What exactly is gelato and what can I do with it?

The best way to describe gelato is to call it Italian ice cream.  The word “gelato” comes from the Italian verb, gelare, which means to freeze.

What is Gelato Ice Cream?

Gelato is a combination of whole or reduced fat milk, eggs (sometimes without eggs), sugar and natural flavoring, usually fresh fruit and sugar.

So gelato is a frozen dessert, but it is not like our American ice cream.  Gelato is different from ice cream  in that it doesn’t have as much fat in it. For those of us who are weight conscious but have a sweet tooth, this is good news.

Ice cream has between 10 to 20 % fat, while gelato has only 8% or less.  Gelato is  softer and has more intense fruit flavors.  It is like a sorbet, but more creamy.  It’s creamy because as you make it in a gelato maker, it spins at a slower speed and therefore does not incorporate as much air in the mixture.

There is also a similar dessert called sorbetto which is a blend of fresh fruit and juice with a small amount of cream in it.  It is similar to our sorbet and many ice cream machines today that can make gelato also make sorbet.

Gelato can be bought in retail food stores, ice cream shops and in Italian restaurants,  but the best way to enjoy it is to make it yourself.  Then you can tailor it to your own specific tastes.  There is no end to the combinations you can make.  If you have a gelato maker you can make a batch in about 30 minutes.

Use it for Italian Themed Dinner Parties

The traditional way to serve gelato is to put it in small cups with a little spoon with perhaps a small wafer in it.  This makes a really classy dessert, especially if you are having an Italian themed dinner party. 

Just picture delicious pasta served in handcrafted Italian pasta bowls, with homemade gelato for dessert.  Don’t forget the espresso made with your very own stovetop espresso maker. Yum!

Recipes that Use Gelato

Another way to enjoy gelato is a milkshake, or I guess I should say a gelato shake.

For a 16 oz. drink,  just combine 10 oz. of gelato with 4 oz. of juice, coffee, espresso or any other liquid of your choice.Or you can try a smoothie which uses sorbetto  instead of gelato.  Remember, sorbetto is gelato without dairy products, except maybe a little cream.

To make a smoothie, combine 10 oz. of sorbetto and 4 oz. of juice.  This makes a 16oz. smoothie.

If you want to use fresh fruit, reduce the sorbetto to 8 oz., add 2 oz. fresh fruit and 4 oz. of juice.  If you are using fresh fruit, prepare it as if you were going to eat it, and then blend it in a food processor or blender .

So now you know what gelato is  and a few of the ways you can enjoy it.  

For more gelato recipes check out gelato cookbooks at Amazon.

Buon appetito!

Italian Nonna

 If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter for more great tips!


Welcome! This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. You can read my disclosure for more details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *