When talking about the different ice cream types, this can usually be answered pretty simply. There aren’t an abundance of different types of ice cream; more so, that there are many different variations of ice cream.
So whether you’re looking to understand the different types of ice cream there are in terms of ingredients, or you’re looking to see what variations of ice cream there are around the world, this list has everything you need.
Firstly, let’s have a look at what the ‘big four’ that are usually considered as a variation of ice cream.
Usually, you can divide ice cream into four different types. Now, I understand that some people won’t refer to these as proper ice cream – and I’d agree, they’re slightly different. Though they do all come from the same original concept. The four main types of ice cream are;
Regular Ice Cream
Foe me, a stereotypical ice cream is made primarily cream, with a little milk. Different recipes will use different quantities of each ingredient, and you might find that some recipes will use for milk. But to be defined as ice cream, it must have a 10% milkfat content.
In addition to cream and milk, a traditional ice cream will have sugar and things like vanilla extract. If you’re making your own ice cream, then you have a significant amount of control over the other ingredients. But if you’re buying other brands, then you lose control of this and you’ll likely find other ingredients in store bought ice cream that help to extend it’s shelf life.
Essentially, gelato is just the same as ice cream but it has a slightly higher milk percentage. This makes it have a slightly lower fat content than ice cream, and will results in a creamier experience.
Whilst it might not be a big deal to mislabel an ice cream in the United States, I’d better warn you; don’t go to Italy and mislabel their ice creams. Trust me, they’ll take it personally!
A traditional sorbet is pretty easy to understand; it only has three ingredients! Sorbet is made from fruit puree, sugar and water – that’s it! Sorbet is usually a great option if you’re looking for a hypoallergenic dessert, as it lacks many different ingredients that may upset your stomach. In reality, the Sorbet is really where the roots of ice cream began back many years ago, where the term sorbet came from the Arabic “Sharabt“.
Sherbet is to sorbet, as gelato is to ice cream. It is essentially the same as sorbet in the context that it’s based primarily on fruit puree/juices. But with sherbet, you’ll have a little milk added to the fruit. Not much; the milk fat content should between 1 and 2% of the dessert.
So to recap;
- Ice Cream – 10%+ Milk Fat
- Gelato – 5-9% Milk Fat
- Sherbet – 1-2% Milk Fat
- Sorbet – 0% Milk Fat
Simple, right? Well, we can dig a little deeper into this. If we then consider ice cream our ice cream, there are various different things that you can do to alter the ingredients in your dessert.
Different Ingredients Used in Ice Cream
Lactose free ice cream is increasingly popular amongst those who have milk allergies. Not just for adults, but it’s important to know whether your child is lactose intolerant. To do this, the recommended way is usually to cut out dairy foods for a period of time – lactose free ice cream can be a great way to give your kids an alternative.
Plus, I’ll admit; I’m not lactose intolerant, but sometimes I’ll opt for lactose free options anyway! There are some excellent coconut and soy milk variations of ice cream that I absolutely adore.
Gluten free ice cream… does ice cream even contain gluten anyway?
Well yes, actually. If you look at the brand Bluebell – who make some delicious ice creams, by the way – then the majority of their ice cream recipes use wheat. So if you’re celiac, you should avoid this brand entirely.
Whereas, you’ll also have to consider that the gluten elements of the ice cream may not be in the ice cream itself. They are more often found in the other parts of the dessert e.g. the cookies or the strawberry pieces that are in your dessert.
Sugar Free/No Added Sugar
Sugar free ice cream isn’t as commonly found as the others, but you can still find some sugar free ice creams around. You have to remember that these ice creams will usually have a sugar substitute in their ice creams, which may not agree with your system. Examples of sugar substitutes are monk fruit extract and stevia, which are good options if you’re trying to avoid normal sugar.
Soft Ice Cream
The production of soft ice cream is entirely different than that of regular ice cream. This makes a huge difference in the way that the ice cream’s texture is built up, ending up in a softer ice cream. If you like soft pistachio ice cream then you could try Talenti.
13 Popular Ice Cream Variations Around the World
Neapolitan ice cream has been popular in the United States since the late 1800s, when the Italians brought over this delicious dessert. It’s stereotypically strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream together – but split separately from each other.
There are different variations of a Neapolitan Ice cream where the flavors are adapted. Sometimes, you might see the strawberry switched out for cherry ice cream, or the chocolate switched out for another flavor – but a traditional Neopolitan is the S,C and V combo. Vanilla gets some bad pretty as the worst flavor, but it’s actually still the most popular ice cream flavor that there is!
The most popular adaption of a Neapolitan Ice Cream is Spumoni. Actually, it’s pretty clear that Neapolitan ice cream is actually a Naples variation of Spumoni that became extremely popular in the United States in the late 1800s.
This is because Spumoni represents the colors of the Italian flag; it’s traditionally cherry (red), vanilla (white) and pistachio (green). Sometimes, you might see the vanilla section using chocolate instead (or as well as), but this is only for taste purposes. Anyway, this dessert was a favorite in the mid-to-late 1800s and it became popular, though it’s far lesser known than the Neapolitan is nowadays.
Commonly thought of as being the exact same as sorbet, sorbetto is actually slightly different. This is because it’s typically made to be slightly creamier than normal sorbet by using a higher percentage of fruits, which results in a creamier texture.
