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Difference between Soft Serve and Hard Pack Ice Cream

Difference between Soft Serve and Hard Pack Ice Cream

When we talk of desserts, there are many options to pick from but nothing can beat the frozen dairy i.e. the ice cream. Ice creams can be of different types like soft serve ice-cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, hard pack ice cream and sorbet. Each one is different from the other based on their ingredients, production method, delivery options, etc.

While many of us may like the simple taste of soft serve ice cream others may enjoy the traditional taste of hard pack ice cream. But whichever is your preference, you need to know how each of them stands apart from the other in terms of their taste. Mentioned below are three of the primary differences between soft serve and hard pack ice cream.

  • Ingredients

    As per the International Dairy Foods Association, any standard ice cream must contain at least 10% milkfat and 20% cream. But most of the hard ice cream contains around 10% – 18% milkfat. It also contains sweeteners like sugar, corn syrup or air and non-fat milk solids like proteins. The hard ice cream is topped contain flavors and toppings like fruit, nuts, chocolates, etc.

Soft serve ice cream includes less milkfat, which is often around 3% to 6%. The air content in the soft serve ice creams sets it apart from the hard ice cream. The former contains higher air content that gives it a light and fluffy texture. This air content not only affects the taste but also its texture.

  • Production

    Every ice cream contains a liquid base that undergoes pasteurization and homogenization to get rid of any harmful bacteria. Any premium quality ice cream normally has less air that adds to its richness. Hard ice cream is cooled, frozen and stored at a temperature of around 150 degrees Celsius. It is further blended and aerated creating an overrun of air.


But in the case of soft serve, it is normally made by pouring different forms of mixes into a soft serve machine. It is in this machine where the ice cream mix is churned and frozen at a temperature of -4 degrees Celsius.

In the process of freezing, the air is whipped into it. Most soft serve ice cream runs at 35% air (overrun) in a gravity machine that makes the product fluffier. In this type of machine, the product is loaded from the top. There are also pump machines where the product is loaded from the bottom thus allowing it to pump higher amounts of air (overrun 60-70%). This soft serve ice cream is then finally stored in the serving chamber of the machine at around 3 degrees Celsius and served from there.

  • Delivery

    The delivery system is a platform for the operators to show off their talent. Hard pack ice creams are usually packaged in big-sized tubs and then stowed in coolers or display cases from where they are manually scooped into ice cream cones or bowls. Usually, three scoops are served as a normal practice where the balancing act of the scoops is something to be admired.

But unlike this hard packed type, soft serve ice cream is produced, stored and delivered using a single soft serve machine. With the help of a simple twisting motion, you can deliver a soft serve cone. This portrays an interesting piece of work that is truly artistic.

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