Buying Guide for Commercial Ice Machine

Every restaurant needs a good ice maker. You may think that all commercial ice makers are created equally, but that is not the case. If you are a restaurant owner, you need to make sure that you have a fresh and constant supply of clean ice for the happiness, health, and safety of your crew and your customers. 

You need an ice maker that is reliable, has a great water filtration system, and can operate and produce ice at a high level for when you are the busiest. If you need a little help with finding the perfect commercial ice machine for you, here is our buying guide for commercial ice machines. 

What most of us don’t think about consciously when using or shopping for an ice machine is that the type of ice cube the machine produces matters. Depending on what kind of restaurant or business you’re running, there are different types of ice cubes and ice makers that could be best suited for your business. 

Full cube commercial ice makers

Full cube ice makers produce a large dimension ice cube that is ideal for cocktails or putting your customer's favorite liquor drink on the rocks. The large size of these ice cubes makes it so that they don’t melt as quickly as say half cubes, pellet ice, or other smaller commercial ice cube makers. The downside to larger ice cubes is that they don’t cool drinks as quickly as smaller cubes that you will find with other commercial ice makers. 

The upside is that full cube makers make large, symmetrical cubes that are perfect for serving cocktails and hard drinks, and will keep those cool without watering them down. The downside is that these cubes don’t displace liquid very well, which can end up costing the restaurant owner more in drink costs. These types of ice makers are perfect for casual restaurants, bars, and hotel ice machines

Half cube commercial ice makers

Half cube ice machines produce cubes that are roughly half the size of full cubes. The benefit of half cubes is that they also offer a higher ice-to-water ratio, making it easier to freeze hard ice cubes. These are the most versatile type of commercial ice makers, which is why they are some of the most purchased and most widely used. They are great for casual restaurants and quick-service restaurants as well as at smoothie bars. 

Because of the smaller shape, these ice cubes will cool a drink more quickly than full cubes. They will also back more densely into a glass and displace more liquid, which can save restaurant owners on cost per drink. They melt faster than full cubes, but they also get drinks cooler more quickly. 

Pellet commercial ice makers

Sonic is probably the most well-known restaurant for serving pellets or nugget ice. This is a fast-food ice favorite and ideal for people who like to munch their ice. Pellet ice is great because it soaks up the liquids within its container, making for a crunchy and cold snack after you finish your drink. 

These are great for fast food drinks and smoothies, as well as blended alcoholic drinks. Pellet ice is great for saving restaurant owners and operators on drink cost, because they easily fill any container you put them in, making for a high ratio of ice-to-liquid. These ice makers are also energy efficient. These commercial ice makers don’t have to work as hard to produce ice, which can save owners on utility bills as well. 

Flake commercial ice makers

Flake ice machines produce small ice flakes. They are great for chilling food because they can shift their shape and contour into or around just about any container. Flake ice is not great for drinks but great for buffets and grocery stores that need to keep foods on ice. 


Gourmet ice is the slowest melting ice and is often the type of luxurious cube that you would find in high-end restaurants, fancy bars and lounges, and event centers or banquet halls. These cubes are larger than all other types of ice, which means they melt the slowest. They are ideal for high-end liquor, craft cocktails, and specialty adult beverages. 


Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of the commercial ice makers that are available to you. The ideal commercial ice maker you need is largely dependent on the type of restaurant you own, what you’re serving, and the customers you have. If you are interested in shopping for commercial ice makers or learning more about them, contact our restaurant equipment experts at Texas Restaurant Equipment, today.