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Snow Cone Machine vs. Shaved Ice Machine: What's the Difference?

An in-depth comparison of two popular frozen dessert makers.

By Bruno LopesPublished 11 months ago 3 min read

When it comes to icy treats, snow cones, and shaved ice are two popular options. While many people use the terms interchangeably, there are actually differences between the two, including the machines used to make them. In this article, we'll explore the differences between snow cone machines and shaved ice machines.

Snow Cone Machines

Quality and cheap snow cone machines

Snow cone machines have been around for decades and are a staple at fairs, carnivals, and other events. They work by grinding ice into tiny pieces using a spinning blade. The ice is then scooped into a paper cone, and flavored syrup is added on top.

One of the benefits of using a snow cone machine is that they are easy to operate and require minimal maintenance. They are also relatively affordable, with some models priced under $50. Additionally, because the ice is not shaved but crushed, the resulting texture is coarser and crunchier than shaved ice.

However, there are also some downsides to using a snow cone machine. Because the ice is crushed rather than shaved, it melts quickly and can become watery. Additionally, the flavors of the syrup may not mix evenly with the ice, leading to some bites being more flavorful than others.

Shaved Ice Machines

Quality and cheap shaved ice machines

Shaved ice machines, on the other hand, use a blade to shave a block of ice into thin, fluffy pieces. The shaved ice is then packed tightly into a cup or bowl, and flavored syrup is poured over the top.

One of the benefits of using a shaved ice machine is that the resulting texture is lighter and fluffier than snow cones. Additionally, because the ice is shaved rather than crushed, it takes longer to melt, meaning that the treat stays cold and refreshing for longer. Shaved ice also allows for more even flavor distribution throughout the entire treat.

However, shaved ice machines can be more expensive than snow cone machines, with some models costing several hundred dollars. They also require more maintenance, as the blades need to be sharpened and the machine needs to be cleaned regularly. Additionally, shaved ice is more delicate than crushed ice, so it can be more difficult to transport and serve.

Which One is Right for You?

Ultimately, deciding between a snow cone machine and a shaved ice machine depends on personal preference and intended use. If you are looking for a machine that is easy to operate and maintain and you don't mind a coarser texture, then a snow cone machine may be the best option. On the other hand, if you want a lighter, fluffier texture and are willing to invest more money and time into maintenance, then a shaved ice machine may be a better choice.

It's also worth considering where and how you plan to use the machine. If you are looking to start a business selling icy treats, then a shaved ice machine may be a better investment as it is more versatile and can produce a wider variety of flavors and textures. However, a snow cone machine may be more practical if you are looking to make a few treats for personal use or for a small event.


In conclusion, when it comes to snow cone machines and shaved ice machines, the two are similar in that they both offer frozen treats but differ in their texture. Snow cones are crunchy and present a larger variety of flavors, while shaved ice is fluffier and more likely to melt quickly. Ultimately, the right machine for you will depend on your preferences and budget. Whether you prefer a snow cone or shaved ice experience, both machines can help make summertime memories with friends and family.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.


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