The alternative to ice cream with half as much fat and sugar (2024)

It looks like ice cream, smells like ice cream and will cool you down like ice cream can, but don’t, for ­goodness sake, call it ice cream. As connoisseurs will tell you, gelato is a cut above.

“Gelato originated in Italy during the 1600s and from there it spread everywhere,” explains Eugenio Morrone, the Italian winner of this year’s Gelato World Cup – an event that has celebrated the best of the best since 2003. “It contains half as much fat and sugar compared with ice cream, has fewer ingredients, and because it is churned rather than beaten, it contains less air. Therefore, it is creamier and more pleasant on the palate, has a more intense taste and it also has fewer calories.”

Morrone has brought his award-winning gelato to the UK for the first time with a pop-up at the ­Mercante restaurant in the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane (open until August 31), with an exclusive menu starring the “Golden Summer” – ­pistachio gelato crowned with a home-made raspberry drizzle, inspired by the recipe that scooped Eugenio his World Cup win. Prices start at £7.90 per serving.

Morrone’s arrival in the UK ­coincides with a booming trade across Britain’s gelaterias. “When we did our market research back in 2017 there were 1,200 gelato shops open in the UK,” says Marilena Narbona, owner of Bo Bom Laboratorio Artigianale di Gelato in Somerset. “That number has been rising ever since.”

In 2022, the value of the UK ice cream sector rose by six per cent to £1.7 billion. Between 2021 and 2023, more than 200 ice cream parlours opened on our high streets. Even celebrities have been getting into the business: last month Cher announced that she has created her own gelato brand, Cherlato.

But if gelato hasn’t yet entirely ­displaced its frozen cousin, it’s because the process is much more ­difficult to industrialise, Narbona argues. “A huge amount of trial and error is needed for every single ­recipe,” she explains. “If the balance of the ingredients is not correct to the gram (particularly the fat content and the various sugars), the final result is un-scoopable – either too hard or too liquid.

“Different sugars have different freezing points and sweetness power,” she continues; “again, the wrong ­balance means the gelato would not have the right ­consistency or – horror of horrors – would generate ice crystals. In short, gelato is extremely difficult to make into an industrial process, and thus pretty much every gelato-maker is ­following their own secret recipe.”

“It’s resource-intensive, too,” adds Michelina Caliendo-Sear, co-owner of Caliendo’s Gelato in Kentish Town, London, crowned 2023’s Parlour of the Year by the Ice Cream Alliance. “You need to have a chef with a machine ­creating and checking every batch. We find that we can sell it faster than we can produce it. Ice cream is a lot more ­automated,” she stresses. “[Gelato] also doesn’t keep as long; most ice cream (especially the American stuff) has been sitting in a freezer for six months to two years before you eat it. I think people can tell the difference.”

The term “gelato” (the Italian word for ice cream) isn’t protected, so contemporary manufacturers have sought to find a distinction between “gelato”, which can be made with pre-mixes, and “artisanal gelato” which is handmade.

When seeking out the latter, ­Morrone’s advice is “to first look at the list of ingredients: they must be few and ‘clean’, i.e. free of colourings, synthetic additives, hydrogenated fats”. Gelato must also “contain little air: it must not be too swollen to the eye”, he explains. “The number of flavours present in a gelato parlour should not be too high. To make the gelato, milk and fresh cream are used, so check that they are present. The quality of the product is also linked to the origin of the ­ingredients: I prefer those made with short-chain ­ingredients and a ­sustainable process.”

Ultimately, the World Cup winner believes, ­“making good gelato is not easy. You need ­experience, professionalism, and a deep knowledge of the ingredients and techniques.” For these reasons, gelaterias tend not to be chains and often make their product freshly on-site. And while Morrone and Narbona both agree the best is made in Italy, there are fine contenders on these shores whose gelato impresses from the first lick.

Where to get your gelato fix


Broadstairs, Kent, and Covent Garden, London

A family business that hasbeen making fresh gelato every morning since 1907, Morelli’s is arguably the UK’s most famous gelateria. Though it was acquired in 2015 by UAE franchise-holder Marka, itstill follows the same recipes created by the Morelli family more thanacentury ago.

