Best Soft Serve Mixes

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
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1 Experts Interviewed
350 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best soft serve mixes

Last Updated August 2019

While ice cream is particularly popular in warm weather, there are plenty of people who appreciate soft serve year-round. And soft serve doesn’t only apply to ice cream but also sorbet, frozen yogurt, and custard. Assuming you’ve gone ahead and purchased an ice cream maker, your soft serve mix of choice is critical.

Before you commit to a soft serve mix, you’ll need to consider whether you want a powder or liquid mix. You’ll also need to consider flavor, the use of dairy products, and the amount of servings per mix. Your decision will depend on whether you’re using an ice cream maker at home or a soft serve machine for commercial purposes.

A quality soft serve mix makes all the difference. If you want to wow your customers, family members, or friends, our buying guide has everything you need to know before buying a soft serve mix. For our five favorite soft serve mixes, see the matrix above.

It is possible to make soft serve without an ice cream maker. You can stir the soft serve mix by hand or with a mixer and then freeze it. An ice cream maker, however, will give the soft serve the right texture.

What is soft serve ice cream?

All ice cream primarily consists of milk, flavoring, sugar, water, and air. Once the first few ice cream ingredients are mixed, an ice cream maker freezes some of the water while adding air into the frozen mixture.

Regular ice cream contains roughly 30% to 60% air. Soft serve ice cream contains more air, usually about 70% of its volume. The additional air gives soft serve a softer texture and causes it to melt more quickly, hence its name. You can make soft serve in an at-home ice cream maker with a soft serve mix.

Easy and decadent

This rich vanilla ice cream mix is excellent on its own or with any toppings you can think of. The smooth texture is a crowd-pleaser, and some customers say this soft serve mix is even better than store-bought ice cream. You can add candy to this soft serve mix or fruit, such as peaches, strawberries, or blueberries. The quantity may be on the small side, but the quality of this at-home soft serve mix is unmatched. And this mix is so rich that a small portion should suffice.

Key considerations

Powder vs. liquid soft serve mixes

If you’re used to buying soft serve ice cream from restaurants and fast-food joints, then you’re most familiar with liquid soft serve. Liquid soft serve mixes are dairy-based and have a higher fat content and less ice crystals than powder mixes. No mixing is required before pouring the liquid mix into a soft serve machine. Liquid soft serve mixes are typically sold in bags rather than boxes, so they also save on storage space.

One downside is that liquid soft serve mixes have a short shelf life. Liquid mixes must be kept under 40°F as well. The creamier texture of liquid soft serve mixes is thanks to butterfat, which makes liquid mixes more expensive than powder soft serve mixes. Liquid mixes are ideal for high-volume businesses, but smaller quantities also work well for home kitchens.

Powder soft serve mixes can remain on shelves for much longer. They’re typically non-dairy, making them fat-free and less expensive than liquid mixes. Preparing a powder soft serve mix requires mixing the powder with water. Getting the ratio correct can be tricky, especially on the first try. Powder soft serve mixes are sold in boxes, which take up more storage space. Overall, powder soft serve mixes are an excellent choice for traveling vendors or if you only occasionally make soft serve at home.

Non-dairy

You may opt for a non-dairy soft serve mix for a variety of reasons. Powder soft serve mixes naturally exclude dairy, and non-dairy mixes are easy to find for sorbets or other fruit-based frozen desserts. Protein and fat can thicken a soft serve mix to produce soft serve’s signature creamy taste without the use of dairy products. Many non-dairy soft serve mixes use soy, coconut oil, or pea protein for creaminess.

Flavor

If you have a commercial soft serve machine, you’ll probably want to buy the classic soft serve flavors – vanilla and chocolate – to appeal to all customers. However, there are quite a few soft serve flavors to choose from, including fruit-flavored and coffee-flavored soft serve mixes. If you have a home ice cream maker, choose soft serve mixes in whatever flavors you like.

EXPERT TIP

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, dispensing soft serve mix from a piping bag can help you achieve soft serve’s classic texture


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Soft serve mixes that are low in fat may be more prone to hardening. This is because fat is a natural softener and doesn’t freeze.


Staff  | BestReviews

Soft serve mix prices

The majority of soft serve mixes fall between $12 and $60, and the price largely depends on quantity, flavor, and the type of mix.

Inexpensive soft serve mixes range from $12 to $20. These mixes come in smaller quantities, usually under six pounds, that are ideal for home use. Most of these soft serve mixes are the conventional vanilla and chocolate flavors. You’ll find more powder soft serve mixes in this price range since they’re cheaper than liquid mixes.

The $20 to $40 range is the sweet spot for soft serve mixes. On the lower end, you can find soft serve mixes that are upward of six pounds and smaller, well-made liquid mixes. Less typical flavors also fall in this price range. On the higher end, you can find quantities closer to 10 pounds, which is ideal for commercial use.

Soft serve mixes that are over $40 come in large quantities and multiple flavors for commercial use.

Freezing times for soft serve mixes vary depending on the mix and the ice cream maker being used.

Tips

  • If your soft serve comes out hard, try adding a tablespoon of alcohol or a liquid sweetener.
  • A spoonful of gelatin can maintain the softness of any leftover soft serve stored in the freezer. Just keep in mind that gelatin is not kosher or vegan.
  • Buy a soft serve mix in a neutral flavor like vanilla and then add flavored syrups to produce your own custom soft serve flavor.

A number of tasty flavors

Junket’s bundle of soft serve mixes all taste homemade. You can go to town with toppings or mix fruit, nuts, or candy into the mix itself. With the variety pack, you can choose from vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry soft serve mixes. The boxes of powder mix each make one quart of ice cream, which is ideal for home use. Experiment with different milk consistencies to reach the thickness and creaminess you want.

Other products we considered

Dole makes excellent soft serve, so it’s no surprise that we also like the Dole Lemon Soft Serve Mix. When prepared properly, customers say it tastes just like the Dole Whip at Disneyland. The directions are straightforward for this vegan mix, and it’s low-fat, too. This well-loved powder soft serve mix tastes great on its own or with a few additions, like rum. Note that the instructions are for large batches. You’ll have to do some tinkering to reach the right ratios for smaller amounts. Triple Scoop is another exceptional manufacturer of homemade ice cream. The Triple Scoop Premium Chocolate Ice Cream Mix is a flavor worth trying. It’s a dairy-free powder mix that requires half-and-half and heavy cream. Buyers rave about the luxuriously smooth taste that genuinely tastes premium. It’s quite easy to make with an ice cream maker. A batch of chocolate soft serve is ready in 30 minutes with this mix. Though it’s a bit pricey for only two quarts of soft serve, it’s well worth it.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your soft serve mix. You can try adding herbs, such as lavender or basil, or spirits, such as rum or bourbon, for a boozy finish. It’s best to test small batches first.

FAQ

Q. How long can I store a liquid soft serve mix that’s been thawed or a powder soft serve mix that’s been mixed?
A.
Liquid and powder soft serve mixes should be consumed within 14 days of thawing or mixing.

Q. How long does it take to make a batch of soft serve with a soft serve mix?
A.
Depending on how much soft serve you’re making, it can take anywhere from five to 30 minutes to make a batch with a soft serve mix.

Q. Can I add nuts or candy to my soft serve mix?
A.
That depends on the kind of soft serve machine or ice cream maker you have and its capacity to handle food chunks. A high-quality ice cream maker should be fine with candy or nuts. Just make sure they’re finely chopped and frozen before adding them to the mix.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Ola
    Ola
    Writer

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