People Ask What is Gelato? So We Scooped An Answer

The US industry-leading gelato manufacturer's blog

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With Spring upon us and Summer fast approaching – it is the season for cold and frozen delicacies! There is nothing quite like cooling off with something sweet. For most of us – ice cream, frozen custard, and popsicles are the go-tos, but what about gelato? Traditional American ice cream seems to pack all the sweet cream flavor the public yearns for, but vanilla gelato can provide everything a person needs – and more. The problem is that many of us are still confused about what gelato is precisely…

Is it just ice cream? Is it like frozen yogurt? What is the recipe for that scoopable goodness? While gelato is the Italian word for ice cream – that doesn’t mean the two are made alike or as equals.

gelato vs ice cream what is the difference
We all love a scoop of delicious ice cream or gelato. But have you ever wondered what makes the two so different?

Gelato is Not Ice Cream

Any ice cream maker will tell you they make ice cream – not gelato. Anyone creating gelato will say to you they are not making ice cream. The difference lies in various components throughout the recipehow it is created, and even served.

Gelato and ice cream may be similar in the fact they are heavenly for your taste buds, can be enjoyed on a hot summer day, and are classified as frozen desserts – but gelato recipes will always look different than what you typically find with ice cream.

gelato scoop made with more milk
Made from more milk than it’s American counterpart, gelato is the Florentine treat that has been delighting taste buds for over 400 years

Gelato Vs. American Ice Cream

Both ice cream and gelato are extremely sweet indulgences – but gelato uses more milk and less cream. It is generally lighter and maintains a softer texture than ice cream but still maintains a density. You will find a few significant differences between gelato and ice cream…

  1. Serving Temperature & Composition
  2. Fat Content/Calories
  3. Air Content & Creation
  4. Texture & Flavor

Ice cream has been a traditional American dessert, and things like banana splits were initially popularized in the 1700s. Whereas gelato is a classic sweet treat from the 16th century and was born in Florence, Italy. Their origins are worlds apart, yet gelato and ice cream have often been grouped for some reason.

Gelato Vs. Frozen Yogurt

Frozen desserts have a lot of mystery around them – it is hard for people to determine the difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream. With so much confusion around the colder food groups, it is inherent for people to classify them altogether simply. Froyo has some of the same ingredients as gelato but was created to have a lower percentage of fat than ice cream. It was meant to be a healthier product in smaller serving sizes.

Gelato happens to have been born out of milk, sugar, and cream, but the secret is in the combination of those ingredients. Froyo or frogurt is made of yogurt, unlike gelato, which includes milk, sugar, and cream.

But similar to gelato, frozen yogurt uses a lower milk fat, and this makes up its total fat contents. Both froyo and gelato are great options for a healthy treat served with fresh fruit – Bellissimo!

Gelato is thicker than ice cream, adding it it’s rich flavor and dreamy texture

Gelato: Dense, Rich & A Smoother Consistency

One of the biggest things that makes gelato so incredible is the density of its flavors. There is the option for water-based gelato for those with lactose intolerance, but it is nothing an ice cream maker can match. (And fruit-flavored gelato is made with a fruit juice base.)

Anyways…gelato may be the Italian word for ice cream solely because it begins with a similar custard base, but because it contains more milk and less cream – it is churned at a much slower speed than ice cream.

To create that custard base – ice cream is traditionally made with whole milk, lots of sugar, cream, and egg yolks. Once the base is completed, more air is pumped into it, making a fine crystal texture.

Gelato is often described as almost elastic in texture but remains smooth because little to no air is whipped into its components. It uses less air, so it remains dense and insanely rich in flavor with a creamier texture.

There’s no silkier or smoother dessert than gelato, which can clearly be seen in it’s production

The Flavor and Texture

Every gelato shop is known for its traditional flavors, but they taste much bolder than what you find with ice cream, froyo, or even sherbert. While most things come down to personal preference, it is still hard to deny gelato’s benefits. Less sugar content seems to mean less flavor, but this is far from true in the case of gelato.

Both gelato and ice cream maintain that custard base in their early stages, but it seems because ice cream has air whipped in and gelato uses less air – that is where the difference lies. Ice cream has so much more air inside, making for a fluffy texture, and gelato has little to no air, making the texture softer and smoother. This means gelato also feels denser in nature, silky in texture, and dashing in flavor.

gelato fewer calories than ice cream
Let’s be honest; the tastiest treats in life aren’t always the healthiest. But with gelato, you can enjoy a more guilt-free experience!

