Ninja CREAMi Review: Make Incredibly Easy Tasty Ice Cream at Home
Ninja CREAMi review.

Ninja CREAMi Review: Make Incredibly Easy Tasty Ice Cream at Home

A detailed review that provides you with everything you need to know about the Ninja CREAMi ice cream and gelato maker.

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Ninja NC301 CREAMi Ice Cream Maker, for Gelato, Mix-ins, Milkshakes, Sorbet, Smoothie Bowls & More, 7 One-Touch Programs, with (2) Pint Containers & Lids, Compact Size, Perfect for Kids, Silver

Sizzle & Sear's Rating

Quality of Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbet, and Milkshake
10
Ease of Use
9.5
Overall Build Quality
7.5
Review Summary

Ninja CREAMi Review Summary

The Ninja CREAMi is easy to use and produces rich, creamy, and decadent textures. You can make a wide assortment of tasty treats with it, including sorbet, ice cream, gelato, milkshakes, and smoothie bowls. The CREAMi rivals any other home consumer ice cream maker I've tried, including the Breville Smart Scoop (a detailed comparison between the Ninja CREAMi and Breville Smart Scoop can be found later in this review).

A minor downside is that you have to wait 24-hours for your ingredients to freeze and that a small amount of ingredients cling to the wall of the pint-sized container and don't get fully processed. Both of these negatives though are outweighed by the quality of the final product produced by the Ninja CREAMi ice cream maker.

Everything feels secure when I assemble the Ninja CREAMi; however the overall build quality is lacking with many plastic parts and a flimsy two-prong plug.

All-in-all, it's the best ice cream and gelato maker I've tried, and I highly recommend it if you are in the market for a solution to making homemade ice cream. Keep reading the rest of my Ninja CREAMi review for more details and pictures of my experience with this unique ice cream maker.

Sizzle & Sear's Rating
Highly recommended
Sale
Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 Ice Cream, Gelato, Milkshake, Sorbet, and Smoothie Bowl Maker
  • NINJA CREAMI: With the Ninja CREAMi, you can transform everyday ingredients into ice cream, gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and more.
  • FROM HEALTHY TO INDULGENT: Easily enjoy a wide array of frozen treats like decadent gelato, lite ice cream, dairy-free, gluten-free and much more. The Ninja CREAMi makes delicious treats that fit your lifestyle.
  • COMPACT FOR YOUR COUNTERTOP: The CREAMi is compact in size allowing for seamless storage and fitting easily on your countertop.
  • FUN FOR ALL AGES: Easy-to-use functionality allows for the whole family to enjoy making frozen treats together.
  • MIX-INS: Customize your flavor and texture by mixing in your favorite chocolate, nuts, candy, fruit, and more to personalize any CREAMi treat.

Pricing last updated on June 22, 2022 - 0:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pictures Documenting my Experience with the Ninja CREAMi

Already own the Ninja CREAMi? Be sure to check out my recommended accessories for the Ninja CREAMi.

 

The Full In-Depth Ninja CREAMi Review

Table of Contents

Introduction: Reviewing the Ninja CREAMi

When I first heard about the Ninja CREAMi, I was intrigued and immediately reminded of the Pacojet, which is a commercial ice cream maker with a commercial price tag (read my detailed comparison between the Ninja CREAMi and Pacojet). Luckily, the Ninja CREAMi is much much more affordable than the Pacojet, and I saw it as a prime opportunity to try an alternative version of a kitchen tool I’ve been coveting for quite some time.

Unlike traditional ice cream makers, both the Ninja CREAMi and Pacojet do not use a churning process to create ice cream; instead they both use a very powerful blade that spins at a high speed to work from the top to the bottom of a pint of frozen solid ingredients.

Ninja CREAMi process ice cream similarly to the Pacojet
Image from NinjaKitchen.com

Although some may argue that this isn’t “true ice cream”, my experience with the Ninja CREAMi shows that this process can create textures and consistencies that rival, and in a lot of cases beat, the churning method available on ice cream makers marketed towards home consumers.

