What Are the Delightful Differences Between Gelato and Ice Cream?

What Are the Delightful Differences Between Gelato and Ice Cream?

Written by: Shopify


Time to read 6 min

As you walk through Italy's lively streets, the bright displays of gelato at every gelateria will take your breath away. You want to savor the rich tastes of the creamy, dreamy scoops. But wait, isn't gelato just ice cream in Italian? Not really, though. You can enjoy both gelato and ice cream, but there are some big differences between the two. We at Baker's Authority are here to help you figure out the delightful differences between gelato and its American cousin.

The Scoop on Ingredients

Gelato and ice cream may look like twins who were split up at birth at first glance. Both are made with milk, cream, and sugar as the base, but the amounts and products used can be very different. Let's find out more about what each frozen treat is made of.

Gelato: A Dairy Delight

Italy is very proud of its gelato, which usually has more milk than cream. Because there is more milk than cream, this ice cream has less fat than regular ice cream. Real Italian gelato recipes often call for fresh, high-quality ingredients like chocolate, nuts, and fruits that are in season. The goal is to show off the natural flavors of these products instead of using artificial ones.

Ice Cream: Cream of the Crop

On the other hand, ice cream has a rich, creamy taste because it has more cream in it. In the US, ice cream has to have at least 10% milkfat in it to be called ice cream. Many high-end ice creams have even higher amounts, between 14 and 25 percent. That rich, creamy feel that ice cream is famous for comes from its higher fat level.

The Art of Churning

These aren't the only things that make gelato and ice cream different. How these frozen treats are made is a big part of what makes them taste and feel different. Let's look at the stirring process and how it changes the end result.

Gelato: Slow and Steady

When compared to ice cream, gelato is stirred more slowly. The mixture gets thicker and more concentrated because the churning process takes longer and adds less air. Because there is less air in gelato, the tastes can come through more strongly, giving it its signature richness and creaminess.

Ice Cream: Whipped to Perfection

Ice cream, on the other hand, is stirred faster, which adds more air to the whole thing. This process, called "overrun," can make the ice cream twice as big. Ice cream has a lighter, fluffier feel than gelato because it has more air in it. This may make the flavors a little less intense, but it's an important part of getting the standard ice cream consistency.

The Temperature Twist

The temperature at which it is served is another thing that makes gelato different from ice cream. This small difference can make a big difference in how you enjoy your ice treat.

Gelato: Served Slightly Warmer

Most of the time, gelato is served a little warmer than ice cream, around 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 to -9 degrees Celsius). The tastes can really come out at this higher serving temperature, and the texture stays soft and creamy. The warmer temperature also makes it easier to scoop and enjoy gelato.

Ice Cream: Frozen and Firm

On the other hand, ice cream tastes best when it's cold, generally between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -15 degrees Celsius). This cooler temperature keeps the ice cream from melting too fast and helps it keep its shape. But because our taste buds aren't as used to cold foods, the colder weather can also make the flavors a little less strong.

What Makes Gelato Different from Ice Cream

Butterfat Content: Gelato usually has between 4 and 9% butterfat, but ice cream usually has at least 10% butterfat and up to 14 to 25 percent. This makes gelato a lower-fat choice that focuses on bringing out the tastes of its ingredients.

Texture and Air Content: Gelato is stirred more slowly, so it has a thicker texture because it contains less air (20–30% volume by air). Ice cream, on the other hand, has a lighter feel because it has more air in it (up to 50% volume by air).

Serving Style and Temperature: Gelato tastes best when it's a little warmer than ice cream. This brings out its rich flavors and smooth texture. Ice cream is usually scooped, but gelato is usually served with a spade, which makes for a better scoop.

How the Flavor Works

Gelato and ice cream both come in a lot of different flavors that will make your taste buds dance. But the way these flavors are offered is very different in some important ways.

Gelato is Intense and Real

Gelato is famous for having strong, real tastes that show off the best ingredients. Since gelato has less fat and a denser texture, the natural tastes can really shine through. Gelato types are made to taste just like the real thing, from bright fruit sorbets to rich chocolate and creamy vanilla.

Ice Cream is Creative and Tasty

Even though ice cream has traditional flavors, it's usually linked with more unique and tasty combinations. It's easy to try new flavors in ice cream, which has everything from chunks of cookie dough to swirls of fudge and toffee. The higher fat level of ice cream also makes it easy to add different toppings and mix-ins to make a lot of different flavor experiences.

The Health Factor

Even though neither gelato or ice cream is a healthy food, it is important to note that their nutritional profiles are different.

Gelato: Lower Fat, Lower Calories

Gelato usually has less fat and fewer calories per serve than ice cream because it has less cream and is churned more slowly. Keep in mind, though, that gelato is still a treat and should only be eaten in small amounts as part of a healthy diet.

Ice Cream: Indulgent Treat

When compared to sherbet, ice cream usually has more calories and fat because it has more fat and air in it. The exact nutritional values can change a lot, though, based on the recipe and the ingredients that are used. When it comes to ice cream, balance is key, just like with any other treat.

The Verdict

So, which frozen treat wins the fight between gelato and ice cream? The truth is that there isn't a clear winner. Gelato and ice cream are both loved by dessert fans all over the world for different reasons.

Gelato has a denser, creamier texture and flavors that are very true to life and show off the quality of the products used. This is a great option for people who like frozen desserts that are made with care and have pure tastes.

On the other hand, ice cream is known for its rich, creamy texture and unique taste combinations. A famous treat that has won the hearts of generations with its many uses and endless ways to make it your own.

The Joy of Frozen Treats

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between gelato and ice cream. Whether you like the strong flavors and smooth texture of gelato or the richness and creative freedom of ice cream, one thing is for sure: either one can make any event happy and joyful.

At Baker's Authority, we appreciate the skill and creativity that go into making these frozen works of art. You should try different kinds of gelato and ice cream and find the flavors that you like best. Also, you should learn about what makes each one special.

So the next time you're looking at a bright display of gelato or your favorite pint of ice cream in the freezer aisle, take a moment to enjoy the fun differences that make these frozen treats so appealing. Enjoy these sweet, creamy treats, whether you're a gelato or ice cream fanatic.

Don't forget that life is too short to only eat one ice treat. Enjoy the wide range of flavors that gelato and ice cream offer, and let your taste buds lead you on a journey of discovering new tastes. Have fun scooping!