Ice Cream versus Gelato – What’s the difference?

ice-cream-gelato

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between ice cream and gelato, then you’re not alone. Many people think that they’re exactly the same thing, and as an Italian I’m appalled!

Whilst there isn’t a massive difference between the two, there are subtle differences which make the ice cream versus gelato argument quite interest. Which one is better for your waistband? And more importantly, which one tastes better? Well, I’ll have a look into that and cover what you need to know to differentiate between the two.

Ice Cream versus Gelato

Quick Roundup

If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to check out the full article, I’ve decided to round it up in this quick list of Pros and Cons of both gelato and ice cream. These are;

Gelato

Much thicker in consistency due to slower churning process

Less fat and therefore usually lower calories

Served at a warmer temperature than ice cream (around 15 degree lower traditionally)

Available in some unique flavors (liquorice, anyone?) but usually similar.

Ice Cream

Thinner consistency as ice cream is made with a much faster churning process

More fat due to the use of solely cream and no milk in traditional ice cream

Served colder than gelato

My favorite!

These are the main points that you may notice a difference between ice cream and gelato. There aren’t many other differences between the two, and you likely won’t notice a difference unless you really love ice cream.

Ingredients

The ingredients in these two desserts are extremely similar, though they do vary slightly. The main difference is that gelato is made using whole milk as well as cream, whereas ice cream will just use cream. Here’s an example of the staple ingredients you might expect to find in a standard gelato;

Of course, usually you’d add things like fruit and chocolate in accordance to what flavor ice cream you are making. These are the staple ingredients of your gelato, though. When you’re making ice cream, often you’ll need to use the best saucepan set to ensure that you’re getting a good consistency.

Carbs

Gelato will usually be slightly higher in carbohydrates than ice cream, but certainly not by a significant amount. The use of milk in gelato will give you a higher amount of carbs in your gelato.

If you’re specifically looking to minimize the amount of carbohydrates in your gelato, you can always consider using an alternative to whole milk like soy milk. Specifically unsweetened soy milk, as this is particularly low in carbohydrates, which make it perfect for making a low carb gelato – important if you’re on a keto diet!

Fat Content

This is the main area where ice cream and gelato tend to differ. Traditionally, ice cream is made with only heavy cream, whereas gelato is made with cream and milk. This makes gelato slightly lower in fat that ice cream.

I have seen a lot of gelato recipes that tend not to use milk; this isn’t gelato! You’re just making ice cream. Ask any Italian and they’ll tell you that a good gelato uses a good amount of whole milk (3.5% milk is best in my opinion) in proportion to the amount of cream that you’re going to use. An approximate amount to use is double the milk to the amount of cream that you’re going to use. For example, if you have a recipe with one cup of cream, use two cups of whole milk, as this will allow it to be thicker and frothier.

Protein

Again, gelato uses whole milk which has a relatively high protein content in relation to ice cream. This makes it slightly higher on protein, but not by too much.

The difference in protein will usually rely in your ice cream or gelato toppings, too. For example, if you have an ice cream that’s topped with nuts, then this is going to increase the protein content of your dessert. You can also consider using a small amount of whey protein in your ice cream/gelato if this if you would like to increase the protein content of the dessert.

Which is better for dieting?

Both gelato and ice cream are fine as part of a regular, balanced diet. They use similar ingredients, but in my experience, I prefer to eat gelato when I am dieting. This is because I can use low calorie milk and less eggs in my gelato, which reduces the amount of fat significantly.

In all honesty, you probably won’t notice much difference between the two if you limit the amount of dessert you’re eating. It doesn’t really matter which you eat; if you eat too much of it, you’re going to gain weight.

Taste

To get the best gelato, you’ll have to serve it slightly warmer than what you would serve an ice cream. Not by much, but this is pretty noticeable and will definitely affect the taste difference between the two.

You’ll also likely notice that a gelato has a far more intense flavour than an ice cream because of the way that it’s churned. Not only this, but stereotypically Italians are more likely to use a richer and intense flavor for a gelato than they would with an ice cream. Flavors like pistachio work better as a gelato because you can make them taste richer than you can with an ice cream.

Texture

The difference in texture is, in my opinion, the biggest difference between ice cream and gelato. Because of the way that gelato is made, you’ll definitely notice that it feels a lot denser in your mouth.

