Ice Cream Vs. Gelato Vs. Sorbet: Which is Healthiest?

With the summer heat in full swing, many of us are turning to our favorite frozen treats for dessert. But when picking between ice cream, gelato or sorbet, you’ve probably wondered which is healthiest.

Ice Cream

Ice cream has a base that includes milk, cream, sugar and typically egg yolks. The churning process incorporates air and gives the finished product its light and creamy texture. Typical ice cream has a butterfat content of 14 – 25%. Unfortunately, the cream and sugar ensure high levels of unhealthy fats, calories and simple carbohydrates.


Though also often made with milk, sugar and egg yolks, cream isn’t an ingredient in gelato. Moreover, gelato is processed in such a way that the finished product is much denser and more flavorful than ice cream. Because gelato doesn’t include cream, it can have lower levels of unhealthy fats when compared to traditional ice cream. Unlike ice cream, butterfat content is typically in the range of 5 – 9%. However, the nutrition information can vary greatly, and some gelato varieties may have higher amounts of added sugar.

But because gelato is so dense and flavorful, many consumers find that much smaller portions satisfy – and that’s definitely an important consideration.


Made with neither dairy nor eggs, sorbet contains just fruit juice/syrup and water. It’s churned like ice cream and thus has a similar texture. Most sorbets are naturally fat-free and usually have less calories. However, sorbet can have considerably higher amounts of sugar than either gelato or ice cream – and, because there is no dairy, it contains less calcium.


When you really get down to it, none of these frozen desserts can be classified as healthy. Sorry.

Ice cream is the clear nutritional loser. In my opinion, gelato and sorbet are quite comparable. Though gelato has more fat and calories, most people will find a much smaller portion size satisfying. Sorbet doesn’t have the fat and has fewer calories, but you’ll probably eat more – and gelato has less sugar.

But if you’re really looking for something cool and healthy, take a scoop of Greek yogurt and top it with some fresh fruit.

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  1. Darrell in Iowa says:

    I have a severe lactose intolerance, is sorbet free of lactose? What’s the difference between sorbet and sherbert?

    • Sherbet has dairy while sorbet does not. I’m also lactose intolerant, and I can handle high quality frozen yogurt. But sorbet is going to be your safest bet for a lactose-free ice cream type dessert.

    • I do not know how it is in the USA but here in Europe you can’t guarantee that your sorbet is lactose-free when you order it in a restaurant f.e. It may have whey in it although it consists mainly of water!

  2. what about Frozen Yogurt?

  3. I have made a Greek yogurt “Sundae” before.It contained the yogurt,berries,cashews,hazelnuts, and pieces of dark chocolate.It was scrumptious.Thanks for the info.

  4. Put some grapes in the freezer. Makes a frozen snack that is as healthy as fruit 😉

  5. Just take the simplest popsicle. We got popsicles called Rockets that contain only 38.8 calories per popsicle and no fat and they’re damn tasty. Not to mention that they are probably the most popular popsicle around here. They’ve even been advised in many comparison researches and diets as one of the better summer treats.

    Don’t you have something like that?

  6. Is Greek yogurt really that much better then “regular” yogurts like Danone and Yoplait. What makes it better?

    • Natanya says:

      Wikipedia is your friend. 😉
      “[Greek yogurt] has been strained to remove its whey… Since the straining process removes some of the lactose, strained yogurt is lower in sugar than unstrained yogurt.”

      Although, you should be sure to check the ingredients list because “In the US there is no legal definition of Greek yogurt, and yogurt thickened with thickening agents may also be sold as ‘Greek yogurt’.”

  7. Michael says:

    I found many recipes through a Google search for frozen Greek yogurt and am going to try some of them as a frozen dessert… One can be found at that incorporates lemon juice, honey and mint.

  8. Yogurt + Fruit!!!

    But for entertainment check Cazwell’s video:

  9. To thicken up yogurt, put it in a cheese cloth in a sieve over night in the fridge. Pour out the water that drains and you have THICK, CREAMY replacement for ice cream or gelato. Add fruit afterwards like Dave says.

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