DIY Nugget Ice

DIY Nugget Ice

Is it possible to make nugget ice (aka pebble ice) as delightful as the kind of ice they serve at Sonic drive-Ins yourself without buying expensive pebble ice machines or ice makers?

Well…you can get pretty close. Some people will suggest simply making normal ice cubes and crushing or smashing them up. I think this is a good way of making crushed ice but today we are going to focus on how we can produce ice that is as close as possible to the nugget ice they serve at Sonic Drive-In without an ice maker or visiting Sonic.

What Do I Need To Create Nugget Ice At Home?

The list is pretty simple:

Sparkling (carbonated) water or club soda: Freezing carbonated water will hold mean there are pockets of air within the ice giving it a softer and lighter structure than when normal water is frozen.

If you have a soda stream or similar you can make this yourself at home. If not, just pick up a couple of bottles from your local grocery store. Using uncarbonated will mean that you simply produce mini cubes of hard ice and we want to make our ice softer, like Sonic Ice.

Mini ice cube tray: If we want small ice cubes it makes sense that we will need a small ice cube tray. You can pick these up from places like Amazon, Target or Walmart. Below is a link to a ice cube trays that should work nicely.

I strongly recommend:

  • Purchasing a pack of silicone ice cube trays because it makes it much easier to pop the ice cubes out.
  • Buying a few of these and use them simultaneously. They are super cheap and each drink requires about 120 mini carbonated ice cubes to fill a 12oz glass (that is about 2/3rds of one of the trays linked below).

A freezer: Let's hope you already have one of these or things are about to get really expensive real fast.

Suggested purchases:

Carbonated water

Pick up a few bottles of carbonated water or club soda from your local grocery store or if you are a really big fan of soda water, you could consider picking up a SodaStream. I wouldn't recommend if your only use for this is making nugget ice and you should instead consider putting those dollars towards a nugget ice maker.

SodaStream - Check it out now on Amazon

Mini Ice Cube Tray

A silicone ice cube tray will make it much easier to pop up the ice cubes. I recommend buying at least a 3 pack of these to avoid the process of making DIY nugget ice any slower than it needs to be. It is worth considering that a 12oz glass will require approximately 100 nugget ice cubes. That is about 2/3rds of the ice cube trays linked below.

3 Pack of Mini Ice Cube Trays - Check it out now on Amazon


As you can see, making nugget ice at home is pretty doable and it works nicely ever now and again. However, repeating this process over and over every time you’re craving the good ice, can become pretty tedious.

So there are good reasons that you might want to opt for a nugget ice maker to speed up the process. If you have decided that it is, you can take a look at my nugget ice maker top picks.

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