What is the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream?

by NateB11

Gelato is a delicious treat, similar to regular ol' ice cream. However, there are differences between the two. Find out what those differences are and also how to make gelato.

Nothing quite like that sweet and refreshing taste of ice cream. Gelato, Italian-style ice cream, is equally as tasty but also smooth and silky. The two types of ice cream are similar but, of course, have some marked differences.

Gelato tends to be softer with a more intense flavor. There are several reasons for this, related to the process of making it and how it is stored. However, the process of making it is very similar to how ice cream is made though the ingredients are a bit different.

Let's look at these differences and also what is the best ice cream machine for making your own gelato or ice cream for you and your whole family.

Featured image: By Alex Gorzen (originally posted to Flickr as DSC05396) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the reasons gelato has a stronger taste is because it has less fat in it compared to ice cream. It is more milk-based and contains less cream. During the process of making ice cream, fat is used because of the tendency of ice crystals to build up due to the fact that ice cream contains a lot of water. The fat sticks between the water molecules so that there is less ice crystallization. Ice cream is made up of 10-20 percent fat while gelato has about 8 percent or less of fat.

The other major difference between ice cream and gelato is the way it is churned. During the freezing process, gelato is churned slower so that there is less air and this is why gelato is more dense than ice cream. So, because it has a milk base and not primarily a cream base and because it has less air due to it being churned more slowly, gelato is denser and more milky than creamy.

Finally, gelato is stored and served at a lower temperature, a little below freezing at about 30 degrees. This makes it softer than ice cream and adds to its silky texture. If ice cream was served at this temperature, it would be like soup.

Basically, to make gelato you use less of a fat base, which means less cream and more milk, and also less egg yolks.

Some tasty, colorful gelato
Some tasty, colorful gelato
By Filipe Fortes from New York, United States (Championship Gelato) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2....


  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Powdered Milk
  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Cup Light Cream or Half and Half
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Cups Fruit, Pureed in Blender or Food Processor

Make Your Own Gelato in Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker

  1. Freeze Ice Cream Maker's gel container in the freezer for at least 6 hours, up to a whole day.
  2. Mix milk, sugar and powdered milk in a big bowl.
  3. Heat milk mix on medium heat, to a low simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Turn down heat, keep mix warm.
  5. Separate egg yolks and mix them until they are thick.
  6. Slowly add cup of milk mix to egg yolks and mix together.
  7. Pour yolks into pot of milk mix and heat on medium, stirring, until thick.
  8. Stir in the light cream and vanilla.
  9. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to chill.
  10. (If you want vanilla gelato, you can go ahead and add the mixture to the ice cream maker. If you want chocolate gelato, this is the step at which you could add some chocolate syrup.) Mix milk mix with fruit puree.
  11. Put the whole mixture in the freezer bowl.
  12. Put it all into the ice cream maker and run it for about 20-25 minutes, until mix is thick.
  13. Store at about 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker.
The Cuisinart ICE-3...
Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

Housed in brushed stainless steel with an embossed logo, this fully automatic small appliance makes frozen yogurt, sorbet, and homemade ice cream in as little as 25 minutes. The...

View on Amazon

Best Ice Cream Machine: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker

The Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence ice cream maker is an affordable high-quality and versatile ice cream machine. The ice cream comes out like soft-serve and is tasty and quite delectable. The machine is easy to use and has a sleek metal look that is a nice accessory and appliance for the kitchen. It has a 2-quart capacity, so you will be able to make plenty of ice cream for the whole family. The bowl and paddle are removable so it's easy to clean.

Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

The Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker costs more than the ICE-30BC but it is an efficient machine with a paddle specifically made for churning gelato in addition to the paddle for making ice cream; therefore, the gelato will come out silkier and a bit more authentic. It also has a sleek look with touch pad controls that allow you to punch in the right settings and start a timer so you can go off and do other things while the machine makes ice cream. It is easy to use and does much of the work of making your refreshing cold desserts. The compressor on the machine makes it even easier and simpler to use because you don't have to freeze the bowl: You can make ice cream anytime, one batch after another. The machine is also very easy to clean. The video below demonstrates how easy this machine is to use.


Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

The Cuisinart Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker The ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker Make decadent ice cream, rich creamy gelato and light sorbet that your family will lov...

View on Amazon

Updated: 10/11/2015, NateB11
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
WriterArtist on 10/13/2015

I have never tasted gelato, now I would jump to taste it if I can find one. I now understand the difference between gelato and ice-cream. Perhaps I can try making one.

candy47 on 10/12/2015

Gelato seems like a lighter and healthier version of ice cream, a lot less fat! Thanks for the article.

NateB11 on 10/12/2015

It's good stuff! Glad you stopped by, dustytoes.

dustytoes on 10/12/2015

I've wanted to try Gelato but had no idea what it was. Now I do!

You might also like

How to Decorate Butterfly Cookies with Fondant Icing

Looking for a fun, easy and pretty Spring themed cookie recipe? Here's some b...

Fruity Preserve Filled Heart Sugar Cookies

Learn how to make heart shaped sugar cookies with an easy tutorial and recipe...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...