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Types of Slushy Machines

Choosing the Best Commercial Slushie Machine

Whether you are planning to blend up the perfect slushy, smoothie, or frozen cocktail, it's important to know what sort of slushy/granita machine will best serve your needs. By presenting a slushy machine in plain view of your customers, you'll help boost impulse sales when they see the swirling, brightly-colored beverages inside. This buying guide will go over the types of slush machines out there and the different features to consider to help you choose the right machine for your business.

Shop All Commercial Slush Machines

Commercial Slush Machine Types

Slushy, or granita, machines are incredibly versatile, allowing you to blend frozen coffees, cappuccinos, lemonades, smoothies, and even cocktails. If you are running an upscale resort, frozen mochas and cocktails are sure to be crowd-pleasers. If your business is more centered on families and youth, frozen lemonades, smoothies, and other frozen treats will score high with your guests.

Frozen cocktail being dispensed out of a granita machine
Frozen cocktail being dispensed out of a granita machine

Liquid Autofill Slushy/Granita Machine

Liquid autofill frozen drink machines feature a reservoir to hold liquid product mix and automatically refill the main bowl as needed. The unit typically draws the mix from a bag-in-box setup.

  • Mix beverages automatically
  • Saves employee labor and ensures a more consistent product
  • Requires an external pump for water
Prepared slushy mix in a granita machine
Prepared slushy mix in a granita machine

Powdered Autofill Slushy/Granita Machine

Powdered autofill frozen drink machines feature a reservoir to hold powdered product mix and automatically combine the mix with water inside the machine to save on refilling time.

  • Mix beverages automatically
  • Saves employee labor and ensures a more consistent product
  • Requires an external pump for water
Customer using slushy machine
Customer using slushy machine

Pourover Slushy/Granita Machine

Pourover frozen drink machines need to be refilled manually after a certain amount of product has been used by pouring the liquid product mix into the tank to make more frozen drinks.

  • Easy to operate
  • Lowest price point
  • No autofill system means fewer moving parts
  • Employees must create the mixture and pour into the machine
Crathco Gravity Feed Granita / Slushy / Frozen Beverage Machine
Crathco Gravity Feed Granita / Slushy / Frozen Beverage Machine

Frozen Cocktail Machine

Frozen cocktail machines are specifically designed to account for the effect of alcohol on the temperature and viscosity of the final product. 

  • Ensures a more consistent product over mixing frozen cocktails by hand
  • Ideal for bars and resorts
  • Employees must create the mixture and pour into the machine

How Do Granita Machines Freeze the Product?

Whether you have a pourover or autofill machine, the product flows down from the hopper into a freezing cylinder or barrel, and a rotating device called an auger circulates the beverage inside the tank as it freezes, causing the "slushy" consistency. When the mix has frozen to the desired consistency (some machines allow you to adjust this), your drink can be dispensed from the front of the machine.

Commercial Slush Machine Capacity

Knowing how many slushies you need to produce for your ice cream or snack shop relies entirely on how many people you plan to serve. The chart below provides a general guide on how to determine what size slush machine you need based on your production intentions. Make sure to consider these options with the peak period of your busiest day in mind.

Number of Bowls
Gallon Capacity 10 oz. Servings 12 oz. Servings 16 oz. Servings
1-3 gallons 13-38 per hour 10-32 per hour 8-24 per hour
4-6 gallons 51-77 per hour 42-64 per hour 32-48 per hour
7-8 gallons 89-102 per hour 74-85 per hour 56-64 per hour

Products to Serve in a Slushy Machine

From a classic slushy to a frozen margarita to a blended milkshake, there are plenty of delicious beverages a slushy can make.

Traditional Slushies/Granitas

A traditional slushy is a blend of water, ice, and a flavored mix. More sugar means a slower freeze time, but not enough sugar will result in a coarser beverage because the ice crystals are larger. This could result in your machine freezing up, so it's important to experiment with the ratio of water to sugar to keep your machine running properly and your drinks tasting great.

Frozen Cocktails

Some machines are equipped to handle alcoholic products. However, it's important to read up on your local food service laws because some areas don't allow you to add liquor to the machine. Alcohol also slows freeze time, so you may produce less slushy per hour if liquor is added. It's also important to check the manufacturer's user manual to ensure that there aren't any special maintenance requirements or procedures for frozen cocktails in the machine.

If you'd like to offer your customers frozen cocktails but don't want to put liquor in the machine, you have other options. Simply blend up a neutral base granita, and as you draw beverages from the tank, add whichever flavoring of liquor you want and mix it with a beverage stirrer. This option also allows you to offer a variety of different cocktails rather than being limited to one specific drink per tank of granita.

