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Homemade Gelato Recipe Transports You to Italy In One Scoop — No Churning Required

Plus, how to prevent your custard from curdling

The summer sun is turning sidewalks into sizzling pans, and the only thing on my mind is a cool, refreshing escape. But as much as I love walking down the ice cream aisle, lately I’ve been craving something a bit more special. That’s when I found about homemade gelato. And it isn’t your average frozen treat — it’s a luxurious taste of Italy. But the best part? You can create it all at home with just 6 ingredients and no machine. You can also customize the simp.e base recipe with all sorts of fun flavor variations. Here’s how to make homemade gelato the easy way.

What is gelato?

Gelato, the Italian word for “ice cream,” has evolved into a beloved part of Italian culture. But while it may look like ice cream, gelato tastes a bit different. It has a denser, silkier texture due to less air incorporation during churning. This results in a more intense flavor of the ingredients. Gelato also typically uses less cream, creating a lighter and slightly less sweet dessert.

How to make the perfect homemade gelato

Homemade gelato starts with making the perfect custard base. Here are tips for ensuring yours comes out great.

1. Cook low and slow

Don’t boil your custard or it will curdle. If it does, use a blender or immersion blender and blend for 20 seconds until smooth.

2. Strain it

After simmering, strain your custard with a fine mesh sieve to catch any bits of cooked egg. This gets that silky, smooth texture you want.

3. Cool your custard fast

If you don’t want to wait for your custard to cool to room temperature, create an ice bath with a larger bowl filled with ice water. It should chill within 20 minutes.

Easy gelato base recipe

homemade gelato in bowls with spoon
gorchittza2012/Getty

I followed this recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking for a vanilla gelato base. But keep scrolling and you’ll find two other delicious flavors to try, including salted caramel and triple chocolate.

Homemade Gelato Base

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (36%)
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Active Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, add the milk. Place over medium-low heat until it comes to a gentle simmer.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Temper the eggs by slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Pour the custard back into the same saucepan over low heat.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon for roughly 6-8 minutes, until the custard has thickened slightly.
  4. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and let cool down at room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Add in salt and vanilla to the custard and mix. Once completely cooled (either in an ice bath or at room temp), cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. When the custard base is cold, whip the cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the custard base into the whipped cream until smooth and thickened.

Flavor variations

For each flavor, add these ingredients (in order) into your base before freezing.

Salted caramel

  • ½ cup salted caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Triple chocolate

  • ⅔ cup chocolate ganache, melted
  • ¾ cup bittersweet chocolate, chunks
  • ½ cup white chocolate, melted

Freezing your homemade gelato

Homemade gelato can be stored in your freezer for up to 6 weeks.

  1. Pour the gelato into a loaf pan or any freezer-safe container and place it in the freezer. After 30-60 minutes, whip it up to break up the ice crystals. Do this roughly 2-3 times until it thickens.
  2. Allow freezing for another 4-5 hours or until frozen before scooping. If hard to scoop allow the gelato to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes until it softens slightly.

For more refreshing desserts to make this summer, try these recipes below:

5-Ingredient Ice Cream Cake Recipe Features 2 Kinds of Oreos for Double the Yum

You’ll Scream for This Easy 3 Ingredient Ice Cream Recipe — No Churning Required

Protein Ice Cream Recipe Is So Easy to Make With Just 5 Ingredients: My Taste Test Results

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