Gelato vs American Ice Cream

Gelato vs American Ice Cream

At first glance, there is little difference between gelato and American ice cream. Both are frozen desserts that can satisfy your sweet cravings, and the word ‘gelato’ is the Italian word for ice cream. However, if you were to taste both side-by-side, you would undoubtedly distinguish one from the other.

What Are the Differences?


Frozen treats have been around for thousands of years, beginning with the combination of ice, honey and fruits.

Ice cream’s origins are not precisely clear, but it was introduced to North America by Quaker Colonists. Gelato is the Italian take on ice cream and was created in the 16th century… if you have encountered authentic gelato in Calgary, it may be similar to the original!


Both gelato and ice cream have the same basic composition: milk, cream, and sugar. However, what differs is the ratio of the ingredients. Gelato utilizes more milk, while American ice cream relies more on the cream.

American ice cream must have at least 10% butterfat, while gelato ranges from 4% to 9%. Authentic gelato is made from fresh milk, while some ice cream can be made using powdered milk. In this sense, gelato is a healthier dessert than American ice cream.


Because of the ingredients used, you can taste the differences between gelato and American ice cream. Aside from the ratio of the core ingredients, both desserts’ taste is affected by how they are processed. Gelato is made by blending slowly; hence it contains less air. Ice cream can consist of up to 50% air, while gelato ranges around 10%.

That is why, when you taste gelato, you can sense that it is much denser and richer.


Have you observed an Italian cafe and how they served gelato? Instead of being scooped, the gelato is done using a spade because it is so much denser.

Another difference that may be noticed when tasted is the temperature. When stored, gelato is kept under -12 degrees Celsius, while American ice cream is kept around -20 degrees Celsius. Upon serving, the American ice cream’s temperature has to be around -14 to -12 degrees Celsius. In contrast, the gelato is served under -12 to -7 degrees Celsius. Why do they require different temperatures? It all boils down to each of their compositions.

Also, gelato is usually made in smaller batches. Although American ice cream can be mass-produced using industrial means, additives or preservatives are included to prolong shelf life.


While the differences are minimal, in our biased opinion, gelato reigns supreme! Denser and more flavourful, gelato is a fantastic frozen dessert that can be enjoyed year-round. Try some authentic gelato in Calgary today at either of our locations!

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