain outside, then the Scotsman SCN60OPA-1SS has you covered. This ice maker is approved for outside use, has an LED-lit bin and a self-closing door. This would make a great nugget ice maker for a patio kitchen or outdoor pool room. It’s small enough to be out of the way but large enough to produce the ice that you need.
This ice maker is easy to operate and gives you different alerts to help you keep it working as it should.
What We Didn’t Like
I guess the only complaint that I had with this particular ice maker was that it was just a little loud.
I’m not saying it was terrible, but you knew it was there. I have tested other ice makers, and I find that this may be a little louder than the rest. I think if it were built-in, it would help with the loudness.
Overall, this is a great under-the-counter ice maker, and though it’s priced on the higher end of under-the-counter ice makers, it’s well worth the investment for that exceptional nugget ice.
FOLLETT Nugget Ice Maker & Water Dispenser
The FOLLETT Nugget Ice Maker & Water Dispenser has a stainless steel design with some black plastic trim. This ice maker is built tough and is rugged enough for home or commercial use.
This is a nugget ice maker that seconds as a water dispenser. You can fill your glass with nugget ice and then water all in one take. This type of unit is prevalent for office use because it’s compact and gives you the option of filtered water as well.
Features We Loved
The 20-ounce drip tray sits under the water dispenser, which can be easily removed for effortless cleaning.
Around the ice and water dispensers, it’s coated with an antimicrobial agent that helps prevent potential growth of molds and bacteria on these surfaces.
Blue LED lit controls show everyone where you can dispense water and ice, and it includes a filter for clean, pure water.
|Ice Production||125 lbs a day|
|Storage Capacity||7 lbs|
|Ice Maker Type||Freestanding|
|Best Features||Water Dispenser|
|Measurements||14.62 in. x 22.12 in. x 42 in.|
|Uses||Office Building, Lunchroom|
This ice maker produces 125 lbs of ice every 24 hours, which is 140 servings every 10 hours (25 people at a time). It would make an excellent unit for an office, breakroom, nursing home or retirement residence, and of course, any business.
The storage bin can hold 7 pounds of ice at one time and is insulated to slow down the melting process. This ice maker will need a water line installed but doesn’t need a drain line. Not needing a drain line makes this ice maker more versatile.
The FOLLETT Nugget Ice Maker & Water Dispenser is a solid nugget ice maker choice. It’s a beautifully designed, and back-up with exceptional craftsmanship and commitment from the company to give you a fabulous product. It comes with a 2-year warranty and a 5-year warranty on the compressor.
What We Didn’t Love
This ice maker comes on a base, so there are different heights that you can order. Just remember this before you order so that you get the right height for your home or business.
Some people just want to set it on a countertop and not have the base at all. This can get a little confusing.
Overall, an excellent option for making nugget ice.
The Scotsman UN324A
The Scotsman UN324A is a large commercial ice maker that produces a massive 340 pounds of ice every 24 hours. This ice maker has an equally large ice storage bin of 80 pounds of ice at one time.
This ice maker is a beast of a unit. I really mean it. This thing can really pump out the ice. The great thing about this ice maker (and why it made our list) is that the ice is high-quality. I mean this, probably the best nugget ice that I have ever had. This sonic or nugget ice falls apart in your mouth, and it tastes incredible.
Features We Loved
This ice maker is perfect for any bar, restaurant, and other food-serving business. It’s also great for any healthcare establishment. This ice maker is both stylish and practical. It’s compact enough that it can sit safely under your counter so that it’s out of the way. I love that this ice maker is only 39″ tall, so it’s going to fit nicely under your countertop. It measures 24″ x 28 1/2″.
|Ice Production||340 lbs a day|
|Ice Capacity||80 lbs|
|Ice Maker Type||Freestanding/Undercounter|
|Best Features||Compact Size|
|Measurements||39” x 24″ x 28 1/2″|
|Uses||Nursing Home, Retirement Home, Healthcare Facility|
There are a couple of things that stand out with this ice maker. Though this ice maker is mostly used for business purposes, it could be used in a home for significant events or parties. It’s built with durable plastic and stainless steel, and the door glides back smoothly and out of the way.
This unit produces the best nugget ice on the market today. It’s soft and soaks up the flavor of your beverage in every piece of ice.
This Scotsman ice maker is easy to operate with a simple control panel and can easily switch between on, off, and clean.
The legs on the unit are adjustable, which means it can be set to the perfect height.
I really like this unit and enjoy the features, easy operation, and the perfect, chewable ice that it produces. I thought that installing this ice maker was straightforward. The indented back panel means that hoses and cords don’t get in the way and that the ice maker still snugs up against the wall.
You’re going to see from the video above that this ice maker’s design is durable. This isn’t just empty words from the manufacturer, but it’s backed up with a three-year warranty. This means that you can buy with confidence knowing that you are getting a quality product for your home or business.
What We Didn’t Love
This is a great ice maker. The only thing that I didn’t like (this isn’t a negative) is that it made far too much ice for our needs. This is probably a better nugget ice maker for business.
Overall, it’s a great unit that’s going to do a great job producing nugget ice.
The Scotsman HID312A-1
The Scotsman HID312A-1 is a countertop ice maker that produces 260 lbs of ice every 24 hours. This ice maker is small and compact and can hold 12 pounds of ice at one time.
The unit itself is made from durable stainless steel, greaseless bearings, and a large sink and dispensing area.
Features We Loved
I find that this ice maker, which also has a water dispenser, is great for an office or break room because it’s so compact. This is the smallest ice maker available that produces 260 pounds of ice, which is a remarkable feat.
|Ice Production||260 lbs a day|
|Ice Capacity||12 lbs|
|Ice Maker Type||Countertop|
|Best Features||Small but produces a lot of ice|
|Measurements||16.2 x 24.4 x 35 inches|
|Uses||Offices, Nursing homes and healthcare buildings|
The design of this ice maker is worthy of some praise as well. It’s designed to circulate the air efficiently so that the machine runs consistently without any downtime. It’s also important to note that this unit has an external air filter.
I found that this ice maker was pretty easy to clean. The removable front panel was handy, and the removable ice storage bin was also a plus that made cleaning the unit a lot easier.
I believe that this ice maker is a perfect fit for home, office, and business situations and should be considered as your next ice maker.
What We Didn’t Love
I found that the water came out of the dispenser a little intense. It’s not that big of a deal, but you should be aware of it. It will take some time, but you will get used to it.
Overall, this is a great ice maker.
How is Nugget Ice Made?
Commercial ice makers fill medal cube molds with water and use a refrigeration system to freeze the water into ice.
Once the ice is ready, the metal molds are heated, and the ice is dumped into an ice bin where it’s used to chill your drinks, preserve food, or create excellent ice desserts.
Portable ice makers operate a little differently. Water begins to freeze around cylinders cooled with a refrigeration system. As the ice builds around these cylinders, the ice forms what looks like small bullets or hat-shaped ice pieces. Once the ice gets to the desired size, the cylinder is heated, and the ice falls into the storage bin ready to be served.
The ice produced from portable ice makers is not nugget ice. Some articles on the internet claim portable ice makers produce nugget ice and that the hat-shaped ice from these units is the same as sonic or nugget ice.
This isn’t true. We’re going to see in this article the only portable ice maker that produces nugget ice on the market today. Don’t be fooled with others claiming their portable ice maker makes nugget ice.
Nugget ice has an entirely different system than conventional ice producing methods.
For nugget ice, the key is to produce soft chewable ice. This process is achieved by scraping ice and creating ice flakes from a cooled cylinder using a refrigeration system.
The flakes of ice are squeezed through a narrow tube, which gives it that nugget ice look.
As the nugget ice is pushed through the tube, gravity breaks off small pieces of ice.
Some larger nugget ice makers will use a blade that will cut the ice into smaller pieces.
The process of creating nugget ice isn’t as simple as one may think. The mechanics and design of nugget ice makers are very complicated, which is why most nugget ice makers are costly.
What Types of Ice Machines Make Sonic or Nugget Ice?
There are four ways that someone can enjoy the benefits of nugget ice at their home or business. You can learn more about the different types of ice makers available by clicking here.
☑️ Portable Ice Makers
The first option for making nugget ice is by using a portable ice maker. As far as I know, there is only one portable ice maker on the market today that makes authentic nugget ice.
Portable ice makers are recommended for two reasons: they are compact and portable. These ice makers are also cheaper than undercounter and commercial units.
☑️ Undercounter Ice Makers
The second way of producing sonic or nugget ice is by using an undercounter ice maker.
These units are perfect ice makers for your home because they can be tucked under your counter and out of sight. Most of the under-the-counter ice makers can be built-in your cabinets. These ice makers have the ability to add a custom cabinet design to the front panel of the ice maker, so you don’t even know it’s an ice maker. As far as people are concerned, it’s just another cabinet.
