Gelato and Ice Cream: A tale of two desserts

By / Food / March 18th, 2020 / 21
Gelato and Ice Cream Assortment

Gelato has been gaining popularity recently in North America for its intense flavour and silky texture. Even though people across the United States and Canada are eating more of this frozen dessert than ever, many people still don’t know the difference between gelato and traditionally served ice cream.

Keep reading to find out where these two popular frozen desserts originate from and how they differ in taste and texture.

Where Do Ice Cream and Gelato Come From?

Several cultures have eaten forms of ice cream throughout history. The earliest record of ice cream comes from China in the seventh century. People used to mix buffalo milk with flour and ice. Traditionally, ice cream was a dessert reserved for the royal and wealthy. It wasn’t until the 19th century that technological advances made it readily available for mass consumption.

Gelato originated in Italy in the 1600s and is often accredited to a chef named Francesco Procopio Cutò. His frozen dessert gained popularity in Paris and he eventually received a royal licence to make it for King Louis XIV.

Nutrition Comparison

The three main ingredients in both gelato and ice cream are dairy, sugar and pockets of air. Ice cream is generally made with more cream and often also includes egg yolks. Gelato usually contains more milk and isn’t traditionally made with eggs.

Four to nine percent of the calories in gelato come from fat whereas ice cream contains about 10 to 25 percent fat. Gelato generally contains a little more sugar than ice cream. Both of them are relatively calorie and sugar-dense, so they make better treats than everyday meals.

Texture and Flavour

Even though its name literally means ice cream in Italian, gelato has a slightly different taste and texture than ice cream traditionally served in North America.

Ice cream contains more butterfat than gelato. Butterfat covers your taste buds and dulls the flavour somewhat. Ice cream is churned quicker when it’s being made so it contains a higher percentage of air bubbles.

Gelato has a silkier and denser texture than ice cream. It’s also stored at a warmer temperature, which keeps it from freezing completely. Because it isn’t completely frozen, it loses its freshness within 24 hours of being made.

Which one is better?

There’s no clear winner between gelato and ice cream. Both can make delicious and creamy snacks. Gelato offers a more concentrated flavour with a denser texture. Ice cream generally contains more fat and has an airier texture. The one that you should be eating depends on your personal preference.


Daniel Yetman is a freelance writer who left the shores of Nova Scotia to pursue his MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan. When he’s not binging on dark chocolate and kimchi, he’s jetting around the world to try the local cuisine.

Comments are closed.

North America’s Longest Running Food & Wine Magazine

Get Quench-ed!!!

Champion storytellers & proudly independent for over 50 years. Free Weekly newsletter & full digital access