Is There Milk in Soft Serve Ice Cream?

Written by: Kelly Donovan

Many people know that ice cream—made traditionally—contains milk solids and several other dairy products.

But what about soft serve cones - does that frozen treat contain milk, and if so, how much?

Soft serve cones are just variations on regular ice cream, with more air infused for an extra soft texture. Ice cream contains milkfat, and because ice cream and soft serve contain many of the same ingredients, soft serve frozen treats also contain milkfat and cream.

If you want more info on the specific milk content and other dairy content found in soft serve ice cream, keep reading.

Does Soft Serve Have Milk In It?

Yes. Soft serve ice cream primarily consists of sugar, sweeteners, added flavors, milkfat, and heavy cream. 

Based on info provided by the USDA, for a product to be labeled as “ice cream,” it must contain a minimum of 10% milkfat content.

But with a cone of soft serve, you’re more likely to have slightly less milkfat content overall.

While most ice cream products have up to 18% milkfat content, a soft serve portion will have closer to 3-6% milkfat content.

seven soft serve ice cream cones on light blue background

Milk Content In Soft Serve Ice Cream

Consider the following milk content that you might find in certain frozen soft serve treats sold throughout the US:

McDonald’s Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

Dairy Queen Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

Milk Content

Milk and cream

Milk and nonfat milk

Dairy In Soft Serve Ice Cream

Because milk is a type of dairy, that means that soft serve ice cream contains some dairy content.

But it also contains some other forms of dairy, like the heavy cream used in production.

Soft serve ice cream may sometimes contain some type of dry milk powder.

three soft serve ice cream cones on light blue background

Where to Get Soft Serve Without Dairy or Milk

The fact that most soft serve ice cream products contain milk and other dairy products means that it’s difficult or not an option for lactose-free and vegans eaters to consume.

Luckily, though, more and more brands are jumping on the bandwagon of plant-based dairy alternatives.

A vegan, soy yogurt-based soft serve is one of the most common variations without dairy.

There are also oat-based vegan soft serves hitting the market.

Depending on where you live, you may even be able to find a local ice cream shop that sells vegan soft serve.

For instance, if you find yourself in New York, consider checking out some of the options Vegan Bodegacat recommends in this video!

Additionally, you can find do-it-yourself recipes for soft serve ice cream that make room for non-dairy ingredient substitutes—like this one from Feasting on Fruit

Here's another option from Twin Coast for vanilla soft serve made with oat milk!

The higher the fat content of the non-dairy milk, the better it works for ice cream recipes, as it mirrors the fat content found in dairy milk.

Final Thoughts

Have you been wondering, is there milk in soft serve ice cream? Since soft serve is just a lighter and airier version of scooped ice cream, it contains many of the same ingredients, including milk, cream, and milk fat.

However, you can find lactose-free alternatives to soft serve ice cream from certain brands offering vegan ice cream and at-home recipes that use dairy-free milk substitutes.

About the Author

Kelly Donovan is a freelance writer. She enjoys helping people reach their wellness goals by educating them about how food plays a role in their health.