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Gelato, Sorbetto, Granita - What's The Difference?

18 August 2022
by Giadzy
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When it comes to refreshing desserts in Italy, there's no shortage of icy treats to be enjoyed. But what's the difference between these main contenders?

 Gelato, Sorbetto, Granita, image credit: Elizabeth Newman

Gelato

Try: Giada's Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Recipe

Every trip to Italy must include at least one stop to a gelateria - they inhabit just about every street in main cities, after all.

Gelato is a dairy-based churned dessert that is very similar to ice cream - but not quite the same. It has less air incorporated in the mixture than ice cream, giving it a more dense and decadent texture, and even a glossier appearance. 

Compared to granita and sorbetto, gelato is the only one of the three that has a base of dairy.

 

Sorbetto

Try: Giada's Olive Oil Sorbetto Recipe

Classic sorbetto is just fruit and sugar, but it can also contain liqueurs, herbs, and even olive oil. What can go into a sorbet is incredibly vast, and there's just one rule: no dairy! If there's the presence of milk or cream, it would no longer be sorbetto.

What sets sorbetto apart from granita, another icey dairy-free treat, is the churning process. A slow churn gives sorbetto an incredibly creamy texture despite the lack of dairy.

 

Granita

Try: Giada's Simple Coffee Granita

This refreshing treat is beloved in Sicily during the hot summers. In composition, it's very similar to sorbetto - as a matter of fact, they could have the exact same ingredients. The difference is in the technique - while sorbetto is churned, granita is generally frozen on a sheet or in a pan, and then scraped out for a granular icey texture. Think the Italian version of shaved ice or snow cones!

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