What you need to make shaved ice at home

Cookware & Cooking Tools

Tired of waiting for the State Fair or summer to come around? Make shaved ice at home with a shaved ice or snow cone machine and flavored syrup.

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How to make shaved ice

Shaved ice is a popular, cold dessert typically served at theme parks and state fairs or at high-trafficked beaches during late spring, summer and fall. In especially hot areas, such as Mexico, South America and the Middle East, shaved ice is a sought-after street food.

Also known as Hawaiian Shave Ice, shaved ice is relatively quick and easy to make. Most people make it by taking a block of ice, shaving it into flakes and adding them to a cone or colorful plastic bowl. Then, they flavor those flakes with sweet syrup and, in some cases, add toppings.

Because of it’s sweet, icy nature, shaved ice is the perfect treat on hot, sunny days. Whether you want to make it at home or are interested in setting up a shaved ice stand or shop, here’s what you need.

Shaved ice essentials

Shaved ice isn’t that difficult to make, but it does require a few specialty items, including:

  • Shaved ice machine
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Spoon straws
  • Cones

sweetened condensed milk

Besides this, you’ll also need ice and syrup. If you want to add a unique or fun twist to your shaved ice, consider adding garnishes like ice cream, mochi sweet rice cake topping or sweetened condensed milk.

Best home shaved ice machine

Top home shaved ice machine

Little Snowie Max Snow Cone Machine

Little Snowie Max Snow Cone Machine

What you need to know: High-quality shaved ice machine created by leading commercial brands for at-home or office use.

What you’ll love: Compact, fast and easy to use, this machine comes with flavored powder sticks, easy-pour mixing bottles and reusable shovel spoons. It uses regular ice cubes from the freezer and easily fits on any counter. Plus, it has a one-year guarantee.

What you should consider: Use larger cups or bowls to prevent ice from escaping the machine. Syrup can’t be used in the machine directly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top home shaved ice machine for the money

Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine

Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine

What you need to know: Compact machine that makes shaved ice and snow cones for home parties or small events.

What you’ll love: Affordable, fast and convenient, this machine comes with thick, flavored syrup, spoon straws, easy-to-use pourers, snow cone cups and ice molds. When using the molds, you get fluffy shaved ice. But if you want a slushy-like consistency, consider using regular ice cubes.

What you should consider: An at-home shaved ice machine, this model doesn’t hold as much shaved ice as more industrial options. It also requires time to rest after two-minute intervals.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best industrial shaved ice machine

Top industrial shaved ice machine

Paragon Simply-A-Blast Heavy Duty Snow Cone Machine

Paragon Simply-A-Blast Heavy Duty Snow Cone Machine

What you need to know: Large, industrial machine with a serving scoop made for large get-togethers and commercial use.

What you’ll love: Versatile and efficient, this heavy-duty machine uses adjustable, replaceable stainless steel blades to shave ice. Surprisingly quiet for the power, it quickly makes snow cones or shaved ice from ice cubes. It also has a glass chamber, so you can watch it work. Comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty.

What you should consider: At 50 pounds and with no handles, it’s inconvenient if you need to transport it frequently.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top industrial shaved ice machine for the money

Great Northern Commercial Shaved Ice Machine

Great Northern Commercial Shaved Ice Machine

What you need to know: Affordable industrial machine made for restaurant and café use.

What you’ll love: This highly efficient machine can shave more than 350 pounds of ice in 60 minutes. It’s heavy-duty, stainless steel and comes with a plastic safety guard. Although it’s meant for commercial use, it doubles as an at-home machine for those with large get-togethers or lots of kids.

What you should consider: A little fragile, so the machine should be handled and used with care.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best squeeze bottles

Top squeeze bottles

Hypothermias Plastic Long Neck Bottles with Pourer

Hypothermias Plastic Long Neck Bottles with Pourer

What you need to know: A dozen, 32-ounce bottles that are perfect for holding the thick syrup used for shaved ice or snow cones.

What you’ll love: Lightweight, durable bottles made from hard plastic, so they won’t easily break or spill out the contents when dropped. They come with screw on caps and are easy to pour.

What you should consider: They’re not as fancy as glass. The lids need to be screwed on tightly to preserve the contents’ freshness.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top squeeze bottles for the money

Homestead Choice Plastic Condiment Squeeze Bottles

Homestead Choice Plastic Condiment Squeeze Bottles

What you need to know: Seven-pack of multipurpose, 16-ounce bottles with caps that are safe and convenient for at-home use.