Jack’s Gelato


Known for round-the-block queues from its two shops in the centre of Cambridge, Jack’s has been around since 2010, when chef Jack Van Praag quit his day job toopen a gelateria. Focused on small-batch making and luxury ingredients: milk and cream from the Estate, asingle-source dairy inthe Chew Valley; chocolate from artisan chocolatiers Pump Street; honey from Cambridge beehives.

Gelato Village


Natives of Piedmont in Italy, home of the “slow food” movement, gelatieri Daniele Taverna and Antonio De Vecchi focus on seasonal flavours using ingredients that are as localas possible. Gelato is made without artificial flavourings, preservatives or stabilisers, and the shop pledges never to sell any product older than 72 hours. This is real gelato served in the traditional way.

Boho Gelato

Brighton, East Sussex

With two stores in the town (and a third in Worthing), gelatiere SebCole has been reinventing Brighton’s gelato offering since 2010with fresh, local ingredients. He has also earned plaudits for his work with local communities and charity groups, offering bespoke gelato flavours to support their work.

Farm On The Fell

Bleasdale, Lancashire

In its native Italy, gelato is aseasonal dish, only really produced in summer. The same goes for Farm On The Fell’s product, available only in the summer months. All the gelato is handmade on site from milk and cream produced by the dairy’s owncows, some made with handpicked strawberries, and the farm also has a milkshake vending machine.

Red Boat Gelato

Llangefni, Anglesey

Many Italians moved to Walesas part of the Italian diaspora in the late 19th and 20th centuries, making the country one of the best placesto find authentic gelato. Award-winning RedBoat Gelato has four locations across Anglesey. Arecipient of a Great Taste Award for its Tiramisu gelato, Red Boat has been described by Tripadvisor as one of the coolest places to get an ice cream in the whole of the UK.


Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Created by self-confessed gelatoholic Joe Sykes, Joelato was founded to bring“holiday ice cream” toScotland. Sykes learned the tricks of the trade at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna before returning to Edinburgh. Made with milk provided by dairies around Perthshire, Sykes’s first attempts at gelato sold out and soon became a localfavourite. Now he operates two gelaterias in Stockbridge and at Bonnie &Wild food market.

Caliendo’s Gelato

Kentish Town, London

Winner of the UK’s 2023 Parlour of the Year award, Caliendo’s is a North London institution. It was opened in 2019 by commercial pilot Michelina Caliendo-Sear and her partner Fiona Bell after they discovered that Caliendo’s family have all been in the gelato business since they arrived in the UK in the late 1880s. Its ices are perennial winners of Great Taste Awards.

Baboo Gelato

Various locations across West Dorset

Known for its gelato beach kiosks in Lyme Regis, Morcombelake, West Bay and Weymouth, Baboo has been operating since 2015, racking up awards from Taste of the West, the Great British Food Awards, and the Guild of Fine Foods. Most of the ingredients are sourced from the West Country and those that can’t be are bought directly from farmers the gelatiera, Annie Hanbury, has personally selected.

Crolla’s Gelateria


Another gelateria that can trace its roots back to the 19th century, Crolla’s has been in operation since 1895, when it was opened by Italian emigre Serafino Crolla. Now runby Peter Crolla, Serafino’s great-grandson, Crolla’s offers a “blend your own” service for its gelatos.

Do you prefer gelato to classic British ice cream? Let us know in the comments

The alternative to ice cream with half as much fat and sugar (2024)


The alternative to ice cream with half as much fat and sugar? ›

Gelato typically offers fewer calories, less sugar and lower fat content per serving than ice cream. The typical 3.5 oz. serving of vanilla gelato contains 90 calories and 3 grams of fat, compared to 125 calories and 7 grams of fat in the average vanilla ice cream.

Is gelato better than ice cream for diabetics? ›

Calorie- and fat-wise, gelato contains low amounts as compared to ice cream. However, it contains higher total carbohydrates. If people can pay for the higher carb content, then this might be a good alternative for them.

What makes gelato different than ice cream? ›

Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream. It starts out with a similar custard base as ice cream, but has a higher proportion of milk and a lower proportion of cream and eggs (or no eggs at all). It is churned at a much slower rate, incorporating less air and leaving the gelato denser than ice cream.

