Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream (With Table)

The frozen dairy dessert industry has been a hit among children and many adults for as long as we can remember. Gelato and ice cream are two products of this industry that seem to be the same thing but are different in many ways.

Some people claim that Gelato is just the Italian name for ice cream, however, this is not the case.

Gelato vs Ice Cream

The difference between Gelato and Ice Cream is that gelato has a much lower fat content than ice cream. This is because while making gelato, the amount of cream added to it is much lesser than that added to ice cream. While gelato has 4-8% of fat, ice cream generally contains 14-16% fat.

Gelato is an Italian frozen dairy dessert that is quite popular across the world. However, there is a lot of confusion about whether it originated from Sicily or Florence. The product has dairy, sugar, and air in it, which are the key ingredients for preparation. It has fewer amounts of cream in it, which lowers the fat content.

Ice cream is said to be first made in China, where a mixture of buffalo milk, flour, and ice cream was the king’s favourite dessert. Later, fruits, juice, or honey were added to introduce some flavour and sweetness to the product. However, it was only the 19th century when the first ice cream machine was invented, making the dessert immensely popular.

Comparison Table Between Gelato and Ice-cream

Parameters of ComparisonGelatoIce Cream
OriginGelato was originated in Italy.Ice Cream’s origins can be traced back to China.
IngredientsGelato is made of dairy, sugar, air, and flavouring agents.Ice cream is made of dairy, sugar, air, flavouring agents, and sometimes even egg yolk.
Fat contentGelato has a lower fat content between 4-8%.Ice cream has a higher fat content being 14-16%.
ChurningGelato is churned slower.Ice cream is churned faster.
Air ContentSlow churning results in less air content.Faster churning results in more air content.
TemperatureGelato is a bit warmer than ice cream.Ice cream is frozen more than gelato.
TextureThe texture of gelato is silky and dense.Ice cream is softer and lighter than gelato.
Style of ServingGelato is served using a spade.Ice cream is scooped for serving.

What is Gelato?

Gelato is a silky and dense frozen dairy dessert that has its origins in Italy. The three key ingredients used to make it are dairy, sugar, and air, apart from other flavouring agents. It is made with less cream and more milk, lowering the fat content to 4-6%.

The ingredients used for making a gelato are first churned together and then frozen before serving. The process of churning is slow and steady, allowing lesser air to set into the mixture as a filler. This allows the product to be silky and dense. It also makes the flavour richer.

Gelato is served 6°C to 8°C warmer than Ice cream. Since the product is warmer and less airy, it is difficult to be scooped into firm round balls. Thus, a flat spatula-like tool called a spade is used to take out the product from its container and subsequently serve it.

The first automatic machine to create gelato was Motogelatiera which was invented sometime between the 1900s and 1950s. Moreover, a batch freezer made it easy to store large amounts of this product. In the 1940s, Bruto Carpigiani worked towards making gelato machines safer and easier to use. Today, his company is one of the biggest makers of these machines.

What is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a frozen dairy dessert that is said to have originated from China. Then, the king of the land found the mixture of buffalo milk, flour, and ice to be his favourite dessert. Nowadays, the product is made using dairy, sugar, air, egg yolks, and other flavouring agents. Fruits, spices such as cocoa and vanilla, and even chocolate can be added to ice creams.

The churning process of ice cream is faster than that of gelato, allowing more air to set into it as a filler. This makes the texture of the product softer and lighter. By dint of this, ice cream is easy to be scooped into firm round balls while serving. For this, a hollow spherical spoon is used.

Ice cream has a lot of cream in it, making the texture a bit buttery. This also increases the fat content. Apart from a high-fat content, ice cream also has a lot of sugar and dairy. This means that the product has a very high calorific content and is best when eaten in moderation.

Ice cream should be kept cold at all times. Otherwise, if it melts and refreezes, it forms small ice crystals which are nothing but weird to eat.

Main Differences Between Gelato and Ice cream

  1. Gelato was originated in Italy while ice cream in China.
  2. Gelato has lower fat content than ice cream.
  3. Gelato is churned slower because of which it has lesser air than ice cream.
  4. The temperature of gelato is generally 6-8°C less than ice cream.
  5. Gelato is rich, silky, and dense while ice cream is buttery, soft, and light.
  6. Gelato is served using a spade while ice cream is served using a scoop.


Gelato and ice cream are made using the same key ingredients, however, the proportions used while making the products are very different. This also results in gelato being silkier, denser, and richer in flavour than ice cream.

Another major difference between the two is how they both are served. Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream, that too using a spade. On the other hand, ice cream is served using a scoop.

Interestingly, even though both have very different origins, the products are sold on a massive scale in the United States. Gelato and Ice Cream machines help in the mass production of these desserts.


  1. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19910445566
  2. https://www.issinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Report-Tsimiklis-FINAL-LowRes.pdf

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