What you’ll love: BPA-free squeeze bottles with leakproof caps that can be used for anything from shaved ice to condiments for BBQs to arts and crafts. They’re easy to squeeze and control the dispensed amount for the perfect bowl or cup of shaved ice.

What you should consider: The bottle’s neck is small, making it difficult to clean or refill with syrup without a funnel.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best shaved ice spoon straws

Top shaved ice spoon straws

OKGD Hard Plastic Spoon Straws

OKGD Hard Plastic Spoon Straws

What you need to know: 40 hard plastic spoon straws with a detachable end for those who prefer a straw or stirring utensil only.

What you’ll love: Convenient 2-in-1 utensil perfect for shaved ice, floats or other cold beverages. They’re reusable and come in four vibrant colors, which makes them a great addition to parties or fun drinks. Dishwasher-safe.

What you should consider: They’re a little difficult to clean inside without a tool. The spoon part may come off when digging through ice.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top shaved ice spoon straws for the money

Sno-Cone Spoon Straws

Sno-Cone Spoon Straws

What you need to know: 400 disposable spoon straws in a variety of bright, neon colors.

What you’ll love: Perfect for frozen beverages, shaved ice and snow cones, these straws are sturdy enough for home and commercial use.

What you should consider: Since they’re disposable, you’ll eventually need to buy new ones.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best shaved ice cones

Top shaved ice cones

Paragon 4-Ounce Sno-Cone Flower Drip Tray Cups

Paragon 4-Ounce Sno-Cone Flower Drip Tray Cups

What you need to know: 100 flower-shaped shaved ice cups for home use.

What you’ll love: These cups come in several festive colors (red, blue, orange, yellow) and have a fun floral shape. Unlike paper cones, they don’t drip or leak. There are several size options.

What you should consider: They’re not meant to be reusable, though they can be hand-washed and do hold up after several uses.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top shaved ice cones for the money

AQUEENLY 100 Snow Cone Cups

AQUEENLY 100 Snow Cone Cups

What you need to know: 100 wax-coated snow cone and shaved ice cups for home parties or events.

What you’ll love: These cups have a classic snow cone shape, are virtually leak-proof and are large enough for a child’s fun, icy treat.

What you should consider: Single-use snow cone cups that may leak if they hold too much liquid or are used for an extended amount of time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Shaved ice syrups

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Syrup set

With so many options out there, the only limitation when it comes to choosing a syrup for shaved ice is your imagination (and your taste buds). Some of the more popular flavored syrups out there include Tiger’s Blood Shaved Ice Concentrate, Banana Shaved Ice Concentrate and Blue Raspberry Shaved Ice Concentrate. Alternatively, consider this Hawaiian Shaved Ice Syrup set which includes cherry, blue raspberry, grape, Tiger’s Blood, Pina Colada and Lemon-Lime.

How to make shaved ice

With a machine

disposable kitchen gloves

To make shaved ice with a machine, fill the machine with the recommended amount of ice. Place a cup or cone beneath the spout where the ice comes out.

Turn on the machine and shave as much ice as needed to fill the cup. Shape the ice with a spoon or by hand using disposable kitchen gloves until it has a spherical shape.

Carefully pour syrup over the shaved ice to flavor it. Use as much syrup in as many different flavor and color combinations as you’d like.

Without a machine

The main difference with this method is that you need to prepare the ice on your own, rather than with a machine. There are a couple ways to do this.

mallet

  • Fill a Ziplock bag with water, place it in the freezer lying flat on its side and wait for it to solidify. Once frozen, use a mallet, hammer or meat grinder to break the ice into small pieces.
  • Fill an ice cube tray with water and freeze it. Then, break the ice out of the tray and put it in a canvas bag. For the best consistency, use a wood mallet meant for crushing ice.
  • Use any other type of desired mold to make ice. Then, shatter it with a mallet.

Once you have the crushed ice, spoon it into a bowl or snow cone cup. Shape it as you go. Then, add the syrup. If desired, garnish it with the topping of your choice or serve it with a small scoop of ice cream.

Tips for making shaved ice at home

shaved ice starter kit

  • Prepare the ice and any optional toppings in advance.
  • Use fruit juice instead of syrup for a healthier flavor option.
  • Save money by getting a small, manual ice shaving machine instead of an electric option.
  • If using syrup, check if it needs to be refrigerated after opening. Also, you may need to add sugar or water to the syrup for the best taste.
  • Start with a shaved ice starter kit so you don’t have to get everything separately.

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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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