Every Dairy Queen Blizzard—Ranked!
By Olivia Tarantino
Ordering your first DQ Blizzard was just as much a right of passage as millennials getting their first cell phone.
Boasting a rewards club that's 4.3 million people strong, DQ's favorite frozen treat is undeniably wildly popular. Which is why we know these thick, custardy treats can be on the mind of even the most disciplined dieter at times. And while diets can seem like all work and no play, it's certainly fine to pick up a spoon and indulge, if it helps ward off those menacing feelings of deprivation. (Just don't make it a regular habit!) But before you pick just any Blizzard, we have to warn you: Not all cups are fair game if you're looking to blast away that belly fat.
Thanks to the multitude of chemically-constructed mix-ins, some of these treats boast over a day's worth of fats, saturated fats, and sugars—and we only looked at the 12-ounce small… What's worse, many have artery-clogging, man-made trans fat hidden in them, an ingredient so harmful it's now banned by the FDA. In fact, every single one of DQ's Blizzards carries a version of the dangerous fat, making it all the more important that you consider them a sometimes-only treat.
Below you'll find out which DQ Blizzards are the best bets for your health and waistline, and which will entirely derail your efforts. We ranked each by primarily looking at calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and carbs. Anything with artificial trans fat got sent to the back of the pack. For any nutritional discrepancies, we used nasty additives in the ingredient list to break the ties. And remember, when you're looking to indulge, keep your calorie-count in check and the health-harming trans fats off your spoon by ordering your Blizzard in a small or mini.
Nutrition per small (297 g): 440 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated, 0.5 g trans fat), 190 mg sodium, 71 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 58 g sugar, 11 g protein*
Sitting at the number one spot—or, in other words, "the least bad"—on our list is the Banana Split Blizzard. It's both the lowest-calorie and least fattening option you'll find. But just because it's your best option doesn't mean you should overdo it. The large still clocks in at 780 calories, so be sure to stick to a small to avoid undoing an entire day of smart eating.
Nutrition per small (262 g): 470 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 220 mg sodium, 71 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 56 g sugar, 11 g protein
We get it. The combination of sweet and salty can make anyone go weak at the knees. So if you're on the hunt for a frozen treat packed with some addictively salty-sweetness, grab this one. The Butterfinger Blizzard is not only one of the best varieties for your waistline, but also the safest pick for peanut butter lovers.
Reese's Peanut Butter
Nutrition per small (287 g): 530 calories, 21 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 270 mg sodium, 74 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 62 g sugar, 13 g protein
It certainly seems like Dairy Queen has a rule that it has to blend all of its Blizzards with copious amounts of fat and sugar. We can't say we're thrilled, but we will say we're less furious that this Reese's-studded treat has only 67 grams, considering that's 20 grams less than our #1 worst Blizzard. That's still over your recommended intake of sugar for the entire day, so if you're going to grab this treat, make sure to make it a mini (with only 43 grams), and pair it with a fiber-rich side salad to help lessen the inevitable spike in your blood sugar. Fiber is an important part of our diet—find out what happens when you don't get enough dietary fiber here!
Nutrition per small (287 g): 630 calories, 28 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fats), 360 mg sodium, 88 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 68 g sugar, 12 g protein
This Blizzard is "xtremely" unhealthy—even for being one of our top picks. It's loaded with palm oil, a source of bad-cholesterol-increasing palmitic acid, chemically-treated bleached flour, blood-sugar spiking sugar, and visceral-fat-inducing fructose. If you want to curb your chocolate cravings, break off a piece of 70 percent dark chocolate for some gut-healthy, heart-protective benefits!
Nutrition per small (326 g): 660 calories, 23 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 230 mg sodium, 101 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 87 g sugar, 13 g protein
You can add not eating a DQ M&M blizzard to the list of Diet Tricks We Learned From M&Ms. This concoction has an outstanding 101 grams of carbs, which is more than what many people on low-carb diets eat in a whole day, and just under half of what many of us should be eating. This large whack of carbs is probably not going to be used up as energy in your body, which means its almost destined to add to that pesky fat on your belly.
And Now...The Absolute Worst
Although you'll see trans fat listed for every blizzard, there is a difference between naturally-occurring and industrial trans fats, i.e. partially hydrogenated oils. While both will raise LDL or the "bad" cholesterol levels, the naturally-occurring version also slightly raises HDL, or the "good" cholesterol levels, so its effect isn't as severe. Furthermore only the industrial partially hydrogenated oils—whether they come from healthy coconuts or GMO soybeans—have been banned by the FDA as they jam up your arteries (including those in your brain), increasing your risk of heart disease, weight gain, and stroke while diminishing memory. Exactly why it's one of the worst foods for your brain. The following blizzards all contain some form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,
Nutrition per small (298 g): 620 calories, 23 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 500 mg sodium, 92 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 67 g sugar, 12 g protein
The Oreo variety is not only one of the lowest calorie Blizzards, it also contains the fewest ingredients next to the Reese's Blizzard—which is why we were pretty disappointed one of those ingredients is health-harming partially hydrogenated oil. Alas, we would have still had to dock them for their absurd carb and sodium count. In fact, even as a size small, this Blizzard is one of the 20 Saltiest Restaurant Desserts In America.
