What is the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet

The main difference between gelato and ice cream and sorbet is their milk fat content. Gelato contains a lower milk fat content than ice cream, which usually contains at least 10% of milk fat. Sorbet, on the other hand, is completely dairy-free and is made with fruits and sugar.

Gelato, ice cream, and sorbet are three different sweet treats you can enjoy throughout the hot summer season. Although these names are often used interchangeably in conversation, these three frozen treats are distinct desserts with varying ingredients, consistencies, and textures.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Gelato 
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Ice Cream  
     – Definition, Features
3. What is Sorbet
     – Definition, Features
3. Similarities – Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet
     – Outline of Comparison 
4. Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Gelato, Ice Cream, Sorbet

Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet - Comparison Summary

What is Gelato

Gelato refers to a frozen dessert of Italian origin that is low in milk fat. Gelato is usually served at a warmer temperature. Although gelato is an Italian dessert staple,  it is popular among Americans and has been able to invade the frozen dairy dessert market. 

Compare Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet

Gelato is quite distinct from ice cream. When focusing on its creaminess,  gelato is creamier, silkier, and smoother than ice cream. Furthermore, it is also more elastic, softer, denser, and fluid than ice cream. When looking at the ingredients used in the preparation, gelato is more similar to ice cream than sorbet as gelato also contains milk, cream, and sugar. More importantly, authentic gelato includes less cream and more milk. However, the manufacturers usually do not add egg yolks to the gelato mixture, unlike an ice cream mixture. Dark chocolate, lemon, pistachio, tiramisu and raspberry are some of the most popular flavours when it comes to gelato.

What is Ice Cream

Ice cream is a frozen dairy dessert similar to gelato. Ice cream is usually made by mixing cream or butterfat and milk with sugar and flavourings. When it comes to French-type ice creams or frozen custard, they include eggs. There are thousands of ice cream flavours loved by ice cream lovers all over the world; however, chocolate, vanilla,  and strawberry ice creams are the most popular flavours commonly found flavours in every ice cream parlour.

Gelato vs Ice Cream vs Sorbet

Many people assume that the first flavour of ice cream ever invented was vanilla. But the first invention was actually chocolate ice cream. Today ice cream sundaes have also become a  frozen dessert loved by children and adults alike. A typical ice cream sundae usually includes vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup, flavoured sauce or whipped cream, and garnished with sprinkles and a maraschino cherry. A hotdog flavoured ice-cream invented in Arizona is one of the most bizarre ice cream flavours manufactured so far in the world.

What is Sorbet

Sorbet is a mouthwatering frozen dessert made by combining a sweetener like honey or sugar with a fruit puree. When compared to gelato and ice cream, sorbet includes a lower fat content as it does not contain any dairy products.

Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet - What is the difference?

The method of preparing sorbet is quite equal to the method of preparing ice cream or gelato. Here also, manufacturers subject the ingredients to a process of slow freezing while they get churned, delivering a smooth and silky uniform texture. It is possible to turn any variety or any combination of fruits into a sorbet. There are hundreds of popular sorbet flavours in the world such as coffee, chocolate, mango, strawberry, green tea,  etc. In contrast to ice cream, sorbet does not have air whipped into it. Consequently, sorbet has increased density and a deeper flavour. Moreover, if you are conscious of keeping your fat levels low, sorbet is the best low-fat alternative you can enjoy instead of ice cream or gelato.

Similarities Between Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet

  • Gelato, ice cream, and sorbet are frozen desserts available in many flavours.
  • All three frozen desserts go through a quite similar production process.
  • These are sweet dessert treats enjoyed by sweet lovers all around the world.

Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream and Sorbet


Gelato is a frozen dessert that is low in its milk fat content. Ice cream is a  frozen dairy dessert similar to gelato but is relatively higher in its milk fat content. Sorbet, on the other hand, is a frozen dessert that is vegan and totally dairy-free.


While both gelato and ice cream include milk, cream, and sugar, sorbet only includes sugar and a fruit puree and no dairy products. 

Process of Production

The method of preparing all three frozen desserts are quite similar; however, when preparing sorbet the manufacturers make the ingredients undergo a process of slow freezing while they get churned in order to deliver a smooth, silky and uniform texture.


The main difference between gelato and ice cream and sorbet is their fat content. Ice cream includes a higher milk fat content, while gelato is lower in its milk fat content and sorbet is a totally fat-free version of a frozen dessert. However, in one very important way all three frozen desserts are quite the same – they are all extremely delicious and are capable of bringing a smile to any face.


1. “65 Ice Cream Facts That Are Seriously Cool.” Free Ideas For Family Fun & Learning.
2. “11 Refreshing Facts about Gelato.” Mental Floss, 28 June 2016.
3. Gallary, Christine. “What’s the Difference between Sherbet and Sorbet?” Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, LLC., 2 May 2019.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Ice-cream-ice-cream-sweet-dessert” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Gelato, dessert, flavors, food, food and drink, freshness, dairy product, frozen food, sweet” (CC0) via Pxfuel
3. “Lime-sorbet-sorbet-lime” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

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