Is Gelato Dairy-Free?

By Hannah Whittaker RD, PGDip | May 26, 2023

Gelato is a beloved frozen dessert that is enjoyed by people all over the world. Its creamy and smooth texture, combined with its rich and flavorful taste, has made it an all-time favourite. 

As much as we love it, certain questions come to mind when it comes to dietary requirements. 

One of the popular questions that many people ask is, is gelato dairy-free?

In this blog post, I will explore the truth about gelato and its dairy content, and whether it contains any animal products. This means you will be able to make an informed decision about whether you can eat gelato when you are vegan or plant-based.

Gelato: An Intriguing Fact

People believe that gelato was first created in Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance period and Italian royalty often enjoyed it as a luxurious dessert. 

Interestingly, gelato originally used ice from the snow-capped mountains in the Italian Alps and today people consume gelato worldwide, and it has become synonymous with Italian cuisine.

Gelato vs Ice Cream

The main difference between gelato and ice cream is the percentage of milk fat and air in the mixture.

Gelato has a lower percentage of milk fat, usually between 4-8%, and is churned at a slower pace, meaning it has less air in compared to ice cream. 

On the other hand, ice cream has a higher percentage of milk fat, typically between 10-18%, and is churned faster, giving it a fluffier texture.

Another significant difference between gelato and ice cream is the way they are served. Gelato is generally served at room temperature which enhances its flavour and creaminess. Ice cream, on the other hand, is served at a colder temperature and with this frozen treat your taste buds can be numbed which can make it more difficult to detect the flavours. 

Is Gelato Dairy Free

Gelato ingredients

Gelato is a type of frozen dessert made with the common ingredients: milk, cream, egg yolks and sugar. It has a delicious creamy texture but is generally high in saturated fat and has a large amount of sugar. But, the good news is that there are some healthier options out there with fewer calories. 

You might also find gelato nowadays with additional flavourings such as:

1. Chocolate

2. Coffee

3. Peanut Butter

4. Pureed Fruit

5. Nuts

Is Gelato Dairy Free?

Yes, gelato can be dairy free. Dairy-Free gelato options may be made with:

1. Oat Milk

2. Almond Milk

3. Soya Milk

4. Cashew Milk

Is there non-dairy ice cream?

Regular ice cream is made with dairy ingredients as the base but as with gelato there are suitable dairy-free options that are made with plant-based milk as the base ingredient. You can also find lower fat options. 

21 Vegan Gelato & Best Dairy-Free Ice Creams 

There are many vegan ice cream alternatives on the market in the UK, including products from:

  • Magnum
  • Cornetto
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Swedish Glace
  • Halo
  • OMV
  • Mighty
  • Sorbabes
  • KIND
  • Oatly
  • Doozy Pots
  • Daily Harvest
  • O’My Gelato
  • Aldens
  • Van Leeuwen
  • Haagen Dazs
  • Coolhaus
  • Enlightened
  • Perry’s 
  • NadaMoo
  • Artic Zero

Can you make Vegan Gelato at home?

Yes, vegan gelato can be made at home. One of the best guides can be found by Marie at Food Nouveau who has lots of gelato recipes to choose from including traditional gelato base, mango and passionfruit, and Sicilian Style Gelato. 

Marie gives her top tips and also provides a video gelato masterclass. 



In conclusion, gelato is traditional a dairy-based dessert, but there are many vegan flavors out there. 

Many gelato shops also now offer non-dairy options for gelato lovers in addition to the whole host of options above. 

So, next time you visit a gelato shop, don’t be afraid to ask about the ingredients and if they offer any non-dairy options. Who knows, you might find a new favourite flavour. 

Hannah x

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at | | Website | + posts

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.


  • Registered Dietitian
  • First Class Degree in Nutrition


  • Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
  • Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
  • Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition



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