Gelato vs. Ice Cream. Why Gelato is Better Than Ice Cream

Gelato vs. ice cream. You may have heard that gelato and ice cream are different, but how exactly? And which is better? Let us break it down for you.

What is Gelato? How is it related to Ice Cream?

Although they are both delicious, and nearly identical in appearance, gelato and ice cream are very different when it comes to ingredients, texture, and taste. Gelato is ice cream’s creamier Italian cousin, reflecting traditional Italian cuisine: simple yet flavorful. 

Which Came First: Ice Cream or Gelato?

Gelato came first! Modern gelato has roots in 16th century Florence, and from there it has become a highly regarded dessert all over the world.

What’s the Base for Ice Cream and Gelato?

As its name suggests, ice cream is cream-based, containing a high percentage of butterfat: according to the Institute of Culinary Education, between 11% and 18%. Gelato, on the other hand, uses water or milk as its base to highlight the flavors of the main ingredients: gelato has a lower butterfat content of about 5%. 

Are the Ingredients Different?

Ice cream combines a series of heavy ingredients such as cream, condensed milk, vanilla, and even eggs. This makes it unsuitable for many diets, and often hard on the stomach. Gelato, on the other hand, often includes only a single ingredient on top of its base of water or milk. This makes it much more accommodating to many types of diets. Fruit flavored gelato, for instance, is nearly always vegan, enhancing the natural taste of the fresh fruit. Heavier ingredients, like eggs or gluten, are only ever added to gelato when they are integral to the flavor, such as in Tiramisù and Crema (custard).

How Much Sugar?

Although sugar is used in both gelato and ice cream, ice cream’s preservation temperature is much lower than that of gelato, and requires a much more significant amount of sugar to maintain its texture. At a preservation temperature around 20 degrees warmer than ice cream, gelato requires a much lower amount of sugar to sustain its delightfully fluffy, and yet somehow deliciously creamy, texture. 

Why Is Gelato Creamier Than Ice Cream, If There is No Cream?

The use of air is an integral part of the production for both gelato and ice cream, but the difference in amount is substantial. Ice cream is about 60% air, whereas gelato is only 15%. Its density allows its flavor to pack more punch and creates a thicker, more pleasing texture that still melts in your mouth. 

GIO Gelati has been making authentic Italian gelato in San Francisco since 2018 and quickly become the most loved gelato place in the Bay Area.
GIO Gelati is now offering a new gelato delivery service for gelato lovers. The GIO Club program offers regular delivery of delicious Italian gelato at your door every 2 or 4 weeks. It’s not ice cream, it’s gelato!