Although there is no universal recipe for making a good gelato, there are rules of balancing the ingredients that allow us to have good results without wasting ingredients.
What I propose is a simplified balancing board to prepare gelato at home, based on the one developed by gelato master Luca Caviezel for professional purpose.

The main ingredients of gelato are milk, cream, sugar, eggs and characterizing elements mainly derived from dried fruit (pistachio, hazelnut, etc.).
In order to have a good gelato in terms of creaminess and organoleptic qualities, we are concerned with the supply of ingredients in terms of total quantities of sugar, fat and water.
That is:

  • sugars from 16 to 22% by weight; means any type of sugar except lactose (the sugar present in milk);
  • fats from 6 to 12%; mainly derive from milk / cream, eggs or dried fruit;
  • water from 58 to 68%.

As an example let's now see the recipe for a very simple gelato: the fior di latte recipe, a gelato mainly made with milk and cream.


In the first column you can see the quantities in grams and in the following in percentage.
Then follow the contribution of each ingredient in terms of sugar, fats and other solids (milk proteins, lactose and other elements not attributable to sugars, fats or water).
Sugars, fats and other types of solids make up the total solids, the rest is water.

Let's see the contribution of each ingredient:

  • 350 gr of milk (we use 3.5% fat whole milk) provide us with 12.3 gr of fat and other solids for 31.5 gr (mainly milk proteins and lactose); the total of solids is 43.8 g and the remaining 350 g are 306.2 g of water;
  • 120 g of cream (we use a cream 35% in fat) provide us with 42 g of fats and other solids (proteins, lactose) for 7.2 g; the total of solids is 49.2 g and the remaining 120 g are 70.8 g of water;
  • 110 gr of sugar (white sugar, cane sugar or other types) appears only in the sugar column and does not contribute to the quantity of water.

Checking now the total of the columns we see that we have 110 gr of sugar, or 19% by weight of the total of the ingredients (580 gr); we said we had to stay between 16 and 22%, so that's fine.
Then we have fats for 54.3 g or 9.4% of the total ingredients; we need 6 to 12% fat, so that's fine.
Finally we have 377.1 gr of water, or 65% of the total; we said that the water had to be between 58 and 68% so also this one is fine.

Sometimes instead of considering the total amount of water, the amount of total solids occurs (between 32 and 42%), which naturally results complementary to the water.
The quantities of sugars, fats and other solids of each ingredient you use can be obtained from the nutritional tables.

You can use my online calculator to create your own recipe.

gelato balancing sheet

Insert data in orange cell: your ingredients and the quantity, the desidered total quantity of mixture.
In the yellow column you'll have the quantity for each ingredient. If your recipe is well balanced the cells for total quantity of sugars, fats and water will be green.

Now you are ready to create your first gelato recipe at home.
And of course remember to choose the best ingredients.

In other articles will be insights on the types of sugars, on the machines for homemade gelato production, on the steps to prepare gelato at home and other simple recipes.