In addition to matching and beating the textures of traditional home ice cream makers, the Ninja CREAMi results in less waste because ice cream doesn’t get stuck to a paddle, and the final frozen product is at a much colder temperature, so you don’t have to worry about it immediately melting after processing. With a 24-hour waiting period for ingredients to freeze, the Ninja CREAMi does require a little more fore-thought in preparation, but overall it’s a much easier process, and it just takes 3-minutes to process a pint when you are ready to transform your frozen ingredients into a tasty treat.

The Ninja CREAMi method also opens up many possibilities for dairy-free ice creams and unique creations, both savory and sweet. You are only limited by your own creativity.

Sale
Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 Ice Cream, Gelato, Milkshake, Sorbet, and Smoothie Bowl Maker
  • NINJA CREAMI: With the Ninja CREAMi, you can transform everyday ingredients into ice cream, gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and more.

Pricing last updated on June 22, 2022 - 0:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How does the Ninja CREAMi work?

You may be wondering what does the Ninja CREAMi do and how does it work? As mentioned in the introduction of this review, the Ninja CREAMi ice cream machine works differently than traditional ice cream makers. The first thing you need to do is freeze ingredients in one of three provided pints (note: more pints can be purchased if you want to have more varieties of ice creams and gelato on hand). For ice creams and gelatos, it’s key that the ingredients include a combination of fat and sugar in order to get the right texture and consistency; for sorbets, you can often get away with just throwing in a can of fruit (including the juices).

Ninja recommends that you freeze your ingredients for at least 24 hours (the entirety of your base needs to reach a temperature between 9°F and -7°F); however, I have tried spinning my ingredients after just 18 hours and have had good results. I speculate it really depends on the temperature of your freezer; I assume if you had a blast chiller you could get away with a much shorter waiting period.

It’s important to note that if your freezer is set to a very cold temperature, you may get a result that looks crumbly; Ninja recommends that if this happens, you should just process the mixture one more time using the re-spin function. Personally, I often have mixtures come out crumbly, and I find it easy to just give it a stir with my ice cream scoop and watch it all come together.

After your ingredients are frozen solid, the pint is attached to the machine and a program is selected. The Ninja CREAMi comes in both a 5-in-1 and 7-in-1 variation. I own the 7-in-1 variation, and it comes with preset programs for ice cream, lite ice cream, sorbet, gelato, mix-ins, smoothie bowls, and milkshakes; whereas the 5-in-1 option is missing the smoothie bowl and milkshake option. At this time, it appears that the 5-in-1 option has been discontinued, so it may be difficult to locate.

After your program is selected, a very powerful blade spins and works its way from the top to the bottom of the pint—a process that Ninja calls creamifying.

What Comes With the Ninja CREAMi?

The 7-in-1 Ninja CREAMi comes with the machine itself, three pint-sized containers, and a recipe booklet that includes 30 recipes.

The recipe booklet provided with the Ninja CREAMi comes with a handy substitution guide so that you can swap out dairy for non-dairy and vice versa. It even has suggestions for substituting corn syrup with agave syrup. These substitutions are super handy for people with dietary restrictions, like lactose intolerance, or people who simply want to have lighter versions of tasty dessert treats. Once you try out a few of the recipes found in the booklet, you should be comfortable experimenting with your own creations.

Reviewing Ninja CREAMi Recipes

For the purposes of this review, I selected a cross section of recipes from the booklet in order to test a good number of the Ninja CREAMi’s capabilities.

Easy One Ingredient Recipes: Pineapple Sorbet and Banana Ice Cream

Creating both the pineapple sorbet and banana ice cream couldn’t be easier.

For the pineapple sorbet, I simply emptied out a can of pineapples, juices and all, into the Ninja CREAMi pint. I froze the pint for 24-hours and then processed it using the sorbet option on the machine. The result was a delicious and refreshing sorbet, a perfect light treat for a summer day. The only negative is that a small amount of ingredients clung to the sidewall of the pint-sized container and did not get processed properly; however, the amount was minimal and it did not affect the overall taste of the sorbet.

The banana ice cream was a similar process; I just added fresh bananas to the pint container. I had to flatten the bananas though, and I found my favorite meat tenderizer, the Norpro Grip-EZ Stainless Steel Meat Pounder, to be the perfect tamping device for the Ninja CREAMi. It fit right into the pint-sized container, and had enough weight to flatten the ingredients. Flattening out the ingredients is important, as uneven freezing or ingredient distribution could result in damage to the Ninja CREAMi blade.