This is mainly because of the milk that’s used in gelato, but also because of the slower churning process that is used when making gelato. I always say that it’s a lot easier to make gelato in your home ice cream maker, because you don’t have to churn it as fast as you would with ice cream. Proper ice cream machines are more suited to making ice cream because they have the ability to churn the ice cream much faster than you can with a smaller ice cream maker that you’re using at home.

With both ice cream and gelato, it’s important to ensure that you’re churning the ice cream properly to get a good consistency.

Variety of Flavors

Whilst ice cream and gelato both use similar flavors, there are a few differences which can make a difference.

For example, fruit is an extremely popular option in both ice cream and gelato. Strawberry, Raspberry.. both very popular. But, usually gelato can use puree which give it a more intense flavor than ice cream. That’s why if I’m going to pick a flavor like raspberry, I prefer to go for a gelato as it’s stronger on the tastebuds.

Another really big difference that you might notice with gelato, especially if you’re visiting Italy, is that they are more likely to use spices and herbs. This is either as decoration, or actually part of the ingredients of the gelato. Not only spices and herbs, but stronger flavors like liquorice are actually extremely popular choices for a homemade gelato (it’s not my personal taste, but hey ho!).

Allergies

Avoiding allergies is like avoiding a minefield when you’re eating ice cream and gelato. It’s important to know what the ingredients are of your chosen dessert to make sure that there’s nothing in there that you’re allergic to.

It’s pretty obvious that both gelato and ice cream are not suitable for someone allergic to dairy. They use cream and milk as the primary ingredient, so unfortunately you’ll need to avoid traditional ice cream if you’re lactose intolerant.

Not all hope is lost, however; if you are allergic to lactose, then you can always find a dairy free alternative ice cream that uses soy milk or coconut milk, or you can opt for a delicious sorbet as an alternative (sorbets only use fruit, so you don’t need to worry about the inclusion of milk).

Another big one that might affect your allergies is nuts. Both ice cream and gelatos use a lot of nuts in certain flavors; pistachios and hazelnuts are some of my favorites. For this reason, it’s important to check the ingredients of any ice cream that you’re going to order.

Top Brands

If you’re in the US, then the most popular brand of gelato is undoubtedly Talenti. Talenti is a good option if you’re looking for a delicious gelato that is much thicker than what you might be used to with regular ice cream. It’s undoubtedly my favorite gelato brand in the United States.

talenti-gelato

If you’re going for ice cream, then in my opinion you can never go wrong with Breyers. I know, I know.. everyone loves Ben & Jerry’s and Dairy Queen, and they’re okay too. But I prefer Breyers as they tend to be higher quality, which is something that I look for in my ice cream. Plus, Breyers tend to be quite a bit lower in calories than B & J, which means I can eat more of it!

breyers-ice-cream

Overall Verdict

To sum it up, there aren’t many difference between the two and you likely will not notice this unless you eat a heck of a lot of ice cream. Personally, I’ll always opt for a good gelato when possible as I prefer it, bue it is subjective to what you are looking for in an ice cream.

Ice Cream vs Sherbet – How are they different?

sherbet

One of the less common variations of a frozen dessert is  sherbet. Whilst you might not be fully aware of what a sherbet is and how it differs from ice cream and sorbet, stick around; I’ll go through all the differences between them.

Essentially, a sherbet is a sorbet with one difference; there’s a drop of milk added. This milk makes all the difference in taste and texture. A sherbet is somewhere between a sorbet and a gelato, though you could probably notice the difference pretty easily if you eat them often enough like I do. Lets have a quick look at the differences between the two.

Ice Cream vs Sherbet – Quick Roundup

If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to check out the full article, I’ve decided to round it up in this quick list of Pros and Cons of both gelato and ice cream. These are;

Sherbet

Much lower in fat content than ice cream. Must be below 2% fat content to be served as a sherbet.

Because of this less fat, it’s usually much lower in calories

Doesn’t use cream traditionally (thought it can), just milk or buttermilk. This minimizes the fat content.

Great for making alcohol fused dessert (Champagne Sherbet, mmmm).

Ice Cream

Made with the same churning process as sherbet, but usually thicker consistency due to it’s ingredients

More fat due to the use of cream

Served colder than sherbet traditionally

Must be minimum 10% fat to be classified as ice cream

Much more common than sherbet, though many sherbets masquerade under the name ‘low fat’ ice cream.

These are the primary differences between ice cream and sherbet. Whilst they aren’t significant, they will undoubtedly give you a different tasting result at the end of their production. Let’s delve a little deeper into what sherbet really consists of, and how it compares to ice cream.

