Are you looking for something similar to ice cream but an alternative that is produced using less fatty ingredients, resulting in an intense flavor? Well, you need an Italian gelato! The good thing is there are many Italian gelato flavors you can select from. If you find ice cream too cold, your gelato is served at a warmer temperature.

Italian street gelato with cookie, Italian gelato flavors - The Proud Italian

History of Gelato

Many believe that Florentine Bernardo Buontalenti prepared the first gelato in the 16th century. The Gelato was a gift for Caterina di Medici. After that, the popularity of gelato spread across Italy, with many people testing the recipe. As it gained popularity, regional variations of the gelato emerged.

Years later, Francesco Procopio of Sicily, owner of Café Procope, introduced gelato in Paris. Other European countries were beneficiaries of the exportation of the product. Gelato artistry reached its perfection in the 20th century. You don’t have to travel to Italy to enjoy an authentic gelato. Visit an Italian cultural center in your area, and you’ll find your favorite flavor.

How to make Italian Gelato

You can make a dairy-free gelato. In Southern Italy, the water-based flavor is well-liked and contains mainly fruity flavors without chocolates or creams. These flavors are called the Sorbetto.

You can also make a Semifreddo, which is a semi-frozen gelato. You can serve this flavor with cakes and fruit. There is also the Sicilian Granita, which is pure crystalline ice made from natural indigenous plants and fruits.  

Sicilian Granita, Italian gelato flavors - The Proud Italian

The best Italian Gelato Flavors

Chocolates     

Italian for chocolate is cioccolato. There are also several kinds of chocolate flavor. Examples include:

  • Cioccolato fondenteThis variation is made from dark chocolate. If you prefer dark chocolate, you can hop into an Italian club and grab a cioccolato fondente extra-the darkest of the dark chocolates.  
  • BacioThis is a combination of chocolate and hazelnut. It was named after the legendary chocolate candies from Perugia.
  • Gianduja or gianduia – This is a creamy mix of milk chocolate and hazelnut. The flavor originated from the Piedmont region, but you can find it anywhere in Italy.
  • Cioccolato all’arancia – This is made from chocolate orange. The recipe does not use milk chocolate –  it uses dark chocolate. It also includes an orange flavor or small candied pieces of orange peelings.
  • Cioccolato con peperoncini – This recipe uses dark chocolate infused with hot pepper. The gelato also contains some orange. There is a variation called cioccolato all’azteca, which contains cinnamon and hot pepper.

Italian gelato flavors - The Proud Italian

Nuts

Besides being a well-liked ingredient in several chocolate and cream flavors, nuts also have their distinct flavors. Popular nut variations include:

  • Pistacchio Made from pistachio.
  • Mandorla This is mainly almond.                                                                             
  • Nocciola This gelato is made of hazelnut alone, and not combined with chocolate.
  • Castagna This chestnut variation is not as common as other nut flavors.

Creams

A great way to have a gelato is to use a strong flavor as the primary choice (the scoop at the bottom) and use a cream flavor for the secondary scoop. The cream flavor will not fight the primary flavor. If you reside in the US, you should check into an Italian-American community center and grab one of the following creamy flavors:

  • Fior di latte – This is probably the most commonly used base flavor for cream-based flavors. It is also used in chocolate gelato as a foundation. It is also known as the “flower of milk” and offers a perfectly subtle sweet cream savor.   
  • Crema – A creamy gelato that is usually confused with vanilla. It is a variation of egg-custard flavor.
  • Zabaione – This flavor originates from a dessert bearing the same name. Its main ingredients are egg yolks and sweet marsala wine. With this gelato, you get an egg custard savor with a connotation of Marsala.
  • Cocco – Cocco is a coconut-based flavor.
  • Caffe – This is a gelato version of your morning espresso.
  • Amarena – You can think of this flavor as a fior di latte laced with a sauce of tart cherries.  

Gelato in a scoop, Italian gelato flavors - The Proud Italian

Fruits

Technically speaking, these flavors are not considered gelati; they are sorbetti since they do not contain milk. Here are some of the fruit flavors:

  • Fragola – This fruity flavor is made from strawberries.
  • Lampone – If you love raspberries, this is your ideal gelato flavor.
  • Limone – This is a rare lemon-based flavor.
  • Mandarino – A gelato made from mandarin orange flavor.
  • Melone – This flavor is for the melon lovers.
  • Albicocca – It is made using apricot fruits.
  • Fico – Fig flavor.
  • Tarocco – A rare kind made of blood orange.
  • Frutti di bosco – The name means fruits from the forest. It includes fruits like blackberries and blueberries.
  • Mela – An apple or green apple flavor.
  • Pera – This is a pear fruit flavor. If you prefer a subtle flavor, you’ll enjoy this gelato flavor with a pear texture.
  • Pesca – Peach-based flavor.  

Various Italian gelato flavors in cones - The Proud Italian

Oddballs

There are many gelato varieties based on renowned Italian candy bars and desserts. In the US, you’ll find these gelatos from an Italian-American social club near you. Some of the popular examples include:

  • Zuppa inglese – This translates to English soup but is referring to trifle, a well-known English dessert. It contains a custard flavor base with cookie pieces and sweet wine.
  • Riso – This is more of a gelato edition of the rice pudding. It contains bits of rice in it.
  • Malaga – A  flavor made from rum and raisins.
  • Stracciatella – This is a fior de latte with small pieces of chocolate in it.

Summary

You don’t have to stick to your favorite gelato flavor to enjoy—sample other recipes from different regions to get a feel of other gelato flavors. If you are in the US and looking for authentic gelato, visit an Italian-American cultural center to discover this treat.