Italian Gelato Flavors – What You Should Know

When you visit Italy, I strongly recommend gelato at least twice daily. Why? It is an affordable treat and allows you to meet Italians, while also expanding your vocabulary. You’re not likely to order the exact same gelato flavor every time, are you?

No. Because you are an adventurer. Because you are curious about the world. And? This list of Italian gelato flavors will help you learn how to pronounce them and what they are.

To complete your gelateria education, don’t forget my primer on how to order gelato!


koh There are multiple versions of chocolate, from varying degrees of dark-to-milk-to-white to other flavors being added to the recipe. Even a gelateria in Milan specializes in chocolate gelato. Nearly all the containers are dedicated to this type of chocolate. Italian gelato is a great option for chocoholics.

  • koh Cioccolato fondente additional noir is a darker version.
  • koh (I don’t really understand you, but hey! I’d like to have more dark chocolate!
  • chyo) – This word actually means “kiss,” but the gelateria isn’t trying to get fresh with you. The Perugina chocolate company, based in Perugia, Umbria, has its Bacio just like Hershey’s does its signature Kiss. The candies contain a mixture of chopped hazelnuts and chocolate, while the bacio gelato flavour is a combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. The gelato often contains hazelnut bits in the candies.
  • DOO This is another combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, similar to bacio. It’s smooth and always milk chocolate. It is the original flavor of the region and the historical precursor to Nutella.
  • koh You know, the ones you used to smash against a table and break into pieces. That’s exactly what this chocolate orange flavor reminds me of. It is usually dark chocolate with an intense orange flavor. Sometimes, it also contains little bits of candied Orange peel.
  • cioccolato con peperoncini (cho|koh|LAH|toh kohn peh|pehr|ohn|CHEE|nee) – Maybe you’re thinking of those pickled green peppers you sometimes get with sandwiches, but that’s not what “peperoncini” is in this case. This is basically a dark chocolate infused with a hot pepper flavor. koh

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Gelato Giusto || creative commons photo by Bruno Cordioli

Although this isn’t the best heading for this section, gelato is made with wholemilk and not cream. However, these flavors don’t fit into any of the other categories. There are many variations of what we might call “vanilla”, plus many others that I consider to be quite malleable. They complement a wide range of flavors, so they can be used as a base for other flavor combinations.

  • tay) – This literally means “flower of milk,” and it’s a very subtle flavor. It’s not quite vanilla but it is more like “sweet cream.”
  • mah) – This means “cream,” and you might find it similar to the ice cream flavor called “French vanilla” in other parts of the world. This is a custard that’s more eggy than a milk custard.
  • NEEL
  • bah Gelato is Marsala-y and eggy.
  • koh) – This is Italian for “coconut,” but the recipe varies from shop to shop. It can be creamy with light coconut flavors, or it may contain bits of coconut. Sometimes, it tastes a bit like toasted coconut.
  • FEH) – You might be getting familiar with this word from ordering your morning coffee every day, but why not take your afternoon coffee in gelato form?
  • mah It’s usually fior di latte, which is a thick syrup with sour cherries. Although the cherries don’t taste very sour to me, it is not overly sweet so that could be what the “sour” part of the name means. The cherries are like brandied cherries that you might get in a nice cocktail. Although you won’t get the whole cherry in your scoop of cherries, you will definitely get their flavor.


All of the flavors will be sold in what is called a gelateria. However, a fruit flavor without dairy isn’t technically gelato. It’s a sorbetto (sorbetto in the plural). A strawberry gelato might look like a creamy base with strawberry chunks, but it is actually strawberry throughout. It’s blended with other ingredients and then frozen. It’s a powerful combination of flavors that will make you think they just frozen the fruit solid. Sorbetto can also be very refreshing on hot days.

  • go
  • lampone (lahm|POH|neh) – Raspberry
  • kah) – Peach
  • bee
  • rah) – Pear
  • limone (lee|MOH|neh) – Lemon
  • lime (LEE|meh) – Lime (quite rare)
  • arancia (ah|RAHN|cha) – Orange
  • mandarino (mahn|dah|REE|noh) – Mandarin orange
  • ROH
  • mela (MEH|lah) – Apple
  • mela verde (MEH|lah VEHR|deh) – Green apple
  • tee dee BOHS
  • TEEL
  • LOH
  • KOH
  • fico (FEE|koh) – Fig
  • yo
  • ananas (AHN|ahn|ahs) – Pineapple
  • goh) – Mango
  • NAH This flavor is also a good indicator for the quality of gelato in a shop. A banana should have a pale, creamy color and not a bright yellow.


Although nut flavors are often combined with chocolate and cream flavors, some also exist as gelato flavors. It’s important to note that although most Italians are familiar with peanut butter and peanut butter, this nut is not common in Italy. It’s unlikely that you will find it in gelato.

  • STAHK This is similar to a banana and is an indicator of the quality of a gelateria. If pistacchio has a pale, dusty color, it’s a good sign. A bright green is not good.
  • mandorla (mahn|DOR|lah) – Almond
  • nocciola (noh|CHYO|lah) – Hazelnut
  • TAHN
  • noce (NOH|cheh) – Walnut

What are you waiting for?

Some gelato flavors are difficult to categorize. This could be because they don’t have a European counterpart, they’re based on European desserts or candy bars, or they’re unique flavors that aren’t very common. This is not a comprehensive list of all the bizarre gelato flavors that you may see, but it is a good start. If you have any other unusual gelato flavors that I didn’t include here, let me know!

  • chya The base is usually fior di lata, then they drizzle warm chocolate on top. They then stir the entire thing until the chocolate has melted. Although the pieces aren’t uniform, the quality of the chocolate is often excellent.
  • malaga (mah|LAH|gah) – Rum raisin
  • torrone (toh|ROH|neh) – Nougat
  • tah) – Mint
  • TOO
  • keez) – Cookies and cream
  • pah een You may have heard of trifle, an English dessert that consists of alternating layers of custard and sponge cake. It’s now been loosely translated to gelato, which is “soup”, because of the huge serving bowl it comes in. It’s similar to crema but it can sometimes be flavored with sweet wines such as sherry, medeira or molasses. There are also bits of cookies sprinkled throughout.
  • zoh) – This means rice, but it’s really rice pudding. It usually contains a little bit of cooked rice.
  • liquirizia (lee|kwee|REE|tzee|ah) – This is licorice, as in black licorice, and it’s not a common flavor to find. Although I love blacklicorice, it’s hard to find the right flavor in a gelateria. For lack of any other options, I usually pair it with fior di latto. However, I have heard that lemon is a good pairing for licorice. However, I haven’t tried it yet.
  • NEL It is basically the same as cinnamon spice and works well with many other fruit flavors and chocolate flavours.
  • foh) – In Italy, the cartoon Smurfs of my childhood are known as “Puffo,” and so this gelato is bright blue to match the characters. The flavor can vary from anise (like black liquorice) to bubble gum. If you are curious, you can ask for a sample before you decide on the right combination.
  • AH It’s made from African herbs, which are thought to have an aphrodisiac effect. However, I have not seen any mention of the flavor. So proceed at your own risk. (I assume that this flavor is true for many reasons, but no?)
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