Ice cream and gelato difference

Ice cream or gelato, sherbet or sorbet… What’s the difference?

14/Jul/17 / 15:32

On a hot summer’s day, when the humidity has zapped your energy and you’re indebted to the few lazy clouds floating by, you’re probably not questioning what exactly is in the frozen scoop on your waffle cone. Ice cream, gelato, sherbet or sorbet – these refreshing treats are not just interchangeable names! They are unique in their recipes and equally delicious, as anyone melting on a sunny afternoon will tell you.

So what makes gelato distinct from ice cream? What’s the difference between sherbet and sorbet? Let’s take a quick look at the different sweet treats you can enjoy throughout the summer:

    • SORBET contains no dairy and is made with fruit and sugar. Not to be confused with…


    • SHERBET is also fruit-based but also contains milk, which makes it creamier than sorbet.


    • ICE CREAM must contain at least 10% milkfat, according to the USDA. This sweet and creamy treat must be churned while it’s freezing, giving it that familiar texture.


    • GELATO may translate to “ice cream” in Italian, but the two are distinct desserts! Gelato contains less milkfat, is served at a warmer temperature, and has a texture that is denser and softer than ice cream – a result of churning less air into the mix while it’s freezing.


    • FROZEN CUSTARD is denser and softer than ice cream. The addition of egg yolk to this dessert’s base makes it especially creamy. Not to be confused with…


    • FROZEN YOGURT gets its creaminess by replacing the milk or cream used to make ice cream with yogurt.

If you have an ice cream maker, you can churn up your own frozen treats from the comfort of your home. With all the fresh fruit in season, getting creative with flavorful mix-ins is easy!

For most of us without an ice cream maker, you’re not out of luck! You can DIY your own ice cream in a re-sealable plastic bag – read instructions here. Or blend these four ingredients for a healthier “ice cream” dessert – view Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream” recipe here.

No matter how you churn, blend, or freeze it – there are countless flavors and mix-ins that will change up this delicious treat that you can share with family and friends all summer long!


How You Can Help:


  • Volunteer at one of our Centers in Geneva, Rockford or Park City sorting and packing food
  • Donate to help us solve hunger in your community – every $1 donated provides $8 worth of food.



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(1) Goldman, Heath. “What’s the Difference Between Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbet, and Sherbet?” Real Simple. Web. 14 July 2017.