What's the difference between ice cream and gelato?

Gelato is more dense and creamy than ice cream—but not because it is higher in fat. In fact, it is generally made with milk and not cream, and often (but not always) contains egg yolks. But the real key to that rich, indulgent texture is air: each luscious spoonful of gelato has less air in it than ice cream. Also, gelato is usually served in a semi-frozen state similar to soft-serve ice cream.

While we're at it, here are the definitions for some other favorite frozen desserts:

Frozen custard or French ice cream: The same minimum 10% milkfat as ice cream, and also must contain egg yolks.

Sherbert: low milkfat (between 1-2 percent) and sweeter than ice cream

Sorbet: contains no dairy

Photo: Randy Mayor; Stylists: Melanie J. Clarke; Kellie Gerber Kelley 

Marge Perry

April 2010