Is a Dilly bar dairy-free?

Dilly bars are a popular frozen dessert treat, but what exactly are they made of? With dairy allergies and food sensitivities on the rise, many people are wondering if Dilly bars contain milk or are dairy-free. This article will examine the ingredients in Dilly bars and provide a definitive answer on whether they are dairy-free or not.

What is a Dilly Bar?

A Dilly bar is an ice cream novelty treat made and sold by Dairy Queen restaurants. A Dilly bar consists of a round scoop of soft-serve ice cream that has been dipped in a hard chocolate or other flavored coating. The ice cream is then placed on a stick, creating an ice cream pop. Dilly bars were first created by Dairy Queen in 1955 and have been a signature menu item ever since.

Some key facts about Dilly bars:

– The original Dilly bar contained a vanilla flavored soft-serve center dipped in chocolate.

– Today, Dairy Queen offers Dilly bars in a variety of flavors beyond just chocolate and vanilla. Some flavors include Cherry, Butterscotch, and Mint.

– Each Dilly bar contains approximately 300 calories.

– A standard Dilly bar weighs around 3 ounces.

– Dilly bars are a registered trademark of International Dairy Queen, Inc. No other company can legally use the Dilly bar name.

– Over 175 million Dilly bars are sold by Dairy Queen annually.

Dilly Bar Ingredients

To determine if Dilly bars are dairy-free, we need to look closely at the ingredients they contain:

**Dilly Bar Coating**

The outer chocolate or flavored coating of a Dilly bar contains:

– Sugar
– Palm oil
– Cocoa powder
– Milk ingredients
– Soy lecithin
– Natural and artificial flavors

**Dilly Bar Ice Cream Center**

A vanilla Dilly bar’s soft-serve center is made up of:

– Milk ingredients (milk, cream)
– Sugar
– Corn syrup
– Whey protein
– Natural and artificial flavors
– Mono and diglycerides
– Guar gum
– Cellulose gum
– Polysorbate 80

So upon inspection of the ingredients list, it is clear that Dilly bars contain multiple milk-derived ingredients like milk, cream, and whey. This means that no, Dilly bars are *not* dairy-free.

Why Dilly Bars Are Not Dairy-Free

There are two main reasons why Dilly bars are not vegan or dairy-free:

1. **The ice cream center contains dairy ingredients** – The soft-serve ice cream used in the center of Dilly bars is a milk-based ice cream. It is made using ingredients like milk, cream, and whey. Whey is a protein derived from milk when making cheese. These dairy ingredients are essential to creating the smooth, creamy texture of ice cream.

2. **The coating contains milk ingredients** – While the chocolate or flavored coatings do not contain ice cream, they do contain milk ingredients. Most Dilly bar coatings list milk or milk derivatives in the ingredients. This adds more dairy to the overall recipe.

Ice cream by definition requires dairy like milk or cream. So avoiding dairy is not possible when making a product like a Dilly bar that is centered around ice cream. Some brands make non-dairy or vegan ice cream alternatives using bases like coconut milk or almonds. However, Dairy Queen has not launched any dairy-free Dilly bar options.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives

While Dilly bars are not dairy-free, those avoiding milk and ice cream do have some dairy-free dessert options:

– **Sorbet and fruit popsicles** – Made from fruit purees and fruit juices. Always dairy-free.

– **Italian ice** – Flavored shaved ice. Does not contain milk. Fruit flavors like lemon or cherry.

– **NiceCream** – Banana soft serve made by freezing bananas then blending. No dairy used. Can add cocoa powder or peanut butter for flavor.

– **Coconut milk ice cream** – Made by blending full fat coconut milk, coconut cream, and sweeteners like maple syrup or dates. Has creamy, rich texture.

– **Almond milk ice cream** – Uses soaked almonds as base. Blend with agave, vanilla, and salt for sweet ice cream taste.

– **Avocado ice cream** – Made with avocado flesh for thick, smooth texture. Often includes cacao powder and dates for chocolatey flavor.

– **Dairy-free chocolate bars** – Unwrap and enjoy a bar of vegan chocolate for creamy indulgence free of milk.

Nutritional Profile

Here is a nutritional comparison of Dilly bars versus some popular dairy-free ice cream alternatives:

Treat Calories Fat Protein Carbs
Dilly Bar 300 16g 3g 36g
Sorbet (1/2 cup) 80 0g 0g 21g
Coconut Milk Ice Cream (1/2 cup) 223 21g 2g 12g
Avocado Ice Cream (1/2 cup) 159 10g 2g 13g

As shown, dairy-free options like sorbet and avocado ice cream are lower in calories and fat compared to a Dilly bar. Coconut milk ice cream has more fat since coconut contains saturated fat, but is still dairy-free.

Risks of Dairy

Here are some potential downsides of dairy ingredients like those found in Dilly bars:

– **Allergies** – Milk allergies affect 2-3% of children and can trigger hives, breathing issues, and other reactions. Most outgrow this allergy. Dilly bars pose a risk to those with milk allergies due to containing milk ingredients.

– **Lactose intolerance** – 75% of the world struggles to digest lactose, the sugar in dairy milk. This causes gas, cramping, and bloating after consuming dairy. Those who are lactose intolerant may experience gastrointestinal upset from the ice cream center of Dilly bars.

– **Increased inflammation** – Dairy may increase systemic inflammation in those sensitive to it. This can worsen inflammatory issues like acne, joint pain, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.

– **Added hormones** – Milk often contains traces of hormones and antibiotics given to dairy cows. This may influence hormonal health.

– **Ethical concerns** – Dairy production requires separating calves from their mothers at birth. This raises animal welfare concerns for some consumers.

Luckily, those avoiding dairy for health or ethical reasons have many tasty non-dairy dessert options to choose from, though Dilly bars are unfortunately not one of them.

Dairy-Free Dilly Bar Alternatives

For those seeking the fun, novelty treat of a Dilly bar without the dairy, there are recipes to make homemade dairy-free Dilly bar equivalents:

**Dairy-Free Dilly Bars**

– Make a banana nice cream base by freezing chopped bananas overnight then blending into a soft serve texture.

– Scoop banana nice cream into popsicle molds or paper cups. Insert popsicle sticks.

– Melt non-dairy chocolate chips with coconut oil. Dip frozen nice cream pops into chocolate coating.

– Freeze until set then enjoy!

**Coconut Milk Dilly Bars**

– Blend full-fat canned coconut milk with maple syrup and vanilla extract to form a liquid base.

– Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solidified.

– Melt dairy-free chocolate wafers or chips. Dip frozen coconut milk pops and quickly return to freezer.

– Keep frozen until ready to eat.

These recipes mimic both the soft inner filling and the outer chocolate coating of a classic Dilly bar. Going dairy-free doesn’t mean missing out on sweet, chocolate-dipped frozen treats!


Dilly bars are a beloved summertime ice cream novelty treat that unfortunately are not dairy-free. Upon closer inspection of the ingredient labels, both the inner soft serve ice cream and the outer flavored coating contain milk-based ingredients. For those with milk allergies or sensitivities, enjoying a non-dairy frozen dessert is a safer choice. Luckily, there are many delicious dairy-free ice cream options available today including sorbet, nice cream, and coconut milk ice cream. And for the true Dilly bar experience, you can even make homemade versions using banana nice cream or coconut milk with a melted chocolate coating. So while Dilly bars themselves contain dairy, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the fun of chocolate-dipped ice cream pops free of milk.

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