Gelato (Italian pronunciation: [dʒeˈlaːto]; lit.'frozen', the common word for all kinds of ice cream) is a frozen dessert of Italian origin. Artisanal gelato in Italy generally contains 6–10% butterfat, which is lower than other styles of frozen dessert.[1][2] Gelato typically contains 70% less air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams.[3][4]

Place of originItaly
Serving temperatureCold
Main ingredients3.25% milk, sugar, flavoring (fruit, nut, chocolate...)


In the Italian language, gelato is the generic word for ice cream, independently of the style, so every kind of ice cream is referred to as gelato in Italian.[5] In the English language, however, the word gelato has come to be used to refer to a specific style of ice cream derived from the Italian artisanal tradition.[6] This is similar to the word chai, the generic word for tea in multiple languages, that in English has come to refer to a specific style of tea of Indian origin.

In its modern form, Italian-style ice cream is credited to the Italian chef Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli who in the late 1600s opened his Café Procope in Paris and introduced the dessert at his café, earning notability first in Paris and then in the rest of Europe. Thanks to his gelato, Procopio not only obtained French citizenship, but also got an exclusive royal license issued by King Louis XIV, at the time, making him the sole producer of the frozen dessert in the kingdom.[7]

In the 1900s-1950s, different innovations made the automatic production of gelato easier. The Motogelatiera was created, which was the first automatic machine that made gelato.[8] Other innovations such as the batch freezer made it easier to store frozen desserts such as gelato.[8] Around the 1940s, Bruto Carpigiani worked to create machines that would make the production of gelato safer and easier.[9] Nowadays, Carpigiani is one of the biggest manufacturers of gelato machinery.[9] Today, gelato is known worldwide and Italy is the only country where the market share of artisanal gelato versus mass-produced gelato is more than 55%.


Traditional flavors of gelato consist of vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, almond, pistachio, cream (also known as custard), and stracciatella, i.e. fior di latte gelato with chocolate chunks; fior di latte ('milk flower') is plain, base ice cream with no flavor and no eggs added. More modern flavors consist also of fruity flavors such as raspberry, strawberry, apple, lemon, pineapple, and black raspberry.


The process consists of heating the ingredients to 85 °C (185 °F) for pasteurization. Then, it is lowered to 5 °C (41 °F) and mixed to the desired texture. The cold process mixes the ingredients and is batched in the freezer. In the "sprint" process, milk or water is added to a package of ingredients which is then mixed and batched.

As with other ice creams, the sugar in gelato prevents it from freezing solid by binding to the water and interfering with the normal formation of ice crystals. This creates smaller ice crystals and results in the smooth texture of gelato.[10] American commercial gelati are typically sweetened with sucrose, dextrose, or inverted sugar, and include a stabilizer such as guar gum.

See alsoEdit

  • Custard, a dessert made with cream, eggs, and vanilla
  • Frozen custard, a frozen dessert made with cream and eggs
  • Frozen yogurt, a frozen dessert made with a base of yogurt rather than milk
  • Granita, a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and various flavorings
  • Italian ice, also known as water ice, a frozen dessert made from either concentrated syrup flavoring or fruit purees over crushed ice
  • Semifreddo, a class of semi-frozen dessert
  • Sorbet, called sorbetto in Italian
  • Stracciatella, a gelato that includes chocolate chunks


  1. ^ "Calorie e valori nutrizionali del gelato", Paginemediche [1]
  2. ^ M.T. Wroblewski (6 December 2018). "Nutrition Facts on Gelato Compared to Ice Cream". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  3. ^ Ferrari, p. 21
  4. ^ Sylvia Poggioli (17 June 2013). "Italian University Spreads The 'Gelato Gospel'". NPR. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Gelato in the Italian-English dictionary". Cambridge Dictionary.
  6. ^ "Gelato in the English dictionary". Cambridge Dictionary.
  7. ^ Olga Stornello (1 November 2018). "Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli: the man who invented gelato". Sicilian Post. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b "History". Carpigiani Gelato Museum. Retrieved 3 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b "Taste the History of Gelato". ITALY Magazine. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  10. ^ Omran, A. Monem (July 1974). "Kinetics of ice crystallization in sugar solutions and fruit juices". AIChE Journal. 20 (4): 795–803. doi:10.1002/aic.690200422.


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