Is Soft Serve Dairy-Free? Read This To Find Out

Dairy Queen is known for their frozen treats and soft serve tops the list, kids will tell you this. While kids are rather carefree and will eat almost anything just for the taste, a parent’s concern is beyond that. You want to know if the so much talked about soft serve is dairy-free.

When you go out with your kids, it’s normal to be wary of what goes into their belly, especially when you have kids that can’t tolerate ingredients like dairy or gluten.

At first glance, a soft serve looks like ice cream but the kids will tell you it’s not. This makes you more curious to know what this special treat is made of. In this article, you’ll get to know if a soft serve is safe for your kids, if it’s healthy for them, and if it’s ice cream.

What is a soft serve?

A soft serve is a soft, creamy frozen treat that looks like ice cream but is not. Soft serve is dispensed from a machine that adds air to it as it churns out the treat. This makes it soft and aerated.

The main ingredients in a soft serve are non-fat milk and milk fat. Other ingredients include sugar, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and flavorings.

Is soft serve dairy-free?

Soft serve contains about 5% milk fat which does not make it dairy-free, regardless of its seemingly small amount. However, there are restaurants that sell frozen treats that offer dairy-free soft serve.

If you have a dairy allergy but would like to enjoy a soft serve, visit a restaurant you’re sure has a dairy-free soft serve.

Is Dairy Queen soft serve dairy-free?

No, it is not. Dairy Queen does not offer dairy-free soft serve. The soft serve has milkfat and milk which are dairy products. In addition, Dairy Queen’s soft serve is not lactose-free. Therefore, if you have dairy allergies and/or lactose intolerance, stay off DQ soft serve.

SEE: Enjoy More For Less During Dairy Queen (DQ) Happy Hour

Is McDonald’s soft serve dairy-free?

No, it is not. McDonald’s soft serve contains milk and cream which are dairy products. It is also not lactose-free and not safe for people with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.

Is Dole’s soft serve dairy-free?

Yes, it is. Dole offers a dairy-free, gluten-free, and fat-free soft serve that everyone can enjoy. It is flavored with fruits like pineapple, strawberry, mango, lime, lemon, raspberry, cherry, orange, and raspberry which makes it perfect for a vegan diet.

Is soft serve the same as ice cream?

No, it is not. A soft serve does not satisfy the FDA’s requirements to be called ice cream. The FDA requires that a product must contain at least 10% milkfat before it can come under the classification of ice creams but soft serve contains just 5%.

In addition, a soft serve is softer and less dense than ice cream. Although they are made with similar ingredients, ice cream is a hard frozen treat with less overrun than soft serve. The machine that dispenses soft serve keeps it frozen but not as hard as ice cream.  

SEE: Are There Eggs In Ice Cream?

Is soft serve the same as frozen yogurt?

A soft serve is almost like frozen yogurt. They both contain lower amounts of milkfat compared to ice creams. Moreover, they both contain the same amount of air which makes both of them soft.

In simple words, frozen yogurt is a non-standard soft serve that contains less than 100% yogurt and does not include cream.

Is soft serve healthy?

A soft serve is a delicious frozen dessert that you should eat in moderate amounts. The USDA says that ½ cup of vanilla soft serve contains:

  • 191 calories
  • 11.2g fat
  • 3.5g protein
  • 18.2g sugar
  • 19.1g carbohydrates
  • 0.6g fiber
  • 78.3mg cholesterol
  • 52.5mg sodium

The nutritional value varies with how much soft serve you’re eating and the type of flavorings.

SEE: Enjoy These Creamy Treats On The Sonic Ice Cream Menu

How to make dairy-free soft serve

soft serve in bowl - cheffist

This recipe makes about 10 servings of soft serve. You can make modifications to the flavor and add any toppings of your choice. However, take your dietary needs into consideration when choosing your toppings.


  • 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk (15 oz. each)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup of maple syrup
  • Toppings


  • Pour coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla into a blender
  • Then, blend on high speed until you have a smooth, thick mixture
  • Scrape down the sides and blend again
  • When you’re sure that it’s smooth enough, transfer it into a piping bag and freeze it for 30 to 45 minutes
  • Afterward, pipe the soft serve onto ice cream cones or into cups
  • Serve with toppings

SEE: Get Dilly Bar For Free At Dairy Queen

Topping ideas for soft serve

  • Cherries
  • Caramel sauce
  • Whipped cream
  • Sprinkles
  • Chopped nuts
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Fresh fruits
  • Candies
  • Hot fudge
  • Oreo cookies
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate covered pretzels
  • Toasted marshmallow
  • Sour watermelon
  • Toasted almonds
  • Pop tarts

SEE: Find Out If M&M’s Have Dairy


Does soft serve contain eggs?

Not all soft serve contain eggs. Soft serve ingredients vary with restaurants; most of them do not include eggs while making soft serve but others use egg yolks in their recipe.

Is soft serve lactose-free?

If a soft serve is not dairy-free, it is not lactose-free and unsafe for lactose intolerance.

However, the lactose levels in dairy products vary and some may contain very small amounts that a lactose intolerant system may tolerate. But, it is better to be careful and stay off the non-vegan soft serve.

Is soft serve gluten-free?

A large majority of soft serve is gluten-free because they don’t contain so many ingredients. Also, they use fruit flavors that do not contain gluten. However, if you find a soft serve that contains cookie dough or cookie and cream as a topping, it is most likely not gluten-free.

Is soft serve vegan?

Not all soft serve is vegan. If you want a vegan soft serve, visit restaurants that sell dairy-free soft serve or make a vegan soft serve at home.


If your kids love to visit Dairy Queen, their rave about DQ soft serve is not news in your ears. Beyond their love for it, you want to know if it is dairy-free. Soft serve is not dairy-free. It contains 5% milk fat which is still not a good idea for your kids with a dairy allergy.

A Dairy Queen non-dairy frozen treat option for kids on a dairy-free diet is the non-dairy Dilly Bar. If they must have a soft serve, you can take them to restaurants where they can get dairy-free soft serve. Better still, you can indulge yourself in making a homemade dairy-free soft serve.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Cheffist to get vital information about the nutritional value of your favorite meals and snacks.