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What is the Difference between Ice Cream and Gelato?

Ice cream and gelato are both sweet and creamy frozen dairy treats; however, they are two different desserts. Here at Cold Stone Creamery, your local ice cream shop in Petaluma, we feel it’s important for you to know the difference between them.


People have been freezing milk and other tasty ingredients into a tasty treat since 618 AD. Over time, these desserts evolved into regional specialties, the two most well-known being ice cream and gelato. The modern rendition of gelato hails from Italy and offers a unique yet familiar experience.

The Recipes

The biggest difference between ice cream and gelato is their recipes. Traditionally, ice cream is made of cream, milk, and sugar. Gelato, on the other hand, is more milk-based with less cream. This reduces the milk fat in the gelato, causing a denser, more elastic product. While the flavors and texture may be similar, many people claim that the cream base of standard ice cream provides for a creamier experience.

The Method

As with their recipes, the methods for creating both tasty treats are both similar yet widely different.

  • Churning – Gelato is churned at a slower pace to reduce air incorporation and produce a denser product. Ice cream is churned quicker, introducing more air and a lighter texture.
  • Freezing – Gelato is frozen at a higher temperature than ice cream due to its lower milk fat content.
  • Serving – Due to its softer texture, gelato is often served using a wide spade instead of the neat scoop used for ice cream. This also means it’s more difficult to serve in a waffle cone.

Taste and Texture

While your local ice cream shop in Petaluma may not be able to tell you which is better ice cream or gelato, we’re kinda biased, we can tell you that it’s really a matter of personal taste. Some people say that gelato is too sticky and not very creamy, while others feel it is much creamier than ice cream.


Hands down, ice cream with its firmer consistency and colder temperatures provides the greatest versatility. Here at Cold Stone Creamery, we proudly create one-of-kind Ice Cream Creations, ice cream cakes (and cupcakes), pies and more! Add your favorite mix ins for a personalized ice cream treat like none other.

For more information, or to learn about our ice cream flavors and ice cream shop in Petaluma, please contact Cold Stone Creamery today!

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