The DeLonghi Gelato Maker (Model GM6000) is a great option for making dense, creamy gelato, ice cream or sorbet in about 45 minutes. Convenient and easy to use, the gelato maker has a built-in compressor so there is no need to pre-freeze a bowl.
About the DeLonghi Gelato Maker
The DeLonghi Gelato Maker is bulky, but with a smooth, streamlined shape, very few parts and a brushed-silver plastic housing.
The simple control is a single knob with options for paddle rotation only, chilling only, or rotation and chilling together, each depicted by an icon. The stainless steel bowl that chills the ice cream is removable, as is a plastic paddle and a clear lid lets you view the progress of the gelato or ice cream as it's being made. With its built-in compressor (which uses an efficient refrigerant gas that doesn't deplete the ozone layer), the unit can make gelato from chilled ingredients in about 30 to 40 minutes, and can even make batches back to back. Gelato is different from ice cream in that it has less butterfat than ice cream, is churned at a slower speed, so the mixture is denser and not as airy, and is typically made and stored at a higher temperature than ice cream. Obviously the first of these factors depends on the recipe used, but it did seem like the paddle turned a little slower than the ice cream makers I've tested, and the resulting gelato was as creamy and soft as the offerings I've tasted at various gelaterias, both in the U.S. and in Italy.
That said, just about any ice cream recipe can be used in this machine with good effect, as well as recipes for sorbet and sherbet.
Putting The DeLonghi Gelato Maker to the Test
After years of using the type of automatic ice cream maker that comes with a bowl that needs to be frozen solid before use, trying out the DeLonghi Gelato Maker was a revelation.
The first time I used the unit, I did have a bit of a delay, as I had just unpacked the machine from the box and according to the instructions, you need to let the machine rest for about an hour before using it if it's been tilted or jostled. But that gave me just enough time to prepare the pistachios and the custard base for a pistachio gelato/ice cream recipe I wanted to test out. Assembling the machine was simple – the bowl fits easily into an indentation in the unit, and the plastic paddle slips onto a post in the center of the bowl. I swabbed the bottom of the bowl with a little alcohol (in my case, rum), as suggested in the manual to keep the bowl from freezing to the machine. Then I poured the chilled custard base into the bowl, put on the lid (which creates a hermetic seal to help maintain the temperature inside the bowl) and flipped the switch to turn on the paddle and chiller. About 45 minutes later, the unit had produced a thick, creamy, spoonable gelato. The machine even comes with a scoop that's specially designed to fit perfectly into the corners of the bowl to efficiently scoop out all the ice cream into a freezer-safe container.
In my testing, the gelato made in the machine didn't ever get super-firm; it remained the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
But it was definitely enjoyable as is, or a few hours in the freezer would firm up the texture. The motor is a bit louder than automatic ice cream makers with freezer bowls, but still tolerable. I found I could still carry on a conversation with someone while standing near the machine, and it was relatively easy to tune the motor out as white noise. The see-through lid was a bonus to watch as the ice cream gradually thickened, and I liked the ability to turn the dial to stop the paddle's turning action, without stopping the freezer, to sneak a taste of the ice cream or to throw in some mix-ins.
The paddle seems a little flimsy – one of the arms is very thin and flexible and I can envision it snapping off if the ice cream it's mixing ever gets too stiff, and I've heard of customer complaints that this does indeed happen on occasion.
But then again, the ice cream doesn't ever get too solid, so hopefully taking care with this paddle when washing it and storing it and making sure to stop the machine in the event that the ice cream does get thick enough to strain the paddle, will keep it safe from breakage.
My only real complaint about the DeLonghi Gelato Maker was its small capacity. It's such a large machine (about 12 inches wide by 16 inches deep by 9 inches tall), it took up quite a chunk of real estate on my counter, and at nearly 30 pounds it's really too heavy and big to move from a cabinet every time you wanted to make a batch of gelato. But that bulk is all from the motor and the compressor – the actual bowl has a capacity of 1 1/4 quarts but really only can produce a little over a pint of ice cream.
- No need to pre-freeze the mixing bowl
- Easy to use
- Fairly quiet
- Takes up lots of space
- Makes a very small amount
- Self-refrigerated compressor
- Removable stainless steel bowl
- Plastic paddle and scoop
- Paddle, bowl, and lid are dishwasher safe
- Comes with instruction booklet and recipe booklet with 50 recipes
- Dimensions: 12.5 inches wide, 16.5 inches deep and 9.44 inches tall
- 28 pounds
- 200-watt motor
- Bowl capacity is 1 1/4 quarts; produces 2 3/4 cup ice cream
- 1-year limited warranty
A sample unit was loaned to the reviewer for purposes of testing.