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  • What Is Gelato?
  • What Is Ice Cream?
  • Differences Between Gelato and Ice Cream
  • Ice Cream Recipes

It doesn't matter the season—nothing beats a waffle cone filled with ice cream. Or maybe you're more of a gelato fan? We've all probably stood in the frozen foods aisle at the grocery store and wondered, Is there really a difference between ice cream and gelato? We went to Hallie Meyer, owner of Caffè Panna in New York City, to fill us in on these frozen treats.

What Is Gelato?

Gelato is actually the Italian word for ice cream. "I could call anything I wanted to 'gelato' and sell it here in NYC," said Meyer. In Italy, the government requires gelato to be at least 3.5 percent milkfat, according to Insider.

What Is Ice Cream?

Semantically, ice cream is gelato, but there are some requirements in the U.S. for what qualifies as ice cream, according to Meyer. To be considered ice cream, it must contain at least 20 percent total milk solids and 10 percent milkfat, as outlined in the USDA's standard for ice cream. It also must contain at least 1.6 pounds of total solids to the gallon and weigh at least 4.5 pounds to the gallon. Even if a product meets the USDA's standards for ice cream, it can still be called gelato. Being in the U.S., Meyer decided to call her product ice cream versus gelato.

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Differences Between Gelato and Ice Cream

While it does come down to semantics, Meyer said that there are some qualitative features that tend to show up in traditional Italian gelato and traditional hard-pack ice cream. She used her favorite features of both types to make the ice cream atCaffè Panna.

These differences come down to ingredients, how the products are made and served, and texture.

First, gelato is typically made with more milk and less cream that ice cream, according to Talenti. Gelato also tends to be more dense than ice cream in the U.S., which is a result of the amount of air mixed into the products. Typically, ice cream is composed of 50 percent volume by air, and gelato is made up of 20 to 25 percent volume by air, according to Zingerman's Creamery. And even with a lower milkfat content, gelato often has a silkier texture than ice cream. This could be attributed to the warmer temperature at which gelato is served.

Ice Cream Recipes

cookies and cream ice cream
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Allison Arnold
Associate SEO Editor

Allison Arnold is the Associate SEO Editor at Delish, where she writes about kitchen gadgets and food and culture. She likes exercising almost as much as eating, and has a thorough Google Maps ranking system for her favorite restaurants and bars. You can find her spewing hot takes on the food world and planning her next trip, all with multiple cans of seltzer open at a time.