What is Hard Serve Ice Cream? – TurnKeyParlor.com


What is Hard Serve Ice Cream?

What is Hard Serve Ice Cream?

What is Hard Serve ice cream?

Hard serve ice cream is a combination of milk, cream, sugar, and any flavorings you’d like (ex: Vanilla, Chocolate, Etc.) that are then blended together in a Batch Freezer. A Batch Freezer is designed to properly cool the hard serve ice cream mixture, being frozen and beaten/agitated to add air to the mixture. Once the batch freezer has finished mixing and agitating the product, the hard serve ice cream can be cleared from the batch freezer and frozen in a blast freezer to allow it to harden properly. Once hardened, the hard serve ice cream is ready to serve!

Hard serve ice cream in a cone

Hard Serve Ice Cream in a Cone

Hard serve ice cream in a cup

Hard Serve Ice Cream in a Cup

Quality Rating for Hard Serve Ice Cream:

Hard serve ice cream is catalogued into four categories, each one designating the particular quality of that ice cream and how the hard serve ice cream was made. Below we’ve listed these four categories, including there specific definitions as well. These Definitions meet USD Standard Requirements.

  1. Super Premium: This is the highest quality hard serve ice cream available, generally using very high quality ingredients. The super premium hard serve ice cream has the lowest overall overrun as well as the highest fat content of any hard serve ice cream. In order for ice cream to be labeled super-premium, it must have less than 50 percent overrun and also needs to contain 14 to 18 percent butterfat.
  2. Premium: Similar to Super Premium ice cream, Premium ice cream also has low overrun and higher fat content (though Premium still does have more overrun and less fat than its Super Premium equivalent). Premium hard serve ice cream does use high quality ingredients. Premium hard serve ice cream usually has 11 to 15 percent butterfat and 60 to 90 percent overrun.
  3. Regular: Regular hard serve ice cream generally just meets the required federal ice cream standard: It has 10 to 11 percent butterfat and 90 to 100 percent overrun, and can also include things like imuslivers and gumming agents.
  4. Economy: Similar to regular ice cream, while it does meet the federal required ice cream standard, its ingredients are generally low quality, with the highest percentage of overrun and low fat content. Cheapest hard serve ice cream available

Hard Serve Ice Cream: USD Standards for Fat Content

Hard serve ice cream is also catalogued by its fat content. These five categories are named Ice Cream, Reduced Fat, Light/Lite, Lowfat, and Nonfat, respectively. Below is another list, defining each of these fat content categories by there true, USD Standard requirements:

  • Ice Cream: Basically just your standard hard serve ice cream product. Is a mixture of standard ice cream ingredients which must contain a minimum of 10 percent milkfat.
  • Reduced Fat: Is hard serve ice cream that must have a minimum of 25 percent less fat than its full fat hard serve equivalent product. (This means it must have 25% less total fat than the average fat content of standard Ice Cream of a similar flavor)
  • Light/Lite: Hard serve ice cream that is Light or Lite must have a minimum of 50 percent less fat or 33 percent less calories than its full fat hard serve equivalent product.
  • Lowfat: Hard serve ice cream that is Lowfat can only contain a max of 3 total grams of fat per serving (or ½ cup per serving).
  • Nonfat: Hard serve ice cream that is Nonfat can only contain a max of .5 total grams of fat per serving.

Benefits of Hard Serve Ice Cream

Now that you understand the basics of hard serve ice cream, I want to talk about some of the benefits of it. How does hard serve ice cream compare to its sister treat, soft serve ice cream and why you may want to choose one over the other while also answering some common questions we often get when a customer is interested in starting any sort of ice cream shop.

Delivery / Storage

Something you’ve probably already noticed though may not have understood why, is the fact that you cannot buy soft serve ice cream prepackaged or at any supermarket, while on the other hand hard serve ice cream is everywhere! The reason for this is simple: While hard serve ice cream can be made in batches, frozen, and stored for later use, soft serve ice cream has to be served directly from a soft serve machine. Once soft serve is served, the quality and temperature of the ice cream begins to deteriorate pretty quickly, at least compared to hard serve ice cream.

This alone can make hard ice cream a more appealing option: you are less likely to waste product, and you don’t need multiple machines to make multiple flavors, while with soft serve the amount of flavors you can make in a day is limited to how may flavors each machine can serve, and generally soft serve machines cap out at 2 flavors with a single twist (though there are exceptions, machines much bigger than that can get extremely expensive, and its often cheaper to just buy two smaller machines)

Shelf Life of Hard Serve Ice Cream

The shelf life of hard serve ice cream can vary a bit. If the ice cream is sealed air-tight after its made, and immediately put into a blast freezer, then the ice cream can potentially stay fresh for up to 3 months. However, in less optimal conditions, the time your hard serve ice cream will stay fresh is more like 6-weeks. While the ice cream is likely still safe to eat after this 6-week period, its will begin to lose its true, optimal taste.


