Italian Gelato Flavors – What You Should Know

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)? ‘http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);

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!

Chocolates

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 Piedmont 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

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Creams


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.

Fruits

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.

Nuts

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?)
!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)? ‘http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);

39 Responses to “Italian Gelato Flavors – What You Need To Know”

  • Fred Oliver:

    Jessica, I’m sorry to hear that you forgot the name of your gelato flavor. My wife and I spent a few days last month in Orvieto. She fell in love (and yes, she ordered it every day lol) with one particular flavor. I thought I would remember. It contained chunks of dried fruits, similar to fruitcake. It looked like it had the name “Sicilia”. Are there any alarms?

    • Jess has the following:

      Ha! Good for your wife, getting gelato every day! It seems like she was eating gelato that was based on a Sicilan dessert called cassata, which is a bit like fruitcake. It could have been called “cassata Siciliana.” Is that right?

      • Fred Oliver:

        Yes, I believe that cassata was it. I did some research and it was pretty clear. Thx!

        • Mitch

          This question was very helpful. Cassata was my favourite flavor (Malaga close behind) when I visited Italy years ago for a wedding. It’s not available in the US, and I have trouble remembering its name. Thank you for your help, I will now look up recipes and print them so that I can recreate the recipe at home.

  • Erin W.

    Jessica, thank you! Thanks Jessica! I was in Palermo Sicily, and had just tried a “carbognano” flavor of gelato. I haven’t been able to identify the flavor even though I’ve tried it all. Are you able to tell me? Thanks!

    • Jess has the following:

      Wow! I had never heard of this one. It’s the name for a Lazio town, as well as Palermo’s gelateria Il Signor di Carbognano. I did some research. Although I cannot find the exact flavor, I found that hazelnuts and chestnuts are the main crops in the Lazio town. Is it a nutty taste? Was it fruity? Or maybe something else? And did you get it at Il Signor di Carbognano?

      • Erin W.

        These are great discoveries! Yes, I did get it from Il Signor di Carbognano! It was creamy in color and tasted very nutty. It tasted like hazelnut. However, it was labeled as hazelnut so I suspect there must have been more. Based on your findings, it might be a combination of hazelnuts and chestnuts. I’ll have to return to the shop to see if they can help me. I assumed that I could translate “carbognano”, but I didn’t realize it was their special flavor. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

        • Jess has the following:

          Yes, I did a lot of creative Googling and couldn’t find a direct translation. However, I did find photos from a gelateria that showed the flavor, so they must have it. If you have any information, I’d love to know the flavor!

          • All the best!

            il Signor di Carbognano it’s my ice-cream shop in Palermo / Sicily

            Homemade ice cream made with 100% fresh fruits, Sicilian fresh dairy and the finest ingredients like Chocolate from Modica..

            Also, we created Carbognano.. Nutella hazelnuts and toasted almonds.

            We would love to open a new store in Italy.

            Italso.com is a great site, keep up the good work!

            Thank you to everyone

            Pierangelo

          • Jess has the following:

            Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Thank you so much for clarifying the gelato flavor.

  • MrsTahiti says:

    Just returned from an amazing trip to Umbria and Rome. We are able to avoid many allergens, such as nuts, beans, avocado, but our son was allergic to gelato. It was an unknown flavor, and I only remember the beginning of the letter “f”. The gelato was cream colored and it was long. To inform his allergist, I would like to find out what it was.

    Do you have any ideas about the flavor?

    • Jess has the following:

      Wow! I don’t know what to say… Fior di latte is white, but it’s not one word… Do you remember how it tasted?

    • Anon says:

      Hi, Fatamorgana is a Roma-based gelaterie. Although I don’t know if this is the place where your son bought his gelato, I do know that they serve a “finocchio mirele liquirizia” which is made with honey and Fenne seed. It’s a white color. This could be the right one, depending on your son’s allergy. This is also the longest F-food I know. I’m sorry.

    • Dennis can den Brink says:

      It is important to know that gelaterias use a variety of nuts and nut pastes. Cream that is being churned isn’t always cleaned out, so it is possible for remnants or traces of nuts end up in other flavours. It may not be enough for everyone, but it is enough to satisfy severe allergic reactions.

  • Peter Resch said:

    This blog is excellent in explaining gelato flavors. Your write-up was linked to our website so that more people can see what they order when they first view it.

    Again, great work.

  • Redroom

    Just came across your website while trying to find a Venetian flavor. Although I thought the name might be “marastaconi”, I couldn’t find any google results that were even close. It was green with a ribbon of cherry and pistacchio crumbles. But the overall flavor was mostly cherry. This one is yours?

