Fast Food Ice Cream Smackdown: McDonald’s vs. Dairy Queen vs. Wendy’s

This week, Yahoo Food is celebrating America’s favorite dessert with a series of profiles, recipes, and photo galleries, all dedicated to the creamy, delicious dessert. Check out our Ice Cream page for complete coverage!


Which fast food frozen treat will reign supreme? (Photos: McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s)

Nothing hits the spot on a hot summer day like a good ice cream treat. Thankfully, after gorging on burgers, fries, nuggets, or whatever fast food you choose, some of the largest chains in America offer a creamy, cold dessert option to cap off your meal.

While nearly every fast-food chain offers ice cream in some way, shape, or form, three restaurants stand out by having an iconic treat. McDonald’s has the McFlurry, Wendy’s has the Frosty, and Dairy Queen has the Blizzard.

Today I’ll settle which fast-food chain’s signature treat reigns supreme in the battle for dessert supremacy.

Why do I get to make this incredibly important decision? Well, my  résumé proves that I know ice cream. In addition to eating countless gallons throughout my life, I, like thousands of high school kids across the country, once worked a summer job as an ice cream server. I know good ice cream when I see it and, more importantly, taste it.

The parameters of this test were straightforward: Order a small version of each treat, and see how they fare.


Price: $2.93
Order time: Two minutes
Review: Admit it, you’ve tried to use the spoon as a straw. The iconic McFlurry is arguably McDonald’s most famous dessert offering (sorry, apple pies), and it is actually very good. The McFlurry offers great-tasting ice cream and your choice of topping, usually M&M’s or Oreos. The McFlurry I had was extremely similar to Dairy Queen’s Blizzard, but there were a few issues that prevented it from beating out its competition. First, the Oreos that topped the treat were more crumbs than anything resembling a cookie, which prevented it from having a the texture contrast you expect with smooth, creamy ice cream topped with crunchy bits of cookie. The other major issue I had with the McFlurry was the distribution of the Oreo crumbs. The McFlurry was extremely top-heavy in terms of Oreo distribution. While the ice cream itself was above average, it would have benefited from having more cookies blended throughout. Some might say it’s nitpicking, but those minor issues put it just a notch below Dairy Queen and Wendy’s.
Ranking: 3rd


Dairy Queen
Price: $4.13
Order time: Four minutes
Review: Dairy Queen’s signature dessert is so thick that when employees present it to you, they have to turn it upside down to show it meets DQ’s quality standards. As mentioned before, the Blizzard and McFlurry might as well have been separated at birth — that’s how similar they are. Despite the fact that they come from the same ice cream family tree, the Blizzard was superior to the McFlurry in two main ways. First, the Blizzard used larger chunks of Oreo cookie, providing a nice contrast in flavor and texture throughout. In addition to having bigger pieces of Oreos, the pieces were better distributed throughout the cup. Also, the ice cream was just a tad better than McDonald’s, giving Dairy Queen a slight edge over Mickey D’s, despite its higher price and longer wait time.
Ranking: 2nd


Price: $1.40
Order time: Less than 1 minute
Review: Let me start by stating, for the record, that I did not compromise the integrity of this test by ordering fries with my Frosty at Wendy’s, even though it’s a flavor match made in heaven. That said, I was shocked at how well Wendy’s stood up to its beefed-up competition. Despite not having any options to add cookies or candy, the Frosty was able to come out on top simply because of flavor and consistency. First off, the Frosty differentiates itself because it isn’t quite ice cream and it isn’t quite a milkshake — it has its own physical state, which worked in its favor. Aside from the unique consistency, when it came down to the most important aspect of this smackdown — the ice cream — Wendy’s had no competition. The Frosty was rich, creamy, and was by far the best-tasting of the trio. Simply put, the ice cream stood on its own and shined brighter than the rest. The Frosty was also significantly cheaper than its competition and had a relatively similar size, giving Wendy’s virtually no strikes against it. At the end of the day, the Frosty wins the battle of the iconic fast food desserts.
Ranking: 1st

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