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Gelato vs Ice cream vs Custard vs Frozen yogurt vs soft serve - What's the difference?

Dedicated to Ice-cream lovers
Difference between Ice cream, Custard, Fro-yo, Gelato and Soft Serve Difference between Ice cream, Custard, Fro-yo, Gelato and Soft Serve

How many times have you heard these terms which confuse the hell out of you? All you wanted was an ice cream and the store has suddenly thrown out many more options. You for one have no idea on what the difference between Gelato and Ice Cream is? You probably always thought that Gelato/Gelati is just Italian for Ice Cream! And as if this was not enough, we have Frozen yogurt, soft serve and Custard to add to the mire. Well, not to worry! You're not alone. These terms can be confusing and are often used interchangeably by people. We will try and sort out that confusion for you and also find out which of these is the healthiest.

Ice cream was the first entry into the category of ‘chilled desserts’. It has around 20% cream and 10% milk which also accounts for its fat content. The contents have to be churned efficiently so as to allow the entering of atmospheric air into the mixture which provides it a soft texture instead of a hard one after freezing. Ice Creams though are heavily loaded with calories (1 serve ~ 100g has 200 calories which will cost you  a 30 min workout) with sugar content that would beat most other desserts.

Ice cream calories Ice cream calories Image Credit

The next obvious question that comes to mind is - What is the difference between Ice cream and Gelato or Gelati (plural form)?

What is Gelato and how is it different from Ice Cream?

Gelato is an Italian delicacy and is perhaps the most unique of all the chilled dessert varieties owing to the fact that it is not served really icy but at somewhat moderate temperatures. While gelato contains the same ingredients as Ice cream, the milk to fat ratio is relatively higher, which provides it a denser and a low-fat feel, which also means it is lower in calories as well (~128 Cal in 1 serving/~100g). The churning process is done at a slower pace which provides it a softer texture and makes it denser than ice cream. Since Gelato is not that icy a serving, it is one of the best options for those who refrain from eating ice creams but want to enjoy the taste of a soothing dessert.

 Click here for a quick and easy home made mango ice cream recipe.

What is gelato What is gelato Image Credit

With that sorted, let us look at some other Frozen desserts that cause confusion

What is Frozen Yogurt?

Frozen Yogurt or ‘FroYo’ is another after-meal delicacy. Frozen Yogurt is made by adding sweeteners and other ingredients to the conventional yogurt and then freezing it after culturing. Frozen Yogurt is high in sugar content but less in fat and calorie content (100g has 127 Calories); but what’s really fascinating about this dessert is that frozen yogurt has many probiotics (introduced during culturing), which helps in improving digestion and is helpful particularly for lactose intolerant people. Click here to find out how to make frozen yogurt at home.

frozen yogurt or froyo yogurt frozen yogurt or froyo yogurt Image Credit

What is Frozen Custard?

Custard is popularly used as a dessert sauce or sometimes in combination with various fruits. The only difference between Custard and classical Ice cream is that apart from the ingredients of the conventional ice cream, custard also has egg yolk. This egg yolk accounts for its thicker, smoother and low-calorie content (100g has 120 calories). Just like custard’s flavor is unique, so is its preparation. You must remember that content should be heated quite gently, even minor overheating can lead to segregation of solid and the liquid part, thereby destroying the ‘Custard’. Click here for a delicious Custard recipe.

Difference between Ice cream and Custard Difference between Ice cream and Custard Image Credit

What is Soft Serve? 

Soft serve has been a continuous hit for all leading brands like McDonalds etc. As compared to conventional Ice cream, Soft Serve only has a difference in the mode of churning and fat content, with lesser fat content (varying from 3-6%) while calorie content is around 220 calories (100g). So, what makes Soft Serve ‘soft’? Soft serve has around ‘30-45% of air’ as its content, which creates porous openings in the cream and gives it an exquisite soft texture rather than the hard Ice Cream feel. Soft serve ‘melts’ as soon as your tongue feels it which also accounts for its huge popularity!

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What is the Difference between Frozen Desserts and Ice cream?

The controversy which was sparked off by an ad campaign by Amul, which stated that only Amul made Ice cream while other companies were making only frozen desserts and not Ice cream! Well, the key difference between the two is that Ice cream is fully made up of milk and other dairy products while frozen desserts use vegetable oils like palm oils instead of dairy products. Vegetable oils are about one-fifth the cost of milk and also contain unhealthy saturated fats, but the companies selling frozen desserts charge around the same amount as is charged for ice creams. Though the flavor and calorie content of both is same, Frozen Desserts do have more unhealthy ingredients. So, now you know the difference between the two and also the insight to decide what to have to satiate your dessert cravings!

Do you feel a little more informed now? Let's get you to the pro level by having a quick look at some other variants of chilled desserts like popsicles, faloodeh, sorbet, and slush. 

What is a Popsicle?

How often have you got nostalgic from childhood memories where you and your friends enjoyed those beloved and multi-colored ice bars! Popsicle is another name for those ice bars. They are known by different names worldwide like “freezer pop” in USA and “pop lolly” in UK and India but whatever be the name, its fancy style and appeal remains the same everywhere. Popsicles are made by freezing the flavored liquid around a stick while various additives and taste enhancers are also added to give the desired flavors. Popsicles are perhaps the easiest of the desserts to prepare in the chilled dessert category and multitude of flavors add to their popularity. Do check out this easy popsicle recipe.

what is Popsicle what is Popsicle Image Credit

What is Sorbet?

Sorbet is a sweetened drink which can be made from fruits, chocolates or even champagne! But as a matter of fact, Sorbet does not contain any dairy product and which differentiates it from ‘Sherbet’. Any fruit can be used to form Sorbet by just pureeing the fruit and freezing it after adding additional ingredients like dry fruits etc. Sorbet is a very healthy alternative for Ice cream since it does not have any dairy product to increase the fat content while the calorie content is also not high (half cup has around 150 calories). Unlike Ice cream, Sorbet does not have any ‘air content’, which makes it denser and also gives it a pronounced taste. If you are looking for an easy flavorful sorbet recipe then check this out

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What is Faloodeh?

Faloodeh or Falooda is a Persian delicacy which promises to give you an incredibly unique taste when compared to any other frozen dessert variant. Faloodeh is a unique dessert comprising of ingredients which no other frozen dessert has! It contains vermicelli rice noodles added to ‘Persian based dairy Ice cream’ and served after adding rose water and other fruit juice. Calorie content is the same as Ice cream (around 220 calories), but Faloodeh ranks higher in sugar content. What I can promise is one thing- You will remember its flavor throughout your life even if you had a chance to taste it just once. And, If you haven’t tried this one out yet, then you’re definitely missing something! Try this recipe out today!

Faloodeh or falooda Faloodeh or falooda Image Credit

What is Slush?

Slush is nothing but a combination of water, ice crystals and sugar with added vanilla or other flavours. Slush is formed by mixing all the above stated ingredients in a blender which breaks the ice cubes into very small crystals, thereby accounting for a very uniform amalgamation. Slush has been an immensely popular chilled dessert owing to its simple way of preparation and extremely low-cost ingredients. Enjoy this kids-special Slush recipe.

Slush Slush Image Credit

So, the next time you want to cheat on your diet by gorging on ice-cream, know that you have many more Frozen dessert options available, and some of which may not hurt your diet goals as bad. Our personal recommendation is definitely the Faloodeh or Falooda!

About the Author: This Article has been written, researched and shared by Shobhit Dwivedi, who is an engineer by degree, a gourmand by heart and loves to research and write about food, health and fitness to satiate his passion for them.  You can follow Shobhit on Plattershare.

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