How do I Make Italian Ice Cream?

Updated April 08, 2017

Italian ice cream, known as gelato, differs from regular ice cream in that it is made with whole milk rather than cream. Most ice cream contains a lot of air whipping to make it softer and easier to scoop. Gelato has very little air pumped into it, as it is made by slow churning. The result is a much denser, creamier and bolder-flavoured "ice cream." For this reason, gelato is often considered one of the best among gourmet ice creams.

Mix ¼ cup whole milk (do not use low-fat or skimmed milk) and 2 tbsp cornstarch. Mix in a blender or by hand with a whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved with no lumps. Set aside.

Combine the remaining milk (1 ¾ cups) with 1/3 cup white sugar in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Add the milk and cornstarch mixture to the hot sugar milk just as it begins to boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a low simmer for three minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pour the cooled milk mixture into a container and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Once cold, stir in flavoured extracts, fruits, chocolates, nuts, cookies, pastes or whatever it is you wish to flavour your gelato with. There are endless possibilities for flavouring ice cream. Whisk until smooth.

Freeze the gelato mixture in an electric ice cream maker according to the instructions. All ice cream makers are different, so read the instructions carefully.

Freeze the gelato by hand. Pour the chilled, whipped mixture into a shallow baking pan (such as a metal bread pan) or a glass casserole dish. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Using a whisk or spatula, beat the mixture thoroughly to break up any ice chunks. Repeat every 30 minutes until a creamy consistency is reached. This process can take anywhere from three to five hours depending on the temperature of the freezer and depth of the pan.


There are some gelato recipes that include eggs, liqueurs and other types of additives. Experiment with various flavour combinations. As long as you use whole milk rather than cream, your ice cream is Italian gelato.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Flavouring and additives
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About the Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.