Gelato has become a favorite summertime frozen treat, but is it just a fancy word for ice cream? What is Gelato, and what is ice cream? How are they alike and different?
The Short Answer
No, gelato is not the same thing as ice cream.
The Long Answer
I used to just think of gelato as a pretentious word for ice cream, so imagine my surprise when I found out that it was actually an entirely different food. Sure, ice cream and gelato share some common ingredients and they’re both frozen dairy treats. But there are enough differences between the two wherein you can confidently say that they are two very different foods. Speaking of which, we’ve done the research to see if sorbet and gelato are the same thing too so be sure to check it out. But back to ice cream and gelato.
Ice cream is made from milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks. All these ingredients are cooked together until they form a custard, which is then cooled and churned. This incorporates air and increases volume.
Gelato is made from a similar custard base, but it typically has a far higher concentration of milk and a lower percentage of cream. Eggs are most often left out of the equation completely. Churning occurs at a much slower rate, leaving the finished product far denser than ice cream.
Another key differentiator between gelato and ice cream is how they are served. Ice cream is served at colder temperatures, which allows it to hold its shape for a longer period of time. It is smoother, lighter and creamier. Gelato is served at warmer temperatures, making it softer than ice cream and easier to eat with a spoon. Flavored gelato’s ingredients tend to be far stronger than that of ice cream because it has a lower content of fat.