“Team Gelato, or Team Ice Cream?”

As the top Huntington Beach destination for custom made ice cream, that’s a question we find our customers asking themselves a LOT.

Here’s how we see it.

Does gelato beat your normal ice cream?

Gif via giphy.

If you’re starting to get serious about which frozen dessert (gelato, or ice cream) to choose for your next custom made frozen treat experience, this is the comprehensive guide you’ve been looking for:

  • What exactly is ‘gelato’?
  • What exactly is ‘ice cream’?
  • How do they match up against each other?
  • Gelato vs ice cream – the bottom line

What exactly is ‘gelato’?

Depending on who you ask, the word ‘gelato’ is either derived from an Italian word meaning ‘frozen’, OR

‘Gelato’ is simply Italian for ‘ice cream’.

In any case, ‘gelato’ is an Italian frozen treat…an Italian ice cream, in other words.

Typical gelato ingredients

A gelato base (to which other toppings and flavors can be added) typically includes:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Sugar
  • Stabilizer(s), also known as thickening agents
  • Air

The stabilizer(s) can be anything from egg yolks to guar gum. 

Surprised at air being an ingredient in gelato? Wondering what a stabilizer is and why it’s a gelato ingredient?

Hold that thought…we’ll come back to those once we’ve gone through the basics of ice creams.

And what exactly is ‘ice cream’?

‘Ice cream’ can be a catch-all term for frozen desserts…like we just read about gelato being Italian ice cream.

However, if we want to get a little specific (and explore various frozen desserts like ice cream, gelato, sorbet and so on), ice cream is a frozen dessert made from dairy products.

Typical ice cream ingredients

An ice cream base (to which, like gelato, you can add flavors and toppings) will typically be made of:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Sugar
  • Egg yolk(s)
  • Stabilizers
  • Air

I think you’ve already spotted one key difference between gelato and ice cream – egg yolks are not a key ingredient in gelato.

That being said, let’s take a look at how ‘air’ can be an ingredient in gelato and ice cream, and what stabilizers are and why they’re added to both of our favorite frozen treats.

Air as an ingredient in gelato and ice cream

Gif via giphy.

While they’re being prepared, ice cream and gelato batter is churned or beaten in a mixer.

As that happens, air is swept into the batter.

The next question is: How does the presence of air affect the frozen dessert – be it gelato or ice cream?

Here’s how: Air can soften the dessert, making it light and fluffy. In other words,

  • The less air there is, the fluffier the dessert.
  • The more air there is, the creamier (denser) the dessert.

That’s just basic physics.

Right, now let’s move on to the main question:

How does gelato match up against ice cream

Here are the main ways they differ:

  • As the name might have suggested, ice cream typically has more cream in it, while gelato has more whole milk.
  • Like you may have noticed earlier, ice creams almost always contain egg yolk while gelato may not. In fact, most types of gelato hardly have any egg yolk at all.
  • Gelato tends to have less air content (as it’s churned slower)…
    • …making gelato creamier while ice cream will have a lighter and fluffier texture.
  • Gelato is served at a higher temperature than ice cream, which gives gelato a silkier (and creamier) feel.
  • Gelato has less butterfat (typically 5 to 7 percent) than ice cream (typically 14 to 25 percent, at minimum 10 percent).

Here’s the bottom line

If all you’re looking for is a frozen dessert with a buttery feeling, you’re on Team Ice Cream.

However, for a more selective, creamy cold dessert treat that can pack a flavorful punch and is lower in fat content, you should opt for Team Gelato.

And if you’re in Huntington Beach, and you’re looking for a craft gelato experience in a steampunk environment, you know where to go!