Dairy-Based Products

Certain machines are certified to serve dairy-based products, such as blended milkshakes, frappes, and hot chocolate. Serving dairy-based frozen drinks will require a more involved cleaning routine with your unit and it should be emptied, cleaned, and sanitized every day to prevent buildup and contamination. A unit must be approved to use dairy ingredients, so check the manufacturer's manual to determine if your machine is qualified to serve dairy.

Slush Machine Considerations

In addition to the type of product you'll be serving and the size capacity of the machine, there are other factors to consider like where you will be placing the unit and how to care for it.

ADA Compliant

A factor to consider when purchasing a slushy machine is who the principal operator will be. If you are contemplating a self-serve machine designed for front-of-house action, it's important to accommodate all of your potential customers. You can easily do so by purchasing a machine that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most ADA-compliant machines have extra-long dispenser handles, which permit easy operation and are more user-friendly.

The Right Voltage

On slushy machines, a higher voltage generally means a faster recovery time.

For example, a 220V machine will yield more product than a 120V unit in a shorter period of time. However, just because the voltage is doubled doesn't mean that the output is also doubled. The output of your machine will vary widely depending on the manufacturer, the type of unit you purchase, and other factors like the type of recipe you're making and whether or not it contains alcohol.

When trying to calculate the voltage you'll need, it would be helpful to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • How many slushies am I planning to produce daily?
  • Does my location have the correct electrical outlets for the desired voltage?

If you are unsure of which machines will accommodate your situation, you can look at the Specification Sheets and product descriptions of the units you are considering for further information.

Care and Cleaning

It's important to regularly clean your slushy machine, as the mixing tank can harbor bacteria and other pathogens if left unattended for too long. As a rule of thumb, most machines should be cleaned at least once per week. If you use milk in your recipes, though, you will want to clean the machine at the end of each day.

In addition to the tank and the moving parts within, also be sure to clean the drip tray beneath the faucet. It's easy for this area to become slimy and unsanitary as condensation and extra mix run out of the faucet.

Water Filtration Systems

Water filtration systems block contaminants to help keep your beverages clean, safe, and tasting great! They help to extend the life of your equipment by consistently preventing sediments, cysts, and scale from clogging the internal workings of your machines. Plus, the filtration makes your beverages clearer and more visually appealing. By purchasing a water filtration system, you can be sure that your vibrant, colorful slushies taste as wonderful as they look.

Running a Profitable Slushy Business

Selling slushy products can be highly lucrative. Whether it's your primary source of profit or you'd like to add it to your existing menu, it's important to have the right supplies and know-how to maximize your returns.

Auto Fill and Maintenance Kits

Purchasing an auto fill kit or maintenance kit can save you money in the long run if any inner components of your machine have a malfunction. Some manual fill machines can even be converted to auto-fill using these kits.

Slushy Mix

Jug mixes can be added manually or attached to a pump dispenser. They have a re-sealable cap to ensure freshness. Or, try making your own slushie mix to create gourmet flavors and stand out from the competition.

For higher product quantities, you may want to consider a bag-in-box mix. You'll be refilling your machine less while producing more beverages at a time. This is also the most economical way to buy syrups. Check out how much you can save using Carnival King 5 gallon bag-in-box syrups!

Person pouring blue raspberry slushy into a cup
  • 9 oz. serving uses 1.8 oz. of syrup, costing approximately $0.09 per cup
  • 12 oz. serving uses 2.4 oz. of syrup, costing approximately $0.12 per cup
  • 16 oz. serving uses 3.2 oz. of syrup, costing approximately $0.16 per cup
  • 20 oz. serving uses 4 oz. of syrup, costing approximately $0.20 per cup
  • 24 oz. serving uses 4.8 oz. of syrup, costing approximately $0.24 per cup

Estimating Your Costs

By using Carnival King syrups along with Choice brand cups, lids, and straws, here's what you can plug into our Slushy Cost Calculator for your unit cost based on the beverage size.

Beverage Size Cup Cost Syrup Cost Lid Cost Straw Cost Total Unit Cost
9 oz.
$0.04 $0.09 $0.03 $0.01 $0.16
12 oz.
$0.05 $0.12 $0.03 $0.01 $0.20
16 oz.
$0.05 $0.16 $0.03 $0.01 $0.24
20 oz.
$0.07 $0.20 $0.03 $0.01 $0.30
24 oz.
$0.07 $0.24 $0.03 $0.01 $0.34

Slushy Cost Calculator

Enter your estimates in each field of our Slushy Cost Calculator and see how much money you can make over the course of one year. You might be surprised. Some operators pull in a staggering 80% gross profit per serving!

Slushy Cost Calculator

Unit Cost
Retail Price
Servings Per Day
Profit Per Day
Profit Per Month
Profit Per Year

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