Why Is Dairy Queen So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

Dairy Queen is a popular place to go for those who want a refreshing ice cream treat or an easy lunch. However, you may arrive at Dairy Queen expecting to pay a certain amount, only to find out your food will cost a lot more than you thought.

What is the cause of Dairy Queen’s high prices? If you’d like to find out, continue reading to see what I discovered!

Why Is Dairy Queen So Expensive In [currentyear]?

Dairy Queen’s menu prices have risen due to several possible factors at play in [currentyear]. For example, Dairy Queen prides itself on its quality ingredients. Now that food items are becoming more expensive to buy and ship, it costs more to produce each Dairy Queen item. In addition, the production of commodities like dairy and beef is decreasing.

This article contains detailed explanations as to why Dairy Queen has become so expensive, so stick around if you want answers!

1. Minimum Wage Has Been Raised in Many States

Due to raises in the minimum wage in many states across the US, Dairy Queen locations may be spending more money on keeping their staff.

With more money going into employee pay, one way the company can offset expenses is by raising the prices of its items.

2. Dairy Queen Uses Quality Ingredients in Its Meals

Dairy Queen states that the ingredients used in its menu items are always high quality and carefully selected.

For example, DQ uses 100% tenderloin chicken in dishes such as the Chicken Strip Basket or Chicken Sandwich.

Ensuring high-quality ingredients means the restaurant may have to pay more for said ingredients, especially now that standards are higher for restaurants in general.

If Dairy Queen is spending extra money on ingredients, the company must find a way to balance out the spending, such as raising prices.

3. Blizzards Are Made With Added Toppings Rather Than Just Flavoring

At some restaurants, you can get a milkshake made with a simple base and strictly artificial flavoring, which is often fairly cheap.

However, Dairy Queen’s popular Blizzard Treats are loaded with actual pieces of candy, chocolate bars, brownies, cookies, and the like.

You may have noticed the increase in price for Blizzards. Keep in mind that they may cost more to produce than you might expect.

4. Dairy Queen Uses Real Milk and Sugar in Its Soft Serve

Dairy Queen’s famous soft-serve ice cream is famous for a reason. It is sweet and creamy and pairs wonderfully with chocolate fudge.

To make DQ soft serve, the company uses “wholesome milk from carefully selected dairies.”

In addition, Dairy Queen uses real sugar rather than just corn syrup or artificial alternatives. These ingredients will cost slightly more than artificial ones.

5. COVID-19 Has Resulted in Traffic Loss for Restaurants

5. COVID-19 Has Resulted in Traffic Loss for Restaurants Dairy Queen

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have taken much fewer trips to fast-food restaurants. This dip in traffic still has not recovered fully.

Since this is a widespread issue, some restaurants like Dairy Queen have raised prices to account for the loss of revenue due to a lack of customers.

This is a tricky situation to be in for many restaurants since they can’t raise the prices too high, or else even fewer people will come- it’s a thin line to walk.

6. It Is Now More Expensive to Buy and Ship Supplies

Supply chain issues that have been affecting global trade and the economy for a couple of years now are still affecting restaurants such as Dairy Queen.

Food and supplies are harder to come by, which often results in higher expenses when trying to supply a restaurant with the necessary ingredients.

When ingredient costs go up, so do menu prices.

7. Higher Gas Prices Result in Traffic Loss for Fast Food Restaurants

Another factor that has kept many people out of Dairy Queen and other restaurants is the drastic increase in fuel prices in many places.

Since many are driving their vehicles less to conserve gas, restaurants have suffered additional traffic loss.

This means they are making less money and must account for the funds in some way to account for the loss.

Revenue problems such as these can result in raised prices at places like Dairy Queen.

8. Average Prices for Dairy Are Increasing

According to one report from the USDA, dairy prices in 2022 are projected to be 34% higher for milk than they were in 2021.

This is due to a decrease in dairy production. The higher prices for dairy products are no doubt affecting Dairy Queen and other chains and may contribute to higher menu prices.

9. Average Prices for Beef Are Increasing

In addition, the WASDE report from the USDA states that beef prices are projected to be $17 more than the 2021 average.

This is a big deal for fast-food chains that sell hamburgers as a big part of their menu.

Further, Dairy Queen uses 100% beef with no additives or fillers. Since all of the burger patties rely on meat alone, and beef prices are increasing, this is likely to contribute to raised prices.

10. Decreasing Workforce May Require Raises in Pay

Due to the national shortage of workers, many businesses are desperate for more employees.

In some cases, this has resulted in higher starting wages and more raises for existing employees.

Desperate measures from Dairy Queen franchisees to keep their restaurant open may result in higher menu prices.

11. Dairy Queen Uses Soybean Oil Rather Than Canola Oil

Canola oil is the cheapest and most common option for frying food at restaurants. Dairy Queen exclusively uses soybean oil instead, which can be more expensive.

In addition, soybean prices are increasing in 2022, according to the WASDE report. This likely affects higher soybean oil costs.

Since DQ relies quite a bit on items like fries, onion rings, and chicken strips, the higher cost of frying oil may contribute to Dairy Queen’s higher prices in comparison with other food chains.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on the Dairy Queen dress code, does Dairy Queen accepts EBT, and does Dairy Queen deliver.


Dairy Queen menu prices have risen, similar to many restaurants over the past couple of years. The company must carefully balance prices to make sure it stays in business while customers are still willing to pay.

Supply chain issues, limited traffic, food shortages, and other factors all contribute to rising prices at fast-food chains like Dairy Queen.

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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.

1 thought on “Why Is Dairy Queen So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)”

  1. Just ate at DQ and our meal for 2 people was $20, not including the sundae. ( which was $4.00 for )z Last summer, while traveling, we ate the same meal and it cost $14, including the sundae.

    I am not understanding why, DQ has drastically increased their prices as opposed to McDonald’s, which have increased marginally.

    As senior adults, on fixed income, can no longer afford DQ.

    Thanks for reading.

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