Nugget ice, also referred to as pellet ice or Sonic ice (for Sonic Drive-In) is highly prized. I’ve often wondered why I can’t buy a refrigerator with a nugget ice dispenser built in. That would be the ultimate solution. Unfortunately I was unable to find one that exists. On my quest to learn the best way to make pellet ice at home for myself I found that there aren’t many options. Of the few ways to achieve this goal the Opal Nugget Ice Maker was the best solution for most people. There are other options available but they come at a hefty price. Continue reading to learn more.
Best Nugget Ice Maker For Most People:
Opal Nugget Ice Maker
FirstBuild, a project company by GE, developed the Opal Nugget Ice Maker to fill the niche of an affordable nugget ice maker for home use. The Opal is currently the best solution by far and also the most affordable true solution by quite some margin. That said, this isn’t a cheap device but it does it’s job very well and is large enough and fast enough to please most people for most situations.
This countertop appliance isn’t too bulky and doesn’t require plumbing but no plumbing does mean you’ll have to manually fill the water reservoir yourself. It can accept up to 6 cups of water which it will turn into 3 pounds of ice within 3 hours. This is a reasonable amount of ice but not a huge amount. It should satisfy most however.
The unit has a single button at the top center ringed with a light that changes based upon the status of the machine. Solid white is in standby mode. A spinning white light means it’s making ice. Yellow indicates it is in cleaning mode. And a back and forth swaying blue light means that the water reservoir needs to be replenished.
This is a very attractive countertop pellet ice maker and I for one am thrilled that someone finally stepped up to the plate to fill this void in the market. While the price is rather high, alternatives are astronomically more or simply unsatisfying.
Best Nugget Ice Maker:
Scotsman SCN60PA-1SS Brilliance Nugget Ice Machine
The Scotsman SCN60PA-1SS Brilliance Nugget Ice Machine is the absolute best nugget ice maker for home use that money can buy. It’s perfect for home use as an under counter ice maker and is made by the inventors of nugget ice.
This beast of an ice maker can make up to 60 pounds of ice per day. With this amount of production capability you won’t have issues running out of ice even if you’re throwing a large part.
The Scotsman accepts custom panels for the door as opposed to the stainless steel door that is included. This will allow you to match your cabinets for an integrated look. It also includes a pump for pumping drain water up to a nearby drain if you can’t plumb it to drain via gravity. This ice maker is also 40% more efficient than similar ice makers.
Scotsman has a very good reliability track record and gets glowing reviews. You’ll want to make sure this is professionally installed to ensure the best results. It needs to be plumbed properly and the lower front air intake needs to be unobstructed.
This is very much a luxury item and not for everyone. If you can afford one don’t waste your time with other brands. Scotsman is the original and the most reliable option. Similar units can be had for less but if you’re going to be shopping for a luxury item of this caliber you shouldn’t skimp on an inferior design.
Things To Keep In Mind
What is nugget ice?
Nugget ice is a considered a gourmet ice. It is very soft and pleasurable to chew. It absorbs liquids well and enhances drinks. Nugget ice is made in various ways but it is essentially ice that is scraped into a small pellet which keeps it much less dense than a regular ice cube. Although it is available at a wide number of retail establishments, Sonic Drive-In has become synonymous with it. Nugget ice is also referred to by many other names such as pellet ice, sonic ice, hospital ice, and even rabbit turd ice.
Why isn’t there a refrigerator with a nugget ice dispenser?
While I wasn’t able to find a definitive answer to this question online, I think the most likely culprit is the cost. Even the small counter top Opal is several hundred dollars. Under counter nugget ice machines tend to start at well over one thousand dollars and good ones are typically a few thousand. This alone rivals the price of most higher end refrigerators. I suspect the market just can’t justify the expense.
Is it worth it to buy a nugget ice machine?
The answer will vary from person to person but if you have the budget to support it, especially if you live in a warmer climate, you’ll likely have a hard time reverting back to cubed ice if you get one.
A good pellet ice maker will produce better tasting ice for a few reasons:
- The ice will be continually recycled and kept fresh as compared to some other ice makers
- Ice cubes in freezers that share space with other foods can take on an odd taste due to the items it’s sharing the freezer with
- Nugget ice absorbs the liquids it is placed in and better enhances the drinking experience
Best Nugget Ice Machine For Home Use
Unfortunately there isn’t a very inexpensive solution for making nugget ice at home but the Opal Nugget Ice Maker comes pretty close when compared with the other available options. It’s not as convenient to use nor does it have the volume of ice that the Scotsman SCN60PA-1SS has but it is a gross understatement to say that it is quite a bit less expensive. If money is no object, the Scotsman is without a doubt the better option. Good luck and if you find a better solution please drop us a line and let us know the details.