Is Dairy Queen Real Ice Cream?

Updated: Feb. 28, 2024

Technically, we can't call Dairy Queen's soft serve real ice cream—here's why.

Dairy Queen is known for a lot of things, but right at the top of the list is definitely their famous soft serve. The delicious treat has always been a staple for the chain, and it’s the key to the super popular Dairy Queen Blizzard.

While we might have ordered it a million times, there are plenty of things we didn’t know about the Blizzard—including that its main ingredient isn’t technically ice cream. So, if you’ve wondered, “Is Dairy Queen real ice cream?” we’ve got the answers.

Why Dairy Queen’s Soft Serve Can’t Be Called Ice Cream

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for what can be called “ice cream” require the product to contain at least 10% butterfat or milkfat. Initially, DQ’s soft serve fit in the category of “ice milk”, but the FDA removed this category and instead allowed companies to sort their products into three new ones: “reduced-fat,” “light” and “low-fat” ice cream.

According to the new regulations, Dairy Queen’s soft serve is now in the “reduced-fat” ice cream category, while their shake mix is considered “low-fat” ice cream. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean their products are 95% fat-free! These categories only confirm the percentage of butterfat, which is 5% in the case of DQ’s soft serve.

That’s Not the Only Difference

While the definitions may have changed, DQ’s recipe for its soft serve has never undergone any changes since its inception. However, Dairy Queen’s soft serve differs from “ice cream” in more ways than just its milkfat content. If you’ve ordered a Blizzard, you’ve definitely noticed how soft and pliable this Dairy Queen treat is compared to regular ice cream. This is because soft serve ice cream has air added into it to enhance creaminess during the freezing process.

The soft serve is also kept at a different temperature when compared to regular ice cream and contains emulsifiers to keep all the ingredients together. These differences are also why DQ Blizzards don’t fall out of the cup!

Can’t get enough of DQ’s soft serve? Don’t forget to check out their latest Blizzard—or if nostalgia’s more your thing, opt for a Peanut Butter Bash Sundae!

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