Home Articles Gelato vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?)

Gelato vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?)

Let’s dive into the battle of icy treats. First up on the court: gelato vs. ice cream.

What’s the difference between these two delicacies, and which tastes better?

At first glance, these two treats seem like the same thing. I mean, they’re frozen, creamy, and sweet, right?

Three Scoop of Different Ice Cream Flavors in a Glass

Upon further examination, you’ll discover that these two sweets have some key differences that distance their relation from twins to cousins. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and decide who wins the battle of gelato vs. ice cream.

Sources say it will be a close call.

Three Scoops of Chocolate and Vanilla Flavored Gelato

What Is Gelato? 

Gelato’s up first on this frozen treat smackdown.

You might be most familiar with gelato as the go-to dessert in Italian restaurants and bakeries. 

Gelato is technically the Italian word for ice cream.

But despite this linguistic similarity, it’s actually much older than its American cousin.

Gelato has been around since the 12th century when it was conceived by Marco Polo of pool-game-fame. 

Rumor has it that the famous Venetian merchant traveled to China, where sorbet thrived as a popular delicacy.

He then brought back the idea of creating frozen sweet milk.

However, it wasn’t until the 14th century that gelato really took off. 

Florence native Bernardo Boentalenti is credited as the official inventor of gelato.

He was the first person to start experimenting with different flavors, including lemon, wine, and honey.

Since then, gelato has taken off and is among the most widespread desserts in Europe. 

These days, you’ll find traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio still widely popular. 

Ice Cream Scoops With Fresh Fruits

What Is Ice Cream? 

It’s hard to trace back the exact origins of ice cream since it has a lot of overlap with gelato.

But in America, the earliest reference to the sweet delicacy occurred in 1744. 

Quaker colonists are credited with introducing ice cream to the States.

Supposedly, early historical figures like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were huge fans.

Fast forward a couple of centuries until the 1950s, when modern refrigeration became a mainstay.

People could now store the icy treat at home rather than only eat it on special occasions. 

Ice cream became a booming business, and with that came technological innovations to make more quantity at a lower cost. 

Cheaper brands started to pop up that used additives to increase volume.

Luckily, higher-quality brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs also emerged to counter the lackluster ice cream. 

These days, you can find whole aisles in grocery stores showcasing all sorts of ice cream varieties.

There are classic traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla. And then you have outlandish flavors like bubble gum or cotton candy.

No matter what the flavor, you can find it all in your local food mart. 

Strawberry Ice Cream in Bowl

Gelato vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?) 

Now that you know the origin stories of gelato and ice cream, discover what makes them different.

Preparation and Storage

Gelato and ice cream are two dairy-based frozen desserts, but the type of dairy is what sets them apart.

Ice cream consists of equal parts whole milk, heavy cream, and egg yolks.

Gelato uses a lot less cream and eggs with a higher amount of milk.

Ice cream and gelato both require churning to create the frozen, creamy consistency, but the speed alters between both desserts. 

Ice cream has a faster churning speed, which whips more air into the mixture to create a fluffy texture. 

Gelato follows the low-and-slow churning philosophy. Less air gets trapped, which creates a denser product. 

If you think that both icy treats have the same storage method, think again! 

Gelato is served 10-15 degrees warmer than ice cream, which makes it meltier.

You serve ice cream at a colder temperature, so it holds better in cones.

Flavor and Texture

Finally, how do the flavor and texture vary between ice cream and gelato? And which tastes better?

Since gelato contains less air, you’ll find the texture to be thicker than ice cream. 

The warmer serving temperature gives it a silkier texture, too.

It’s almost like an ice-cold pudding that melts in your mouth with deliciousness.

Another interesting difference lies in the milk fat.

Since gelato contains less fat than ice cream, the main flavor tends to shine through better.

You end up tasting less richness but a more refined essence.

Ice cream has a fluffier texture that’s light, creamy, and smooth.

It’s served colder and is better to enjoy on a cone without making a mess. 

You taste the abundant richness inherent in ice cream, along with the flavoring agent of your liking. 

As far as which delicacy tastes better? Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that!

Gelato vs. Ice Cream (What's the Difference?)

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

2 thoughts on “Gelato vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?)”

  1. Gelato has always been my niece’s favorite food, so because I don’t know much about it, I determined to learn more. It’s good that you mentioned that the primary taste of gelato tends to come through more because it has less fat than ice cream. I think that giving this a try would be a great idea, so I’ll make sure to look into hiring a gelato cart as a surprise for her future wedding. I appreciate you sharing!


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