Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream: What’s the Difference? 

 November 15, 2020

By  Diane Miles

When the temperatures are soaring, nothing can be more delicious than making frozen yogurt or ice cream at home with your own frozen yogurt machine! In earlier times, choosing a frozen dessert was super simple. You only had the choice of ice cream. But today, there are a plethora of choices, right from ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, to frozen custard, there are plenty of icy desserts that you can choose from.

The history of ice cream goes way back to the Roman Empire, where the early forms of ice cream were made by blending cream and ice with milk, fruit and different flavors. The Chinese version of ice cream made from rice and milk goes way back to 200 BC. And, if that is old, then you can find variations of yogurt which existed since 6,000 BC or the Neolithic Age, although it made its way into the United States from the Middle East only in the early 1900s.

However, frozen yogurt popularly known as “froyo” or “frogurt” is a fairly modern creation with the first commercial producer of frozen yogurt, TCBY or “This Can’t Be Yogurt”, which later changed its name to “The Country’s Best Yogurt” launching its product in 1981 and became the largest frozen yogurt franchise in the world by the mid-80s. However, by the late 90s, the demand for frozen yogurt waned. In 2005, Pinkberry relaunched frozen yogurt offering froyo with a more tart flavor like traditional yogurt.  

About Ice Cream

Ice cream is essentially a combination of dairy products i.e. milk or/and cream, flavors and sugar or sweeteners which are churned and frozen. Ice cream is usually made by combining all the above ingredients and then they are stirred slowly or churned in a cooling vat. Air is then incorporated into the ice cream mixture, which makes the texture light and fluffy and also prevents large crystal formation. The result is a semi-solid foam which has a very smooth texture which is tasty, soft and can be scooped out easily.

As per the USDA, ice cream should have a milk fat content of 10% to 18% milk fat and must weigh at least around 4.5 lbs per gallon and contain around 12% to 16% sweeteners. To increase the volume of ice cream, the air is blended into it by using the aeration process known as “overrun” and ice cream can have up to 100% overrun, which makes the final product light, airy and fluffy.

Types of Ice Cream

Often you see many terms on store-bought ice cream labels and as per the IDFA (International Dairy Foods Association).

  • Ice Cream: This is a frozen food which is made from a blend of dairy products and contains at least around 10% milk fat.
  • Light Ice Cream: This contains around 50% lesser total fat content or the calorie content is 33% lesser.
  • Reduced Fat Ice Cream: This contains around 25% lesser total fat content.
  • Nonfat Ice Cream: Per serving, this contains less than 0.5g of total fat.  
  • Premium Ice Cream: Usually, this has a higher fat content and lower overrun compared to regular ice cream and usually, the manufacturer makes use of premium quality ingredients.
  • Super-Premium Ice Cream: This has a high fat content and low overrun and the manufacturer usually makes use of the best quality ingredients in the market.

About Froyo

Frozen yogurt is made from a blend of yogurt, sugar or sweeteners and flavors. Frozen yogurt is a fermented dessert, which is made by adding live cultures to milk. These live bacteria cause the milk to be fermented by releasing lactic acid. The lactic acid produced, helps the milk proteins thicken. This helps to form a wall to protect them from the harmful bacteria.

Since frozen yogurt is not FDA regulated, there is no specific standard of how much yogurt should be present in the frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt contains only around 0.5% to 6% milk fat and the sugar or sweetener content makes up around 15% to 17% of the weight.

Since the yogurt is cultured milk, frozen yogurt has a sour or tart and while some frozen yogurts are like soft-serve ice cream, other varieties have a smooth texture with a tangy and sweet flavor.

The Key Differences between Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream

There are several differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream, right from the way both are made to their texture, to the ingredients contained in both and their nutritional content.


Ice Cream

Ice cream has a unique and distinct texture which is soft, creamy with a hint of ice crystals. The initial taste that you get when you eat ice cream is sweet and creamy, which melts quickly leaving behind a thick puddle of sweet, creamy milk.

Frozen Yogurt

This is not really yogurt and neither is it ice cream, although its characteristics are similar. Frozen yogurt has a firmer consistency compared to ice cream but is not very creamy. When you eat frozen yogurt, it disintegrates immediately and leaves behind a smooth, tart and sort of a bland aftertaste.


Ice Cream

The main ingredient of ice cream is cream, which differentiates it from frozen yogurt. Ice cream also contains milk and sugar or sweeteners.

Frozen Yogurt

The key ingredient of frozen yogurt is yogurt, which is made from milk, milk fats and milk solids. Froyo also contains flavors, corn syrup, emulsifiers, gelatin, and yogurt culture.

Fat Content

As mentioned earlier, ice cream should contain a minimum of 10% milk fat and usually, the cream is added to meet this requirement. However, froyo is different from ice cream since it is made from cultured milk and it does not have any minimum milk fat requirement.

Probably, the main difference in terms of the nutrition between ice cream and frozen yogurt is the fat content in the two. A cup of vanilla ice cream (regular) contains around 15g of fat and 9g of saturated fat, while a cup of frozen yogurt (regular) contains 6g of fat and 4g of saturated fat.

Probiotic Content

Ice cream does not have any yogurt cultures or probiotics.

Frozen yogurt contains the probiotics that are found naturally in yogurt; however, there is a difference between yogurt and frozen yogurt. Since the frozen yogurt is frozen, the probiotic cultures mostly do not survive the process of freezing.

Sugar Content

The sugar content in ice cream varies widely depending on the brand. A cup of ice cream on average contains around 30g of sugar. On average, one cup of froyo can contain between 15 to 40 grams of sugar; however again, the sugar content in frozen yogurt also varies depending on the manufacturer. Manufacturers may add extra sugar or sweeteners to the frozen yogurt to reduce the tart flavor and also improve its texture.

Calorie Content

The cream present in ice cream is the one that increases the calorie count of the ice cream. A cup serving of ice cream contains around 267 calories. On the other hand, a one cup serving of frozen yogurt contains around 214 calories.

Air Content

Both frozen yogurt, as well as ice cream, contain air and this is what gives both their light and fluffy texture. The air is usually introduced during the process of churning. The more you churn the ice cream, the more air gets trapped inside. And, more the air in the ice cream, the fluffier and lighter it will be and the lesser it will weigh. Lesser air in the ice cream means that it will be denser and creamier and weigh more. The mandate that ice cream should weigh 4.5 lbs per gallon limits the amount of air which is included in ice cream.

The quality grades on the frozen yogurt or ice cream can help to predict the consistency of the froyo or ice cream and how much air is contained in them. Usually, economy or regular ice cream contains the highest amounts of air, while the premium and super-premium varieties have lesser air and hence, they are denser and creamier as they contain a higher quantity of fat.

Health Benefits of Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream

  • The higher levels of fat contained in ice cream may help to regulate the intake of sugar compared to frozen yogurt.
  • Both ice cream, as well as frozen yogurt, contain minerals that can help in metabolic health, nervous system health and bone mineral density.


So, there are many differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream. While ice cream may contain higher amounts of cream and fat and may be considered less healthy compared to frozen yogurt, some varieties of frozen yogurt may have a high amount of sugar to counter the sour and tart taste, which can be equally harmful to health. However, both these icy treats are undeniably yummy and delicious. The key to enjoying both these desserts is moderation and one scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt is sure to make your “cheat day” definitely a “treat day."

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