In a modern kitchen, an ice crusher is a convenient tool to have especially when you need crushed ice quickly for your margarita. It quickly crushes ice cubes effortlessly so that you can restaurant-quality cocktail ice whenever you need it.
How fast it produces crushed ice will depend though on what kind of ice crusher it is. Automatic models are the most popular ones because they don’t require elbow grease. Just plug it into a power source, throw the ice cubes in, press a button, and presto, instant crushed ice.
And yet there are those who prefer a manual one. Hand crank ice crushers are old school, but many still find them simpler, easier to fix, eco-friendly, and, in some cases, nostalgic.
To be fair though, a hand crank isn’t necessarily an anachronism. It does have its uses. For instance, you can bring it with you outdoors because it’s portable and lightweight enough.
Or, if you work in a gym or are preparing to coach your kid’s basketball team, it’s a handy tool to have on standby. It can quickly and efficiently turn hard ice cubes into slush ice that’s perfect for nursing a sore muscle or sprained ankle.
And for those living off-grid, a hand crank ice machine is an essential companion for a solar-powered ice maker.
Hand crank ice crushers are also cheaper than automatic models. They work well on store-bought ice. They’re also a practical option for those who have limited kitchen counter space.
Ideally, the best ones are those that are constructed durably enough to withstand a lot of cranking and produce quality crushed ice for your various needs. They should also be easy to use and clean. Some of them will even allow you to produce coarse or finely crushed ice.
But here’s the catch: quality hand crank models are hard to come by.
In the worldwide market that is Amazon, there is a dearth of choices. I’ve read each review on the ones that are still available online and they have been disappointing, to say the least.
In a scenario like this, the best thing one can do is to look for a product warranty. So that when they will break down sooner or later, you’ll at least be able to get a replacement or a refund.
So while my picks for this category will not be good enough to last a lifetime of use, they’re good enough to get you through an occasional need for crushed ice. But if you’re one who enjoys a frozen cocktail on a daily basis or loves making big batches of margarita, you’re better off looking at the automatic ice crushers.
Here are my picks for the top 5 hand crank ice crushers.
Best Hand Crank Ice Crushers
- Rabbit Retro Manual Ice Crusher
- Time for Treats Iceberg ice crusher
- MANBA Ice Shaver and Snow Cone Machine
- Nuvantee Manual Ice Crusher
- Generic Manual Hand Crank Operated Ice Crusher
1. Rabbit Retro Manual Ice Crusher
Designed in a 1950’s style, this hand crank ice crusher has an all-metal top with a polished chrome finish and a clear base. It makes both coarse and fine crushed ice and can produce a quart of ice in just two minutes.
Its crush settings are adjusted by its hand crank; turn it clockwise for finely crushed ice and turn it counterclockwise for coarse ice. It’s easy to clean and comes with a lifetime warranty on all of its moving parts.
- Crank turns both ways
- Not dishwasher safe
- Hinge pin easily loosens
2. Time for Treats Iceberg Ice Crusher
Good for light household use, this ice crusher can produce crushed ice for mai tais and other Tikki-style cocktails. It can hold about 5 cups of crushed ice.
It’s equipped with a chrome-plated steel handle that’s easy to crank. Its stainless steel blades can crush ice into coarse and fine pieces. It also has a strong grip suction base that’s adjustable by a lever to keep it more stable when cranking ice.
Users report that this product will work on 2-inch ice cubes that are shaped like a half-moon. The manufacturer guarantees a 5-year warranty for this model.
- Long term warranty
- Has suction base for added stability
- Not dishwasher safe
3. MANBA Ice Shaver and Snow Cone Machine
This kitchen tool crushes ice into a fine consistency like snow cone ice. It uses three 18/8 stainless steel blades to achieve more precise cuts which make it quicker than most models.
It’s easy to use; ice cubes are placed on top of the base where they are manually pushed down into the blades using the pushing lid. Cranking the handle makes the blades rotate so it can crush the ice into fine particles.
The rest of the body is made from BPA-free plastic. There is also a 15-piece silicone ice cube tray that comes with the product.
- Easy to use
- Some users report that the crushed ice tastes like plastic
- Others report finding plastic flecks on the ice
4. Nuvantee Manual Ice Crusher
This is a large capacity rust-proof ice crusher that can hold about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of ice cubes. It’s chrome-plated and has zinc-alloy construction. It also has strong, non-slip legs for added stability.
This tool is capable of crushing normal size ice cubes or mini ice cubes. It uses carbon stainless steel 430 blades to crush your ice into various degrees of coarseness to fineness. One user reported that it takes about 40-60 easy cranks to produce a half cup of crushed ice.
This product includes an ice spoon and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- Durable blades
- Lifetime warranty
- Not for the elderly and those with hand/arm mobility issues
5. Generic Manual Hand Crank Operated Ice Crusher
This is a basic hand crank ice crusher that can hold about a liter of ice. It probably won’t last long if used on a daily basis but it’s perfect for those occasions when you need crushed ice outdoors, like for instance, a barbecue party.
It’s equipped with a screw-off cover with a side manual crank handle that is both made from plastic. The crusher blades, meanwhile, are made of stainless steel.
- Large capacity
- Easy turn hand crank
- No warranty stated
- Handwash only
Buyers Guide to Picking a Hand Crank Ice Crusher
Manual ice crushers are made from stainless steel and plastic components. Depending on the model, some will have stainless steel cranks, bases, or knobs but in general, these parts are made from high-quality plastic. Stainless steel blades are, however, a standard feature in an ice crusher.
Check for quality in the stainless steel used for the blades. Some models will carry a grade 408 stainless steel which is good enough for most purposes because it’s heat-resistant, although it has poor corrosion resistance. A 430 carbon steel blade is much better since it has good corrosion and oxidation resistance.
Pick a model that uses high-quality plastic. These usually come with labels like BPA-free or food grade. Avoid low-quality ones because the plastic will degrade after one or two uses.
Size and Capacity
Manual ice crushers are designed for portability which is why they are compact and are not designed for crushing large amounts of ice. At most, you can get 5 cups of crushed ice from relatively large ones in this category. The smallest size will give you a yield of around a quarter of a cup of ice which is only good for one cocktail drink.
Ease of Use
How user-friendly is it? One thing you should note is how smooth and easy the crank is. And when it comes to cleaning the item, are the parts detachable? Are they dishwasher safe?
Given the quality of the materials in the market, the least you can hope for is that they’re easy to clean by rinsing under running water.
One useful feature for models like this is the addition of a rubber or suction cup base to keep the crusher stable on a solid surface when cranking it.
Find one that guarantees a warranty. Because the quality of the models that are currently available is inconsistent, a warranty is your best bet against getting a dud. A one-year product warranty is standard with items like this.