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Chocolate Gelato

We make ice cream at home quite a lot and I've posted several ice cream recipes in the past.  But I get asked enough about how to make gelato that I thought it was time for a post.

The big question for people is what is the difference between American ice cream and Italian gelato? When people taste gelato, they comment on the intensity of flavor and the different texture it has.  Gelato is very dense and this is because there is not the amount of air whipped into it like American ice cream.  Ice cream has a lot of air whipped into it and it makes for a lighter texture. Ice cream is also made from cream and sometimes eggs and has quite a bit of butterfat.  Gelato has much less butterfat and is made from milk. 

The question is - can you make gelato at home?  I don't think that you're ever going to replicate the incredible gelato that you can get at a really good gelateria but you certainly can make a very delicious gelato at home. There are many different recipes for homemade gelato and you can have a lot of fun trying different ones to see which you like.  You do need to have an ice cream maker. We have a Cuisinart ice cream maker, which is very popular.  Lots of people have these and probably even more have them stored way in the back of some cupboard and never use it.  But if you haven't tried homemade ice cream yet then break out your ice cream maker and see how easy this gelato is. 

I'm giving you two different recipes here.  One is from A16, the terrific Italian restaurant in San Francisco. Many gelato makers add liquid glucose and liquid dextrose to their gelato because these kind of sugars prevent ice crystals from forming.  In this recipe, Jane Tseng, who makes the desserts at A16, adds light corn syrup, which is a good substitute.

One recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder and one uses melted bittersweet chocolate. The tastes are slightly different (my husband prefers the cocoa powder) and you'll just have to make two batches at two different times to decide which you prefer!

Gelato at a real gelateria is kept in special freezers so it does not freeze hard. You obviously won't be able to do this at home, so just take the gelato out 10-15 minutes before you plan to serve it.

Chocolate Gelato



for a printable recipe, click here

adapted from A-16


  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 70 percent cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch to make a slurry and set aside.

In a pot, add the remaining milk and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Whisk in the slurry, corn syrup, sugar and salt. Return the mixture to a boil and whisk in the chocolate until completely smooth.  Transfer into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight to make sure it is completely chilled.

Whisk the base and then pour it into your ice cream maker and churn. The gelato should be the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. You don't need to churn it as long as you do ice cream - you want it to just be a custard sort of consistency, not completely frozen. Store in a chilled container in the freezer, with plastic wrap pressed onto the top.

(After the gelato has been in the freezer for a day, take it out about 10 minutes before ready to serve to let it soften up).

Gelato Siciliano

from Saveur

serves 6-8



  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I sift the cocoa to remove any lumps)



Bring 2 cups of milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat; remove from heat. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup milk with sugar, cornstarch and cocoa in a bowl and stir into hot milk. Cook until sugar and cocoa dissolve. Allow to cool, then cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.  Process mixture in an ice cream maker.  You don't need to churn it as long as you do ice cream - you want it to just be a custard sort of consistency, not completely frozen.Store in the freezer in a container with plastic wrap pressed right on top. It's best the day you make it.  If it freezes hard, just remove it 10 minutes before you plan of serving it.

And because so many of you have asked about my knitting, here is a little peek on the chullo I'm working on right now.   Stay warm!

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Reader Comments (42)

Ice cream is my favorite, and would you believe I've never had gelato?! This looks fantastic!

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlog is the New Black

We were in Italy two years ago for our anniversary...ah, the gelato! We loved it, had it every day while we were there (of course you have to try it in every town!). Your post brought back very fond memories, thanks. :)

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

I want to go to Italy JUST for the gelato! I love it so much more than ice cream, and this looks just as luscious and creamy as what I'd expect from an expensive store.

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

I am going to try both recipes.

When I buy ice cream, I have started to buy Haagen Daz Five because I think it most approximates the taste of gelato. I served the Vanilla Five Saturday night layered with fresh raspberries in a wine glass, and it was delicious.

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

I do indeed have an ice cream maker in then back of my basement. Both recipes are chocolate magic. I could gaze at the chocolate tub for hours. And when it warms up to maybe 0 degrees F, I will go for the cocoa powder one. First. And crank up my home to 75 degrees F and make believe it is spring.

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

Love gelato and this just may inspire me to purchase an ice cream maker!

I am a knitter too, and your chullo is simply exquisite. I scurried to Ravelry to see if you had posted the project (thank you for doing so!) and found the pattern. This hat will definitely go in my cue for future projects. Keep sharing.

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

Looks delicious. I gave the kids each an ice cream maker for Christmas. I will forward this recipe...on another note, are those my mittens you are knitting????.....

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeb F

From The Italian Dish:

Deb: Ha! No, it's a hat with ear flaps for Barry!

February 8, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I could use a scoop of this gelato right now!

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I just found your site yesterday and am so thankful to you. First of all for the post on homemade vanilla extract (will be making this for Christmas gifts) and for the wonderful gelato recipe. I have 2 Cuisinart ice cream makers. I got one at a garage sale this past summer. My daughter gave me a sugar cone maker for Christmas so this is PERFECT! I can't wait to try it all out. Thank You SO much for sharing with us. God Bless You

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLori D

I have only had Gelato once but it was so awesome. Can't wait to try this recipe...bookmarked!

