Ice Cream Around the World

Ice Cream Around the World

How different countries enjoy your favorite frozen treat

Many countries have their own take on ice cream. Learn about which country likes to roll theirs in pistachios, which loves to savor a fruity ice cream bar, and more. 

Stracciatella Gelato
Altered version of original photo by stu_spivack licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Italy: Gelato  

Our favorite Italian treat has less fat, more sugar, and less air than regular ice cream. It uses more milk than cream (vs American ice cream) and is churned much slower to create a creamy, dense delight. Try a stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate flakes), nocciola (hazelnut), or fragola (strawberry). Traditional gelato is not that colorful, so if you see a bright one it has color additives.

Mochi Ice Cream
Photo courtesy of Mochidoki.

Japan: Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi ice cream is a small amount of ice cream surrounded by sticky rice cake or “mochi”. It’s about the size of a golf ball, perfect for trying a few flavors. As one of the country’s most popular desserts, it’s now easily found in grocery stores around the world. Favorite flavors include green tea and red bean.

Altered version of original photo by silviarita licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Mexico: Paletas

Similar to popsicles in shape, traditional Mexican paletas contain fresh fruit so they are often made with coconut milk or fruit puree and have a bite of fruit in every bite. Pineapple, mango and banana are popular flavors and often described as “summer on a stick.”

Altered version of original photo by Seyda Buyukkidan licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Turkey: Dondurma

While it is ice cream, you might mistake dondurma (Turkish for “freezing”) for taffy if you see it before you get close to it. It’s true, it has such a stretchy texture that you’ll often spot street vendors playing with it. It gets its pliability from salep, a flour made from orchid, and mastic, a thick tree resin, which is found in gum so that it melts a bit more slowly in the blazing Middle East heat. 

Altered version of original photo by Rka11111 licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Iran: Faloodeh

This Persian frozen dessert consists of frozen, thin vermicelli noodles and topped with rose water, lime juice, and pistachios, giving it a pleasing texture and delightful blend of floral and citrus flavors. 

Strawberry Kulfi
Altered version of original photo by Kalaiselvi Murugesan licensed under CC BY 2.0.

India: Kulfi 

Similar to ice cream, Kulfi is condensed milk and sugar, and often comes in exotic flavors like saffron, rose water, cardamom, and mango, and is topped with pistachios. It has a thicker density and creaminess, meaning it is more closely related to custard and can be molded to serve on a popsicle stick. 

Altered version of original photo by Shubert Ciencia licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Philippines: Sorbetes 

Otherwise known as “cheese ice cream”, sorbetes isn’t sorbet but cheese-flavored ice cream made with coconut milk and served on sweet bread or in a waffle cone. It’s thickened with cassava flour (tapioca) and is sold by street vendors in the Philippines.

Altered version of original photo by Manji licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Korea: Patbingsu 

Patbingsu or patbingsoo means “red beans shaved ice”. While it’s not necessarily ice cream, it is a wildly popular Korean shaved ice dessert that was topped with red beans, but now includes a variety of other toppings including chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and red beans.