Difference Wiki

Gelato vs. Ice Cream: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 19, 2023
Gelato is an Italian-style dessert with a dense texture and intense flavor, while ice cream is a creamier, airier frozen treat.

Key Differences

Gelato and ice cream are both beloved frozen desserts, but they have distinct characteristics. Gelato, of Italian origin, is known for its denseness and intensity of flavor. This is largely due to its lower fat content compared to ice cream. Typically, gelato uses more milk than cream, resulting in this lower fat percentage.
In the realm of ice cream, the process of churning incorporates more air, giving it a lighter and fluffier texture. Gelato, on the other hand, is churned at a slower speed, leading to less air being mixed in and thus, its dense texture. This difference in churning also contributes to the variation in serving temperatures; gelato is usually served slightly warmer than ice cream.
Another notable distinction is the flavor profile of both desserts. Gelato's flavors are often described as more intense and direct. Since it contains less fat, there's less of a barrier to prevent the immediate release of flavors on the palate. Ice cream, with its higher fat content, can sometimes coat the mouth, leading to a more gradual release of taste.
The ingredients play a significant role in differentiating the two. While both gelato and ice cream contain dairy, sugar, and flavorings, the proportions differ. As mentioned, gelato generally contains more milk and less cream, whereas ice cream often boasts a higher cream content. This difference in composition affects the overall mouthfeel and flavor experience of each dessert.

Comparison Chart


Varied (many cultures have versions of ice cream)

Fat Content

Lower (more milk, less cream)
Higher (more cream)


Denser due to slower churning
Airier due to faster churning

Flavor Intensity

More intense flavors
Creamier, sometimes subtler flavors

Serving Temperature

Slightly warmer than ice cream
Colder, more frozen

Gelato and Ice Cream Definitions


Typically churned slowly to reduce air incorporation.
Authentic gelato has a distinctively smooth and dense consistency.

Ice Cream

Contains a higher fat content compared to gelato.
Rich vanilla ice cream is a decadent choice for dessert.


Known for its dense texture and rich flavors.
The chocolate gelato tasted like a concentrated fudge.

Ice Cream

A frozen dessert made primarily from cream, sugar, and flavorings.
On hot days, strawberry ice cream is her favorite treat.


Often contains less fat than its counterpart, ice cream.
Choosing gelato can be a slightly lighter alternative.

Ice Cream

Creamier and airier due to its churning process.
The ice cream melted quickly, revealing its fluffy texture.


An Italian frozen dessert made from milk, sugar, and flavorings.
She savored the pistachio gelato in Rome.

Ice Cream

Served colder and more solid than gelato.
You might need to wait a minute to easily scoop out the ice cream.


Served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.
Gelato's softness makes it easy to scoop straight from the freezer.

Ice Cream

Popular worldwide with many cultural variations.
Japanese matcha ice cream has a unique, earthy flavor.


An Italian ice cream or sorbet.


An Italian variant of ice cream made from milk and sugar, combined with other flavourings. The ingredients are supercooled while stirring to break up ice crystals as they form.


Can you make gelato without an ice cream maker?

Yes, but using a machine helps achieve the desired texture.

Can lactose-intolerant individuals consume gelato or ice cream?

Both contain dairy, but there are lactose-free versions available for both.

Do both gelato and ice cream contain eggs?

Some recipes for both might include eggs, but not all do.

Is sorbet the same as gelato?

No, sorbet is a fruit-based dessert without dairy, while gelato contains milk.

Can you find gelato outside of Italy?

Yes, gelato has become popular worldwide.

Are there vegan versions of gelato and ice cream?

Yes, many alternatives use coconut milk, almond milk, or other bases.

Is gelato lower in calories than ice cream?

Due to its lower fat content, gelato can be, but it depends on the specific recipe.

Do gelato and ice cream have the same base ingredients?

Both generally contain dairy and sugar, but the proportions and additional ingredients can vary.

Which is older, gelato or ice cream?

The origins of both are ancient, but ice cream's history is slightly older.

Can I use ice cream recipes to make gelato?

While similar, adjustments in ingredients and churning methods would be needed to achieve authentic gelato texture.

Why is gelato softer than ice cream?

Gelato is churned slower and is served at a slightly warmer temperature.

Which has more sugar, gelato or ice cream?

The sugar content can vary, but both can be quite sweet depending on the recipe.

Can I use the same machine to make both gelato and ice cream?

Many ice cream makers can be used for both, but the churning speed and process might differ.

Why does gelato seem more flavorful than ice cream?

Gelato's lower fat content allows flavors to be more immediately pronounced.

Which lasts longer in the freezer, gelato or ice cream?

Both can last several months, but ice cream's texture might hold up slightly better over time.

Why does gelato often cost more than ice cream in shops?

Gelato's dense texture and rich flavoring often require more raw ingredients per scoop.

Are there regional variations of gelato like with ice cream?

Yes, flavors and styles can vary based on regional ingredients and traditions.

Is gelato gluten-free?

While the base is typically gluten-free, some flavorings or mix-ins might contain gluten.

Is gelato just the Italian word for ice cream?

While "gelato" means "frozen" in Italian, gelato and ice cream have different preparation methods and ingredients.

Which is creamier, gelato or ice cream?

Ice cream is generally creamier due to its higher fat content.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons