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Nugget ice is excellent. I should know; I use it every day. To be honest, I didn’t know how excellent nugget ice was until I purchased my first nugget ice maker in 2018, the original Opal Nugget Ice Maker. We always have a nugget ice maker on our kitchen counter all summer. Whether it’s me or my kids, we’re always filling our glass with nugget ice.

A Glass of Nugget Ice

There is nothing that can beat that chewable goodness that absorbs all of the flavor of your beverage. If you don’t know what nugget ice is, take a trip to a Sonic Drive-Thru or a Chick-fil-A and notice the ice they serve. For that reason, nugget ice is often called Sonic ice or the “good ice.

Nugget ice is produced when ice crystals are packed together into a small, soft, chewable ice nugget. Nugget ice doesn’t just soak up the flavor of your beverage; it also chills your beverage faster because you can get more ice in your glass.

Our Top Pick – NewAir Nugget Ice Maker (Coupon BETTER10)

Most Advanced – GE Profile Opal 2.0

Most Affordable – Thereye Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

There was a time when purchasing a Sonic or Nugget ice maker would cost you thousands of dollars because the only units available to make Nugget Ice were large, commercial ice makers. But those days are done; small nugget ice makers are everywhere now.


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Not everyone needs hundreds of pounds of nugget ice each day! What if you want a small nugget ice maker that can fit on your countertop? What if you are looking for a nugget ice maker that is affordable? This article is going to help.

I embarked on a journey to find the best and most affordable small nugget ice maker I could use. This article will give you my results. I tested all of these units before recommending them to you.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GE Profile Opal 2.0

First, Let me introduce you to the GE Profile Opal 2.0.

I loved this portable ice maker because it just feels expensive – high-end.

Opal Nugget Ice Maker 2.0

This is the most advanced small nugget ice maker on the market today, with Voice Control, WIFI, and an app that allows you to schedule when you want the ice maker to start making nugget ice.

The Opal Nugget Ice Maker was the first countertop ice maker to introduce nugget ice in a countertop ice maker with the original Opal Nugget Ice Maker in 2015.

Opal, an offshoot of GE, started something incredible when they created a Kickstarter page to fund and begin their revolutionary compact nugget ice maker.

Design and Build

Straight out of the box, the Opal Nugget Ice Maker 2.0 boasts a sleek design. Measuring approximately 16.5″ H x 13.43″ W x 17.5″ D, it’s compact enough to fit on most countertops without being obtrusive. Weighing in at around 44 pounds, it’s sturdy but not too cumbersome to move if needed. The combination of stainless steel and plastic components gives it a modern look that seamlessly blends with my kitchen decor.


This machine is a powerhouse. It promises to produce up to 24 lbs. of ice daily, and it delivers. This capacity is a godsend for someone like me, who frequently hosts gatherings. The storage bin can hold up to 3 lbs. of ice, ensuring I always have a steady supply for my guests.

Quality of Ice

The star of the show is, of course, the nugget ice. The Opal 2.0 produces perfectly soft, chewable ice that elevates any drink. Whether I’m sipping on a soda, iced tea, or cocktail, the nugget ice makes all the difference. It’s a hit at parties, with guests often commenting on the unique texture and how it enhances their beverages.

Most Stylish Small NUgget Ice Maker
GE Profile Opal 2.0

  • Chewable Nugget Ice
  • Voice Control & Wifi
  • Self-Cleaning Capability
  • Easy Operation
  • Heavy
  • More Expensive Than Others


One of the standout features for me is the self-cleaning cycle. Maintenance is a breeze, ensuring I always have clean ice on hand. The status indicators are thoughtful, alerting me when the bin is full, when water is low, or when it’s time for a cleaning cycle.

The Bluetooth connectivity, paired with the SmartHQ app, is a modern addition I didn’t know I needed. Scheduling ice production from my phone is incredibly convenient, especially when prepping for events.

Water Tank and Side Tank

The built-in water tank has a capacity of approximately 2.5 quarts. While this is sufficient for daily use, I opted for the side tank accessory for increased water capacity during parties. It ensures I don’t have to refill the tank as often, which is a significant time-saver.

Final Thoughts

The Opal Nugget Ice Maker 2.0 has been a fantastic addition to my kitchen. While it’s an investment, the quality and quantity of ice it produces are unmatched. It’s become a conversation starter at gatherings, with guests often inquiring about the Opal and people surprised that I have “the good ice” on hand.

