Make your own rich & creamy chocolate gelato right at home. Find out how to make the best homemade gelato with this reader-favorite recipe that has been winning hearts for over 10 years!
For chocolate lovers there’s nothing better than a scoop of rich, creamy chocolate gelato. It’s cool and creamy with an intense chocolate flavor that always hits the spot.
Of course you’ll find the best gelato at a gelateria but if you aren’t jetting off to Italy anytime soon that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a scoop of delicious chocolate gelato right at home. In fact making your own gelato is easier than you might think! This chocolate gelato is smooth and velvety with a rich chocolate flavor and has been a reader favorite for over 10 years! It uses a combination of both cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate for an intense and complex chocolate flavor.
How is Gelato Different from Ice Cream?
Both ice cream and gelato are emulsions of air, fat, sugar and water. What makes one different from the other is often the proportion of these ingredients.
Ice cream is often made with heavy cream and a large quantity of egg yolks to improve body and texture by inhibiting the formation of ice crystals as it’s churned, resulting in a creamy texture. The high percentage of fat from the dairy however can coat the taste buds and dull perceptions of flavor, while the large amount of egg yolks can give an unwanted underlying eggy flavor to the custard.
Gelato is generally differentiated from ice cream by its creamy, supple texture and its intense flavor; like smooth cold fudge that slowly dissolves in the mouth. And despite its richness, it doesn’t coat your tongue the way premium ice creams do because of its lower fat content. Unlike ice cream gelato is usually made with milk instead of heavy cream and fewer eggs. It’s also churned more slowly creating fewer ice crystals which results in a dense creamy mouthfeel.
(Here are a few notes about the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. As always find the full list of ingredients and directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- Chocolate – We’ll use a combination of both bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder. The bittersweet chocolate with its high percentage of cocoa butter helps with the denseness of the gelato, and the cocoa powder with the depth and intensity of flavor.
- Milk – Whole milk not skim or non-fat is best. You can also make a dairy-free version by using light coconut milk which has a similar fat percentage.
- Egg Yolks – 2 egg yolks provides just the right amount of creamy texture without being eggy.
- Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is traditional but you can also substitute coconut sugar for a richer caramel flavor if you’d prefer a refined sugar-free version.
- Starch – A bit of cornstarch or arrowroot is added for texture and thickness. In conjunction with the egg yolks this helps to mimic the luxurious mouth-feel of ice creams (without the coating that dulls your palate) and creates the alluringly dense texture of gelato.
- Vanilla – a bit of vanilla rounds out all the flavors.
And that’s all you need!
How to Make Chocolate Gelato:
(Here are the basic steps and some helpful tips on how to make the recipe. Find the full directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
There are two basic steps: creating the base and churning.
- First you’ll melt the chopped chocolate.
- Next you’ll bring the milk to a simmer.
- In a separate bowl you’ll whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and thick, then whisk in the cocoa powder and starch.
- You’ll pour some of the hot milk into the mixture (this is called tempering and prevent the eggs from curdling in the heat) and then pour that back into the pot with the rest of milk to cook until thick.
- All that’s left is to whisk in the melted chocolate and vanilla and the base is ready to chill.
- Once the base is cool you’ll pour it into an ice cream maker and churn it according to directions.
And that is how to make the best chocolate gelato right at home!
- Use a combination of both semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate.
- Use light coconut milk instead of whole milk for a dairy-free version
- Use coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar for a refined sugar-free version.
- Add in a swirl of chocolate syrup and shaved chocolate before storing or serving.
What’s the Best Ice Cream Maker?
The best homemade ice cream maker is one that has a self-cooling compressor. These types of machines create fewer ice crystals than the types which require you to pre-freeze the bowl beforehand producing an ultra-creamy ice cream or gelato, but they also tend to be pricier. If you want the crème de la crème of home ice cream makers then you need a Lello. I have an older model which has since been discontinued that’s lasted me over 10 years. If you plan on making ice cream or gelato on a regular basis it may be worth the investment.
Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t make gelato without one. Cuisinart makes a reliable canister model that continuously gets high praise. They also make a more reasonably priced compressor model.
More Ice Cream:
Make your own rich & creamy chocolate gelato at home!
- 4 ounces (112g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 cups (750ml) organic whole milk
- 2 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated organic cane sugar
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ½ cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ TB (15g) cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Half fill a large bowl with cold water and add ice cubes to create an ice bath. Set ice bath aside.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave, stir until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk to a bare simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat and leave on stove.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks, the sugar and salt until it thick and slightly paler in color. Sift in the cocoa powder and cornstarch and whisk until a paste forms.
- Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle half of the hot milk into the cocoa mixture, and whisk until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan, whisk to combine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 5 minutes), do not boil.
- Slowly strain the hot mixture over the reserved melted chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely incorporated and smooth then add the vanilla.
- Place the bowl in the larger bowl of ice water and stir the mixture occasionally to prevent a skin from forming until cool. Then cover the surface with wax paper, and store covered in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 1 day before churning. (The mix is best if it is aged (stored in the refrigerator) overnight. This resting period improves the churning qualities of the mix and improves the body and texture of the gelato.)
- Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to directions. Transfer to an air-tight container and freeze for at least 2 hours to firm. Let soften for about 5 minutes before serving.
Use a combination of both semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate.
Use light coconut milk instead of whole milk for a dairy-free version
Use coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar for a refined sugar-free version.
Add in chocolate syrup and shaved chocolate before storing or serving.
Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve. Remove from freezer to thaw for at least 5-10 minutes to soften before scooping.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 253Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 187mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 10g
Nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. are only estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Sylvie Shirazi is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Gourmande in the Kitchen. For the last 10 years she's been making eating more healthfully easy and accessible with gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan recipes that are free from processed ingredients.