Difference Between Soft Serve and Ice Cream

Main Difference – Soft Serve vs Ice Cream

Ice cream is a frozen dessert that is loved by everybody. It is sweet, soft, smooth and melts in your tongue. But soft serve is a type of ice cream which is even smoother and softer than regular ice cream. The main difference between soft serve and ice cream is that ice cream contains more milk fats than soft serve.

What is Ice Cream

Ice cream is a frozen food made of milk, cream, and sweeteners. For a frozen dessert to be termed as ice cream, it should contain at least 10% of milk fats, 20% of solid milk by weight. In ice cream, the cream percentage is typically higher than milk. In addition to the primary ingredients, various colorings, flavorings, and stabilizers are also used to flavor the ice cream. Different toppings are also used in serving.

Ice cream should contain at most 50% of air. Premium ice creams have higher fat content and lesser air content. The air is incorporated into the ice cream by churning the mixture before freezing. It is because of this aeration process that ice creams are often soft and fluffy. The amount of air in an ice cream is called overrun. Ice cream is usually stored and served at about -15ºC.

Main Difference - Soft Serve vs Ice Cream

What is Soft Serve

Soft serve is also a type of ice cream. As its name implies, soft serve is softer than other kinds of ice cream. Soft serve is usually lower in milk fat compared to ice cream. It has about 3-6% of milk fat. It is also produced at a temperature of about -4ºC, which is relatively higher than the temperature used in ice cream production. The amount of air or overrun is also quite higher in soft serve. Soft serve can contain up to 60% of air. This amount of air increases the volume, but it also causes the ice cream to melt fast,

Another significant difference can be noted in the preparation process.  The air is incorporated into the soft serve ice cream during the freezing process. But in hard ice cream air is churned into the mixture before freezing.

Difference Between Soft Serve and Ice Cream

Difference Between Soft Serve and Ice Cream


Soft Serve is a type of ice cream.

Ice Cream is a frozen dessert.


Soft Serve is softer than ice cream.

Ice Cream is not as soft as soft serve.


Soft Serve is aerated and continuously churned during freezing.

Ice Cream is churned and aerated before freezing.

Air content

Soft Serve contains more air.

Ice Cream contains less air.

Fat content

Soft Serve is usually lower in fat content.

Ice Cream is usually higher in fat content.


Soft Serve is served at a higher temperature.

Ice Cream is served at a lower temperature.


Soft Serve can melt faster because it has more air.

Ice cream melts slower compared to soft serve.Difference Between Soft Serve and Ice Cream -infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Raw Ice Cream Company Vegan Chocolate Icecream” by Veganbaking.net from USA – Raw Ice Cream Company Chocolate (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Soft Serve Ice Cream McDonald’s” by Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: admin