☑️ Commercial Ice Makers
The third way of enjoying nugget ice is by purchasing a commercial ice maker. These units are generally large, expensive, and designed for making large amounts of nugget ice. Commercial ice makers can produce as much as 400 pounds of nugget ice every 24 hours. Restaurants, grocery stores, bars, and supermarkets will often use commercial ice makers to serve their customers.
If you have the budget and room for a commercial nugget ice maker, then this may be the best option for you.
☑️ Countertop Ice Makers
The final nugget or sonic ice maker for you to consider is a countertop unit. Countertop nugget ice makers usually have a water dispenser built-in as well. These types of ice makers are prevalent in lunchrooms, nursing homes, retirement residences, or healthcare establishment.
You can take your glass and fill it with ice and water in the same unit.
Portable ice makers are also countertop ice makers, but there is a significant difference from what I am referring to here. Countertop nugget ice makers are way too heavy to transport. These ice makers sit on your countertop but are not designed to be portable.
Tips For Making Great Nugget Ice
If you want to enjoy excellent nugget ice, you don’t have to head over to the Sonic Drive-thru. You can use one of the ice makers listed above and enjoy sonic ice every day. How does that sound?
When making good nugget ice, there are a few tips that will help along the process.
➡️ Begin with Clean Water
First, incredible nugget ice begins with clean water. We use reverse osmosis water at our home, and I find that filtered water produces softer, more transparent nugget ice. If you purchase an ice maker that needs to be connected to a waterline, then I suggest spending a little extra and installing a reverse osmosis unit for best results.
Portable ice makers can be filled with filtered water as well to produce better quality ice.
Some ice makers will have a built-in filter in their ice maker. It’s vital to read the manual to see how often this needs to be replaced. You do not want this filter to be expired, because this can harm the ice maker.
If your ice maker does not have a built-in filter, then you can install one for a reasonable price. Click here to read about the best ice maker filters available to you.
➡️ Keep Your Ice Maker Clean
Secondly, make sure that you keep your ice maker clean. Most nugget ice makers come installed with an automatic cleaning feature. It’s important to run that cleaning cycle monthly, keep the ice basket clean, and only use the ice scoop to get ice.
If your ice maker does not come with a cleaning feature, then you need to refer to the owner’s manual to see how the ice maker is to be cleaned.
Most commercial ice makers have removable front panels and a removable ice bin, which makes cleaning the unit more accessible. The user manual will give you specific instructions on how you can clean the ice maker properly. Begin by referring to the manual or the manufacturer’s website before you begin cleaning.
You can also use YouTube as a reference. Type your ice maker’s model number into the search box on YouTube and add clean to the search query. Someone with that ice maker may have made a video that will walk you through the cleaning process.
Keeping regular maintenance on your ice maker by thoroughly cleaning your unit at least once a month is an essential step in keeping it running correctly, and producing cold, refreshing, clean ice.
How Each Nugget Ice Maker is Rated
It’s important to us that we help you choose the right ice maker for your home or business. We know that there are a lot of options available to you, and it may not be clear which one is right for you.
We have put together this helpful guide and reviewed undercounter, standalone, commercial, and portable ice makers to give you the top units to purchase.
Whether you’re looking for an ice maker for your business, home, or office, it’s important to us that you choose an ice maker that’s going to do the job well.
We have rated each of the ice makers above according to the following criteria.
We have watched countless videos, read all the reviews, and have heard the positives and negatives from customers just like you.
We didn’t just throw a rating on this website but made a calculated decision based on customer satisfaction. Does this ice maker do the job it is supposed to do? That’s the question that we set out to answer. With people’s feedback, we were able to build our top-rated list of ice makers, being confident that these machines are going to meet your needs.
We’re not going to buy into the hype of product marketers and overpay for an ice maker that we can find cheaper somewhere else. We did our homework and made sure that these products are priced well, and priced worthy of their production.
Paying more money for a good product is okay. Spending more money for a second-grade product is no good. Our guide lists for you the best-priced nugget ice makers available to you today. We want to make sure that you get the best value for your money.
We added links to Amazon, where we listed the best price that we could find for each ice maker.
Don’t buy junk! It’s not just sound advice; it’s vital in a day where a dollar can be hard to find.
We want to make sure that the ice maker that you purchase is going to last and do the job you bought it to do.
Any mechanical device can fail. No product is perfect.
We looked for products that have a reputation for durability. These are the products that we looked for as we compiled our list.
We didn’t just look at the quality of the product, but the quality of the product it produced. What is the nugget ice like? Does it produce soft, chewable nugget ice? Is it producing nugget ice at all?
The quality of ice is essential, and we choose units that produced high-quality ice without compromising on efficiency and performance.
