Neapolitan Ice Cream – A Definitive Guide to the Neapolitan

Neapolitan Ice Cream – A Definitive Guide to the Neapolitan

So, you want to know a bit more about Neapolitan ice cream huh? Well, you’re in the right place. The tri-colored dessert has dramatically decreased in popularity over recent years in favour of newer flavors, but there are still those out there who love themselves a good helping of the Italian favorite.

What is Neapolitan ice cream?

Generally, Neapolitan ice cream refers to three different ice cream flavors served in the same tub. Traditionally, these flavors are chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Though you may see different variations of this, it’s not true neapolitan ice cream unless it’s these three specific flavors. The flavors should also be clearly separate from each other, though some ice cream makers do tend not to do this.

Origin of Neapolitan ice cream

Now, we know that the basis ice cream travelled over to Europe and Italy in approximately the 1600s. This was developed further by the Italians, who then developed Neapolitan ice cream in the early 1800s.

Of course, Neapolitan ice cream originated in Naples, Italy. It wasn’t until the late 1800s, when Neapolitans (that’s what you call people from Naples, in case you’re wondering!) moved over to America and brought this ice cream into a new realm. Of course upon reaching America, it was named Neapolitan in respect to those who had brought this delicious dessert to the US.

Who invented Neapolitan ice cream

It’s unknown who specifically invented Neapolitan ice cream. It was created to fulfil customer demands of a mixture of the three most popular flavors at the time (and still today); chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

It’s commonly thought that the ice cream may have been created, or at least further established, by Neapolitan Giuseppe Tortoni. When Tortoni travelled to Paris as a young man in the early 1800s, he brought many ideas for cold desserts with him from his home City; Neapolitan ice cream being one of them.

Variations of Neapolitan Ice Cream (Spumoni)

Spumoni is a commonly known variation of Neapolitan Ice cream that you might have heard of before, though it’s unclear whether it was around before traditional Neapolitan.

It takes the same format as Neapolitan ice cream, but instead of the chocolate and strawberry flavors, cherry and pistachio ice cream is used instead. This gives the representation of the Italian flag, so is commonly associated with Italy and it’s natives (as Italians are very proud people!). You might find sometimes that a chocolate layer is added in addition or, or instead of, the vanilla in a spumoni.

An Example of a Spumoni Cake!

How is Neapolitan ice cream made

Generally, Neapolitan ice cream is made the same way that you’d make any other sort of ice cream initially. This means that the strawberry, chocolate and vanilla parts of the ice cream are made as normal; the difficult part of Neapolitan ice cream comes to when you go to put it into the tubs.

How is Neapolitan ice cream put into tubs?

One of the more common useless questions that you might ask yourself is how exactly do they get the Neapolitan ice cream into tubs? I mean, do they make the ice cream first and then stack it together? Well, no., and they definitely don’t use ice cream scoops.

With Neapolitan ice cream, the most common method that I’ve seen used to make it is actually fairly simple – it’s all about the nozzle! Basically, three pipes are all put into tubs containing the different flavors of ice cream. They then are pushed through a three pronged nozzle, which is shaped the same way that the Italian flag is. This is all quite a quick process, and the ice cream must be put at a optimum temperature to avoid it merging with the other flavors whilst in the tub. It’s then frozen for between 8-10 hours to get it nice and cold, so that it can be sent out to stores!

Calories in Neapolitan ice cream

The amount of calories in a Neapolitan ice cream is really dependent on which brand you opt for. i’ve seen some low fat Neapolitans that look pretty tasty, so it’s difficult to make a blanket statement.

It also depends on how much of each flavor that you eat! Normally, chocolate will have more calories than vanilla, and vanilla with have more calories than strawberry. This isn’t a hard rule, but if you look at the majority of basic ice creams, this is what you’ll find. Usually because the chcolate and vanilla ice creams have a higher fat content than what you’d get in a strawberry ice cream.

How to make Neapolitan ice cream yourself

If you want to make a Neapolitan ice cream yourself, then be my guest! Be warned that you probably won’t be able to separate the flavors as easily as they do in store bought ice cream. Check here if you want to find out how to make ice cream from scratch.

What is the best Neapolitan ice cream brand?

Of course this is subjective to each individual, but I can talk about some of the Neapolitan ice cream brands that I’ve tried and let you know if they were good or not!

Turkey Hill Neapolitan Ice Cream – One of my favorite brands of Neapolitan is made by Turkey Hill. Their option is fantastic if you’re looking for a gluten free neapolitan ice cream, as there are many ont he market that aren’t gluten free.

Walmart Neapolitan Ice Cream – Whilst it’s not my favorite, I was pretty surprised at the quality of the Walmart Ice cream in comparison to some of the other ice creams I’ve tried from them. If you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful, then look no further than something from Walmart!

Edy’s Neapolitan Ice Cream – Edy’s Neapolitan is one of the best around. I like the Edy’s brand in general, and they make some of the best ice creams around. My favorite from them is probably their Orange Sherbet, which is one of the best orange sherbets around.

Is Neapolitan ice cream gluten free?

It really depends on the recipe or brand that you’re going to opt for when you’re choosing your ice cream. There are really some great gluten free ice creams around – I’ve mentioned a good example above in the Turkey Hill Neapolitan Ice Cream.

Is Neapolitan ice cream healthy?

Whilst it might not be the healthiest ice cream around, you can find variations of Neapolitan ice cream that are lower in calories than some others.

When you’re looking for a healthy option, it’s a good idea to opt for ice creams that are lower in fat. This is mainly because it’s really hard to find low sugar ice creams – it’s one of the most important ingredients of a good ice cream! However with fat, you can tend to find ice creams that have a lower fat content, though that may be considered technically as a gelato.

How to eat Neapolitan ice cream

This really depends on you! Many people say that you’re not really eating a Neapolitan ice cream unless you’re combining a bit of each flavor together, but I say each to their own. Stick with whatever you prefer and you can’t go wrong!

Facts about Neapolitan ice cream

  1. In Australia, the Neapolitan Cake is far more popular than the Neapolitan Ice Cream.
Check here for the awesome recipe to make this cake!

Although around the world it’s commonly known as Neapolitan Ice Cream, if you’re talking about a Neapolitan over in Sydney, it’s likely that people will understand you’re talking about the cake.

2. It’s sometimes referred to as Harlequin Ice Cream.

The reason for this? Well as you might expect, it’s likely that people referred to this ice cream as Harlequin because of the multi colored clothing that Harlequin Jokers/Jesters wore when they were performing in Italian theatre. Yes, that is where the name Harley Quinn comes from.

3. It’s generally accepted the first recorded Neapolitan Ice Cream recipe was made in 1839.

Although there’s little more than anecdotal evidence on the origins of Neapolitan ice cream, the first recipe was likely recorded in 1839 and dedicated to German Nobleman Furst Hermann by another Prussian household. We’re still sure that the Neapolitan was around long before this, though!


Hopefully now, you have a slightly better idea on about Neapolitan ice cream and where it really started from. I also hope I’ve given you a bit of a better idea about where you can find the best Neapolitan Ice Creams around – to me it seems like it’s dying out! This is probably due to the abundance of new ice creams being offered by Ben & Jerry’s – there’s likely less demand with all the new flavors coming out. Though if you’re like me, you’ll always want the occasional Neapolitan ice cream to get the best of all three worlds.

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