Making ice cream at home is easy, quick and fun. With a few simple ingredients and an ice cream maker, it's ready in less than an hour. We are Italians and we share our authentic recipes to make gelato at home: as delicious as the one from the ice cream parlor 👌
Ice cream is one of the most iconic Italian desserts. In particular, our country has a great tradition of artisan ice cream (🔊gelato artigianale) made with fresh ingredients: in each neighborhood there is usually one ice cream parlor that produces and sells it.
We are Italians and we have been making ice cream for many years, in summer and winter, to our great satisfaction.
Making ice cream at home is a very enjoyable hobby: because it is quick and easy, because you only need a few ingredients and because you can make ice cream the way you like: without eggs, with eggs, with fruit or sugar-free.
As tasty as the ones from the ice cream parlor? Even more, because you use fresh ingredients and you can adjust the amounts of sugar, milk and whipping cream yourself.
On this page of our website All Italian we share step by step the preparation and ingredients to make your own ice cream that is just as delicious as a 🔊gelato in Italy.
This is the basic recipe of the Italian ice cream without eggs with the ice cream maker. In Italy we call this ice cream flavor 🔊fiordilatte.
It is the basic ice cream without eggs, that of Cornetto.
Based on this recipe we make other flavors, such as chocolate ice cream and pistachio ice cream.
We recommend fresh whole milk, with a fat percentage of about 3.5%.
Skimmed milk, on the other hand, is not optimal because it contains a higher proportion of water and changes the proportions of the ingredients in the recipe.
You can also use lactose-free milk, in the same amount as regular milk.
In fruit ice cream, which is called sorbet, you can also use plain water. This way the fruit flavor is enhanced, because it is not softened by the milk.
Fresh whipping cream is used to add fat to the ice cream. The one we use, which you often find in the supermarket, contains about 35% fat.
👉 It is not necessary to whip the cream in order to make ice cream; just add it to the other ingredients.
To become ice cream, the mixture you pour into the ice cream maker needs the right amount of sugar. With white sugar you get a nice «firm» ice cream with a neutral taste; with cane sugar the taste of the ice cream is more aromatic.
In some recipes we also use honey, which however contains 20% water, so we need to calibrate the ingredients of the recipe.
Making Italian ice cream without eggs
Eggs in ice cream are a thickener. But you don't necessarily need eggs to make ice cream at home.
We do not use eggs in fruit ice cream flavors and sorbet ice cream.
You can make other ice cream flavors with or without eggs: for example, coffee ice cream can be made both ways.
Tools you need to make Italian ice cream
We are based in Europe, but this page is visited by people from many parts of the world; and we all use different units of measurement! We therefore try to make things easy for everyone: for each ingredient we indicate both the volume in cups and the weight in ouncesandgrams.
In the US, most online ice cream recipes indicate the ingredients in cups: it\'s a very practical unit, in which each ingredient is already converted into volume, so you don't need a scale.
👉 To be more accurate, however, we prefer to weigh all the ingredients: both solids and liquids before pouring them into the ice cream mixture.
For this you need a kitchen scale, preferably a digital one, which usually expresses the weight in ounces (oz) and/or grams (g).
👉 Tip: we recommend starting experimenting first with a small amount of ice, as the ice cream maker makes it faster and easier.
Immersion blender or mixer
After weighing the ingredients, we pour them all into a bowl. To mix them well, we prefer to use a hand blender: that is practical and fast.
👉 Mix the ingredients in a bowl with a spout: this makes it easier to pour the mixture into the ice cream maker afterwards.
When we make ice cream with solid ingredients and large pieces, such as fruit, we opt for the blender. The result is the same: it is just important to carefully chop and mix the ingredients to obtain a smooth ice cream.
Ice cream maker
The ice cream maker is a compact device that gives great results and much joy.
There are two types ice machines: compressor or freezer bowl. Compressor ice cream makers are more practical to use, but slightly more expensive.
For this recipe we use one of the most popular models of compressor ice cream maker; the steps of the procedure are the same for virtually all ice cream makers on the market.
If you have a compressor ice cream maker, turn it on and let it cool while you prepare the ingredients.
Usually the ice cream maker needs about 10 minutes to cool down, i.e. to reach the right temperature for making ice cream.
The display of some ice machines shows the temperature: to make ice it should be around 7.6 °F (-22 °C).
If you have an ice cream maker with a freezer bowl, make sure that the bowl has been in the freezer long enough.
