Ice cream and gelato are both sweet and tasty treats that are derived from dairy products, however, they are not the same product. Ice cream and gelato have several differences, which makes substituting one for the other in a dessert a mistake.
6 Differences Between Ice Cream and Gelato
1. What It’s Made Of
Ice cream is made from frozen heavy cream, hence the name ice cream. Gelato, on the other hand, is made from frozen milk, making it much lighter on the taste buds and in calories.
2. Added Ingredients
Gelato rarely has any other added ingredients beyond sugar and whatever flavor is being added to the gelato. Ice cream often has other ingredients added, such as eggs.
3. Holding Temperature
Ice cream is kept at a colder temperature than gelato, and as a result, it freezes your tastebuds when you eat it. While you might taste the first few bites of ice cream, after that, your taste buds are frozen, and you won’t be able to distinguish the individual flavors of the ice cream.
Gelato is kept at a temperature just below freezing, so when it is consumed, it doesn’t freeze your taste buds. As a result, you taste every bite of gelato which is what makes it seem more flavorful than ice cream.
Gelato is churned slower than ice cream, so less air is added during the churning process, creating a denser final product. Ice cream is churned faster; therefore, more air is incorporated into the product.
5. Fat Content
Ice cream starts as heavy cream, making it contain higher amounts of fat than gelato. While gelato certainly isn’t fat-free, it has a lower fat content than ice cream.
6. How Quickly It Melts
Because gelato is kept at a warmer temperature, it melts much more quickly than ice cream, making it a bit difficult to consume on a hot day.
Can You Substitute Gelato for Ice Cream?
If you are just serving a few scoops for dessert, there is no problem swapping ice cream for gelato or vice versa. However, because gelato is much more flavorful than ice cream, and melts more quickly, you need to be careful substituting it in a recipe.
For example, it is not advised to use gelato in an ice cream cake, as the cake will likely melt before you finish singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the recipient and won’t be cold enough to slice properly. Additionally, in recipes where ice cream is supposed to be just an added side flavor, gelato is likely too powerful of a flavor to take its place without creating an unbalance in the recipe. So if a recipe calls for ice cream, it’s probably better to just use ice cream.