Canadians love ice cream and frozen treats, ranking #6 in the world for average consumption. But let’s face it, many customers want more than ice cream in a cone. Sure, they want it scooped, but Canadians also crave it blended, sandwiched, smoothed, topped, dipped and sprinkled.
Serving ice cream and frozen treats takes the right tools: To make it easier for operators and to deliver an eye-catching, lip-smacking presentation to the customer.
This buying guide will walk you through a list of essential tools and equipment your business needs to serve ice cream and frozen treats that wow your customers and bump up your sales.
Who doesn’t love blended drinks on a hot summer patio, especially those with crushed ice or ice cream? A good, solid blender is great for all those needs. The size of blender you need will depend on how many drinks you hope to make daily and could even be broken down further to how many per hour during peak time.
This type of blender can be used for everything from milkshakes, blended coffee and tea beverages or even vegan smoothies.
If ice is part of your blended drink menu, a countertop blender is the best choice.
Spindle blenders, also called commercial drink mixers, are another option if you plan on having milkshakes on your menu. They are also great for coffee drinks, protein shakes or even cocktails. The spindle (agitator) mixes and aerates the ingredients. Depending on what type of drinks you concoct, a variety of adapters may be required.
Units are available with one spindle, two or three spindles. One is perfect for light-duty and low volume. Two allows for increased productivity and can handle making two drinks simultaneously. Three spindles, yes, you guessed it, allow three drinks at a time. This is the perfect choice for high-volume foodservice businesses and ice cream shops.
An immersion blender might be a good choice for your establishment if you’re only blending infrequently. Capable of blending, mixing and pureeing, an immersion (also called a stick blender) is a good choice if your operation makes sauces from scratch. Remember to have a container the right size for your ingredients to fit and enough room for the blade to get to the bottom for a consistent product.
This type of blender takes up considerably less space and can be tucked away when not in use. Not to mention can be used for a variety of additional kitchen tasks.
Unless you are bringing in all your ingredients already prepped, you should consider using a food processor. Yes, a knife and cutting board can do the same thing, but a food processor saves valuable time and can allow for large batches of ingredients to be processed and stored for those days the temperature skyrockets and crowds crave a delicious cool-down treat.
The size of processor you need will depend on your business (and the types of ingredients you are processing). If you’re offering fresh fruit, nuts, or other toppings you’ll want a food processor. With the proper attachments, you can even grate chocolate and nuts in seconds.
A good food processor not only chops but can help you create your own signature toppings like compotes with fresh fruit or a rich Canadian maple nut topping.
Learn more about these time-saving units in our Commercial Food Processor Buying Guide.
Waffle & Waffle Cone Makers
Whether you are serving frozen yogurt, house-made gelato or ice cream from a local creamery, you should consider investing in a waffle maker and specifically a waffle cone maker. One of the most popular types of ice cream cones, customers are more than willing to pay a premium when a waffle cone is an option. A commercial waffle cone maker allows you to only make the amount of cones you need to keep them fresh.
Waffle cones are very thin waffles molded into a cone shape. The machines work just like an everyday waffle maker. Once the waffle is cooked, you simply roll into shape and allow to cool.
Bubble waffles can also be used as cones, again at a premium customers are willing to shell out for.
Another note about waffle makers, if you have one you use for making regular, mini or Belgian waffles, why not add Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches to your menu? They’re great for a make ahead option and can be customized by rolling the exposed ice cream layer in their favourite topping.
More details about what to look for in a waffle maker can be found in our Waffle Maker Buying Guide for Commercial Kitchens.
Every ounce or gram of ingredients cost you money, so keep track of every crumb using the most accurate option to measure, a scale. Choose from digital or mechanical versions and ensure they offer the accuracy you need for your recipes.
These are a must for fudge, caramel, chocolate, and other sauces. You can either choose a lid and ladle to portion or drizzle sauces or use a pump. Either way, ensure you are portioning for consistency and to save money. Serving hot sauces like fudge and caramel or have a dip available to coat your soft-serve cones? You will require a food warmer.
