Is a sugar cone or waffle cone healthier?

When it comes to ice cream cones, two of the most popular options are sugar cones and waffle cones. Both have their merits in terms of taste, texture, and appearance. But is one cone healthier than the other? We’ll compare sugar cones and waffle cones across a variety of nutritional factors to determine which is the healthier choice.


One of the first things to look at when comparing the healthiness of two foods is their calorie content. Here is a calorie comparison of standard sized sugar cones and waffle cones:

Cone Type Calories (kcal)
Sugar cone 60
Waffle cone 140

As you can see, sugar cones contain significantly fewer calories than waffle cones. A standard waffle cone has about 2.5 times as many calories as a sugar cone of the same size. This is a considerable calorie difference that gives sugar cones a clear advantage in this category.

Fat Content

Along with calories, we should look at the amount and types of fats in each cone option. Sugar cones get a slight edge here as well:

Cone Type Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g)
Sugar cone 2 1
Waffle cone 6 3

Sugar cones contain 2g total fat and 1g saturated fat. Waffle cones have slightly more fat at 6g total and 3g saturated. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake, so sugar cones are better in this regard.


We also need to factor the carbs and sugars into the comparison:

Cone Type Total Carbs (g) Sugars (g)
Sugar cone 12 5
Waffle cone 23 11

Waffle cones have nearly twice as many total carbs and sugars as sugar cones. The sugar cone’s moderate 12g of carbs is a positive nutritional trait.


Getting enough fiber is important for digestive health. Here’s how the two cones compare:

Cone Type Dietary Fiber (g)
Sugar cone 0
Waffle cone 1

Waffle cones provide 1g of fiber per serving, while sugar cones have no fiber content. This gives waffle cones a slight advantage in this category.


Eating too much sodium can increase blood pressure in some individuals. Here is the sodium content:

Cone Type Sodium (mg)
Sugar cone 35
Waffle cone 170

Waffle cones contain significantly more sodium, with 170mg vs just 35mg in sugar cones. The sugar cone’s low sodium content is preferable for heart health.

Sugar Cone Ingredients

Sugar cones are quite simple, typically containing just a few ingredients:

  • Enriched wheat flour – Provides nutrients like iron and B vitamins. Look for whole wheat flour for the most benefits.
  • Sugar – Adds sweetness but spikes blood sugar. Moderate amounts are OK.
  • Vegetable oil – Adds fat for texture. Look for healthier oils like olive or avocado.
  • Water, salt

As long as you choose a brand that uses high quality ingredients, sugar cones are a fairly nutritious cone option.

Waffle Cone Ingredients

Waffle cone ingredients vary by brand but often include:

  • Enriched flour – Like sugar cones, opt for whole wheat flour when possible.
  • Sugar – Contains more sugar for added crispness.
  • Vegetable oil – Again select healthier oil options when available.
  • Eggs – Provide protein but can be an allergen.
  • Salt, baking powder, vanillin – For flavor/texture.

The main downside of waffle cones is the higher sugar content. But they can still be a decent choice in moderation.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

Let’s summarize the key nutritional pros and cons of each cone type:

Cone Pros Cons
Sugar cone
  • Lower in calories
  • Less fat, especially saturated fat
  • Fewer carbs and sugar
  • Very low sodium
  • No fiber
Waffle cone
  • Provides some fiber
  • Higher in calories
  • More fat and saturated fat
  • More carbs and sugar
  • High sodium

Overall, sugar cones come out ahead in the majority of nutritional comparisons. Their much lower calorie count is a major distinguishing factor for sugar cones.

Health Impact

So what does this all mean for your health when choosing between cone types? Here are some key considerations:

  • Blood sugar control – The lower carbohydrate, sugar, and calorie counts make sugar cones a better option for diabetics and those looking to control blood sugar.
  • Heart health – With less saturated fat and sodium, sugar cones are likely a wiser choice for supporting heart health.
  • Weight management – The 140 vs 60 calorie counts are a big deal when watching your waistline. Sugar cones are lower calorie.
  • Allergies – Those with egg allergies need to be aware that waffle cones contain eggs.

While an occasional waffle cone may be fine for most, sugar cones tend to be a healthier regular indulgence, especially for those concerned about calories, blood sugar, and sodium intake.

Texture and Taste

There are also some taste and texture differences between sugar and waffle cones that may factor into your preference:

  • Crispness – Waffle cones tend to stay crispier when filled with ice cream thanks to their thicker walls.
  • Sweetness – The higher sugar content makes waffle cones taste a bit sweeter.
  • Consistency – Sugar cones have a uniform crunchy consistency, while waffle cones have a crisp outside and tender inside.

Waffle cones win out slightly when it comes to taste and enjoyment factors for some. But others love the crisp, subtly sweet flavor of a classic sugar cone.


You’ll also want to factor in the cost difference between the two cone types:

  • Sugar cones cost around 2 to 5 cents per cone when purchased in bulk quantities.
  • Waffle cones typically cost between 15 to 25 cents each in bulk.

There’s at least a 10 cent price difference per cone favoring sugar cones. For a high volume ice cream shop selling hundreds of cones per day, this adds up to major savings. Sugar cones win out clearly when it comes to the budget conscious.

Ease of Eating

Ease of eating without making a mess is another consideration:

  • Sugar cones are more prone to cracking and dripping as the ice cream melts.
  • Thicker waffle cones keep melting ice cream contained longer.
  • Pointed bottoms on some waffle cones help collect drips.

Waffle cone’s structural integrity gives them an advantage for staying clean and minimizing drips, especially when eating at a slower pace.

Environmental Impact

Manufacturing differences also lead to variations in environmental footprint:

  • Sugar cones have a simpler ingredients list and manufacturing process.
  • Waffle cones require more ingredients, electricity for irons, and result in more waste from shape cutting.

Although not a huge difference, sugar cones likely have a slightly lower environmental impact overall.


Both styles are widely available, but waffle cones may require some searching at certain establishments.

  • Sugar cones are served at most ice cream shops, convenience stores, and ice cream trucks.
  • Waffle cones may not be as common at spots like convenience stores or food trucks.
  • Some vendors charge extra for waffle cones due to higher costs.

Sugar cone availability makes them the default choice; waffle offerings will vary more by location.

Gluten-Free Options

Those avoiding gluten should also be aware of cone choices:

  • Most sugar cones contain wheat and are not gluten-free.
  • There are gluten-free sugar cone brands made with rice flour or other flours.
  • Waffle cones labeled gluten-free are also available made with alternate flours.

Both cone types have gluten-free versions for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. But availability of these specialty cones may depend on the vendor.


So which cone comes out on top in the sugar cone vs waffle cone debate?

Looking strictly at nutritional content, sugar cones are lower in calories, fat, carbs, and sodium. This makes them the healthier choice overall, especially for those watching their weight, blood sugar, or sodium intake.

However, waffle cones offer their own advantages for texture, taste, and mess-free eating. Their indulgent crispness and sweetness make for an enjoyable treat.

In the end, sugar cones win out narrowly for their nutritional virtues. But waffle cones can still be an occasional indulgence, especially when you want that extra crunchy, sweet cone experience. Just practice portion control and savor them as a special treat.

Whichever cone you choose, keep the ice cream portion to about 1/2 cup and avoid giant “monster” sized cones. With reasonable portions, both cone types can be part of an overall balanced diet.

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