Soft serve usually has to be kept in the machine running, and served directly from the machine to the customer for the product to stay in optimal condition. This means, unlike hard ice cream, which can be produced in bulk and preserved for serving at a later date, soft serve options can be much more limiting.

The Popularity of Hard Serve:

Hard Serve Ice Cream is popular all around the world. New Zealand leads the globe in overall hard ice cream consumption, with an entire 28.4 liters per capita being consumed per year!

The United States actually does come in second place, consuming closer to 20.8 liters of hard serve ice cream per capita, per year. In America, ice cream production is huge business, with U.S. hard serve ice cream manufacturers producing close to 872 million gallons of their ice cream in a single year!

Thank you World Atlas with its ‘Top Ice Cream Consuming Countries of the World’ list for its accurate statistics related to hard serve ice cream popularity per country!

How the Most Popular Hard Ice Cream Brands Compare

Now that we’ve discussed how brands organize and catalogue their products by quality and fat content, let's review a few of the most popular and recognizable hard serve ice cream brands: What ingredients do they use, what quality ice cream are they, and what their hard serve fat content is… let's discuss!

Haagen Daz

Haagem Dazs Logo

Almost everyone knows of or has tried a Haagen Daz bar or a pint of their hard serve ice cream. As you may have guessed already from Haagem Dazs taste, its consistency, and even popularity, that their ice cream is considered a Super-Premium brand. Haagen Daz is quite dense, with very little air added (or very little Overrun). They also do not use any emulsifiers or stabilizers other than egg yolk, and, as Super-Premium brands are required to do, Haagen Daz also contains a high butterfat percentage.

Haagen Daz Hard Serve Ingredients: Vanilla Bean

Because all of these brands have multiple different flavors, we’ve decided to stick with listing the ingredients of their vanilla equivalent, so that each ingredient list is a fair comparison.

With that being said, here are the ingredients for Haagen Daz’s Vanilla Bean: Cream, Skim Milk, Cane Sugar, Egg Yolks, Ground Vanilla Beans, Vanilla Extract.

Ben and Jerrys

Ben and Jerrys Logo

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is considered a Premium hard serve ice cream. While its Overrun content is much closer to a Super Premium brand, the butterfat content is on the lower end at around a maximum of 15 percent. Another reason Ben and Jerrys just misses the Super Premium category is due to the additional ingredients that are used in Ben and Jerrys hard serve ice cream, as you can see listed below. This is not to say that Ben and Jerrys is bad: I personally am a big fan of some of their ice cream flavors, but rules are rules, and technically Ben and Jerry's basic line doesn't make the Super Premium cut.

Ben and Jerry's Hard Serve Ingredients: Vanilla Ice Cream


Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robins Logo

Baskin Robbins is considered a Premium brand - this actually surprised me, as I had assumed Baskin Robbins ice cream would lean more towards the Regular standard quality hard serve ice cream due to its less thick and more airy consistency. Baskin Robbins also uses more fillers, gums, and emulsifiers than any of the previous brands we listed, as well as using Corn Syrup, giving it that fake sweet taste.

Baskin Robbins Hard Serve Ingredients: Vanilla Ice Cream

The ingredients for Baskin Robbins Vanilla Ice Cream are listed here: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Stabiliser Emulsifier Blend (Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan), Natural Flavour, Beta Carotene for Colour, Caramel Color.

Halo Top Creamery

Halo Top Creamery Logo

The final popular brand I wanted to talk about is Halo Top Creamery. This brand is the healthier alternative, being relatively low in sugar & calories when compared to the above brands. They substitute a majority of their sugar with Stevia and Erythritol, with a pint of their hard serve ice cream having around 240-360 calories. Halo Top Creamery is considered Lowfat by USD Standards.

Halo Top Creamery Ingredients: Vanilla Bean

The ingredients for the Vanilla Bean flavor of hard serve ice cream is listed here: Unfiltered Skim Milk (Not an Ingredient in Regular Ice Cream), Skim Milk, Erythritol, Soluble Corn Fiber, Cream Sugar, Vegetable Glycerine, Egg Yolks, Inulin, Contains 1% or Less of Natural Flavors, Ground Vanilla Beans, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Sea Salt, Stevia Leaf Extract (Reb M), Caramel Color, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Hard Serve Ice Cream Equipment

When discussing hard serve ice cream equipment, there are a few things to keep in mind: If all you are looking to do is serve premade ice cream from your ice cream shop, receiving orders of ice cream from a separate supplier, than the only equipment you will need is a dipping cabinet that's designed to serve hard serve ice cream and possibly a freezer to hold additional ice cream that reaches at least 0 degrees fahrenheit.

For all our New & Used Dipping Cabinets,Visit our Dipping Cabinet Category!

For all our Used Dipping Cabinets, Visit our USED Equipment Listing PAGE or Sign-Up for our Email Blast below:

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