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Gelato versus Ice Cream: Which One has Fewer Calories and Less Fat?

Updated on January 6, 2012
The many flavors of gelato
The many flavors of gelato | Source

How Many Calories are in Gelato?

Many people feel that gelato, due to its "exotic" nature and rich taste, is chock-full of fat and calories. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when compared to standard desserts such as ice cream or cake, gelato has far fewer calories per serving because of its core ingredients, which are often nothing more than milk, sugar and fruit. By comparison, ice cream has many more calories and a lot more fat because its principal ingredient is cream. Frozen custard is even worse, since egg yolks, in addition to cream, are used as its primary ingredients.

The Skinny on Gelato

So, just how does gelato compare to ice cream when calories are taken into account? Back to back, a 3.5 ounce (or 100 gram) serving of gelato typically has 140 - 170 calories. Ice cream typically has 230 - 275 calories for the same serving size. In terms of total fat, gelato clocks in at about 3.5 - 6 grams of fat, while ice cream has three to four times that level, rounding out at 14 - 17 grams. This is largely because ice cream has a fat content of 10% - 20%, while most gelato has a fat content of 8%.

The Skinnier Gelato

Cutting calories and fat out of gelato is even easier when the gelato is made at home via a gelato maker. Artificial colors and flavors are also not a worry, nor are items such as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fat. One can easily cut down on calories and fat by substituting soy milk for cow's milk; soy-based gelato typically has 150 calories and 3 - 4 grams of fat per 3.5 ounce serving. Water-based gelato, which is typically termed sorbetto, can also be attempted, especially during the hotter summer months; water-based gelato comes in at roughly 100 calories and no fat per serving.

If calories and fat are not really the issue but sugar is, one may attempt a gelato recipe that uses Splenda®; this cuts down on sugar as well as calories, making the gelato roughly 90 calories and 10 carbohydrates per serving. Alternately, one may simply make gelato with half the sugar of "regular" gelato; since it is the fat molecules that shape the gelato (and prevent it from freezing solid), not sugar, a low-sugar gelato can be easily achieved.

Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Strawberry Gelato Recipe

Here is a strawberry gelato recipe that not only has fewer calories and fat grams than regular gelato, but is just as delicious as regular gelato (which still has fewer calories and fat than ice cream). This recipe makes 5 cups of gelato and has 113 calories and 0.4 grams of fat per 1 cup serving.


Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat until it boils; remove from heat.

Mix sugar and corn starch together, slowly adding in the hot milk to dissolve the solids. Once a solution is formed, it should be poured into the hot milk. Let the sugar and corn starch cook with the milk over medium heat for 5 minutes; do not boil.

Cool the solution in the refrigerator for an hour.

Prepare strawberries by cutting off the stems and processing them in a blender or food processor. Chill the puree for an hour in the refrigerator.

Once everything is cooled, mix the solution with the puree. Pour this into the gelato maker and start the machine. The gelato maker should churn and freeze this mixture, after which it will be ready to eat.

Gelato that is made fresh should be stored no longer than one week in the freezer before being eaten. Oxidation and even spoilage can result if gelato is kept for too long, even at freezing temperatures.

For more gelato recipes, please check out the website Gelato Maker

Other Gelato Content

For additional information about gelato and gelato makers, please click on the following content:

How Does A Gelato Maker Work?

What Makes Gelato Better Than Ice Cream?


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