March 13, 2022

Gelato vs Ice Cream: what is the difference?

Gelato and Ice Cream are often considered identical, but that’s not always the case. Find out why with the Remeo blog

What’s the difference between gelato and Ice Cream?

It’s one of these summer days. The sun is shining, the cicadas singing. You’re thinking a frozen dessert could make this day perfect, so why not go for gelato? Or for some ice cream? What’s the difference anyway? Is there really a difference , or is gelato just a fancy way of calling regular ice cream? Although their similarity is undeniable, gelato and ice cream are indeed not the same: the taste and texture might give you a hint, but the process and ingredients are where the real difference lies.

Gelato vs Ice Cream: the commonalities

Let’s not fool ourselves: from a distance, no one, even the biggest gelato lovers, can tell the difference between the two awesome creamy frozen desserts. Both have in common their core ingredients, dairy (milk and cream) and sugar, paired with fresh fruit and nut puree/paste, sapiently combined to produce refreshing awesomeness one scoop at a time.

The different combinations of these, however, give birth to either ice cream or gelato. A more creamy combination produces ice cream` – generally fatter as a result – whereas gelato traditionally contains less cream and fat, amounting to typically 5-7%, compared to the usual 10%+ of ice cream. As a matter of fact, the overseas FDA defines ice cream as a dairy product with at least 10% of its calories coming from fat.

Ice cream – more cream, less milk

As mentioned above, the measurements of milk and cream in ice cream are different between gelato and ice cream. The prevalence of cream in ice cream production means a higher fat content, but that’s not the only difference: ice cream also uses egg yolks (adding more fat content) as a stabiliser, whereas gelato does not contain eggs.

Another differentiation between the two comes after pasteurisation when air is added during the churning process: ice cream has considerably more air, also known as overrun, as its volume increases by a large margin during churning.

Gelato: light and natural

The word gelato, meaning ice cream in Italian, has created uncertainty around the two concepts, often compared but not quite the same. In terms of ingredients, gelato’s recipes typically contain a higher proportion of whole milk to cream. The lower cream content results in a lighter mix, having proportionally less fat than its creamier counterpart. Gelato is also churned at a slower speed than ice cream, producing the famous, dense consistency that makes gelato unique and loved all over the world.

To compare, gelato contains typically between 25-30% air, whereas ice cream’s air content can go up to 50 percent. In other words, scoop for scoop, you get more gelato than you would ice cream, as the gelato mixture is denser and rich in flavour. The lesser air and weaker structure mean that gelato melts quicker and has a unique mouthfeel, impossible for ice cream to match. Tasting a scoop of N.4 Pistachio ice cream, for example, sends your taste buds to Bronte, Italy, where the finest pistachios are sourced, turned into paste, and ultimately to our jar and your table.

Is gelato healthier than ice cream?

In short, both gelato and ice cream are frozen desserts, usually eaten as treat or dessert than an everyday meal. However, a healthy diet can incorporate both ice cream and gelato if eaten in moderation: at the end of the day, who in their mind would want to miss out on so much awesomeness?

Still, the question needs an answer, and the head to head has a clear winner. The main difference between ice cream and gelato is their fat content. With only 4-9% fat to the usual 10-25% of ice cream, gelato usually is lighter and healthier. 

Per portion, however, the answer is clear, gelato is typically healthier than ice cream.

Taking our N.1 Vaniglia del Madagascar vanilla gelato, for example, we can see that, per 100 ml, it contains:

  • 117 kcal
  • 5.2 g of fat (3.6 saturates)
  • 15 g carbohydrates (sugars)
  • 2.6 g proteins, and minimal salt

Popular vanilla ice cream jars have very different nutritional values per 100 ml :

  • 195 kcal
  • 11.9 g of fat
  • 19.5 carbohydrates
  • 3.4 g protein

A 100 ml portion of traditional, average retail vanilla ice cream lands you 50% more calories than eating our gelato, making gelato the obvious healthy choice.

The bottom line

We have researched the differences between gelato and ice cream in their ingredients and production. We also learned that, for the same portion, gelato is healthier than ice cream. We love both, but, of course, we are biased towards our fresh and light Italian gelato.

What a tasty debate! Didn’t it make you want to get a scoop of gelato? What are you waiting for? Visit our shop and order some goodness!