If you follow a dairy-free diet, you may be wondering if gelato contains any dairy. Find the answer in this post.
In the summer and warm weather months, what could be better than a frozen treat like gelato?
Gelato has quickly gained popularity in North America in the past few decades and many folks rave about it. It’s creamy, flavorful, and you really don’t need much to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You may have seen some delicious flavors of gelato at the grocery store or even passed a gelato shop in your hometown and wondered if it was safe to enjoy on a dairy-free diet.
If you are avoiding dairy and you’re wondering what kind of sweet treats you can safely enjoy on warm days, look no further.
In this post, we’re going to talk about what gelato is, what it’s made of, talk about how gelato differs from ice cream, and of course answer the question: Is gelato dairy-free?
Next time you pass a gelato shop in your hometown or on vacation, use the information in this post to help you make an informed decision about whether or not to duck in and order a scoop.
What is gelato?
Gelato is a frozen treat that originated in Italy. It’s made with just about the same ingredients as ice cream, but different amounts and proportions are used. The result is a smooth, creamy frozen dessert that folks go crazy for.
Many folks say gelato is better for you than ice cream as it has a lower butterfat content, which is just one reason so many people flock to this cold treat.
You can find gelato in ice cream shops, dedicated gelato shops, and even in grocery stores in pints in the freezer section.
What are the ingredients in gelato?
Gelato is most commonly made with milk, cream, sugar, and any ingredients that flavor it, such as espresso, mint, or fruit. “True” gelato, as it’s made in Italy, contains at least 3.5% butterfat from either milk and/or cream.
Depending on the brand of gelato you buy, the ingredients may vary from one brand to the next. Ingredients may also vary based on flavor.
Let’s look at a popular brand of gelato you can buy from the store, Talenti, to see what they use in their popular Sea Salt Caramel Gelato flavor:
“Milk, skim milk, sugar, cream, egg yolk and whole egg, corn syrup, coconut oil, dextrose, cocoa (processed with alkali), sea salt, carob bean gum, vanilla extract, soy lecithin, natural flavor. May contain peanuts, tree nuts and wheat.”
What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream?
The main difference between gelato and ice cream is how the ice cream is churned. Gelato is made by being slowly stirred with a machine while freezing.
The goal of making gelato is not to incorporate much air. On the other hand, ice cream is made by churning in a machine to incorporate air into the ice cream.
Gelato and ice cream may have the same ingredients, but may vary based on the ratios of milk, cream, and sugar.
Ice cream may also contain eggs, which gelato generally doesn’t. Gelato contains around 4 and 9% butterfat, whereas ice cream contains between 14 and 25% fat.
Read on: Is ice cream gluten-free?
Is gelato dairy-free?
Gelato is not dairy-free, because it contains milk and cream, which are both dairy products. A dairy ingredient is one that comes from any animal milk. Since milk and cream are cow’s milk products, gelato is not dairy-free.
Is gelato lactose-free?
With the milk and cream in gelato, it will not be lactose-free. As lactose is a protein of milk, this protein will be present in any food that contains milk or cream.
Is gelato vegan?
Gelato is made with both milk and cream, both animal products, so it is not vegan.
Is gelato gluten-free?
Gelato by nature will be gluten-free, as long as flavorings or other ingredients that contain gluten aren’t added in. For example, if cookie pieces are added to the gelato, it would not be gluten-free, because the cookie pieces would contain gluten.
Another thing to keep in mind is the possibility of cross contamination during processing. Sometimes a flavor of gelato has no gluten ingredients, but it’s processed on the same equipment as flavors with gluten.
The likelihood of cross contamination is possible in these cases, so it’s useful to look for “May contain traces of wheat or gluten” on packaging near ingredients lists.
What dairy-free treat can I enjoy instead of gelato?
While gelato is not dairy-free, there are still some great frozen treat options available to you. Sorbettos are an option you may find at gelato shops or at the grocery store. These are made with fruit juice, fruit puree, and water.
You can find sorbettos from the Talenti brand at your local grocery store and these are all dairy-free.
Sorbettos are another name for sorbet, another dairy-free frozen treat. Sorbets are made with just fruit juice, water, and sugar and are safe for a dairy-free diet. You can find a variety of flavors at many ice cream shops and at the grocery store.
Get other brands of sorbet here: Is sorbet dairy-free?
Any dairy-free ice cream that is made from dairy-free milk bases, such as coconut milk, cashew milk, or rice milk are all safe for a dairy-free diet.
Get a full list of gluten & dairy-free ice cream brands & flavors!
Find a full list of dairy-free ice cream options, brands, and flavors here: The Ultimate List of Dairy-free Ice Cream Brands and Flavors.
Make your own dairy-free ice cream at home with these 25 dairy-free ice cream recipes.
Another delicious option for a cold dairy-free treat are dairy-free ice cream bars. You can get a list of some brands and flavors in this post: Dairy-free Ice Cream Bars.
If you’re following a dairy-free diet, gelato isn’t a good option for you. Be on the lookout for other dairy-free treat options, such as sorbet or dairy-free milk-based ice creams.
I hope if you’ve been wondering if gelato will work for your dairy-free diet that you’ve been able to get some useful information to help you make a decision next time you’re at the store or walking by a gelato shop.
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