Does gelato have less dairy than ice cream? ›

Ingredients. While both gelato and ice cream contain cream, milk and sugar, there are differences, too. Authentic gelato uses more milk and less cream than ice cream and generally doesn't use egg yolks, which are a common ingredient in ice cream.

Does gelato have more sugar than ice cream? ›

On the other hand, gelato typically has a much lower fat content, at around 4–9% fat. It also packs more sugar than ice cream does (1, 3). However, it's worth remembering that both contain a lot of sugar. A 1/2-cup (78-gram) serving of vanilla ice cream can contain 210 calories and 16 total grams of sugar ( 5 ).

Is there an ice cream that diabetics can eat? ›

Edy's: This manufacturer produces several varieties of their slow-churned ice creams, which contain around 20 g carbohydrates or less per ½-cup serving. The Neopolitan flavor of Edy's contains only 14 g. Halo Top: Halo provides ice cream flavors with additional protein and low carbohydrates.

Is there a sugar-free gelato? ›

G.S. Gelato's Keto-Friendly Gelato and No Sugar Added Gelato & Plant-Based Frozen Desserts are better-for-you frozen dessert options perfect for those watching their sugar intake!

Which is healthier gelato or ice cream? ›

Gelato typically offers fewer calories, less sugar and lower fat content per serving than ice cream. The typical 3.5 oz. serving of vanilla gelato contains 90 calories and 3 grams of fat, compared to 125 calories and 7 grams of fat in the average vanilla ice cream.

Why is gelato less fattening than ice cream? ›

The main difference between ice cream and gelato is their fat content. With only 4-9% fat to the usual 10-25% of ice cream, gelato usually is lighter and healthier. Per portion, however, the answer is clear, gelato is typically healthier than ice cream.

Why is gelato more healthy than ice cream? ›

Gelato uses less sugar, an egg-free base, and primarily whole milk instead of sugar, egg, and cream, resulting in an additional richness and lower caloric count, sugar content, and butterfat content than regular ice cream.

Why can I eat gelato but not ice cream? ›

Using more milk and less cream is the main reason gelato tends to have lower fat and caloric content. Eggs are another differentiating ingredient; ice cream often contains small amounts of eggs, while gelato is usually completely void of them.

Is Talenti ice cream good for you? ›

Talenti gelato has its own cult following, but since many pints are high in sugar and calories, they're often considered off-limits to dieters.

Why does gelato not freeze? ›

Gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so it's denser because not as much air is whipped into the mixture. (Gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air, while ice cream can contain as much as 50 percent air).

Can diabetics eat gelato? ›

Yes, at the end of a meal, instead of fruit

Being a food which leads the body to produce glucose, first of all, gelato should replace and not be eaten in addition to other foods containing carbohydrates such as fruit, bread, pasta, rice, and the quantities should take into account the recommended daily calorie intake.

What is in Skinny Cow ice cream? ›

Ingredients. Low Fat Vanilla Ice Cream: Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Cane Sugar, Cream, Buttermilk, Tapioca Starch, Guar Gum, Pectin, Natural Flavor.

Is gelato lower in sugar than ice cream? ›

Gelato typically offers fewer calories, less sugar and lower fat content per serving than ice cream. The typical 3.5 oz. serving of vanilla gelato contains 90 calories and 3 grams of fat, compared to 125 calories and 7 grams of fat in the average vanilla ice cream.

Which has less carbs gelato or ice cream? ›

[1] Overall, gelato has more added sugar than ice cream resulting in higher carbohydrate content compared to ice cream. Dietitian's Tip: Both ice cream and gelato are high calorie treats so stick to a small portion (1/2 cup or 125 mL) per serving.

What is the sugar level of gelato? ›

Gelato is a healthy snack option that contains a relatively small number of calories and sugar. One serving of gelato (88 grams) contains about 160 calories and 17 grams of sugar, depending on the flavour. While everyone's dietary needs vary, gelato can generally be consumed as a special treat from time to time.

Is gelato the healthiest ice cream? ›

Is it healthy? In moderation. Because it uses more milk but less cream than ice cream, gelato contains less fat, and around 25% less calories. However, neither one is what you'd consider a low-calorie food.


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