Hard vs Soft Serve Ice Cream

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Every summer, the weather warms up, and ice cream shops open their doors to welcome customers! There are always so many choices. Traditional ice cream or dairy free? Hot fudge or caramel? Hard serve or soft? Toppings and ingredients depend on your particular preferences, but for soft or hard serve, there are varying opinions and clear difference for each option.


What is the difference between soft and hard serve?

Hard serve ice cream is the kind sold by the gallon in grocery stores and ice cream shops. Soft serve is the kind most often served by fast food restaurants. Besides these differences, they are produced differently. Soft serve requires constant movement which adds a lot of air. Hard serve is made with a higher fat content to produce a more solid dessert.


Soft Serve

Soft Serve is easy to make because it requires just two elements an ice cream base, and an ice cream machine. The machine gently stirs the mixture constantly to prevent it from becoming too solid. The soft ice cream that is produced is ideal for adding toppings, milkshakes, floats, and swirly cones.

The constant movement in the machine creates more air pockets produces a fluffy, swirly ice cream product. The low fat content makes it a popular choice for dieters who have a sweet tooth. The fat content is also the reason this soft dessert holds its shape well at a low temperature.


  • Soft serve is easy to blend with toppings. This makes it a popular choice for chunky candy, syrups, cookies, and nuts.
  • The lower fat content makes it better for dieters who are limiting their fat intake.


  • Soft serve is fussy in high temperatures. It melts quickly. It is unlikely to make it home in the hot summer weather.
  • Each flavor requires it’s own machine, so flavor options are usually limited to the basics. Vanilla is the most common flavor. If a restaurant has more than 1 machine, chocolate and strawberry are popular secondary offerings.

Want to try making your own soft serve at home – look no further, click here.

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Hard Serve

Hard, or traditional, ice cream contains a much higher fat content. This makes it freeze a certain way. Therefore, it is creamy and scoop-able instead of solid like ice.

The process of preparing fresh hard serve is rather easy. It does not require constant movement in a machine.
This makes it easier to create dozens of flavours such as Rocky Road, Moose Tracks, and Strawberry Cheesecake.


  • Hard serve is versatile and easier to find dairy free options.
  • The versatility also means more flavour choices. For example, cookies & cream and peanut butter cup flavors would not be possible with a softer texture.


  • Hard serve does not blend well with toppings after it is frozen. It is best to add toppings before freezing.

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Where can I find soft and hard serve ice cream near me?

Everywhere you go, from Tilbury to Leamington, there is bound to be an ice cream shop nearby. It should also be easy to find dairy free options if you look in the right places! When you’re on the hunt for “an ice cream shop near me,” look no further than iScreams. Everything you need to satisfy your sweet tooth is right here.


Feature Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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