Ingredients

You won’t notice much of a difference in the ingredients of a sherbet and an ice cream. Generally, the only difference between the two is that a sherbet does not use a cream like ice cream. Instead, sherbet is a more fruit based dessert with a touch of milk – think a sorbet with a little extra! Here’s an idea of the basic ingredients of a sherbet;

Of course, this is just the basis of your sorbet and you can decide yourself what kind of fruits and additional flavors you’d like to add.

Carbs

Sherbet has significantly more carbs and sugars than ice cream. This is because it is primarily made up for cane sugar and fruit juices, whereas ice cream has a larger ratio of fat content. For this reason, you should probably avoid a sherbet if you’re on any sort of low carb or ketogenic diet, as a sherbet will probably have your daily allowance of carbohydrates in one serving!

Fat Content

This is the primary difference between a sorbet and a sherbet. Whereas a sorbet is just fruit puree, water and sugar, a sherbet has a little milk added. This increases it’s fat content, but it still pales in comparison when compared to the high fat content of ice cream.

The fat content of your sherbet will depend on the type of milk that you use. Usually, it’s advised that you use whole milk for the best results, though this is entirely down to you. I personally wouldn’t use skimmed milk, as I don’t think that it gives a good result – the point of a sherbet is that it’s a little creamier than a sorbet!

You should probably avoid eating ice cream if you’re on a strict low calorie diet and opt for a sherbet or a sorbet instead.

Protein

Both ice cream and sherbet have a low protein content, though a sherbet will have a little bit more due to the fact that it’s made with more milk (this isn’t set in stone and depends on the recipe that you use).

One thing that I like to advise if you’re trying to increase the protein content of your desserts is to add a little whey protein. This can dramatically increase the amount of protein in your dessert, without having too much effect on the taste. Make sure to get the same flavor whey as your dessert though, or you could opt for an unflavored whey protein that will work with any flavor of sherbet.

Which is better for dieting?

Neither! Haha just kidding! Both sherbet and ice cream should be eaten sparingly if you’re on a very strict diet, although you can still eat ice cream every day and lose weight!

In terms of which is better for dieting, it would have to be sherbet as it has a much lower fat content than ice cream, therefore usually slightly less calories. Of course, this all depends on the brand and type of ice cream/sherbet that you purchase. FYI, it’s never going to be okay to eat Ben & Jerrys on a diet, stop trying to convince yourself(!).

Texture

Texture wise, a nice sherbet will actually combine both the creaminess of a traditional ice cream whilst allowing you to get the same refereshing feeling that you get from eating a sorbet. Remember that to be considered a sherbet, it has to be less than 2% fat. This means that your dessert will undoubtedly be lighter in texture than an ice cream, because it lacks the same amount of fat.

Variety of Flavors

Generally, you’ll find the same amount of flavors in both sherbet and ice cream. However, this is not the case if you’re looking at alcohol infused desserts.

Things like champagne work perfectly with a sherbet and you’ll often see it as an option in restaurants around the country. This is because a champagne sherbet has a certain lightness that you won’t get from ice cream. Saying this, fuller alcohols like Baileys work better with ice cream, as they complement the creaminess.

Allergies

You’ll come across the same allergy issues with sherbet as you will with ice cream. If you have an intolerance to dairy, you can always look at using a soy milk as opposed to a whole milk in your sherbet, though it will undoubtedly have an effect on the taste and texture of your dessert.

Top Brands

edys-orange-sherbet

If I’m going to eat a tub of sherbet, I always make sure to stick with a flavor that I know. The most commonly eaten sherbet is undoubtedly orange. If I’m going to eat orange sherbet, I’ll definitely go for an Edy’s Orange Sherbet . It’s pretty low in calories as it’s made with skim milk – not my usual choice, but it’s seems to work with this sherbet.

breyers-ice-cream

As usual, for ice cream I always tend to stick with Breyer’s as my favorite brand of ice cream. I think it’s just because I like the texture; you can’t go wrong with Breyer’s!

My favourite Gelato recipes

If you’re looking to make your own gelato, I thought I’d better round up some of my favorite options.

  • A nice homemade lime sherbet
  • Simple Orange Sherbet
  • A quirky Kool Aid Sherbet

Overall Verdict

To conclude, a sherbet and an ice cream aren’t particularly similar. You’d be more accurate comparing a sherbet to a sorbet, as they are both based on fruit purees, and are both frozen in an ice cream freezer. Remember; a sherbet is essentially just a sorbet with a little milk added!