Nutrition per small (325 g): 700 calories, 33 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 300 mg sodium, 88 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 66 g sugar, 13 g protein
Milk chocolate, pecans, and sweet caramel come together in this Turtle Pecan cluster. And if you thought you were being healthy by picking a Blizzard with real nuts in it, think again. The pecans are doused in a mixture of oil, butter, and salt. Yuck. The rest of this ice cream treat? Varying forms of sugar, chocolate, and oil.
Nutrition per small (319 g): 710 calories, 28 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fats), 400 mg sodium, 104 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 75 g sugar, 13 g protein
The one thing this Blizzard has going for it is that DQ uses actual unenriched, unbleached wheat flour as opposed to the bleached flour used in many other Blizzards. Bleaching adds chemicals to the bread and strips away vital nutrients. However, it all goes downhill again once you keep reading the list of ingredients, which includes the sweetener fructose. Our body turns fructose into fat and inflammatory compounds more easily than it does with glucose, which leads to a host of health problems from belly fat to high cholesterol. See how it stacks up in our definitive guide to Every Popular Added Sweetener—Ranked!.
Nutrition per small (290 g): 600 calories, 26 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 310 mg sodium, 83 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 73 g sugar, 11 g protein
Quick question: How many spoonfuls of high-fructose corn syrup did you eat today? Oh, you don't recall slurping down any of the hyper-sweet, belly-fat-inducing corn extract? Well, you did. Because it's the first ingredient in the "fudge" topping that douses this sugary, fatty, scientifically-manufactured concoction. While it doesn't boast as bad of nutritionals as some of the Blizzards above it, because this Heath slurry has a full gram of artery-clogging trans fats, it automatically sent it to the bottom of what was already the bottom of the list.
Nutrition per small (341 g): 790 calories, 36 g fat (23 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 410 mg sodium, 105 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 85 g sugar, 13 g protein
Disclaimer: this Blizzard actually doesn't have artificial trans fat added to it, but the absurd amount of carbs, sugar, and over a day's worth of health-harming saturated fat make this concoction just as bad as the rest of the Blizzards on this list—if not worse. For comparison, this DQ treat has more saturated fat than Burger King's A.1.-doused Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger, the second worst burger on BK's menu. If you're looking for a salty and sweet treat, go with the Butterfinger option.
Royal New York
Nutrition per small (386 g): 750 calories, 33 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 380 mg sodium, 99 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 78 g sugar, 15 g protein
DQ's signature treat certainly got the royal treatment—but we're not sure Queen Elizabeth would want to take back a spoonful of this at her age. Why? Well, how about we start with the massive, heart-stopping amount of fat and sugar, which, according to the FDA is now a day and a half's worth of the sweet stuff. Classic vanilla custard is blended together with cheesecake pieces and graham, and then it's pumped with a strawberry center core in this "Royal" blizzard. Instead, make this delicious, healthy strawberry smoothie to quell your sugar cravings and blast fat.
Peanut Butter Cookie
Dough Smash Blizzard
Dough Smash Blizzard
Nutrition per small (357 g): 820 calories, 35 g fat (19 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 470 mg sodium, 110 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 81 g sugar, 16 g protein
It's pretty unsettling that a non-Royal blizzard can take one of the top three spots, but if any treat was going to do it, it was going to be the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Smash. It boasts almost the same amount of sugar, carbs, and fat as the sugar-core-injected Royals, and one of the longest ingredient lists of the bunch. (Which we still don't understand—how many times do you have to add sugar to a Blizzard? According to DQ, it's 10.)
Nutrition per small (361 g): 760 calories, 30 g fat (21 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 430 mg sodium, 111 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 85 g sugar, 14 g protein
While a core of fudge displaces enough of the salty Oreo ice cream to lower the sodium count by 70 mg, it ups the carb, sugar, and saturated fat count to make up for it. In fact, this blizzard blows through more than an entire day's worth of saturated fats—and they're not the good kinds.
Royal Rocky Road
Nutrition per small (377 g): 820 calories, 35 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 420 mg sodium, 114 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 87 g sugar, 19 g protein
You'd have to be a pro athlete to justify shoveling down this rocky road snowbank with an obstructing column of gooey marshmallow. In fact, two hours of hiking would barely burn off those calories, which is just about the same as two Double Cheeseburgers at McDonald's. And don't consider the inexplicably high protein count a silver lining if you're about to take down this Royal Rocky Road Brownie Blizzard; the unreasonable amount of carbs, fat, and sugar negate any possible benefits.
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ABC News Chief Women's Health Correspondent