I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you're going to make ice cream at home, it is worth it to get an ice cream maker. In fact, it is necessary to get an ice cream maker because it ensures that you will always get the optimal results from your frozen desserts. There are a wide range of ice cream makers to choose from, but there will definitely be at least one that fits your kitchen and your budget. After a batch or three of homemade ice cream, every single one will pay for itself in taste alone.
Cuisinart 1.5-qt. Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker - a great, easy-to-use all-purpose machine that can handle most family-sized jobs. Keep the extra freezer bowl in the freezer at all times so you're ready to go. Recommended by me (I own this model, pictured, and love it) and America's Test Kitchen. $49.95
EuroPro Triple Canister Ice Cream Maker - with each bowl holding about 1 cup of ice cream, this machine can make three flavors at once. It's great if you're indecisive or prefer to make sundaes than stick with one flavor. $89.95
White Mountain Freezer Electric Ice Cream Maker - looks like an old-fashioned wooden pine bucket churn, but this electric machine can crank out 4-quarts of ice cream in only 30 minutes. It uses a freezer tub, though, so make sure you have room to store it. $199.95
White Mountain Freezer Traditional Crank Ice Cream Maker - this really is an old-fashioned machine that, while it does utilize a freezer bowl, must be churned by hand. If you have a strong arm, you'll get all 4-quarts done in 30 minutes - and you'll have burned off enough calories to justify eating it. $149.95
Musso Stainless Steel Lussino 1.5-qt. Ice Cream Maker - commercial grade machine, also recommended by America's Test Kitchen, it has a self contained freezing unit and can make multiple batches with very quick turnover. $594.95
Compressor 1.5-qt. Ice Cream Maker - this is the junior version of a commercial ice cream maker, lacking the power of the Musso machine, but it requires no pre-freezing before use, which makes it a great choice if your freezer simply isn't large enough to hold the freezer bowl that is required by other machines. $160
Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Attachment - if you don't want an extra appliance on the counter, just get the freezer bowl attachment for your Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, which snaps in in place of the regular mixing bowl. It makes up to 2-quarts with the included churn. $79.95