Of course, to the average man you’re unlikely to notice the difference between a sorbet and a sorbetto. But ask any Italian and I’m sure they can tell you the difference pretty easily.
French Ice Cream
French Ice Cream deserves it’s own section as it’s pretty different in taste and texture than what you’d get from a typical ice cream. This type of ice cream actually has a texture more similar to custard. This is because it uses eggs instead of cream, which gives it a completely different texture than what you’d get with traditional/American ice cream.
Interestingly enough, it’s commonly debated whether the Italians or the French really created who made the ice cream that we call ice cream today. There’s many ‘myths’ which we aren’t entirely sure of – Charles the I having his own personal ice cream maker assistant is probably my favorite.
Dondumra, which literally is translated as freezing in Turkish, is a variation of ice cream that isn’t much different from what you’re probably used to. The only difference really is the elasticity, which makes more solid and quite resistant to melting. This is done by adding salep, which is literally the ground up roots of orchid bulbs. This, along with some resin called Mastic, give this ice cream a chewier and more solid feel. If you’re the type of person to take an age eating your ice cream, then maybe this one would be a perfect option for you!
Mochi Ice Cream
If you want to try something totally different, then you could consider trying some mochi ice cream. Mochi is a glutinous rice that’s usually made into small ricecakes – think sushi rice, but much stickier.
This rice is then formed around an ice cream filling of your choice. Traditionally, you’ll see the plainer flavors like chocolate and vanilla being used, but you can experiment with this. You’ll find mochi ice cream in many stores around the US and globally, but surprisingly it’s actually relatively young in it’s inception.
Faloodeh is one of the weirder variations of ice cream (or maybe sorbet) that you’ll find. And if you have the opportunity to try it, you simply must! If you go to Iran, you’ll find this in every ice cream store and the majority of restaurants as a dessert
Essentially, a thin batter is pressed through a sieve to produce these vermicelli like noodley strips that are made from starches. They’re then placed in ice water, before being topped with various fruit syrups of your choosing. This is much closer to the original sherbet concept which likely originated in the middle east hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Spaghettieis, or spaghetti ice cream, is a German dessert which is pretty much exactly as it’s described. In reality, it’s more of a super cool preparation method than an actual difference in the way the ice cream is made.
The usual method for making spaghettieis is just pushing vanilla ice cream through a potato ricer to make it into a noodle appearance. From there, it’s usually layed onto a bed of whipped cream and topped with a straberry or cherry sauce (which is used to make it look like bolognese sauce!). Then, you’ll usually find that some sort of white chocolate is used to look like parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top, though you might find something else is used like desiccated coconut.
Fried Ice Cream
Whilst many think that fried ice cream is only popular in China, it’s actually pretty popular all over Asia (you can find it in Japan and most South East Asian countries too). Some say that it originated in the United States, though the likelihood is that it was first produced somewhere in Asia – perhaps by a tempura restaurant.
Essentially, it’s exactly as it says; it’s regular ice cream in a deep fried coating. If you’re wondering how this is even possible, you’re certainly not alone! The temperature of the ice cream must be significantly below what the usual temperature is for an ice cream to be able to put it into a fryer. Some restaurants usually like to coat the ice cream in other materials like cornflakes to help this process, too.
It seems only fair to include some other variations of ice creams made in Asia. Sorbetes is a Filipino variation of ice cream, and though it’s named similar to sorbet, it’s not the same thing at all.
Nicknamed ‘dirty ice cream’ because it’s exposed to the elements in the air – though it’s not really that dirty. The main difference between sorbetes and regular ice cream is that it’s made with coconut cream (kakang gata), which gives it a much sweeter taste than your traditional ice cream.
J Cone (Jipangyi)
The J Cone is something you might have seen if you live in the United States, as it travelled there from Korea for the first time a fair few years ago now.
Essentially, a J Cone is just a J-shaped tube made from corn that’s filled with soft serve ice cream. It’s pretty similar to a churro, but whereas churros are served alone or with other accompaniments, you’re unlikely to find a J Cone without ice cream.
Ice Cream Cone vs Alternatives
Whilst the ice cream cone is the most common types of ice cream that you’ll see sold on the street, there are other versions. Personally, I like the cones after they were invented in the early 1900s, but to each their own.
If I’m not eating an ice cream cone, I’ve no hesitation to opt for a delicious ice cream stick. This is particularly because it’s relatively easy to find some healthy ice cream bars, which is perfect if you’re on a diet.
Although they say the ice cream sundae was invented on a sundae, we’re not entirely sure if this is true. A traditional sundae is just vanilla ice cream topped with a bit of whipped cream, syrup and topped with a delicious maraschino cherry.
Whilst this isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, it’s surely one of the most delicious. Well, I think so anyway. You really can’t get much better than combining two of the best things in the world together – ice cream and cake. Mmmmm.
Vendors will often just serve ice cream on it’s own in a little tub of bucket for you to enjoy. This can be a great ay to cut calories too, as you don’t need to worry about the excess calories in the cone.
Here’s just a few ideas on what you can do with ice cream – there are tons of possibilities for you to choose from that are all completely unique! It’s down to you to have a look at the different types of ice cream and see which ones suit you best.