What Does Hand-Dipped Mean in Ice Cream?

If you traipse into your local ice cream parlor, you might find “hand-dipped” mentioned somewhere in the menu. Is this just some fancy-schmancy wording meant to intrigue ice cream connoisseurs, or is there a real meaning behind the phrase?

Hand-dipped ice cream refers to ice cream that is not pre-packaged or pre-scooped, typically made on-site. It is then hand-scooped with a warmed-up scooper or other utensil. 

Hi! My name is Michelle and ice cream is easily one of my top three favorite desserts (especially mint chocolate chip – yum!). I go to ice cream shops somewhat regularly and finally decided it was time to find out what “hand-dipped ice cream” actually is.

Find out what hand-dipped ice cream means below!

What is Hand-Dipped Ice Cream?

Hand-dipped ice cream is ice cream dipped (scooped) by hand.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

It essentially refers to ice cream that has been made on-site and is not pre-packaged or pre-served, which is the case with store-bought ice cream. 

Then, when a customer delivers the ice cream, the employee will scoop it out and serve it on a cone or in a bowl. 

How Hand-Dipped Ice Cream Works

Hand-dipped ice cream is widely known as being the most prestigious type of frozen dessert.

Why, though?

Let’s break down the process so you can better understand this whole “hand-dipping” thing.

1. Ice Cream is Made On-Site

What immediately sets hand-dipped ice cream apart from the crowd is that it’s made on-site.

The ice cream is made in an on-site maker, typically filled with cream, sugar, and other flavorings – such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or other fan favorites.

Because it’s fresh and “homemade,” hand-dipped ice cream tends to have a creamier texture and a more decadent flavor profile.

2. Ice Cream is Scooped

Once the ice cream is ready to rock and roll, it’s moved to a container and strategically placed in the ice cream parlor. The location will be cold enough to keep the ice cream in the right texture yet easily accessible for easy scooping.

Once the ice cream shop is opened, customers will begin to arrive.

Upon receiving an order, the employee will scoop the ice cream using a scooper or another suitable utensil. The item is typically warmed up so it can glide into the ice cream quickly and efficiently, resulting in an Instagram-worthy scoop of ice cream.

It’s then plopped on top of an ice cream cone or into a bowl, per the customer’s request.

3. Toppings Are Added (Optional)

Hand-dipped ice cream can stand on its own two feet – there’s no doubt about that.

But why?

In my opinion, you should never settle for less – especially when it comes to dessert.

That said, go ahead and top that beautiful, luscious, hand-dipped ice cream with some toppings. Whether chocolate syrup, sprinkles, candies, or fruit, you can’t go wrong with dousing your hand-dipped ice cream in scrumptious toppings!

What Flavors of Hand-Dipped Ice Cream Are Available?

What hand-dipped ice cream flavors are available generally depends on where you’re buying it.

For instance, some shops might stick to the classics – you know, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and the like.

Others might step outside of the box and create some wowing flavors. For example, you might be able to find peanut butter fudge, cotton candy, or mint chocolate.

Is Hand-Dipped Ice Cream More Expensive?

Unfortunately yes, hand-dipped ice cream tends to be more expensive than other types of frozen desserts.

There is a good reason, though – hand-dipped ice cream requires more work. The labor-intensive process shows through the delicate texture and mouth-watering flavor, though.

Trust me – it’s worth the few extra bucks.

What is a Hand-Dipped Milkshake?

If you love ice cream, then you probably love milkshakes.

Did I guess that correctly?

Then you probably want to know about those hand-dipped milkshakes, too.

Well, they’re basically the same thing as any other milkshake. However, the hand-drip milkshake is crafted using hand-dipped scoops of ice cream rather than “other” kinds of ice cream. The result? A milkshake, unlike any other milkshake you’ve had before, with an incredible taste and mouthfeel.


I hope I’ve answered your questions about hand-dipped ice cream, and I apologize if I’ve made you crave a scoop! If you want to learn a little more about this topic, here are a couple of frequently asked questions to help you out.

What is the difference between hand-dipped and soft-serve ice cream?

There are two key differences between hand-dipped and soft-serve ice cream. Hand-dipped is scooped by hand, hence the name. Soft serve is served from a machine. Soft serve is also far airier and lighter compared to hand-dipped, which tends to be creamy and dense.

What’s the opposite of soft-serve ice cream?

The opposite of soft-serve ice cream is literally called “hard ice cream.” It is given this name because it is much firmer than soft-serve, which is airy, light, and smooth. Hard ice cream is held at a lower temperature and, thus, firms up.

Which is healthier, soft serve or ice cream?

Nutritionally speaking, soft-serve and ice cream aren’t that different. However, the fat content tends to be slightly lower because the soft-serve has more air. It’s essential to take into account different flavors, which can affect overall nutritional content.

The Timeless Delight of Hand-Dipped Ice Cream

It’s no secret: Hand-dipped is undeniably a feast for the taste buds, and it’s a timeless dessert served since the dawn of ice cream parlors. Enjoy a scoop the next time you’re craving ice cream!

Do you love hand-dipped ice cream?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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