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8 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Ice Creams

If you're looking for something sweet yet nutritious, avoid these fast-food ice creams at all costs.
FACT CHECKED BY Jordan Powers Willard

It's admittedly hard not to love fast-food ice cream. Indulging in creamy, cool ice cream is a beloved pastime, and everyone loves a sweet treat while on the go. However, it would be incorrect to assume that all fast-food ice creams are created equal, especially when you take their nutrition into account. Fast-food chains may tempt you with their delectable ice cream options, but some of these frozen treats pack a hefty calorie punch and are laden with added sugars and unhealthy fats.

When evaluating the extent to which certain fast food ice creams were unhealthy, we took a few factors into consideration:

  • Added sugars: The daily recommended allowance for added sugar is 25 grams per day. When you look at many of the fast food ice cream options, they can be double or triple this amount!
  • Empty calories: By definition, empty calories come from foods that have a high amount of energy but don't effectively help you feel full or satisfied after eating. Ice cream is a great example as it is easy to overeat and doesn't necessarily satiate.
  • Saturated fats: All dairy will have some amount of saturated fat. However, some fast food ice creams are pumped with palm or coconut oils that increase the total grams of saturated fat and worsen the balance of the item.

Let's delve into the world of fast-food ice creams, and hear from dietitian experts about the unhealthiest options out there. Brace yourself for a closer look at the eight frozen concoctions that may delight your taste buds but come with a nutritional toll. And for more healthy eating advice to help you pick a quality ice cream, be sure to check out 9 Healthier Ice Creams That Actually Taste Good, Say Dietitians.

Wendy's Frosty

wendys strawberry frosty
Courtesy of Wendy's
PER LARGE SIZE: 500 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.18 g trans fat), 290 mg sodium, 80 g carbs (0 g fiber, 66 g sugar), 16 g protein

"This one is going to break some hearts, but Wendy's Frosties are one of the worst options for fast-food cold treats," explains Brittany DeLaurentis MPH, RD, CSO

"The plain chocolate frosty has a whopping 27 grams of sugar in just the junior size. If you want to upgrade to a large size on a hot day, you will get 66 grams of sugar and 500 calories."

However, DeLaurentis offers a healthier alternative to this sweet treat: "The chain TCBY has great soft serve options that both taste delicious and are lower in sugar than Wendy's signature drink," she shares.

McDonald's M&M McFlurry

mcdonald's mcflurry with m&ms
PER REGULAR SIZE: 640 calories, 21 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 200 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (2 g fiber, 83 g sugar), 13 g protein

"The McFlurry is one of the least healthy fast food ice creams. [It] combines soft-serve ice cream with various mix-ins such as cookies, candies, or chocolate, [and] is high in calories, sugar, and saturated fat," notes Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT. "On average, each McFlurry has over 60–70 grams of added sugar and 17–20 grams of total fat. Frozen yogurt or sorbet are healthier alternatives to traditional ice cream. These options generally have lower fat content and can be lower in calories."

Another healthy suggestion to opt for when looking to cleanse your palate with something sweet is fresh fruit, which—believe it or not—you can actually find at McDonald's! Instead of a McFlurry, consider Mickey D's apple slices. Chun also suggests indulging your sweet tooth with "nuts, or dark chocolate shavings instead of sugary syrups, candies, or cookie crumbles as ice cream toppings."

10 Worst McDonald's Orders, According to Dietitians

Chick-fil-A Cookies and Cream Milkshake

chick-fil-a cookies and cream shake
PER SMALL SIZE:  630 calories, 26 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 440 mg sodium, 90 g carbs (1 g fiber, 84 g sugar), 13 g protein

"The Chick-fil-A Cookies & Cream Milkshake is one of the highest calorie ice cream options they serve," explains Haley Bishoff, RDN. "With 630 calories, [90] grams of carbs, and 15 grams of saturated fat, this milkshake alone meets 100% of your daily saturated fat intake. Not to mention, you're drinking down 21 packets worth of added sugar."

"It's best to keep treats like this for occasions only and not as a diet staple," she advises.

Sonic Blast With M&Ms Minis

sonic blast
PER LARGE SIZE: 1,540 calories, 80 g fat (49 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 680 mg sodium, 183 g carbs (3 g fiber, 138 g sugar), 22 g protein

Prepare to be astounded because our pick of the unhealthiest fast-food ice cream on Sonic's menu is literally about to blow your mind. Its signature ice cream—the Blast—may be a fan fave, especially the one that's blended with M&Ms Minis. However, a large size of this dessert contains over 1,500 calories! Furthermore, its sugar content surpasses that of over 25 Oreo cookies. It's safe to say that this particular treat should be avoided!

The Best & Worst Sonic Drink Orders—Ranked by Nutrition

Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Shake From Cold Stone Creamery

chocolate peanut butter dream shake_Cold Stone
Courtesy of Cold Stone Creamery
PER LARGE SIZE: 1,610 calories, 110 g fat (50 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 740 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (8 g fiber, 118 g sugar), 34 g protein

"Choosing the Reese's Peanut Butter Dream shake from Cold Stone Creamery is one of the worst items for your health on the menu. A 20-ounce shake contains 1,610 calories, 118 grams of sugar, and 110 grams of fat. The portion size really makes a difference [with this one]," says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES. "Instead, choose a [smaller] 'Like It'-sized ice cream for about 80% less calories," she suggests. "[It's] 300 to 400 calories for most flavors."

Dairy Queen Royal Ultimate Choco Brownie Blizzard With Fudge

Dairy queen choco brownie extreme blizzard

PER LARGE SIZE:  1,340 calories, 60 g fat (36 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 620 mg sodium, 186 g carbs (8 g fiber, 148 g sugar), 25 g protein

"When it comes to nutrition, the Dairy Queen Royal Ultimate Choco Brownie Blizzard filled with fudge falls into the category of worst fast food ice creams," says Jessie Hulsey RD, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian. "This decadent treat packs a whopping amount of calories, with a large serving containing approximately 1,340 calories and 60 grams of fat. This Blizzard is loaded with added sugars, providing around 148 grams per large serving."

"Excessive consumption of added sugars can contribute to weight gain, increase the risk of chronic diseases, and negatively impact overall health," warns Hulsey. "While it's OK to enjoy an occasional indulgence, it's important to be mindful of the nutritional content. Opting for smaller portion sizes, choosing lighter toppings, or exploring alternative dessert options can help maintain a balanced diet while still satisfying your sweet tooth."

Culver's Chocolate Concrete Mixer With M&Ms

culvers concrete mixer
Courtesy of Culver's
PER LARGE SIZE: 1,260 calories, 74 g fat (46 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 340 mg sodium, 126 g carbs (0 g fiber, 109 g sugar), 23 g protein

The Concrete Mixers on Culver's menu have quite a following, but do you notice a recurring pattern? It appears that when M&Ms are incorporated into these ice cream concoctions, they venture into hazardous territory. However, if you opt for a generous portion of chocolate custard blended with Mini M&Ms, brace yourself for a whopping 156 grams of sugar. Regrettably, there's nothing commendable about this dessert.

Burger King Chocolate Sundae

burger king sundae
Courtesy of Burger King
PER ORDER: 260 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 160 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (1 g fiber, 43 g sugar), 5  g protein

Among the cherished fast-food establishments, Burger King's ice cream doesn't quite steal the spotlight. (That honor goes to the Whopper!) However, it's still worth noting that a single serving contains approximately 41 grams of sugar, exceeding the recommended daily intake of added sweetness. It might be wise to leave this particular treat in the drive-thru window rather than add it to your order.

Caroline Thomason, RD, LDN, CDCES
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
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