McDonald's ice cream

Is McDonald’s Ice Cream Dairy Free?

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McDonald’s is known for their cheeseburgers, Big Macs, and French fries (along with quite a bit else), but if you have more of a sweet tooth, or if you are searching for some dessert, then you would be leaning more towards a McFlurry or soft serve.

A McDonald’s meal isn’t complete without a soft serve or a McFlurry, but for those who are lactose-intolerant, or who have a dairy-free diet, this isn’t so true. Is McDonald’s ice cream dairy free?

McDonald’s ice creams are not dairy free, and all the various types of ice cream, such as soft serve and McFlurrys do contain dairy and quite a large amount. This means that those who avoid dairy should not order ice cream at McDonald’s.

With all the flavors that you can order a McFlurry, it definitely isn’t a sweet treat for everyone. Read on to find out more about what the ice cream at McDonald’s is made from, and the different sweet options available.

What Is McDonald’s Ice Cream Made From?

McDonald’s ice cream is real dairy ice cream and is made with milk and sugar, both of which are 100% dairy.

The main ingredients used to make the basic ice cream at McDonald’s are powdered milk, cream, sugar, and glucose. This ice cream is the same used for all the ice cream-based desserts at McDonald’s, which means that almost all the ice cream desserts at Mcdonald’s contain dairy unless stated otherwise. 

There are also other ingredients included with the various ice cream products at McDonald’s, such as chocolate sauce, cookie crumbs, and other toppings, some of which might also contain dairy, so it is worth checking the ingredients online beforehand.

Is McDonald’s Ice Cream Lactose-Free?

As Mcdonald’s ice cream is made with real milk and real dairy, it is not lactose-free, and those with a sensitivity or intolerance to lactose should avoid the ice cream desserts at McDonald’s.

The main ingredients in McDonald’s ice cream are milk and cream, which means that the lactose content in the ice cream products, such as a McFlurry or soft serve is quite high, and should be avoided if you do not include lactose in your diet.

There might also be additional ingredients in these ice cream desserts that contain lactose as well, which would just increase the amount of lactose you would consume.

So, if you are lactose intolerant or avoid lactose in your diet, you will, unfortunately, have to avoid ordering any ice cream products at McDonald’s.

Do McDonald’s Milkshakes Have Dairy?

The McDonald’s milkshakes, like the other ice cream products, do contain dairy, and should therefore be avoided by those who do not consume dairy in their diet.

The main ingredients in McDonald’s milkshakes include skimmed milk, cream, whey powder, glucose, and stabilizers, along with the various flavors they have on offer. This shows that dairy is the bulk ingredient in milkshakes.

As well as containing dairy, the milkshakes contain lactose.

What Ice Cream Items Are at Mcdonald’s?

Most of the dessert options at McDonald’s contain ice cream in some form or another, so it is difficult trying to avoid dairy at McDonald’s.

The dessert menu will differ between various locations, but there are a few staple ice cream desserts you will find at most McDonald’s:

  • McFlurry Oreo
  • McFlurry M&M’s
  • Vanilla Soft Serve
  • Chocolate Shake
  • Strawberry Shake
  • Vanilla Shake
  • Hot Fudge Sunday
  • Hot Caramel Sunday

All of these ice-cream-based desserts contain dairy and lactose, and they contain additional flavoring and toppings which might also contain some form of dairy, so you should check up on the complete ingredient list before ordering.

Is There a Vegan Ice Cream at Mcdonald’s?

As deflating as it might be to realize that ice cream at McDonald’s is not dairy-free, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

McDonald’s saw the need for a vegan option and brought out the vegan McFlurry. The vegan McFlurry is available in a KitKat version, a chocolate version with caramel sauce and chocolate chunks, and a strawberry sorbet flavor.


These vegan items are dairy-free and lactose-free, making them more accessible for a wider range of diets.

The only problem is that these vegan McFlurry options are not widely available just yet, and you might have to wait a little while until there is a vegan McFlurry option at the McDonald’s near you.

What Dessert Options Are at McDonald’s?

