‘Tis the season. Homemade ice cream is the ultimate sweet treat—here’s the scoop on the best ice cream maker for trying it out.

There’s nothing better than a bowl of ice cream on a sweltering summer day. If it’s homemade, even better: you can skip the line at the store or ice cream parlor, plus you have complete control over the quality and quantity of ingredients and mix-ins. Plus, making ice cream at home is fun for the whole fam. Before long, you’ll be crafting your own recipes, trying your hand at dairy-free versions, and layering your homemade ice cream into cakes.

I’ve spent the last several years testing and reviewing kitchen appliances, and have thoroughly evaluated almost every ice cream maker out there. I’ve never been tempted to make any a mainstay in my tiny kitchen up until recently, when I tested the Whynter ICM-15LS ($261, amazon.com). (Cue my friends finally understanding why they haven’t seen me in weeks).

This product’s a standout for several reasons. First, one of my biggest complaints about ice cream makers is the amount of space they can occupy – in addition to the unavoidable counter top real estate, most models also demand significant freezer space for the insert bowl to pre-chill before you can start. The Whynter, on the other hand, is a self-refrigerating compressor machine, which means that it’s self-contained and no pre-freezing is required.

In addition to the space you’ll save, not having to pre-freeze means you can churn out a batch of DIY ice cream without having to plan ahead. What’s better than spur-of-the-moment sundaes when friends are over during the summer? With pre-freeze machines, if you haven’t put that big bowl in the freezer hours ahead then the idea’s out. No longer! The compressor in Whynter’s maker also lets you churn out batch after batch of dessert (pre-freeze machines make you put the bowl back in the freezer in between, which for some is a major setback).

But onto the sweet stuff: The Whynter makes some of the smoothest homemade ice cream in a fraction of the time that most other models take. Every flavor I tested (basic vanilla and those with mixed-in ingredients alike) came out with a pronounced creaminess and no bits of ice crystals left behind. Depending on how much dessert you’re making, expect it to run from anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.

Another reason to love the Whynter is how quiet the motor is compared to other models. The lack of noisy, rattling white noise is not just less annoying, it means you can make ice cream after the kids are in bed and not have to worry about waking up the whole house. Also, the bowl and churn blade are easily removable which makes operating and cleaning the machine a breeze.

If you’re new to homemade ice cream or are in search of flavor inspiration, check out these Real Simple recipes for making homemade ice cream. Now go treat yourself, dairy queen!

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