What is the difference between Ice Cream, Frozen Yoghurt and Gelato?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between ice cream, frozen yoghurt and gelato? Here are all the answers and which one is probably best for you.

A few days ago, CNN aired a documentary about my work and the journey to the summit of Chappal Waddi; Nigeria’s highest mountain. It is such an honor to get our work featured and I hope it inspires you to explore your world a bit more and solve some of the most complicated problems that excite you. Please, watch and share your thoughts with me. I would be thrilled to hear from you.

Alright, so let’s get to the ice cream story.

Everybody loves ice cream, except you’re DJ Cuppy, in which case you love gelato. So, do you go to Pinkberry when you’re craving some delicious ice cream? Errr…well, that’s frozen yoghurt. So, Hans and René? No, that’s gelato. Coldstone, then? Yes, that’s ice cream. So what exactly is the difference? Let’s find out!

All three frozen treats are delicious but their differences start at the preparation stage. Ice cream, frozen yoghurt and gelato are all prepared differently and this impacts the flavor, texture and the health benefits of each one. In fact, you may be able to tell the difference just by looks alone even though most people cannot tell.

  • Ice cream is simply cream that is iced. Cream is the fat of milk that has accumulated at the top. The higher the fat content of cream, the richer and smoother the texture. Ice cream must contain at least 10% milk fat for it to be considered ice cream. The ingredients for ice cream are water, milk, cream and sugar. Of course, you can also add whatever flavors you’d like. When you whip all these rapidly together, air enters the mixture, making it light and fluffy, and giving you the smooth creamy texture. Once it is frozen, it becomes ice cream.

  • Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, but the process of creating it is slightly different. There is no minimum fat content required for gelato so it often uses much less cream. The ingredients are also water, milk, cream and sugar but this time, they are whipped together more slowly, to allow less air and fluffiness. Also, this slower process makes gelato more dense and rich in flavor. It also makes it a choice for people who prefer less fat content in their frozen treats.

  • Frozen Yogurt does not use cream at all. It is simply yoghurt that’s flavored and frozen. To make “fro-yo”, milk is pasteurized (heated) to remove bad bacteria and then cooled down. Then, ‘good’ bacteria (known as cultures) are added to the milk to cause fermentation and bring about the characteristic tart flavor of yoghurt. The frozen yoghurt is then served in different flavors and with a variety of toppings. It is also often much softer and much less creamy than either ice cream or gelato. Because any milk can be used for yoghurt, it also allows for vegan options made from almonds, soy, oats, coconuts and others.

To recap:

  • Ice Cream = Water + milk + at least 10% cream + sugar (whipped quickly together)

  • Gelato = Water + milk + less than 10% cream + sugar (whipped slowly together)

  • Frozen Yoghurt = Pasteurized milk + cultures

What if you like your desert without any milk at all? Well, that’s sorbet and that’s story for another day.


So, tell me. Did you know the difference? Which is your favorite? Ice Cream, gelato, frozen yoghurt or none at all?

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