Gelato Has the Perk of Fewer Calories

Caloric intake is on everyone’s mind when indulging in something sweet because sugar is a part of that. We all crave things like chocolate, but we know that more calories accompany its wonder. Ice cream and gelato are no strangers to this debate, but in the end, only one reigns supreme.

Gelato is a Healthier Choice than Ice Cream

Ice cream offers more calories than gelato as it is high in sugar and fat content. Gelato is the lower-fat option as there is less sugar and lower fat concentration. Still, ice cream and gelato contain quite a bit of sugar and fat when it comes to other food groups.

  • *The average scoop of ice cream is about 225 calories.
  • *The same scoop in gelato would be 150 calories!

A Slightly Warmer Temperature is Required

Ice cream may have more cream, but it is typically served frozen. Cheaper ice creams you can purchase at the grocery store are usually completely frozen – sometimes, you have to thaw them out before even attempting to enjoy them. Ice cream is stored at freezing temperatures – usually anywhere from 6 to 10 degrees. When you go to enjoy the treat, fat coats your tongue, numbing your mouth and making it difficult always to taste all the flavors.

Gelato is created and typically stored at a slightly warmer temperature – approximately 10 to 20 degrees. It is meant to be served chilled but never frozen. This makes it easy to scoop, eat and enjoy! When you go to enjoy your freshly scooped gelato – you aren’t subject to ensuring it is thawed out beforehand, and you can really taste the difference!

gelato production without egg yolks
Gelato making has evolved over the centuries and no longer includes egg yolks – another distinction from ice cream

And Egg Yolks Aren’t always Included…

Both gelato and ice cream have a very similar recipe breakdown, but judging from the distinctions in the product – the measurements of milk, sugar, and cream can make all the difference! There is one stark contrast between the two – egg yolks.

Ice cream typically uses egg yolks to create its batch of frozen goodness. The egg yolks are used in ice cream to make everything a tad bit creamier (on top of all that milk and cream), making the consistency more stable.

Gelato does not make use of yolks, as the recipe once did. Initially – eggs were often utilized in gelato because it emulsifies fat, but it was found it caused more air to seep into the gelato, making it too much like ice cream. Nowadays, gelato rarely uses eggs in recipes unless it is specific to the flavor or color of the intended final product.

Five Great Gelato Flavors – You Have to Try

The great debate between gelato and ice cream still lingers, but there is no question that gelato offers an assortment of flavor options and methods of enjoyment. Freshauthentic gelato comes in various flavors and can be served on a waffle, pancakes, espresso, milkshake, or the traditional scoop.

I Scream Gelato has customers screaming out for more with these lovely, unique, and mouth-watering flavors…

The range of delicious gelato flavors expands every year. But first you must try a few of the original favorites!

Caramel Vanilla – A base of creamy vanilla gelato draped with fresh caramel layers meant to provide a luxurious flavor mixture in every bite. You can choose to have chocolate chips mixed in or crunchy chocolate pieces to level up the flavor!

Pistachio – A dairy-free gelato option made to be a little sweet and a little savory. Pistachio gelato is a traditional flavor with a hint of a green hue – created to be sweet and creamy with a side of nuttiness for every mouthful.

Nutella – This is a fan favorite, giving off flavors of chocolate, hazelnut, and overall sweet, gorgeous goodness. It provides everything Nutella has packed into a bottle but makes it – gelato with a fresh spin!

Stracciatella – A classic and popular gelato flavor made with high-quality ingredients, whole milk, fresh heavy cream, and pure dark chocolate. There are dark chocolate strips sprinkled throughout the mixture, and they can be used to sprinkle on top.

Donut – Yes, we said donut. Taking all of your favorite donuts and making that delicious fresh baked goods flavor out of your gelato. It can be topped with fresh donuts or served with toppings of your liking!

So, what will it be – gelato or ice cream?

visit on of our locations today
Stop by one of our locations and take home a fresh scoop of Italian delight today!

Interested in Giving Authentic Italian Gelato a Go?

We think that gelato beats ice cream any day of the week, so if you are thinking of trying out your first gelato or are an avid consumer looking for a wide selection of flavors – I Scream Gelato has just what you have been looking for!

I Scream crafts authentic Italian gelato with a contemporary twist, allowing every customer to top off every scoop with a wide variety and assortment of fresh toppings. Please stop by one of our locations and treat yourself to some gelato today!

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