Shaved Ice vs. Snow Cone: What’s the Difference?

Shave ice has been enjoyed as a frozen, sweet treat for centuries in a variety of forms, and is well known in the U.S. as Hawaiian shave ice. Instead of the crunchy texture of snow cones, shave ice has a light, fluffy texture. Although both are delicious and refreshing icy treats, shaved ice is more commonly used as the base for dishes around the world, such as raspado, bingsu and Italian ice, to name a few.

Both shaved ice and snow cones are flavored with syrups and shaved ice is often also topped with beautiful garnishes, making them the perfect, edible creative outlet. You can think of shaved ice as a grown-up version of snow cones, waiting to be customized with your favorite flavorings and toppings. Use this guide to learn more about the differences between these two frozen treats and tips for the best ways to flavor them.

Red KitchenAid® stand mixer with the Shave Ice Attachment. Red KitchenAid® stand mixer with the Shave Ice Attachment.

What's the difference between shaved ice and crushed ice?

Shaved ice has a lighter, fluffier texture than crushed ice, which is commonly used for making snow cones. Shave ice’s snow-like texture is softer than crunchier snow cones, which are made from crushed ice. The crushed ice in snow cones can be topped in sweet syrup or flavorings; the fine texture of shave ice allows it to absorb its toppings and flavors.

Fluffy shaved ice in front of a blue KitchenAid® stand mixer. Fluffy shaved ice in front of a blue KitchenAid® stand mixer.

Is shaved ice crunchy like snow cones?

Snow cones are more crunchy than shaved ice, which uses ice that has been grated into very thin sheets or a powder-like consistency. The consistency of shaved ice can depend on the variation you’re creating. For example, Italian ice is made from frozen fruit juices and will have a similar texture to a sorbet, whereas raspado shaved ice is made from frozen water that is doused in syrups.

You can easily customize your icy treats with the KitchenAid® Shave Ice Attachment. Create elevated shaved ice variations right at home with your own delicious syrups, sauces and toppings.

Deep red snow cone. Deep red snow cone.

Is there a difference between Hawaiian shave ice vs. a snow cone?

The primary difference between Hawaiian shave ice and snow cones is the texture of the ice. Snow cones are crunchy and made with crushed ice that’s molded into a ball before being topped with flavored syrups. Hawaiian shaved ice is made by ice that has been shaved into a fine, powdery consistency.

To make Hawaiian shaved ice, you will need to combine snow-like ice with sugar or fruit-based syrups. Hawaiian shaved ice is also sometimes topped with ice cream, mochi, fresh fruit or a “snow cap” of sweetened condensed milk.

Person making mango flavored shaved ice with their KitchenAid® stand mixer. Person making mango flavored shaved ice with their KitchenAid® stand mixer.

Do shaved ice and crushed ice use different syrups or flavors?

Yes, snow cones typically use brightly-colored, fruit-flavored syrups. Shave ice is usually paired with more elaborate syrup variations and toppings like fresh fruit, candy, spices, ice cream and more. Shave ice desserts are found around the world and call for unique, locally-sourced ingredients.

Italian ice, Hawaiian shaved ice, baobing, kakigori and raspados are all shaved ice desserts from around the globe. Traditional Italian ice has a creamy, sorbet consistency flavored with seasonal fruit juices, such as lemon. Kakigori is a Japanese shaved ice commonly flavored with melon or strawberry syrups and often topped with mochi. Chinese and Taiwanese baobing is flavored with a milky syrup mixture before being topped with fresh fruit and Mexican raspados are doused in a fruit syrup and commonly include spicy or tangy ingredients like a tamarind straw. 

Blue baobing topped with condensed milk next to a KitchenAid® blender. Blue baobing topped with condensed milk next to a KitchenAid® blender.

How can I make snow cones at home?

You can make snow cones at home using crushed ice, flavored syrups and fun toppings. Use water, sugar and sweeteners, such as fruit juice or honey, to make your flavored syrup. You may also need a KitchenAid® blender or a KitchenAid® food processor to make crushed ice. 

The KitchenAid® K150 3 Speed Ice Crushing Blender can streamline the process of creating icy treats. With countertop appliances, like blenders that can crush ice in less than 10 seconds, you can quickly make delicious treats.

How can I make shaved ice at home?

To make shaved ice recipes at home, use an ice shaving machine to create light and fluffy ice, then simply add your favorite syrups and toppings. Because shave ice is very fine and delicate, you’ll need a specialized appliance like an ice shaver to get the right texture. A blender will chop, crush or puree ice, which won’t create the signature thinly shaved sheets for authentic shaved ice. 

The KitchenAid® Shave Ice Attachment allows you to easily create light and fluffy shave ice at home using the power of your stand mixer*. Quickly and easily make over 1 pint (500mL) of fine shaved ice in 60 seconds.** Freeze and shave a variety of recipes including fresh water, juice, and milk or dairy, then customize your ice creation with a variety of syrups, sauces and toppings. Elevate your shaved ice with homemade fruit syrups infused with extracts and herbs, indulgent liqueurs, caramel sauce or whatever else you dream up.

*Sold separately.

**Excludes prep time, based on plain ice using fine blade.

Explore KitchenAid® Stand Mixers, Attachments and Blenders

KitchenAid® stand mixers, attachments* and blenders create endless possibilities in the kitchen. With select blenders that crush ice in little to no time and attachments that can shave ice into fluffy mounds of snow, exploring new recipes is more enriching than ever before. Discover the wide range of appetizers, entrees, desserts and more that you can create effortlessly with KitchenAid® countertop appliances and accessories.

*Sold separately

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