Sicilian Gelato

Most people know that gelato is different than ice cream, but did you know that there are actually different types of gelato? Sicilian gelato, or Sicilian style gelato is actually much easier and less time consuming to make than traditional style gelato, and it all has to do with the use of one particular ingredient.

a few scoops of Sicilian style gelato on a fancy ceramic serving dish

There are quite a few differences between ice cream and gelato, but there is one main difference between normal gelato and Sicilian gelato. The Sicilian version gets its super creaminess from the use of corn starch! While many a gelateria in the mainland use egg yolks to enrich their product, old fashioned gelati don’t use either.

This recipe for Sicilian gelato should actually be treated as a base recipe. That means, like my amazing chocolate ice cream base, you should treat this plain gelato as a starting point that you can add flavors to. Of course, if you like the taste of sweet milk then you can just eat it as is. To be honest I almost never make it plain like this – except for this instructional recipe guide. Most of the time I add other ingredients like pistachio paste or tonka bean to create a more flavorful dessert.

What Is Sicilian Style Gelato

Sicilian-style gelato is a delicious frozen dessert that originates from the Italian island of Sicily. This type of gelato is known for its intense flavor, creamy texture, and unique ingredients. Many of the flavors are inspired by local ingredients, or their historical Moorish influence (eg pistachio).

The main difference between Sicilian style gelato and regular is the use of corn starch as a thickener. This makes Sicilian gelato much faster to make, with less room for error when compared to an egg based version. However, the fastest method would be a commercial style that uses Xantham gum. I use this method for my pistachio gelato, but you can use every style interchangeably.

What You’ll Need

As with all of my ice cream recipes on Scoops of Delight, you need an ice cream machine. The exact style and brand does not matter too much but you do want one that is decent quality. I personally use the Smeg ice cream maker. The only issue with it is that you need to already have a Smeg stand mixer – which can be quite pricey. While there are plenty of recipes for no-churn ice creams, I often find a properly churned ice cream magnitudes better.

Some other things you will need for this homemade ice cream recipe are:

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Whisk
  • Steel Pans (I personally find steel the best for making ice cream, but you can use any as long as you are careful about the temperature.
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Sealable Container (The best thing to use to store homemade ice cream is plastic in my opinion. You want something that is more flat than tall as it provides more surface area to quickly freeze in a home freezer).
  • Kitchen Scale (optional, but recommended as almost all of my recipes use metric as it is more precise than imperial for most home cooks).

How To Make Sicilian Gelato At Home

Sicilian gelato ingredients on a marble countertop

This Sicilian gelato recipe only needs five ingredients. Of course, if you want to add a flavor such as chocolate, vanilla, or anything else really, it will increase the number of necessary ingredients. As this is just a base recipe I’m keeping it short and simple.

Sicilian Gelato Ingredients

400 ml Milk

200 ml Heavy Cream

150 grams Sugar

24 grams Corn Starch

1/4 tsp Salt

Milk and sugar in a steel pan on a stovetop

To begin making this Sicilian gelato at home add the milk, sugar, corn starch, and salt to a pan. Place on medium heat and whisk constantly until the milk begins to steam. This should take about five minutes; you’ll also notice the liquid slightly thicken up.

Turn off the heat, whisk in the heavy cream, then move to a container and place in the fridge until chilled completely.

sicilian gelato chilled base in a SMEG ice cream machine

Once chilled place your gelato base in your ice cream machine. Since gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, adjust your speed to the lowest possible. If your machine does not allow you to pick a speed then you will end up with a more fluffy consistency.

sicilian gelato chilled base in a SMEG stand mixer with ice cream machine attachment

When I make gelato at home I set my speed setting to the lowest possible. This ensures that you don’t pump too much air into the base. If your machine doesn’t let you pick a setting, then I suggest running it for 10 minutes, then turn it off for 5 minutes, and repeat until you have a more gelato-like consistency. It won’t be exactly like you get at your favorite gelateria, but this method will allow some of the air to escape as the cream softens.

freshly churned Sicilian gelato with milk flavor

Once the gelato is at about a soft serve consistency you can move it to a sealable container. Place it into your freezer until frozen. Note: gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream so when it comes time to serve you might find your Sicilian gelato a bit too hard to scoop. To fix this just let it out of the freezer for five minutes and it should be perfectly scoopable.

homemade traditional Sicilian gelato in a plastic tub

If you don’t plan on eating or serving the entire container of gelato at once, it is best to put it into single serve containers. The exception to this is if you can set your freezer to the ideal temperature at which gelato is served: between -10 and -15 degrees Celsius (ice cream on the other hand is best served around -15 to -20 degrees Celsius).

a few scoops of Sicilian style gelato on a fancy ceramic serving dish

Fun Fact!

Did you know that Sicilian gelato is sometimes served in a brioche bun. This unique and delicious treat is known simply as “brioche con gelato.” Sound interesting? Guess next time you are in Sicily you’ll have to give it a try…for breakfast! That’s right, brioche con gelato is often eaten for breakfast in Sicily just as you would a regular sandwich.

Recipes That Use This Sicilian Gelato Base

From traditional flavors like hazelnut to more unique or trendy flavors like Kinder Bueno, you can easily adapt this Sicilian gelato base recipe. In most cases it is as simple as adding a few tablespoons of whatever nut paste or fruit puree you like right before the chilling stage.

Here are a few of my favorite flavors:

  • Gianduja (Chocolate Hazelnut)
  • Pistachio
  • Walnut
  • Olive Oil
  • Lavender
  • Black Sesame
  • Strawberry Balsamic
a few scoops of Sicilian style gelato on a fancy ceramic serving dish

Sicilian Gelato

This base recipe makes a classic plain Sicilian gelato perfect for those hot Mediterranean summers. With one particular ingredient you can easily make Sicilian gelato at home any time of year.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Churning (estimation) 40 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian, Sicilian
Servings 1.5 pints
Calories 880 kcal


  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Pan
  • 1 Wire Whisk
  • 1 Sealable Container
  • 1 Rubber Spatula
  • 1 Kitchen Scale | optional, but recommended


  • 400 ml Milk
  • 200 ml Heavy Cream
  • 24 grams Corn Starch
  • 150 grams Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt


  • Add all of the ingredients except the heavy cream to a saucepan and whisk everything together. Place the pan on medium heat and continue whisking until the milk begins to steam, about 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and trickle in the heavy cream while whisking constantly. When combined pour mix into a container and pop in the fridge until completely chilled.
  • Place the base mix into your ice cream or gelato maker and run according to your machine's instructions.
    Note: If you are using an ice cream machine to make this, make sure to set the speed to the lowest setting possible. If you cannot control the speed then turn off the machine for 5 minutes every 10 minutes so some of the air deflates out.
  • Place freshly churned gelato into a sealable container and place in the freezer until frozen. Ideally you would have a dedicated gelato freezer with a temperature between -10 and -15 degrees Celsius, but if your freezer is much colder, just let the gelato sit out at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving so it softens up properly.


The total time in this recipe includes an estimation for chilling/freezing. This may vary depending on the quality of your refrigerator and freezer.
Keyword Dairy, Frozen Dessert, Gelato, Italian, Sicily

Sicilian Gelato

a few scoops of homemade Sicilian gelato for a recipe pinterest pin

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  1. 5 stars
    […] this gianduja gelato recipe I am starting with a base Sicilian gelato. This means I use a little bit of corn starch as the thickener – which also helps create an extra […]

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