Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream


When it comes to favorite frozen treats, gelato and ice cream tend to run neck and neck. In many instances, consumers often believe that there is very little difference between the two sweets. Conversely, those who do realize that there is a difference between gelato and ice cream may not actually know what these differences entail.

In order to fully understand the difference between gelato and ice cream, you must know each of the different factors that is involved in making them dissimilar from one another. There are three primary considerations to be made when learning about what keeps ice cream and gelato from being considered the same treat.

While there are a number of individual factors that can serve to blur the lines between what makes ice cream and gelato differ from one another, it all comes down to three things: the fat content, the temperature at which it is served and air. Be sure to bear these differences in mind when making your dessert selection.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is comprised mostly of water and the primary objective of ice cream makers is to keep the water from becoming frozen, which leads to the formation of crunchy, rocky crystals of ice. Some small crystallization is to be expected, but they are kept in check by adding certain ingredients and practicing the proper ice cream making techniques.

The best methods for fighting off the excess crystallization that plagues ice cream makers is to emulsify fat, which allows the fat molecules to get in the way and block the crystals from forming. Milk and cream can also be used, as these ingredients are already emulsified.

Another method for avoiding ice cream crystallization is by using sugar. When sugar is placed in water, the resulting dissolution produces syrup that freezes at a much lower temperature than water. The syrup has a high level of concentration, which keeps the water from freezing.

When the ice cream is being churned, air is added to the mixture, in order to provide a fluffier frozen treat. The more air that is added to the ice cream, the easier it is to scoop. The temperature that ice cream is stored at also plays a major role in differentiating it from gelato.

The colder the temperature the ice cream is stored at, the more solid and hard it will be. If the ice cream is stored at a warmer temperature, then it takes on a looser, warmer texture.

The ice cream that we are accustomed to consuming is much different than gelato, for a variety of reasons. While ice cream is made with the use of fat in order to avoid excess crystallization, gelato does not utilize the same level of fat.

During the process of churning gelato, less air is used than in ice cream. Typical ice cream that Americans are accustomed to consuming is much heavier on the cream and will typically contain at least 10 percent fat. Homemade ice creams and premium brands may also have a fat content that is even higher.

Conversely, gelato is made without the same amount and relies more heavily, which significantly lowers its overall fat content, making it much healthier for consumption. Egg yolks are also used during the making of ice cream and are avoided during the making of gelato.

Another crucial point of emphasis is the speed at which each frozen treat is churned. Ice cream utilizes a rapid churn and plenty of air is added during the whipping process. This allows them to increase in volume, which is also known as a overrun.


Gelato, on the other hand, is churned at a speed that is much slower than ice cream. This keeps too much air from entering and is responsible for the significant increase in density, as opposed to ice cream. As for the sugar content, the differences between the two are less pronounced, as recipes for both ice cream and gelato tend to vary greatly.

The textures of the two desserts are also varied. Gelato tends to have a more milky texture, in addition to the added density. Gelato is also said to provide a much more intense flavor experience for those who consume it and contains much less cold fat that can sometimes interfere with the flavor of ice cream.

Some may be wondering how the gelato that they eat is able to exist without becoming hard as a rock. After all, there’s much less fat and air pumped into it during the creation process, right? The most important aspect in the taste and texture of gelato is the temperature at which it is served.

Ice cream is typically served to consumers at roughly 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Gelato is served after having been stored at a much warmer temperature. The reason for this? Storing gelato at the same temperature as ice cream gives it a chance to harden. For maximum softness and scoop-ability, gelato must be stored at a much warmer climate.

While gelato is merely the Italian phrase used to describe ice cream, there are a number of differences between the two. They may seem minute to the untrained eye, but to those who truly know their frozen desserts, they are noteworthy. The temperature at which each dessert is served, in addition to the fat and air content, are the key factors in discerning the difference between ice cream and gelato. No matter what your personal preferences may be, there is a frozen treat out there for you!