Find out how the Ninja Creami Deluxe compares to the original Ninja Creami. Get answers on which version to buy or whether to upgrade.
Just in time for the holiday gift giving season, Ninja has released the new and upgraded “Deluxe” version of the popular Ninja Creami ice cream maker. As you can tell from our Ninja Creami Recipes, we’re huge fans of the original Ninja Creami for making sugar-free, keto, and high-protein ice creams, which aren’t possible with a traditional ice cream maker. So, when the new version came out, we just had to try it out! But which version should you buy and is it worth the upgrade? Read on to find out.
What are the different Ninja CREAMi models?
Ninja has made three different versions of the popular CREAMi ice cream maker since it was first released on National Ice Cream Day in July 2021.
The Ninja CREAMi 5-in-1 (sometimes labeled NC300) is hard to find and often sold with a steep discount.
The Ninja CREAMi 7-in-1 (NC301) is the most common model with a retail list price of $229 but we’ve seen it below $200 when on sale (especially now that the Deluxe version is out).
The Ninja CREAMi Deluxe 11-in-1 (NC500 / NC501) is the newest model and was released September 2022 with a retail price of $249.
The names “5-in-1”, “7-in-1”, and “11-in-1” refer to the number of one-touch programs the model supports. For example, the 5-in-1 has 5 programs for different types of functions: Ice Cream, Lite Ice Cream, Sorbet, Milkshake, and Mix-in. The 7-in-1 added new programs for Gelato and Smoothie Bowl to the original 5. The 11-in-1 adds programs for Frozen Yogurt, Creamiccino, Frozen Drink, Slushie, and Italian Ice to the CREAMi’s repertoire while removing the Smoothie Bowl program. For most of this review, we’ll be comparing the Deluxe 11-in-1 to the 7-in-1 since the 7-in-1 is the most common model at the time of writing and it’s also the other model of CREAMi we own.
Be careful, it's hard to tell these models apart, especially if you’re looking at a small picture on an e-commerce site. We’ve even sometimes seen both the 5-in-1 and 7-in-1 sold under the same model number. For example, NC300 is the model number for the 5-in-1 but in Canada the NC300C model is a 7-in-1. Similarly, Ninja's support website uses "NC300 Series" to refer to all the 5-in-1 and 7-in-1 machines. For the Deluxe models, the NC500 and 501 are identical machines, but the NC501 contains more accessories like additional pint containers. The best and most reliable way to tell which model is which is by the number of one-touch programs you see on the front panel.
What are the differences between the regular Ninja CREAMi and the Ninja CREAMi Deluxe?
1. Number of Programs
In the Deluxe model, Ninja removed the Smoothie Bowl (personally, our least used feature, so will not be missed) and added 4 new programs:
- Creamiccino: A signature program of the Deluxe, the Creamiccino program lets you create Starbucks-like Frappacinos at home. It’s possible to do this in the original CREAMi, but the Deluxe makes this easier with pre-filled markings on the pints and a custom setting on the machine.
- Frozen Drink: This program is designed for frozen drinks and cocktails like Pina Coladas.
- Frozen Yogurt: While folks have used yogurt in the original CREAMi with good results, this program is custom tuned for making frozen yogurt from store-bought yogurts.
- Italian Ice: This program turns sweetened, fruit-flavored water like lemonade into scoopable, frozen Italian Ice.
- Slushi: This program is designed for turning sweetened and fruity-flavored water into a drinkable frozen dessert. Unlike Italian Ice, which is scoopable, a slushie is designed to be sippable.
2. Size of Pint Containers & Ninja CREAMI
The Deluxe model also makes more ice cream per batch. Instead of the 16 ounce pints of the original model, the Deluxe model makes ice cream in 24 ounce containers that Ninja refers to as “Deluxe pints” (even though a pint is technically 16 ounces).
Surprisingly, it also lets you make less ice cream per batch thanks to a new setting that lets you process only the top or bottom half of the pint if you want. These are nice conveniences, but not must-haves. If you want more ice cream in the original model you can just buy additional pints and it just takes a few extra minutes to make. And if you want less ice cream in the original model, you can always flatten and refreeze what you don’t eat for later.
