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Gelato vs. Ice Cream: What's the Scoop?

Gelato vs. Ice Cream: What's the Scoop?
Frozen treats are terrific afternoon snacks to share with friends.

The dedicated grocery section for frozen desserts no longer contains just run-of-the-mill picks. Look closely at these freezers to discover a generous selection of local and imported brands. Among fat-free, less-sugar, and vegan options, you also notice cartons of gelato on display. Now you think: gelato vs. ice cream?

Before you grab a tub of a new flavor you spotted, there are some things you need to know about these two treats. Learn their similarities and differences to help you decide which fits your preferences.

What Is Gelato?

“Gelato” is a generic term Italians use for all kinds of ice cream. For the rest of the world, however, gelato refers to any artisanal frozen dessert from Italy. These treats date back thousands of years earlier, gaining popularity during the Renaissance. Credits for modern gelato go to Bernardo Buontalenti. His recipe containing milk, egg yolks, lemon, orange, sweet wine, and honey became an instant hit with King Charles V of Spain.

Initially, gelato ice cream was made available to café patrons alongside coffee and pastries. After a while, carts selling creamy Italian ice cream became widespread, catering to folks who enjoy having a cup or cone to go. These days, gelato is available in gelaterias and groceries.

What Is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a type of sweetened frozen food eaten as a snack or dessert. Americans have European settlers to thank for bringing its recipe to their shores in the 1700s.

While Americans did not invent ice cream, they get credit for innovating its manufacturing process. Adding salt to lower and control ice temperature was the brainchild of Augustus Jackson, a presidential chef known as the "father of ice cream. ”The method helps speed up churning, producing bigger batches in less time. Nowadays, many manufacturers follow the American recipe, which uses more cream compared to gelato.

Gelato vs. Ice Cream: Key Differences

Now that you have a brief background on the two frozen desserts, it's time to learn the differences between gelato and ice cream. Since both desserts contain milk, cream, sugar, and some flavoring, people easily confuse the two. Find clarity with the help of this guide.


  • Ice cream – There are two recognized ice cream styles. First is a custard recipe that uses egg yolks. The second follows the Philly-style formula of just milk, cream, sugar, and flavoring.
  • Gelato – Authentic recipes do not include egg yolks and contain more milk than cream.

Fat content

  • Ice cream – Following USDA regulations, numerous ice cream makers stick to recipes containing at least 10% butterfat. But other brands prefer 15-25% fat for some ice cream flavors.
  • Gelato – Italian gelato contains much less, with only 4-9% fat per recipe. Because of this lower fat content, gelato flavors tend to be richer.


  • Ice cream – It’s no secret that American ice cream comes in a wide range of flavors. Many brands come up with their version of seasonal fruits, basics (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc.), and local flavors, like the Pinoy Selecta Creamdae Ube Cup.
  • Gelato – Although gelato artisans are starting to expand their offerings, most still prefer the classics, such as chocolate, tiramisu, salted caramel, berries, coffee, lemon, and hazelnuts.


  • Ice cream – This treat undergoes a faster churning process, which results in a fluffier, milkier, and creamier scoop.
  • Gelato – This one goes through slower churning, creating a rich and dense consistency. Some people describe gelato as having a more elastic texture.


  • Ice cream – Even premium-grade offerings are affordable! For example, a 1.3-mltub of Selecta's Creamdae Supreme 2in1 ice cream retails under P200 only. Manufacturers price their tubs competitively, allowing more consumers to enjoy the frozen dessert.
  • Gelato – Grocery-purchased gelato rarely uses the authentic recipe and method. Nonetheless, gelato does not come cheap. A pint can easily cost P350 or more if you purchase from an artisanal purveyor.


  • Ice cream – Satisfying your craving for a cold treat is easy since ice cream is available everywhere. Even your neighborhood sari-sari store likely carries bars, cups, and small tubs.
  • Gelato – Unfortunately, good gelato is hard to come by. Some groceries carry a few brands, but your best bet will be gelaterias or specialty shops.

Gelato vs. Ice Cream: what is the verdict? There is no right or wrong answer when deciding between these treats. Choose based on your personal preferences. But if you ask most Filipinos, the odds are many will favor ice cream in a heartbeat. It’s hard to resist a generous scoop of keso, ube, or tsokolate. Plus, you can easily use ice cream to make dessert sandwiches, milkshakes, and an upgraded turon.

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