After the bananas were frozen, I simply loaded up the machine and pushed the “sorbet” button. Despite running the sorbet program, the resulting product was rich and creamy like ice cream, owing to the bananas’ natural buttery texture. The overall taste was very good but a bit mono; in the future I’m going to experiment with adding some strawberries and perhaps a dash of artificial banana extract to give the overall flavor a boost.

Tamping bananas down before freezing for the Ninja CREAMi ice cream maker.
I flatten my ice cream ingredients by repurposing my meat tenderizer; Ninja warns against processing ingredients that are frozen unevenly.
Sale
Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 Ice Cream, Gelato, Milkshake, Sorbet, and Smoothie Bowl Maker
  • NINJA CREAMI: With the Ninja CREAMi, you can transform everyday ingredients into ice cream, gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and more.

Pricing last updated on June 22, 2022 - 0:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Smooth and Decadent Ice Cream

To test out the ice cream function of the Ninja CREAMi, I made both a peach ice cream and a chocolate ice cream.

You could make a simple peach sorbet by just emptying out a can of peaches into the pint-sized container, as I did with the pineapple sorbet earlier in this review; however, if you want a richer texture and consistency, you will want to add some dairy or dairy substitutes.

For the peach ice cream, I mixed together canned peaches, whole milk, heavy cream, corn syrup, and a splash of vanilla. The recipe booklet called for an almond milk coffee creamer instead of dairy, and agave syrup instead of corn syrup, but I used the ingredients I had on hand. It all worked out fine in the end, as you can see in the pictures below.

I scooped out the ice cream in nice round portions using my favorite ice cream scoop. This ice cream scoop by Zeroll has liquid trapped inside it that efficiently transfers heat to make it easy to get through frozen treats.

For the chocolate ice cream, I simply mixed together sugar, cocoa powder, cream cheese, whole milk, and heavy cream. This recipe resulted in a very delicious basic chocolate ice cream; I would love to try some more decadent melted chocolate in the future.

Sale
Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 Ice Cream, Gelato, Milkshake, Sorbet, and Smoothie Bowl Maker
  • NINJA CREAMI: With the Ninja CREAMi, you can transform everyday ingredients into ice cream, gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and more.

Pricing last updated on June 22, 2022 - 0:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Thick and Creamy Gelato

In order to test the Gelato function of my 7-in-1 Ninja CREAMi, I tried the maple gelato recipe found in the provided recipe booklet.

The main difference between the gelato and the ice cream recipes in the Ninja CREAMi booklet is that the gelato calls for egg yolks. An egg-yolk base that’s heated to around 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit is a fairly common ice cream recipe. However, due to the Ninja CREAMi’s lack of churning, there is much less air incorporated into the final product, which results in a thick, dense, and rich texture that rivals that of my local gelato shop.

In addition to the egg yolks, the recipe also called for maple sugar, light brown sugar, heavy cream, and whole milk. The recipe only called for the mixture to reach a temperature of between 165 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit; however, with the help of my Breville PolyScience Control Freak, I was able to achieve a temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature just before the mixture would start to curdle. The closer you can get to 185 degrees Fahrenheit without going over, the thicker your gelato or ice cream will be.

Mix-Ins

I tested out the mix-in function using the recipe for vanilla ice cream, but replacing the vanilla with mint extract and adding a few drops of green food coloring for appearances.

The mix-in function runs the blade at a slower speed so that you can mix in candies, cookies, frozen fruit, sprinkles, nuts, and more without chopping them up too much; in fact hard mix-ins like chocolate, candy, and nuts will not be broken down during the mix-in program, while softer mix-ins like cookies, cereal, and frozen fruit will end up smaller, but not turn into one homogenous mass. The meat tenderizer I recommended for tamping your ingredients earlier in this review can also be used to crush nuts, candies, and other mix-ins prior to throwing them into your pint if you are worried about the blade not taking care of them.

I decided to add some mini-chocolate chips to my ice cream, and the mix-in function worked as promised, distributing the chocolate chips evenly across the entire pint of ice cream.

Milkshakes

In addition to sorbet, ice cream, and gelato, the Ninja CREAMi can also make frothy milkshakes. I turned my homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream into a milkshake, and it couldn’t have been easier. I simply mixed together the ice cream with some whole milk; I then pushed the “milkshake” button and watched the Ninja CREAMi transform the mixture into a delicious treat.

