The Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato and Why it Matters

People have been craving for iced delicacies since second century B.C., with the likes of Nero Claudius Caesar enjoying snow flavored with juice and fruits. Marco Polo brought this home with him a thousand years later, making what is known to be the modern “sherbet.”

Now, everyone in the world enjoys ice cream, with the industry’s total revenue reaching $5 billion in 2018. But a new iced treat called “gelato” is challenging the traditional ice cream’s frozen throne. What makes it so different?

The difference between ice cream and gelato is a bit blurry. They’re both creamy, cold, and sweet desserts served either in a bowl or cone. However, they differ in both their ingredients and preparation. Read on to know what these key differences are and why they matter.

The Humble Ice Cream

You probably remember jumping on the opportunity to chase the franchised ice cream truck going around your neighborhood just to get your favorite cone. The common ice cream is made of milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. It’s cooked into a custard and churned into a thick, pasty, and delicious sludge. The classic vanilla flavor used to be the most preferred for many years. Now, chocolate has overtaken it.

New Kid Gelato

gelato flavors in waffle cones

You’ll usually see gelato shops in your nearest upscale mall. This Italian take on ice cream is perceived as the healthier option than its US counterpart. This is because it has less fat. Gelato has a higher proportion of milk over cream and eggs. Some stores don’t even include eggs in their recipes. It’s denser, softer, and warmer than the usual ice cream. You need to churn it slower, too.

Why Should I Care About the Difference?

The small differences between ice cream and gelato might seem small, but they affect the taste and experience by a lot. Gelato has a fruity and sour flavor, compared to ice cream’s dairy and sweet tones.

There’s also a big difference between the price of the two frozen desserts. Because gelato is made with fresher ingredients, it’s also more expensive than the pint of ice cream you’d usually get from your nearest 7 Eleven.

Ice cream outlasts gelato in terms of shelf life. Most ice creams are made to last in your freezer for at least two to three months. Gelato, however, must be eaten immediately because it crystallizes when you try to freeze it. However, you can always melt and churn it again if you’re up for it.

In the end, the treat you should get depends on the situation. Are you looking to enjoy the weekend on a Netflix binge? Having a sleepover with friends? It’s probably smart to get some good old ice cream. Looking for a dessert place after a fine dining date? There’s a gelato bar that will serve you a low-fat treat. You don’t have to worry about feeling bloated after the steak you just had. Nonetheless, both frozen desserts offer a sweet and refreshing treat that everyone can enjoy.

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