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

I love Gelato, and as you say, the flavour of Gelato is much more intense than ice cream. Yours looks so deliciously creamy. I will have to give it a try! Thanks for sharing.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer (Delicieux)

I love love love gelato! When my parents and I went to Italy a few years back, I literally ate gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I always got strawberry and chocolate - needless to say - this chocolate gelato is going to be in my near future :)

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

We LOVE gelato over at dishfolio. We'd love for you to share your recipe at!

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLacey @ dishfolio

Elaine, your chocolate gelato is just magnificent! I remember the first one I ever had, which was in Italy, and it just melted in my mouth. What a memory your first gelato is! I'll have to try and make it at home once I get an ice cream maker. Thanks for sharing this delectable recipe and your beautiful photos.

Although I'm full-blooded Italian-American, I've never taken the leap to make gelato. i did purchase a new ice cream machine so I simply have no excuse. Chocolate is my go-to ice cream flavor and your gelato looks simply perfect-o! I've enjoyed following you and always come away with great new ideas! Ciao, Roz

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoz @ la bella vita

Hi Elaine, I just wanted to let you know that I featured this wonderful gelato of yours in my Valentine’s Day Favorites post today… Here’s the link: Thanks for sharing it. Have a great weekend!

I love gelato and just recently bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I heard gelato won't come out exactly but your recipes look great and I can't wait to try it!

February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

This looks fabulous! I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRosie @ Sweetapolita

I'm definitely more of a fan of gelato than I am of ice cream. I just look the smooth texture and intensified flavor! Can't wait to try both of these recipes!

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

I stumbled upon your blog, and I totally love how you feature italian recipes. A question on this recipe though. I am on a dairy free diet, and was wondering if I can use soy milk instead of whole milk.

February 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKayla @ Fitter Than Choc

From The Italian Dish:

Kayla: I really don't know the answer to that. I've never used a milk substitute in ice cream or gelato. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

February 16, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Wow, this just looks so yummy and creamy!!! It totally jumped off the page!

I went to italy last year and had gelato several times from a gelateria in Amalfi. OMG very thick & delicious and so much better than american ice cream. My favorite was a very rich chocloately gelato! I would love to re-create that for a get together I am attending.

What are your recommendations for making this super choclatety? I will have to wait to make this until I can get an ice cream maker, but meanwhile, I'll just look at your recipe and drool on my keyboard.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I think that, apart from actual ingredients, the biggest difference between ice cream and gelato is that gelato isn't "overdone" the way ice cream is. Who needs ice cream with 85 toppings all mixed in? I love me some Ben & Jerry's, but sometimes I would just kill for some non-neon colored pistachio gelato, or hazelnut. In the US, simple flavors tend to be unappreciated, hence the "paciugo" (italian slang for mess).
The gelato is the part to enjoy, not what's mixed into it!

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

Just acquired a Cuisinart so have been searching for gelato recipes, especially chocolatre. I would prefer to use liquid glucose or liquid dextrose rather than corn oil. But what amount of each? The recipes you posted are just what I want and I can't wait to experiment.

July 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

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July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCK womens scarf

Can't wait to try this recipe...bookmarked!

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September 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErica

I thought the Italian Dish was a cooking blog. Why am I getting all these messages about Ugg boots from Square somebody? Please desist!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSRQGranmama

Just saw this on pinterest, and had to take a look! I've only had gelato a couple of times and love it...though I'd strayed away from making it because the recipes I found before all contained at least 6 egg yolks per batch! I love that your recipes look creamy and delicious with just I can't wait to give it a try! Thanks!

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCathryn

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November 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwangqi45

Is it possible to make this gelato with lactose-free milk? I'm lactose intolerant and I miss normal ice cream-like foods desperately!

December 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCelestialness

Have just made your Gelato with the cocoa in it. It`s great. Im going to try a berry one next as we`re right in the middle of beery season. Thanks for the recipe.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjenny

I've had ice cream my entire life and I absolutely love it, so believe me when I say that ice cream has nothing on gelato. More specifically, gelato from Italy. I am certain that it is it's own meal. The best gelateria is in Florence, Italy, right by the duomo. It's a bit hidden from sight, but there's always a line to spot. It is to die for. And I look forward to trying this recipe out, and hey, if it doesn't work, there's always Paciugo's. Thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious!

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMorgus Chestus

Well it is a fantastic post and you made me hungry dear. I am a great lover of chocolate so i will make this today. Thanks for sharing.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpokane Boot Camp

Pizza originates form Italy.So Italy is a place which has specialty in food.The leather stuff and the shoes are also the best examples of Italian industry.So that is why majority in world use to go to Italy for visits.

beautiful recipe. it was delicious:)

thank you!

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermagazin

There is no doubt that Italian Dishes are best in world.Many quality dishes do originate from the Italy.So i will say that Italy has superiority over recipes and food.

Wow! I can't even tell you how good this looks. Amazing!

I just found your blog via a Pinterest post for this gelato....I love it!!! So happy to have found you!! And yes, I'll be checking out your knitting blog too :)

Thanks for sharing this!

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Fantastic gelatto! I made the first recipe. It came out really creamy and VERY chocholatty! I cooled it down while in the cooking pot, placing it in cold water while constantly stirring. It was fast and efficient, and only took a few minutes.

March 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIngvild

This recipe is brilliant. If I wanted to make it with fruit instead of chocolate, is it made differently? And how much fruit would I use?

July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia

can you post a vanilla gelato recipe? I have found several online - some use cream, some milk, some eggs. not sure if I can just use the recipe listed above and eliminate the chocolate. thanks in advance!

February 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

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