Sale
Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 Ice Cream, Gelato, Milkshake, Sorbet, and Smoothie Bowl Maker
  • NINJA CREAMI: With the Ninja CREAMi, you can transform everyday ingredients into ice cream, gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and more.

Pricing last updated on June 22, 2022 - 0:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Options: Lite Ice Cream and Smoothie Bowls

Ninja suggests that when you use granulated sugar or corn syrup substitutes (e.g. agave syrup) that you use the lite ice cream program. I don’t have direct experience with this option, but I assume it adjusts the blade speed to account for the difference in the sugar to fat ratio.

The recipe booklet comes with several recipes for smoothie bowls, including coconut mango, very berry cherry, and strawberry banana protein smoothie bowls. I have yet to try this function of the Ninja CREAMi, but I look forward to doing so in the near future. If you’ve tried making smoothie bowls with your Ninja CREAMi, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section at the end of this review.

What Do You Do With Ninja CREAMi Leftovers?

If you don’t finish an entire pint, you can put it back in the freezer and later reprocess it using the program you used to originally make it; this will get you back to a sorbet, ice cream, or gelato consistency. You will want to make sure that when you refreeze it, you flatten the ingredients so that it’s even. Uneven freezing could damage the blade of the Ninja CREAMi. I once again repurpose my favorite meat tenderizer, the Norpro Grip-EZ Stainless Steel Meat Pounder, to tamp the ingredients until they are smooth and flat.

Tamping down Ninja CREAMi leftovers using a meat tenderizer.
Repurposing my favourite meat tenderizer to tamp down ingredients before refreezing. You want to make sure all your ingredients are flat before freezing in order to prevent damage to the Ninja CREAMi blade.

Ninja CREAMi Accessories Review

In addition to ice cream maker unit itself, these are the accessories I use when making frozen treats on the Ninja CREAMi:

Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop: Liquid Filled Heat Conductive Handle
The unique heat-conductive liquid in the handle uses the natural warmth of your hand to make for smooth and effortless scooping and easy release; this results in perfectly round portions.

Pricing last updated on June 21, 2022 - 23:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sale
Norpro Grip-EZ Stainless Steel Meat Pounder
Yes, I know I've mentioned this tool plenty of times in this Ninja CREAMi review, but it's so perfect for the job, I had to share!

I repurpose this meat tenderizer to flatten my ingredients prior to freezing, to flatten leftover pints prior to refreezing, and to crush mix-in ingredients with ease. It's a perfect fit inside the Ninja CREAMi pint-sized containers.

Pricing last updated on June 21, 2022 - 23:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Four Pint-Sized Containers with Lids for the Ninja CREAMi
Four extra pint-sized containers to keep your creativity going!

Pricing last updated on June 21, 2022 - 23:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ninja CREAMi Recipes

If you are looking for more recipes for your Ninja CREAMi, consider getting the Ninja CREAMi Cookbook for Beginners, which is published by Ninja themselves. It comes with unique recipe ideas beyond what’s in the 30-recipe booklet that comes with the Ninja CREAMi.

Sale
Ninja CREAMi Cookbook for Beginners (Ninja Cookbooks)
  • Ninja Test Kitchen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 146 Pages - 07/20/2021 (Publication Date) - Rockridge Press (Publisher)

Pricing last updated on June 21, 2022 - 23:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ninja CREAMi vs. Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

Prior to owning the Ninja CREAMi, I purchased a Breville Smart Scoop ice cream maker. The Breville Smart Scoop is a traditional churn-style ice cream maker, but unlike many other home units on the market that require you to freeze the churning bowl prior to use, this came with a built-in refrigeration unit. With the built-in refrigeration, I could churn an ice cream to completion in less than an hour provided that I cooled any heated ice cream base in an ice bath prior to churning.

I really like the Breville Smart Scoop for the texture it creates and the convenience of a built-in refrigeration unit. It allows me to make impromptu ice cream desserts without much forethought; however there are some drawbacks when compared to the Ninja CREAMi.

First of all, the amount of counter space that the Breville Smart Scoop takes up is more than double that of my Ninja CREAMi. Due to this, I never keep it out on my counter; compare that to the Ninja CREAMi which I’ve left out on my counter since the day I got it!

With the increased size and built-in-refrigeration unit, the Breville Smart Scoop is much heavier than the Ninja CREAMi and you will notice this extra heft if you are constantly storing it away to save counter space.

Finally, something that’s always bugged me about the Breville Smart Scoop is the amount of ice cream that gets stuck to the paddle during the churning process. Instead of having an unobstructed container that you can easily scoop ice cream out of like the Ninja CREAMi, the Breville Smart Scoop has a paddle right in the middle of the container that you will need to scoop around. You can try to remove the ice cream from the paddle with a rubber spatula; however, the ice cream from the Breville Smart Scoop is at a much lower temperature than the Ninja CREAMi, and I always find myself racing against the clock to prevent melting when I’m trying to salvage ice cream from the paddle.

With the purchase of the Ninja CREAMi, I think I’ve found a new favorite ice cream maker. I will wait a bit though before offloading my Breville Smart Scoop as it’s still a solid traditional ice cream maker.

Cleaning and Care Instructions for the Ninja CREAMi

The containers, lids, and blade of the CREAMi are top-rack dishwasher safe, according to Ninja. However, out of abundance of caution I only wash the pint containers and lids in the dishwasher, the rest can be washed with a quick rinse in a sink full of hot soapy water. You will also want to use a damp cloth to wipe down the spindle below the control panel after each use.

Final Verdict: Concluding the Ninja CREAMi Review

If it isn’t already obvious based on how detailed this Ninja CREAMi review is, I’ve given the Ninja CREAMi quite the work out, and I absolutely love this machine. The Ninja CREAMi is super easy to use and it allows you to make things that other consumer ice cream makers just aren’t capable of. It unleashed my creativity and has me making way more ice cream than I ever did on my traditional churn-style ice cream maker.

Of course there’s always going to be some downsides. I like how accessible the pint-sized containers are; however, it does kind of suck having to wait 24 hours for the ingredients to freeze. Maybe I’ll splurge one day on a blast freezer, but until that day comes, I’ll have to learn to be patient. 

Also it would be nice to have the sides of the bowl fully scraped clean by the blade, but I understand the limitation when using plastic containers; the last thing you’d want in your ice cream is plastic shavings. I can live with the small amount of ice cream that’s frozen to the sidewalls of the container; it’s very little compared to all the wasted ice cream that clings to the paddle in the inner-bowl of my traditional churn-style ice cream maker.

Ninja CREAMi Review: Pros and Cons

Pros of the Ninja CREAMiCons of the Ninja CREAMi
Creamiest, richest, and densest gelato I've ever made at home.Requires forethought in preparation due to 24-hour wait for ingredients to freeze.
Easy to make dairy-free, low-fat, low-sugar versions of your favorite ice cream treat.A small amount of ingredients cling on to the sidewall and don't fully process; however, this does not affect the taste and quality of the overall product.
Competes with a ultra-expensive commercial ice cream maker.
Takes up little counter space and is light weight.

Overall, I absolutely recommend the Ninja CREAMi for anyone wanting to make ice cream at home; it is by far the best ice cream maker I've encountered for the home kitchen.

I hope this Ninja CREAMi review will help you decide on whether or not the Ninja CREAMi is worth it for you.

Did you enjoy this review? Be sure to leave your throughts in the comment section below.

Sale
Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 Ice Cream, Gelato, Milkshake, Sorbet, and Smoothie Bowl Maker
  • NINJA CREAMI: With the Ninja CREAMi, you can transform everyday ingredients into ice cream, gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and more.

Pricing last updated on June 22, 2022 - 0:00 MDT / Pricing and images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Jim
5 months ago

How loud is the CREAMi? Is it like a Ninja blender or more like a Vitamix? Can I use it in a thin-walled apartment building at 2am like I can my self-freezing Cuisinart ICE-100 compressor ice cream maker (~70Db)? Did you try any blended drinks? I suppose they’re like sorbet, but I don’t know if it would be better to add alcohol before freezing or right before blending. My Cuisinart can make a smooth frozen gin and tonic that is even still a little bit fizzy after freezing for only 20-30 minutes. I assume the CREAMi base would go totally… Read more »

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