What Is Dairy Queen Ice Cream Made Of? (Not What You Think)

Dairy Queen rose to fast-food fame thanks to its game-changing ice-cream recipe. The smooth, sweet treat has become a staple of the DQ menu, enjoyed by many worldwide.

But what exactly is DQ’s ice cream made from? All the answers you need are found in this article, so keep reading to learn more!

What Is Dairy Queen Ice Cream Made of In [currentyear]?

Dairy Queen’s soft serve is made with nonfat milk, milk fat, sugar, and other added ingredients in [currentyear]. It contains emulsifiers, artificial flavors, and other additives that contribute to its consistency and texture. The soft serve is actually lower in fat content than most ice cream. It also contains a large amount of air, which is typical for soft serve.

Keep reading to find out all the details regarding Dairy Queen’s ice cream recipe, like if it’s actually ice cream, if it’s made with real dairy, and more!

Is DQ Ice Cream Really Ice Cream?

If you’re ever at a Dairy Queen restaurant looking at the menu, you may be surprised to find that the phrase “ice cream” does not appear at all.

The reason for this comes down to FDA standards.

Since Dairy Queen’s soft serve contains only 5% milkfat (or butterfat), it does not meet the 10% milkfat requirement to be considered ice cream.

Therefore, Dairy Queen simply refers to the frozen dairy product as soft serve.

Technically, DQ can legally refer to it as reduced fat ice cream due to updated FDA rules, but the company has taken a different route for its general marketing.

The lower milk fat content is the only thing that separates DQ’s soft serve from what is widely considered “real” ice cream. The other ingredients are quite standard for this type of product.

However, the soft-serve recipe does include certain artificial products for texture, flavor, and preservation that you may not find in more natural brands of ice cream.

Mono and Diglycerides, along with guar gum, are two such ingredients.

Is Dairy Queen Real Dairy?

Dairy Queen uses real dairy products in its soft serve, including non-fat milk and milk fat.

The delicate balance of these dairy products is a big part of what creates the frozen product’s signature flavor and texture.

What Are the Ingredients in Dairy Queen’s Ice Cream?

The ingredients in DQ’s classic vanilla soft serve are as follows:

Milkfat and Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Whey, Mono and Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Guar Gum, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan, and Vitamin A Palmitate.

Is Dairy Queen Ice Cream High in Sugar?

Is Dairy Queen Ice Cream High in Sugar?

Dairy Queen’s soft serve contains 19 grams of sugar per serving, which is roughly half a cup.

While this is a substantial amount, there are other sweet treats that are certainly higher in sugar.

If a small vanilla cone (containing 18 grams of sugar) isn’t an ideal choice for you, try one of DQ’s reduced sugar options, such as the Fudge Bar or No Sugar Added Dilly Bar.

These classic treats are manufactured and prepackaged, available at participating locations. 

Does DQ Use Ice Milk?

In the past, the FDA ruled that any frozen dairy product that did not meet the fat content required for ice cream would be referred to as ice cream.

Therefore, at one time it was accurate to refer to DQ’s soft serve as “ice milk” although the company has always opted to call it soft serve.

Eventually, the FDA made a new category that includes the terms “light,” “low-fat,” and “reduced fat ice cream.”

This was done to accommodate restaurant chains that wanted to be able to market soft serve in a better way.

Are Dairy Queen Blizzards Real Ice Cream?

Dairy Queen Blizzards are made with the same classic soft serve as all the rest of the items on DQ’s treat menu.

The soft serve, though not technically ice cream, is made with real milk and milkfat along with other added ingredients.

Why Does Dairy Queen Ice Cream Melt So Fast?

Although it is delicious while it lasts, a soft-serve cone from Dairy Queen melts notoriously quickly.

This is due in part to the temperature at which the treatment is kept and served.

In order for it to be poured out of machines in velvety swirls, the soft serve is kept at a relatively warm 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another big reason why Dairy Queen soft-serve melts so quickly is that it is pumped full of air. It actually contains around 40% air.

Although a large amount of air allows the soft serve to have that light, marshmallow-like texture, it does not make for a very sturdy dairy product.

How Much Cholesterol Is in Dairy Queen Ice Cream?

Dairy Queen soft-serve contains 15 mg of cholesterol per serving (.5 cup), making up 5% of a person’s daily value.

What Is the Difference Between Soft Serve and Ice Cream?

Aside from Dairy Queen’s recipe containing less milkfat than actual ice cream, there are a couple of factors that set soft-serve apart from hard ice cream.

Firstly, soft serve is served out of a machine that pours a continual stream of the frozen treat into a receptacle.

In addition, soft serve is kept at slightly warmer temperatures to preserve its soft and pourable nature.

Another big reason why soft serve is different is the large amount of air that is often added to create a fluffy, smooth texture.

Hard ice cream typically contains more fat and less air and is served at colder temperatures.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether or not Dairy Queen has chocolate ice cream, is Dairy Queen gluten-free, and Dairy Queen Blizzard.


Dairy Queen’s ice cream is made with real dairy, along with sugar, artificial flavors, emulsifiers, coloring, and ingredients like Guar Gum that contribute to its consistency.

It cannot be legally referred to as ice cream, due to the FDA’s requirement that ice cream contains at least 10% milk fat. DQ’s recipe contains only 5% milk fat.

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Cara Suppa

Cara Suppa has been freelance writing for over a decade and holds a BA in English and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. Outside of work, she is an avid cook, gardener, and discount shopper.

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