    • Jess has the following:

      I did some Googling… Could it have been “Marostica?” It is a gelato flavor described as “pistachio sour cherry” and it looks pale green with cherry sauce swirls. Marostica is the name for a Veneto town. I don’t know what that has to do with this gelato flavor. But, it might be worth a look!

      • Redroom

        Yes! that’s it. It’s solved. Thank you so much!

        • Jess has the following:

          Yay!

          • Brian says:

            This is an amazing flavor! It was while I was looking for Amarena, in Venice. This unique twist is only available in a handful of places in Venice. Don’t miss it! Although pistachio isn’t my favorite flavor (even for gelato), there’s something magical about Amarena and it! If it’s from the Veneto, I’ll have a second.

          • Jess has the following:

            This flavor is now at the top of my list for next time I visit the Veneto!

  • GovernorBandicoot says:

    It’s a great website! I have bookmarked it for future reference. It was helpful when I was trying to find a gelato in Florence. Is there any way to find out what Torronita might contain? It was one of my favorite gelato flavors! It was yellow with chocolate chips and a nutty taste. Thanks!

    • Anj says:

      Torronita was also my absolute favorite! It was hard to tell what it contained though. This flavor was the best. I made it a point of trying different flavors every day while I was in Italy for 5 weeks. PeachMango was second best, a single flavor that I got from a gelateria near Siena. I’d love to have the gelato recipe for Torronita if anyone knows.

    • Jess has the following:

      According to the information I have found online, “torronita” is a “crema base with hazelnuts and chocolate crispy bits.

  • Beverly Stirman:

    My granddaughter and I went to Venice recently. We had the best gelato! Although I make a lot of ice cream at my home, this was the best and most delicious that I have ever tried. It was only available at one location, even though we tried several times to find it elsewhere and walked miles to try to find the same vendor. It was a very blue color (NOT Puffo), and it had a seaweed taste. Although we didn’t know what seaweed tasted, the taste was amazing! Do you have any idea what it would taste like? It would be great to have a copy at home here in the States. Thanks! !

    • Jess has the following:

      It’s a thickening agent for many gelato flavors. Because of this, it can be difficult to identify the flavor. I haven’t found blue ones very often, but there is a “blue gelato” strain of marijuana, which can be difficult to find online.

    • Jess has the following:

      Hold on, I might have found it! It’s called “alga-spirulina” and it’s made from microalgae, a blue-green algae that grows in lakes. Also, it can be found in the Venetian lagoon. This gelato flavor is hard to find in other places. Could that have been it?

  • Eko says:

    Hi jessica,

    I will be traveling to Italy next month. Would you mind telling me how many times you can taste different gelatos before placing an order?

    Gelato back home is luxury, so I can sample all they have before making a decision

    • Jessica says:

      It all depends on how busy the shop is. You may find it difficult to taste all the flavors if there is a long line. Gelato in Italy does not come as a luxury. It is affordable and can be enjoyed regularly so you don’t have to worry about trying every flavor before making a purchase. You can always go back later to get another cone.

  • Francesco D’Arcangeli:

    This guide is very helpful.

    Good job in the pronunciation notes, and a keen eye in the notes about pistachio. This is the mark of a great gelateria. You sure know your gelato.

    You have a great selection of the best options.

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks, Francesco! As part of my research, I have spent a lot of time in gelaterie. Yes, I enjoy the variety of flavors each gelaterie has to offer.

  • Jae says:

    Although I don’t know if I’m making it up, I swear that I had white chocolate riso in Navigli in Milan back 2012. Do you think that sounds common? Or did I misunderstand something? I have difficulty finding the mention of white chocolate risogelato. Is this something you’re familiar with?

    • Jessica says:

      It’s not something I have ever tried or seen, but it does exist. Every day, gelato manufacturers come up with new flavors. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet tried all of them.

  • Arleene van Elgort:

    We will be getting a Tan and Chocolate dachshund from Italy. We are bringing her to Los Angeles, where she lives in June. We are trying to come up with great names that involve chocolate. We’ve thought of Tira and Ella for Tiramisu, Beanie and Nutella, Baci and kiss, as well as Beanie and Beanie for Chocolate bean. On the papers, her legal name is Apple or Mela. Does anything have to do with chocolate gelato? We are grateful. Now I’m hungry for gelato.

    • Jessica says:

      What a fun question! I like your Ella/Nutella idea. It can also be used with cinnamon-based “cannella”. If she is feisty, then you can find a diminutive for “cioccolato with peperoncini!”