Guide to Commercial Ice Machines


Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

What Are Commercial Ice Makers?

A commercial ice machine is a piece of equipment that produces and, along with an ice bin, stores ice for a commercial kitchen. With its attached water source and freezing ice tray mechanism, commercial ice machines are capable of making large amounts of ice cubes quickly over a 24-hour period. There are also flake and nugget ice machines that grind ice into nuggets and flakes for unique applications in healthcare and foodservice.

Commercial ice machines are designed to produce high-quality ice. Regular cleaning and water filtration are crucial to maintaining good ice that ensures a pleasant and consistent taste.

Why Are they Important?

Many restaurants, cafes and cafeterias serve soft drinks and beverages, stock salad bars or blend frozen cocktails. In order to do so, a commercial ice machine is essential. Purchasing the right unit ensures you have the right type of ice for your operation, and never run out of ice during business hours. With the right machine, you can also be sure that you have the best dispensing unit for your needs – be it a simple ice bin and scoop, a single-serve beverage dispenser, or a coin-operated hotel dispenser.

Types of Ice Makers

Choosing the right type of ice for your business is one of the most important considerations to make when shopping for a commercial ice machine. The right type of ice not only adds to the customer experience, but also provides the means for you as a business owner to maximize your beverage profits.

Full Cube Ice Machine

Full-Cube Ice

Full Cube Ice
Full-cube ice is also called “full-dice” ice. It measures 7/8 of an inch all the way around, and resembles a cube in shape.


Full-cube ice melts slowly and has a lot of surface area. This helps cool beverages quickly and keeps them cold for long periods of time. Full-cube ice also adds visual appeal to drinks like whiskey, scotch, and other cocktails.

Ideal Uses

  • Salad Bars
  • Bagged Ice
  • Cocktails
  • Hotel Ice Dispensers


Types of Full-Cube Ice Makers

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Half-Cube Ice Machine

Half-Cube Ice

Half-Cube Ice
Half-cube ice, also referred to as “half-dice” ice, is used in a wide range of applications. Most half-cube ice cubes measure 3/8″ x 7/8″ x 7/8″.


With its unique shape, half-cube ice can pack more tightly into a glass, displacing more liquid. This will increase your beverage profits since customers get a lot of ice in relation to the beverage. It also gives customers a super-chilled drink. Half-cube ice also blends more readily than full-size cubes, making it a good choice for blended coffee drinks or smoothies.

Ideal Uses

  • Blended Drinks
  • Iced Coffee
  • Mixed Drinks
  • Soft Drinks
  • Therapeutic Uses

Types of Half-Cube Ice Makers

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Nugget Ice

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice is also known as pellet ice, pearl ice or “Sonic” ice. It is soft and chewable, which is not only perfect for foodservice, but healthcare as well. Patients who cannot eat solid food are able to hydrate with chewable nugget ice.


Aside from providing customer satisfaction, nugget ice also displaces more liquid than cube or half-cube ice, so operators will see even more beverage profits with this ice. It also blends easily and cools quickly, making it ideal for blended cocktails and smoothies. Nugget ice is great for flavor and color retention in beverages, too.

Ideal Uses

  • Blended Cocktails
  • Ice Wraps/Therapeutic Use
  • Meat/Seafood Displays
  • Produce Displays
  • Salad Bars
Shop Nugget Ice Machines
Flake Ice

Flake Ice

As the name suggests, flake ice consists of small slivers of ice that are flaked off to provide a packable ice perfect for displays. Flake ice packs together well and effectively chills down products on display, from seafood in groceries stores to food in a salad bar.


Molding ice around the product allows more even cooling results. Since flake ice is soft, the product is less likely to scratch or bruise food products. Flake ice can enhance the visual appeal of product displays while maintaining safe food temperatures.

Ideal Uses

  • Blended Cocktails
  • Carbonated Drinks
  • Health Care Settings
  • Smoothies
Shop Flake Ice Machines

Specialized Ice Makers

The aforementioned ice types are the most common, but there are a handful of specialized ice styles that add a little extra flair to a drink. The majority of these ice types are available in undercounter commercial ice machine units only, and will be placed in the back bar area for use in mixed drinks.

Crescent Ice

Crescent ice has the shape of a crescent moon. It is ideal for soft drinks or other beverages. The shape allows the ice to pack together better than full or half cubes, displacing more liquid and further increasing your beverage profit margins.

Types of Crescent Ice Makers

Gourmet Ice

Gourmet ice has a distinct top-hat shape and adds extra sparkle to the drink. The visual appeal makes this ice type ideal for mixed drinks or cocktails. It also melts slowly, so customers can enjoy their drinks at a slower pace without it becoming warm or watered down.

Types of Gourmet Ice Makers

Don’t forget the filtration system!

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About Author

FSW Staff

We love our writers, but here at FSW we promote content generation from all departments. This blog has been written by another one of our multi-talented employees.


  1. I like what you say about purchasing the right type of commercial ice machine so that it ensure you have the right type of ice for your operation. My dad owns a bread and sandwich store and he has to store meats and vegetables. It’s important that he has the right type of ice machine so that food can stay high quality.

  2. My husband and I rent an older house with no ice maker. I never knew how useful they are until I had to go without one. We have a game night every week with our friends, so we are constantly running out of ice for drinks. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a commercial ice machine just so we always have some! Are there any models made to fit on a counter top?

  3. Ice machines are a must-have if you love cool drinks and almost every type of food service business needs an ice machine. But there are different types of ice machines available in the market and we need to choose the best one that suits your needs .We have started running a cool bar here in Canada since last year. It was very difficult to manage the customers till buying an ice machine. Ours is a Whirlpool Gold® 15-inch with reversible door which is bought from Best brands appliance ,Canada. :)

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