Does Ice Cream Have Lactose? (Answered)

If you experience lactose intolerance or have a sensitivity to it, it is crucial to be aware of which foods and beverages contain lactose. This knowledge could make a significant difference between having an uneventful day or experiencing discomfort for those who cannot digest lactose effectively.

Here you will learn if ice cream has lactose and if so, you will discover how much is in it. Let’s get into the details!

Is There Lactose in Ice Cream?

While there are some exceptions (see the lactose-free ice cream section below), the majority of ice cream found at grocery stores contains lactose.

This is because most traditional ice cream is made using a base of milk, cream, or a combination of both, which are considered dairy products. Additionally, certain ice cream flavors may also contain other dairy ingredients, such as butter, buttermilk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk.

Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products, and traditional ice cream naturally contains lactose from its dairy ingredients. Most people are able to easily digest lactose, as their small intestine produces enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose.

However, for those who do not produce enough lactase, consuming lactose-containing foods like traditional ice cream can lead to digestive discomfort such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

How Much Lactose in Ice Cream?

Firstly, if you just glance at our articles on ice cream brands and ice cream flavors, you’ll realize the enormity of the ice cream market. From classic flavors to innovative new creations, there really is something for just about everyone who loves ice cream.

We are telling you this to reinforce the fact that the lactose content of ice cream truly does vary from product to product. While we cannot provide the lactose content for every ice cream product out there, we can give you a general idea of how much lactose is in ice cream.

According to the University of Virginia Health System, a 1/2 cup of ice cream has 2-6 grams of lactose. To put its lactose content in context, research has shown that most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose at one time or 18 grams consumed across the entire day.

Based on the above, most people with lactose intolerance should be able to handle up to about a cup of traditional ice cream in a sitting assuming no other dairy is consumed before the ice cream. A cup isn’t a lot of ice cream but it is certainly enough to satisfy even a stubborn sweet tooth.

Lactose-Free Ice Cream Options

The market for lactose-free dairy has greatly expanded since we started this website many years ago. Lactose-free dairy products are made by adding lactase to the milk, which breaks down the lactose into simpler sugars that are easier to digest.

Lactose-free dairy products are a good option for people with lactose intolerance who want to enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of dairy without experiencing digestive discomfort.

Here are some of the popular lactose-free ice cream brands along with the flavors made by each:

  • Lactaid – vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, cookies & cream, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter chip, chocolate chip cookie dough, Strawberry cheesecake.
  • Breyers – vanilla, chocolate.
  • Rebel – Egg Nog, Orange Cream, Pistachio, Birthday Cake, Banana Peanut Butter Chip, Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate Caramel Nut.
  • Beckon – Dark Chocolate Brownine, Peanut Butter Cup, Vanilla, Sea Salt Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Sweet Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mint Chip.

While the above lactose-free ice creams have dairy, there are certainly numerous lactose-free non-dairy ice cream products as well. Some of these brands include Haagen-Dazs, Tatlenti, Ben & Jerry’s, So Delicious, Oatly, NadaMoo!, and several others.

Final Thoughts

Traditional ice cream does contain lactose, but the amount can vary depending on the recipe and brand. For those with lactose intolerance, it is important to pay attention to serving size and potentially consider lactose-free options if your lactose tolerance is low. With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, just about everyone can enjoy the sweet taste of ice cream without worrying about the discomforts associated with lactose intolerance.