Chocolate Gelato

What is gelato? Some might say gelato is just the Italian word for Ice Cream. While close, that wouldn’t be exactly accurate. There are two big differences between Italian gelato and American ice cream. The first is that gelato contains less butterfat; it is typically made with whole milk rather than cream (in some rare cases a combination of the two). Second is that it is churned slower which pumps less air into it than it’s American counterpart (I find that most home ice cream makers do a good job with gelato in this area).

This recipe is for a Sicilian style Chocolate Gelato, which is even further away from American ice cream than the gelato served in the north of Italy. Sicilian gelato contains neither cream nor egg; it uses as it’s base what is called a crema rinforzata, made from milk, sugar and cornstarch. The result is a gelato that is lighter and at the same time more intensely flavored than American ice cream or Northern Italian gelato (which is usually made from an egg based custard).

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Chocolate Gelato

Chocolate Gelato

  • Yield: 8 1x


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch


  1. Place 2 cups of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat when milk just begins to simmer.
  2. Add chocolate to the hot milk and stir in until completely melted.
  3. Combine remaining 1 cup of milk, cocoa powder, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl, then stir into hot milk and chocolate mixture.
  4. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring until mixture thickens, approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.


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27 Responses

    1. Tried this recipe after previous ones I tried used cream ….. not really gelato if it’s cream I don’t think but still delizioso. I made this yesterday and churned today. Being UK based I tried converting the recipe to grams to make sure I git the right quantities.
      All good and just needed a little extra corn starch/ flour to thicken.
      Now in the freezer. A cheeky little taste before it went in it! Squisito!

      1. 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

    2. I just made my gelato according to this recipe and it came out beautifully, really rich, soft, silky and smooth! The colour came out really lovely too.
      So pleased to get rid of that egg taste in regular ice creams…
      One thing that I’d add is that I did have to leave the ice cream reach room temperature after taking it out of the refrigerator, as it was mostly frozen and the ice cream maker couldn’t mix it.

  1. Made this recipe a couple of times, it was my first try at gelato after traveling to Italy and realizing I needed to get some of this amazing stuff at home.
    This method of heating with corn starch/maizena results in a very thick and super-smooth texture when using an ice cream machine, and the flavor was great when using a good quality baking chocolate of 40-50% cocoa.
    Thanks for sharing this, recommended 🙂

    1. Gelato typically doesn’t have cream therefore having less fat than ice cream. I’m pretty sure that Sicilian gelato is made without eggs and is instead made with cornstarch (as a thickener)

  2. We have made this recipe several times, and it is incredibly rich, smooth, and delicious. We’ve even made it with 2% milk in a pinch when we ran out of whole. It was STILL amazing. It defies conventional wisdom that ice cream/ gelato has to be high in fat to be creamy and delicious. Thanks!

  3. I have been trying a different gelato recipe every day for the week that I’ve owned my new gelato machine. This one, by far, comes the closest to what I remember in Italy. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to the world of “corn starch” gelato! And, the process for melting the chocolate is right on.

    If I want to use your recipe as a base for other flavors (I’m thinking cinnamon will be my next endeavor), can I just remove the cholocate(s) from this recipe and add in cinnamon?

    See WAY TOO EASY compared with the crazy corn syrup, eggs, cream concoctions that other recipes are calling for.

  4. Made this today and it’s by far the best gelato recipe I’ve tried. It’s creamy, delicious and all the family were impressed. The only thing I added was a teaspoon of decaf coffee. Best of all it’s so easy and quick to make. I will have to try other flavour combinations using this recipe as a base.

  5. Thank you for sharing this truly excellent recipe! My whole family thinks it is the very best chocolate gelato (or ice cream) ever. We were fighting over the last few spoonsful last night. Just a perfect recipe, and much easier to make than a custard-based gelato recipe.

  6. A great recipe, I tried many with and without eggs but this one is somehow the most reliable in outcome, there is not so much you can do wrong as with the egg based ones. Creamy and quite light in taste…really nice, so thank you for that!
    I like extra dark chocolate, so I used 100gr of 76% chocolate+20gr of 85% and added more cocoa powder. Excellent!
    For my boyfriend who is more about creaminess and sweet flavor rather than the chocolate I added to the above 100ml of cream. Approved as well, without knowing that there is less fat and sugar than in what he is used to make.
    I used 3.5% milk and only 150gr. of sugar+2 tabs of sweetener.

  7. Delicious recipe for gelato. I love that it is made without cream and still comes out silky smooth and creamy. Great flavor!

  8. Oh so good. Very rich and creamy. I added some coffee chips when melting the chocolate (1/4 cup). Very easy and well worth the effort.

  9. I made this yesterday. Instead of the chopped bitter sweet chocolate, I used a few tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. Wow was it delicious! I used an old fashioned ice cream maker with ice and rock salt and churned it for about 30 minutes. So unbeleivebly smooth. Can’t wait to try somethinelse soon.

  10. Delicious. Make sure you mix the cornstarch with a little bit of milk to make a slurry before you just dump it in. It will take forever to dissolve

  11. Made this yesterday and loved the result. Since my wife and I like less sweetness, I used 100% bitter chocolate. I did not used any ice cream maker. Just dumped the called down picture into a glass bowl. The covered with a plastic wrap, with the plastic touching the surface of the mixture, to prevent formation of ice crystals . Gave it a simple hand churn after freezing for about 6 hours and put it back in the freezer. It was ready to eat after another 6 hours in the freezer. Everybody loved it. Will try to use this technique for other flavors.

  12. Really, really good! Smooth texture, chocolate flavor coats the entire tongue. I made the 3X version and added 3 Tbls of cooled espresso. My 6-qt White Mountain churned it perfectly. Thanks for an excellent recipe!

  13. Sicilians were too poor to invest high value cream or eggs in a “dolce”, hence the simple sugar, milk, flavoring and thickener. I use one tablespoon of cornstarch for each cup of milk and “cook” the mix in a large capacity sauce pot with a heavy bottom (more uniform distribution of heat.) The arrowroot or cornstarch will thicken slowly, requiring close attention and continuous stirring, preferably with a large heat resistant spatula to keep the bottom clean. Getting the perfect thickness is a learned art – too thin and the texture suffers; cook it too long, the starch “breaks” and you lose any thickening you achieved. Chill the mix at least overnight at 40 degrees before moving on to the ice cream maker.

  14. i should have done more research before i took the time to make this recipe.
    i guess it’s a good option for folks wanting to avoid eggs and heavy cream.
    i’m new to the gelato world and did not realize that leaving eggs out was not a typical gelato making practice.

    (I even used a Breville on the gelato setting) and it had grainy texture and was not good.

  15. used 4 oz.milk chocolate chips, about 2 oz. semisweet chips and 2 oz. of espresso chips and while my whynter ice cream machine was mixing I added walnuts and vodka to stop ice crystals from forming and turned out incredible. My favorite so far and have made strawberry, lime and french vanilla as well.

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