Mix the ingredients
Mix the ingredients in a bowl with an immersion mixer. Pour in the liquids first and then add the powders. Mix them on low speed until you get a homogeneous and smooth mixture.
The ingredients should be cold from the fridge, as cold should be the mixture you get.
Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker
The timer on the compressor ice cream maker counts down from 60 minutes and the machine needs about 10-15 minutes to cool down.
This means that when the display shows 45 minutes, you can pour in the ice cream mixture.
If you have an ice cream maker with freezer bowl, it's time to assemble it. The freezer bowl should already be very cold after sufficient hours in the freezer.
To prevent the cold from escaping, pour the ice cream through the opening in the lid of the ice cream maker. This way:
First make sure that the mixing paddle is already rotating;
Then pour the mixture into the ice cream maker.
👉 It is very important that the ice cream maker is very cold before pouring the mixture.
Otherwise, it's like putting a pizza in a cold oven, or put pasta in cold water to cook. 😊
Let it mix for 30-40 minutes
First reset the timer to count down from 50 minutes; this way you don't run the risk of the ice cream maker switching off before the ice cream is ready.
You can check the status of the ice cream through the transparent lid of the ice cream maker.
Once poured, the ice cream mixture in the ice cream maker will look like this:
After about 15-20 minutes, the mixture will begin to accumulate air and increase in volume, gradually becoming gelato.
Your ice cream is ready 🍨
The ice cream is ready when it seems «firm enough». If the recipe contains balanced ingredients, the ice cream will be creamy and the mixing paddle of the ice cream maker will stop slowly. However, it also depends on the amount of ice cream and the capacity of the machine.
Freshly made ice cream is usually very soft. You can definitely eat it right away, or you can put it in a bowl and keep it in the freezer for an hour. This way the ice cream solidifies a bit, without becoming too hard.
Homemade Italian ice cream, just ready, is very soft.
One option is to eat it right away, like we do in the summer.
But what if you want to keep it and eat it later, for example at dinner with guests? No problem. Homemade ice cream in the freezer becomes hard, about as hard as ice cream; but not too hard.
How to thaw ice cream to eat it soft the next day? Our tip is to take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge instead of at room temperature. This way the ice cream has softened after about an hour without becoming runny.
Ice cream that you buy in the supermarket remains rather soft because it contains more air and fat: properties that make it soft for a long time.
Making your own ice cream has several advantages over the one you buy in an ice cream parlor, or even at the grocery store:
Enjoying a nice Italian ice cream is a moment of happiness, not only on summer days.
Before we bought an ice cream shop, we used to go to the ice cream parlor several times a week. But 1 kg of ice cream in an ice cream parlor is quite expensive and the costs started to weigh on our wallet 💸.
For the same price you can produce roughly 4 times as much ice cream, and you can choose the ingredients yourself. And you can already find a good ice cream maker from 50 $.
Many ice cream parlors make ice cream that in our opinion is too sweet. When you make ice cream at home, you can relate the quality and quantity of the ingredients. You can experiment by making ice cream without whipping cream, without milk or without sugar.
Homemade ice cream is simple and healthy, and of course it doesn't contain the preservatives, addittives and colorings that are in the big distribution ice cream.
Once you're a bit experienced, making ice cream is a simple matter that takes less than an hour - from the idea of making it to the moment you eat it. It takes 10 minutes to prepare the ingredients and cool down the ice cream maker; and another 40 minutes in which the machine works autonomously to produce the actual ice cream.
Ice cream makers usually have a timer: this indicates when the gelato is ready.
The difference between Italian artisan gelato and American ice cream
Many ask us: what is the difference between Italian ice cream, from the ice cream parlor or that you make at home, and American ice cream?
Italian ice cream is produced directly in the ice cream shop, and for this reason it is called artisanal ice cream (🔊gelato artigianale in Italian). The ice cream shop produces a limited amount of gelato using fresh ingredients; the ice cream is then consumed within a few days.
American ice cream, on the other hand, is a large-scale retail product and as such the manufacturing process is completely different, as are the ingredients.
The properties of the product are also different: the ice cream you buy in an Italian ice cream shop has a fat percentage between 6% and 10%, while in American ice cream the fats must be at least 10%.
You immediately know it's ice-cream because its consistency is softer than that of Italian ice cream, because it contains much more air.
Follow our recipes
We regularly update these pages on Italian gelato with recipes we make at home with the ice cream maker.