Gelato vs. Ice cream: What is the difference between Gelato and Ice cream?

Gelato vs. Ice cream: discover their Differences, Similarities, as well as their Pros & Cons. We also will answer some of the frequently asked questions and find which is healthier.
Gelato vs. Ice cream: Differences, Pros & Cons, and which is healthier?

Gelato vs. Ice cream: both might appear similar to you, but they are quite different in taste and texture. Apart from the difference in the ratio of ingredients, these food items are served at different temperatures. Gelato is denser than ice cream, with lesser air churned into it during its formation.

Considering gelato vs. ice cream definitions for understanding

What is Gelato?

Gelato is a frozen dessert made with milk and sugar as base ingredients. It contains very little air and is thereby denser.

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What is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a frozen dessert made from milk or cream of milk. It contains sugar, some form of flavoring like vanilla, and a lot of air, making it soft and light.

Bringing out the gelato vs. ice cream vs. sorbet difference for clarity

Where gelato and ice cream contain milk as one of their primary ingredients, sorbet is made without milk. It is dairy-free and prepared from fruit juice and wine traditionally. Just like gelato, very little air is incorporated into a sorbet during its preparation.

What are the similarities between ice cream and gelato?

  • Both ice cream and gelato are sweet dishes.
  • They are good calcium sources, containing around 13-15% of the recommended daily intake value. 
  • Both gelato and ice cream are made from the three essential ingredients: dairy, sugar, and air.

Why is gelato so expensive?

Gelato can be 30-50% costlier than ice cream as it packs more ingredients and flavor when compared with the same amount of ice cream. This is because it has less air. Also, less fat makes it a premium for being healthier.

Why is gelato better than ice cream?

Gelato has more milk than cream, which makes it better than ice cream. Ice cream can have anywhere around 14-17% as milkfat, and gelato has just 3-8%. Also, gelato has fewer or more often, no egg yolks at all. This further makes it less fattening and more healthy.

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Is gelato better for lactose intolerance?

Gelato has the same amount of dairy as any ice cream. But these days, many dairy-free gelato options are great for lactose intolerants. Also, out of the two types of gelatos, ‘Mantecato’ and ‘Sorbetto’, the latter is entirely dairy-free as it is made just from fruit-puree, bean flour, and sugar.

Does gelato have a lot of sugar?

Yes, gelato is loaded with more sugar than ice cream. This is because it not only contains added sugar but also natural sugars that come due to more volume of fruits. As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where 78 grams serving of ice cream includes 16 grams of sugar, gelato has a total of 17 grams for the same quantity. It is still healthier since most of its sugar content comes from natural sources.

What is the most expensive ice cream brand?

Blue Bell Creameries of the US sells the most expensive frozen creams in the world. It also happens to be among the few oldest ice cream brands in the world, offering a wide array of traditional and contemporary ice cream flavors. 

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What is the most expensive ice cream?

The most expensive ice cream is ‘Black Diamond’. It is served at the Scoop Cafe in Dubai, and a single scoop costs $817. Though the vanilla base is made from regular Madagascar beans, it’s the other rare ingredients that make it expensive. Ambrosial saffron from Iran, truffles from Italy, 23-karat gold flakes sprinkled over the scoop, and a custom-made Versace serving bowl and spoon that can be kept as a souvenir. Other more expensive ones like Strawberry Arnaud, Absurdity, or Frozen Chocolate Haute aren’t true-blue ice creams but sundaes.

Can diabetics people eat gelato? 

Traditionally, gelato not only contains added sugars like glucose, and saccharose, but also lactose (from milk) and fructose (from added fruits). This makes it harmful for people with diabetes as it causes a sudden spike in their blood sugar levels. So, it is always good for a diabetic person to have them only in small quantities occasionally. Also, it is better to go for the sugar-free gelatos only. 

Looking at the gelato and ice cream difference in tabulated form for further clarity 

BasisGelatoIce Cream
Fat ContentGelato has less fat as it contains less cream. It has around 4-9% fat, as stated by the Food and Drug Administration.Ice cream is high on fat as it has more cream that makes it fattening with around 10-25% butterfat.
DensityWith lesser air churned into it, gelato is denser. It has 30% of air at the most.It is light and fluffy with all that air churned. Many ice creams have 50% air.
SmoothnessGelato is silkier, aka smoother in texture. It is coarser than gelato.
FlavorGelato has a rich flavor as it packs less air and more of the main ingredient per scoop measurement.Due to more butterfat and air, ice cream has a mild flavor of the main ingredient. 
Serving       temperature Gelato is served a little warmer (6-8 degrees Celsius) than ice cream so as not to numb the tongue and let it taste the flavors.Ice cream is served at a freezing temperature.
Serving styleIt is served with the help of a flat spatula known as a spade. It helps in further softening the dessert while taking it out. It is served by scooping out in round balls with the help of a rounded spoon.

Differentiating between gelato vs. ice cream vs. custard for understanding

Custard is also made from the same ingredients as ice cream and gelato, i.e., milk, cream, and sugar. Besides, it contains egg yolks. It develops an extremely creamier texture because of this addition.

Which is healthier – gelato or ice cream?

Gelato is considered healthier than ice cream as it has a lower fat content. Also, gelato packs in more fruit than ice cream making it richer in nutrients. Lastly, gelato carries a lower amount of refined sugar than ice cream. Much of its sugar content comes from natural sources, aka fruits.

Comparison Chart

Gelato vs. Ice cream: discover their Differences, Similarities, as well as their Pros & Cons. We also will answer some of the frequently asked questions and find which is healthier.

Comparison Video

Gelato vs. ice cream: What’s the difference?
Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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