Squeeze bottles are another option for dispensing sauces. However, there is less control over the portion size so ensure your staff are well trained. Squeeze bottles are available with various nozzle sizes which will regulate the flow/speed that the sauces are dispensed. If you are using fruit sauce, squeeze bottles may not be the best choice as particulates will clog the nozzle.
Dedicated whipped cream dispensers keep your cream cool and ready for use at any time. Customers will appreciate fresh whipped cream (or a plant-based option) as a possible topping for their frozen treats.
Dry Topping Dispensers
Dry food dispensers come in several types and sizes. Some are specifically for counter service staff to scoop ingredients onto or into frozen treats. Others dispense portion-sized toppings which could also be used for self-service
Proper prep is necessary to be ready for the dog days of summer. Food storage containers, the right size, shape and material, keep your precious ingredients safe, secure and fresh until needed. Some food storage containers are designed to also be used for dispensing with flip-top lids and notches to keep your portion spoon or scoop with those ingredients.
Remember, whenever you can control the portion – scoop, ladle, pump or spoon – you reduce waste and save money.
Kitchen Tools for Preparing and Serving Ice Cream
When looking at a new venue (ice cream shop) or adding a new product to an established foodservice store or restaurant the focus is often on big-ticket items. But smallwares are just as important. Some are a no-brainer like ice cream scoops but what about portion control spoons, knives, and cutting boards? Here are some of the smallwares you should have close at hand.
Ice Cream Scoops and Dippers
When you are pulling scoops all day, these specially shaped spoons consistently make perfectly round scoops. Having a dipper well close can also reduce fatique. Scoops with press/plunger/scraper are best for softer frozen treats.
Ice Cream Spades
This indepensible tool is perfect for cutting into hard ice cream. You can cut into and scoop and is also the best tool for adding mix-ins.
Knives and Cutting Boards
From prepping ingredients to cutting a perfect slice of your Salted Caramel Truffle Frozen Yogurt Pie knives are a necessity for every kitchen.
No matter what you are cutting, chopping or slicing for your frozen treat menu, save your counters (and knives) with cutting boards.
Portion Control Spoons and Scoops
Worth every penny because they save you hundreds. The correct type of spoons and scoops for portioning can make business even sweeter. These can include long handled measure spoons and cups, ingredient scoops, ladles, spoodles and dishers.
Maximizing yield of all ingredients is key to any profitable commercial kitchen. Spatulas, rubber or silicone, get every little drop of goodness out of containers and dispensers saving you money and reducing waste.
Metal spatulas are great for spreading soft ice cream, sauces and icing if are designing housemade ice cream cakes and pies.
Serving Dishes, Bowls and Containers for Ice Cream and Frozen Treats
Dessert Bowls and Dishes
A sundae or banana split just tastes better when served in a classic dessert dish. Remember to consider your portion sizes when purchasing dessert dishes and bowls. Ideally, you want the serving to take up the majority of the container so customers feel they are getting good sized portion, but not so full that it makes it difficult for the customer to eat the first few bits. Don’t forget the sundae spoon (also called an iced tea spoon) so your customers can get every last drop.
Fountainware Glasses and Bowls
Even if your operation doesn't have a "kick it old school" vibe, your customers will still appreciate retro looking glassware, or fountainware as it's also known. So, serve up a Cookies and Cream Milkshake or a Grown Up Root Beer Float in these uniquely styled containers.
Disposable Bowls and Cups
If you are offering your cool treats to go have the right size and style of disposable containers on hand and don’t forget the utensils.
Other nice to haves for dedicated ice cream shops are cup dispensers either counter or wall-mounted to keep cups close at hand. Ice cream cones dispensers keep cones protected and off the counter. And for goodness sake, please make sure you have napkin dispensers, likely more than one would be good idea.
Pick your ice cream, gelato, soft serve, frozen yogurt or sorbet, add a drool worthy list of add-ins and bring on the brain freeze!
Written by Suzanne Boles