Impacts of Pint Size
The change in pint size of the Deluxe has a number of consequences.
- As you can tell from the image above, one consequence of the larger capacity is that pints, blades, lids, and bowls are larger and, unfortunately, not interchangeable between the Ninja CREAMi Deluxe and those of older models. This is important if you’ve already invested in purchasing extra Ninja CREAMi pint containers.
- A less obvious but important incompatibility is that most recipes you’ll find online were written for the original CREAMi’s 16 ounce pints. You can still use those recipes unchanged in the Deluxe but they won’t fill the Deluxe’s 24-ounce pints which defeats one of the Deluxe’s signature benefits. If you want to adapt a regular CREAMi recipe to fill a Deluxe pint, you’ll need to multiply the ingredients by 1.5. We’ve updated all of our Ninja Creami recipes to have a 1.5x button to make the recipes easier to adapt, as seen in the image below.
- Another issue is that the Deluxe version is a little taller as you can see in the image below, although it still fits under the cabinets on our counter.
3. Operating Processes
Operating the Deluxe is very similar to the original CREAMi with only slight changes. For example, the process of inserting the outer bowl into the CREAMi is easier. Instead of inserting the bowl diagonally as you had to do with the original CREAMi, on the Deluxe the insertion is straight from the front. One wonders if this change was inspired by the on-air QVC situation where the hosts had issues inserting the bowl, but it’s easy to get the hang of the insertion process on the original once you’ve tried it a few times.
Once you start the CREAMi Deluxe it now asks you to select whether you’re processing the top half, bottom half, or full pint. From there you rotate the dial to select which program you want and press the dial to start the machine. One helpful convenience is that the Deluxe will tell you how many minutes a program will take before you run it and then count down the number of minutes left as it runs. By contrast, the original CREAMi had a simple four step progress indicator that let you know approximately how close the CREAMi was to being done but not how much actual time was left.
One of the common surprises with the CREAMi is how loud it gets when processing a pint. To our ears, the Deluxe does sound slightly different than the original CREAMi but both seem equally loud.
Which Ninja CREAMi Should You Buy?
In our opinion the Ninja CREAMi is a must-have device for keto and low-carb ice cream fans. The Ninja CREAMi Deluxe adds a lot of refinement and conveniences to the original but none of them are must-haves.
So, the bottom line is if you don't already own a Ninja CREAMi then it's definitely worth spending a little more to get the Ninja CREAMi Deluxe.
But, if you already have one it's probably not worth upgrading unless you really need one of the new programs (most of which are for drinkable desserts) or the larger size. It's kind of like when they release a new, larger phone model every year: it’s not worth the upgrade if you had last year's model. In fact, as with phones, “last year’s model” is a great deal when you factor in the discounts you’re likely to find now that there’s an upgrade option. Ultimately, we don’t think folks will go wrong with either model.
Ninja CREAMI FAQs
Ninja has released three versions of the CREAMi which can be hard to tell apart. The original “5-in-1” and “7-in-1” Ninja CREAMI models can make five and seven different frozen treats in 16 ounce containers. The latest model, the “11-in-1” Deluxe CREAMi, is the most expensive but makes the greatest variety of frozen treats in larger 24 ounce containers. See our guide above for how to distinguish between the different models.
While both have a spinning blade and can be used for smoothies, a Ninja CREAMi cannot replace a blender and vice-versa. The CREAMi is built for the sole purpose of turning frozen ingredients into an ice cream like texture. A blender does not do as well at creating ice cream but has a broader variety of uses including making juices, sauces, soups, nut butters, purees, bread crumbs, and grated cheeses.
The Ninja CREAMi is essentially a Pacojet at a tenth the cost and designed for occasional use in the home. The Pacojet was designed for use in a professional kitchen like a restaurant where durability and reliability during repeated constant use are important.
Ninja’s official instructions are that you should freeze your pint for a full 24 hours. However, some users have reported success freezing for less time. You’ll need to experiment since the exact amount of freezing time depends on a number of factors including your freezer temperature and the ingredients in your ice cream mix.