Gelato vs Ice Cream: What’s the difference?

If it’s undeniable that walking in New York with an ice cream and strolling in Venice with a gelato are two must-do things in life (but also Milan and Rome are great cities to enjoy gelato), have you ever wondered, by doing so, if there is a difference between ice cream and gelato?

In Italy we use the term gelato to indicate all sorts of ice cream, so some may think there isn’t. But there are actually technical distinctions between them. While it is not our intention to determine which one is the best – there are perfectly both enjoyable and tasty – it might be interesting for you to notice that there are many variables involved.

Air is one of them: American-style ice creams are churned fast and hard to whip in plenty of air (called overrun), making it fluffier. Gelato is churned at a much slower speed, which introduces less air into the base making it more dense.

The amount of fats make a big difference: while ice cream legally has a minimum of 10 percent fat, although most brands contain somewhere between 14 and 17 percent, gelato is made with a larger proportion of whole milk to cream, so it contains more like five to seven percent fat. Therefore gelato has less fat than ice cream.


Temperature is a big factor: while ice cream is typically served frozen, gelato is usually stored and served at a slightly warmer temperature, so it’s not quite completely frozen.

Finally, the recipe itself of both preparations brings its own variables: some use cornstarch, others egg yolks; some use higher amounts of sugar and others use less.

Some say gelato is more tasty as, since there is not much fat in it and it is not served frozen, it doesn’t coat the mouth in the same way ice cream does, leaving a more intense after-taste.

Other say that because of the air in major quantity that is involved in the ice cream process it features a nicer, creamier texture than gelato’s one.

Whether you like one or another, one thing is for sure: summer wouldn’t be the same without both!



Source: Swide, by:  Elisa della Barba