Thankfully, ice cream-based desserts are not the only dessert options at McDonald’s, and there are some other items on the menu that can help make your McDonald’s meal that much sweeter!

The two most popular dessert options that you will find at most McDonald’s locations, which are not ice-cream based, are the Baked Apple Pie and the Chocolate Chip Cookies.

chocolate chip cookies and baked apple pie

However, before you order these, you need to have a look at the ingredient list. The Chocolate Chip Cookies do contain small amounts of dairy, in the chocolate chips, and this might rule it out as a dessert option for you.

There is still the Baked Apple Pie, which does not contain milk, and is suitable for those who want a dessert but want to avoid dairy. The only allergen to be wary of in the Baked Apple Pie is wheat.

So, if you are dairy-free and are wanting a dessert from McDonald’s, then your best bet would be to order the Baked Apple Pie!

Vegan Options at McDonald’s

You might be looking for a dairy-free dessert at McDonald’s because you follow a vegan diet, and this would mean that you would need to find vegan-friendly items on the main menu too.

McDonald’s is definitely not a leader in vegan-friendly menu items, and you will find yourself quite limited in trying to order a vegan meal at McDonald’s.

Some McDonald’s locations might have McPlant wraps or burgers, which are plant-based patties or strips used to make a burger or wrap instead of meat-based products, but these sometimes contain cheese and mayonnaise, which means they are not truly vegan.

McDonald's vegan options

If there is a McPlant item at the McDonald’s you are ordering from, check to see if the cheese or mayonnaise used is vegan-friendly. If not, ask for these to be left off the item, which should make it a vegan option.

You might be even more upset to find that McDonald’s famous fries are not vegan! Yes, they are made from potatoes, but they are flavored with a natural beef flavoring, meaning that they are not suitable for vegan diets.

For a breakfast meal, you could order the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. This does contain light cream, but you can ask for this to be removed, and the breakfast would then be vegan.

Other vegan options at McDonald’s include:

  • Side Salad
  • Apple Slices
  • Baked Apple Pie
  • Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce
  • Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Are There Dairy-Free Shakes at McDonald’s?

There aren’t any dairy-free shakes at McDonald’s, but there are dairy-free drinks that you can order instead.

One great option if you are looking for something similar to a shake, is the Minute Maid Slushies, which come in Sweet Peach, Blue Raspberry, and Fruit Punch. These are made with fruit juice and ice and do not contain any dairy. The availability does vary between locations.

Other dairy-free beverages at McDonald’s are sodas, juices, and coffee products which do not include milk, such as black coffee.

How Vegan-Friendly Is McDonald’s?

Unfortunately, McDonald’s is not as vegan-friendly as it probably should be. There are McDonald’s around Europe that feature quite a few vegan meal options, but this is not true for most McDonald’s in the USA.

To order a vegan meal at McDonald’s, you will likely have to remove one or two items from a plant-based meal, and you definitely won’t be able to enjoy a shake or even the fries!

Is McDonald’s Ice Cream Dairy Free?

McDonald’s ice cream is not dairy free, as it is made with cream and milk, which give it that creamy, delicious flavor and texture.

However, this does mean that ice-cream-based desserts, such as the McFlurry, soft serve, and shakes, are not suitable for those who are dairy-free or lactose intolerant.

The only dairy-free dessert option at most McDonald’s would be the Baked Apple Pie, as even the Chocolate Chip Cookies contain a small amount of dairy.

There is a vegan McFlurry available at some locations, but it isn’t as popular at all locations just yet, but hopefully, it will be available at a McDonald’s near you soon.

Related Questions

Is a McFlurry Vegetarian?

A McFlurry might not be suitable for a vegan diet, but they are considered to be a vegetarian dessert, and this includes most of the McFlurry flavors. 

Is Oreo McFlurry Made with Real Ice Cream?

The Oreo McFlurry is made with real ice cream, along with some milk and additional flavorings and toppings, such as Oreo cookie crumbs.

Are McNuggets Free from Dairy?

The McNuggets at McDonald’s do not contain milk or dairy. However, there is a chance of cross-contamination as they are fried in the same oil as the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken.

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