Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream

Gelato vs Ice Cream

One of the key differences between gelato and ice cream, the two mouth licking desserts, is the air content. Anyhow, before trying to fully understand all these differences, answer this question. Have you ever tasted gelato? When people visit Italy they get a chance to savor a special dessert called gelato. It looks and tastes like ice-cream, which is why not many think of it as anything different from ice-cream. But the very fact that there are gelato parlors next to ice-cream parlors is enough to suggest that there are differences between the two sweet desserts. If you are an American, and always thought of gelato as a variation of ice-cream, this article may be an eye opener for you.

There are differences between gelato and ice cream in the churning methods, fat content, and the serving temperature that make all the difference in the taste and flavor of gelato. Those who have eaten gelato know that it is softer than ice cream, and also melts faster in your mouth, but not many know why this happens.

What is Ice Cream?

Ice cream uses milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks in the making and is served frozen. There are different flavors of ice cream such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, coffee, etc. To be called ice cream in the US, the dessert must have at least 10% fat. Even low quality ice creams have fat content close to 11-12%, whereas high quality ice creams have around 16% fat content.

When it comes to air content, ice creams have at least 25% up to 90% air in it. This makes ice cream fluffier. This is because ice cream is churned at a very high speed to increase its volume. You will see that cheaper ice cream brands have more air in them than expensive brands.

Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream

What is Gelato?

Though the ingredients are almost the same, Gelato uses a large ratio of milk with a low ratio of cream and eggs in the making. Sometimes, no eggs at all are added to make gelato. Also, Gelato is stored and served at a higher temperature so when you get it in a cone, it is not actually frozen. Because of a higher milk to cream ration, the fat content in gelato is anywhere between 3-8%. This is why it does not stick inside your mouth like ice cream does. Another differentiation that the lower fat content makes is that, it does not saturate the taste buds, and the strong flavors have an opportunity to emerge. With low fat content, gelato does not coat around the tongue as ice cream does, and this is how flavors in gelato look so intense.

Also, Gelato has no air added to it. However, sometimes, some air naturally gets incorporated because of the churning process. Churning process of gelato is also different. This churning process is done so as to avoid too much air mixing with the gelato. As the ratio of air is less, gelato is dense.

 Gelato vs Ice Cream

As far as appearance is concerned, gelato looks more like frozen yogurt than ice cream. To some it looks like a whipped cream than ice cream. Gelato comes in different flavors too. Some of them are chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, hazelnut, banana, etc.

What is the difference between Gelato and Ice Cream?

• Gelato is an Italian dessert that looks like ice cream.

• Gelato has lesser fat content (3-8%) than ice cream (minimum 10%).

• Ice cream is churned at a high speed while gelato is churned at a low speed.

• Gelato has very little air inside it, whereas ice cream has almost half of air as content.

• Ice cream uses milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks. Gelato uses a lot of milk, a low amount of cream and eggs compared to the milk. Sometimes gelato does not use eggs at all.

• Gelato is stored and served at temperatures higher than freezing temperatures of ice cream.

• Gelato tastes more intense than ice cream.

• Ice cream comes in different flavors as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, coffee, etc. Gelato also comes in different flavors as chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, hazelnut, banana, etc.

Whatever you prefer, they are both very tasty desserts. You can choose an ice cream for a hot day as it does not melt as fast as gelato. Both will make your taste buds happy.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Ice cream by Soni (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Gelato by Alex Gorzen (CC BY-SA 2.0)