If you’re a nugget ice fan or want to elevate your beverage experience, I wholeheartedly recommend the Opal 2.0. It’s a blend of design, functionality, and performance that’s hard to beat.

The NewAir Countertop Nugget Ice Maker (Second Edition)

NewAir manufactures our next small nugget ice maker. NewAir is a leader in compact home appliances, and its nugget ice maker is no exception.

The NewAir Nugget Ice Maker has a beautiful design and is one of the market’s most powerful, fastest nugget ice makers.

A Well-Built Nugget Ice Maker

The NewAir Nugget Ice Maker is a simple designed unit that’s easy to operate. It has only one button on the front of the unit, which operates the entire ice maker.

The NewAir is wrapped in high-quality stainless steel and has a black plastic top. On that plastic top, you’ll find a viewing window where you can quickly check on the ice supply.

It features melt-resistant, certified BPA-free parts and an insulated interior so your nugget ice stays around longer.

Like the Opal above, this ice maker doesn’t freeze your ice. The ice will melt over time and drip back into the water reservoir, where it’s used to make more ice.

If you want an ice maker that keeps your ice frozen, read my post here.

Lots of Ice

This ice maker works very well and delivers on all the right areas.

It produces 50 pounds of nugget ice (almost twice as much as the Opal Nugget Ice Maker) and produces that soft, chewable nugget ice in about 5 minutes.

NewAir Nugget Ice Maker Nugget Ice

This small nugget ice maker is compact, has a great design, and super fast.

Great Features

The NewAir Countertop Nugget Ice Maker gives you great features. It has a self-cleaning function, indicator lights when you need more water or your ice storage bucket is filled, a slot to hold your ice scoop inside the unit, and one-button control.

Like the Opal, the NewAir Nugget Ice Maker doesn’t need a waterline or drain lines and can be stored wherever you like.

Fastest Small Nugget Ice Maker
NewAir Nugget Ice Maker AI-420SS

☀️ Use the coupon code: BETTER10 for 10% off your purchase on Newair.com

  • 50 Pounds of Nugget Ice
  • Stainless Steel Design
  • Self-Cleaning Capability
  • Easy Operation
  • Heavy
  • It doesn’t reset when the ice bucket is full or low on water.

This ice maker weighs 34 pounds, and its dimensions are 115.3″ D x 10.63″ W x 16.33″ H.

Remember that if you’re going to store this ice maker under cabinets, you’ll need some clearance for the lid to open.

Thereye Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

I want to highlight the final portable ice maker, the Thereye Countertop Nugget Ice Maker. This is by far the cheapest nugget ice maker on the market.

The Thereye Portable Ice Maker produces 30 pounds of nugget ice each day. It starts to spit out nugget ice in about 15-20 minutes.

One of the great things about the Thereye portable ice maker is that it has both a water reservoir and a 10-foot water hose that allows you to connect directly to water.

Never have to fill a water reservoir again with this portable ice maker.

Most Affordable Nugget Ice Maker
Thereye Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

  • 30 Pounds of Nugget Ice
  • Stainless Steel Design
  • Self-Cleaning Capability
  • Easy Operation
  • Less Quality

This portable ice maker comes with great features as well. You can self-clean the unit, you have simple controls on the front of the unit, and it makes soft, chewable nugget ice.

This portable ice maker is built to fit in small places. It’s incredibly slim, with a slanted lid perfect for fitting under a cabinet.

I loved the design of this nugget ice maker. It’s wrapped in stainless steel and has a big viewing window on the front.

Overall, the Thereye Countertop Nugget Ice Maker is a good choice if you’re looking for an affordable nugget ice maker. It’s not the most expensive ice maker; you’ll notice that in the quality, but it makes 30 pounds of ice daily, and I found that the ice was soft, chewable, and wonderful.


In the realm of ice makers, the distinction between standard ice cubes and nugget ice is clear to ice enthusiasts.

With its soft, chewable texture and quick-cooling capability, nugget ice elevates the beverage experience to a new level.

Investing in such a machine is not merely about ice; it’s about enhancing the overall quality of your drinks and the satisfaction of your guests.

While the quest for the perfect nugget ice maker can be subjective, prioritizing quality, efficiency, and reliability will undoubtedly lead to a choice that elevates every sip.

After my testing, the three that I mentioned about is a great place to start.


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