The final area that we used to rate our ice makers was the usefulness of the product. We wanted to make sure that the ice makers we choose produced lots of nugget ice, efficiently stored the ice, and was easy to operate.
Some units work great if you can ever figure out how to operate the dumb thing.
Our guide helps you to overcome this obstacle. We choose ice makers that are easy to operate, simple to clean, and straightforward to maintain.
Questions About Nugget Ice Makers
Below are questions that you may have concerning nugget or sonic ice makers. If you have a question about nugget ice makers that is not on this list, then please head over to our about us page and send us an email. We will get back to you as soon as possible and add your question to the others.
Is Nugget Ice Bad For Your Teeth?
Nugget ice is the best ice available for your teeth. Nugget ice is soft and falls apart in your mouth with just a little pressure.
This may seem hard to believe, but there is actually a forum online devoted to ice chewers. These people discuss various concerns, questions, and general talk about chewing ice. Ice chewers claim that chewing ice is excellent to beat stress, and they encourage people to give it a try.
Ice chewers say that using nugget ice is the best type of ice for chewing ice because it is gentle on your teeth.
Why Is Nugget Ice Better?
There are three main reasons why nugget ice is often called “the good ice.”
The first reason, it’s chewable. I mentioned this in the previous question. It’s soft, easy to chew, and won’t hurt your teeth.
The second reason why nugget ice is the best ice is that it soaks up the flavor of your beverage. When you add nugget ice to your drink, the nugget ice soaks up your drink like a sponge. This means that you get to enjoy the taste of your beverage until the very last piece of ice is gone.
The last reason for loving sonic ice is that it’s small and compact, and you’re able to get more in your cup. Unlike conventional ice cubes, you can fill your glass with the little pieces of nugget ice.
How Much Do Nugget Ice Makers Cost?
The cheapest ice maker that produces nugget ice sells for around $500. This is a small portable ice unit called the Opal Nugget Ice Maker.
Commercial ice makers that produce nugget ice can cost you thousands of dollars and can be expensive to have installed in your home or business.
The high price of commercial units is one of the reasons we love the Opal Nugget Ice Maker. You don’t need to have it installed, it’s ready to make ice out of the box, and it’s far cheaper than the other ice makers on this list.
How Much Ice Do I Need?
The amount of ice that you need depends on your situation. Are you a business or household? What type of business do you have? How many people are in your family?
My opinion is to purchase an ice maker that produces more ice then you’d need so that you never have to worry about running out. When choosing an ice maker, you should choose one within your budget, but that produces as much ice as possible.
If you are a business and are looking for a helpful chart to help you figure out how much ice you need, click here.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Portable Ice Maker?
Portable ice makers are great units. They are designed for easy setup, cleaning, maintenance, and portability. Portable ice makers are not for everyone, though.
The advantages of portable ice makers are that they can be transported anywhere you like. They are perfect for your countertop, RV, camping trip, and boat. These suckers can go anywhere and can be used anywhere as long as you have water and electricity.
The disadvantage of portable ice makers is they are limited in their ice production. The largest portable ice maker produces 50 lbs of ice in 24 hours. This is great for tiny businesses or large families, but with more people, it would become tight.
Also, portable ice makers are limited in their type of ice. There is only one portable ice maker that produces nugget ice, and it weighs 40 pounds.
Choosing to use a portable ice maker comes down to its portability and simplicity to set up and use.
Why are Nugget Ice Makers So Expensive?
Nugget ice makers cost more than conventional ice makers because of the process it takes for making nugget ice. It may seem simple and straightforward, but ice makers that produce nugget ice are very complicated.
It’s nice that nugget ice makers have come down in price from where they used to be. The cheapest nugget ice maker on the market today would be the Opal Nugget Ice Maker. It’s a portable unit that produces 24 lbs of nugget ice every 24 hours. This portable nugget ice maker is an excellent choice for your home or business.
What is Sonic Ice Called?
Sonic ice is another name for nugget ice. It’s also been called “chewable ice,” “hospital Ice,” “nuggets,” “pellet ice,” and “pebble ice.”
This type of ice is incredibly light and airy. It floats to the top of your drink and absorbs the flavor of your beverage. Ice flakes are compacted into nuggets, which makes this ice so soft and chewable and loved by ice chewers everywhere.
The best way to get sonic ice at home is to purchase one of the ice makers listed in this guide.
I love nugget ice! I’m glad that with newer technology, nugget ice makers have come down in price and have become more affordable for every household.
You can enjoy nugget ice by purchasing one of the ice makers in this article.
As always, leave your comments or questions below.