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Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream

You Say Gelato, I Say Ice Cream: What's the Difference?

Over a recent dinner party dessert of assorted gelatos, a burning (or shall I say freezing?) question arose. If the word "gelato" isn't simply Italian for ice cream, then what exactly is the difference between the two frozen desserts?

The answer, in short, is air — and fat. During the churning process, ice cream's volume is increased by more than half. In contrast, gelato is churned at a slower speed, which means not as much air is whipped into the mixture; this helps gelato achieve a consistency that's so dense, it requires a warmer serving temperature than its counterpart.

Ice cream also contains more fat than gelato. By USDA standards, ice cream must contain a minimum of 10 percent milk fat, although most brands contain somewhere between 14 and 17 percent. Gelato, which often has almost no cream at all, contains roughly 3 to 10 percent fat. Less cream and air means the Italian dessert tastes decadent and more intensely flavored without as much fat. Which frozen dessert's consistency do you prefer?

Image Source: Shutterstock
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gyffes gyffes 5 years
I have the gelato you're looking for: Morano Gelato in Hanover NH. Forbes' online food critic just hailed it the best gelato in America. While I'm not as widely traveled as he, I must say, it's spectacular. Find it on Facebook to follow her daily flavors (made each day, throughout the day -- they sell out starting around 8:30pm) and if you're anywhere nearby, I can assure you it's well worth your trip. NOT affiliated in anyway, just a delighted customer.
GummiBears GummiBears 5 years
Gelato hands down.
bjeanne18 bjeanne18 5 years
I always wondered what the exact difference was! Thank you - and I LOVE gelato... I'd prefer that over ice cream any day. Now I know why! And I agree with Tamaradulva... I don't like my gelato too frozen, I like it freshly churned!
tamaradulva tamaradulva 5 years
I prefer gelato, but most places have the freezer temperatures too high for the real texture to come out. So it's always a giant search for me to find the perfect gelato.
ticamorena ticamorena 5 years
oh man, i'm lactose intolerant and this post makes me want to cry for all the missed opportunities for deliciousness that i'll not be indulging in this summer. no gelato, no ice-cream :(
fuzzles fuzzles 5 years
I love both! There is a Mom and Pop homemade ice cream and gelato shop not far from where I live. Their fruit gelatos (especially the lemon) are soooooo refreshing on a hot summer day. Then again, I was in this past weekend and had a small waffle cone of the rhubarb crisp ala mode ice cream. I'm STILL thinking about it!!! :drool:
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