Duomo Gelato

Eggs in Gelato: How and When to Use Them

Gelato, the Italian cousin to ice cream, is cherished for its rich and creamy texture, which can be attributed to its unique preparation methods and ingredients. One such ingredient that plays a crucial role in some gelato recipes is eggs. Understanding how and when to use eggs in gelato can help you achieve the perfect consistency and flavor. Here’s a guide to using eggs in gelato.

Why Use Eggs in Gelato?

Eggs, particularly egg yolks, contribute to the texture and stability of gelato. They serve multiple purposes:

  • Emulsification: Egg yolks act as natural emulsifiers, helping to blend fat and water, which results in a smooth and creamy texture.
  • Thickening: Eggs thicken the gelato base, giving it a rich and custard-like consistency.
  • Stabilization: Eggs can help prevent ice crystals from forming, ensuring a silky and dense gelato.

Types of Gelato Recipes Using Eggs

  1. Custard-Based Gelato (Crema Gelato):

    • Description: This type of gelato includes eggs (usually yolks) and is similar to a French-style custard ice cream. It has a rich, velvety texture and a slightly more complex flavor.
    • Typical Flavors: Vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and other nut-based or rich flavors benefit from the addition of eggs.
  2. Philadelphia-Style Gelato:

    • Description: This version omits eggs entirely and relies on milk, cream, and sugar. It’s lighter and often highlights fruit and delicate flavors.
    • Typical Flavors: Strawberry, lemon, mango, and other fruit-forward flavors that shine without the added richness of eggs.

How to Use Eggs in Gelato:

  1. Preparing the Custard Base:

    • Ingredients: Typically involves milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks.
    • Process:
      • Heat the Milk and Cream: Gently heat milk and cream in a saucepan until it’s steaming but not boiling.
      • Whisk the Yolks and Sugar: In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until the mixture is pale and thick.
      • Temper the Eggs: Gradually add a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to warm them without scrambling.
      • Combine and Heat: Pour the tempered yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and cream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
      • Cool the Base: Remove from heat, strain the mixture to remove any cooked egg bits, and cool it thoroughly before churning.
  2. Churning and Freezing:

    • Once the custard base is cooled, it can be churned in a gelato maker. The slow churning process incorporates less air than traditional ice cream, creating the dense texture gelato is known for.
    • After churning, the gelato should be frozen for a few hours to allow it to firm up.

When to Use Eggs:

  • Rich, Creamy Flavors: Use eggs in gelato recipes that benefit from a creamy, custard-like texture such as vanilla, chocolate, and nut flavors.
  • Texture Stability: In homemade gelato, eggs help achieve a professional texture and prevent large ice crystals, especially when using lower-fat milk.


Eggs play a pivotal role in the texture and stability of gelato, particularly in custard-based recipes. By understanding how and when to use them, you can create gelato with the perfect creamy consistency and rich flavor. Whether you’re making a classic vanilla or experimenting with a new flavor, incorporating eggs can elevate your gelato to new heights. Enjoy crafting your own delicious and authentic Italian gelato at home! Buon appetito!