Cinnamon Gelato

This cinnamon gelato has subtle warmth and fragrance from the addition of cinnamon and vanilla to a classic egg and cream gelato base.

A small bowl of cinnamon gelato with cinnamon sticks next to it on white marble surface.

Cinnamon is the solo act in this sophisticated but simple gelato. Make sure to use fresh cinnamon (replace your jar if you’ve had it for more than six months) to take full advantage of its sweet, warming flavor and aroma. We favor cinnamon from Indonesia for its intense red color and delicate flavor, but slightly sweet Ceylon cinnamon (also known as “true” cinnamon) or the stronger Cassia cinnamon, which you’ll often find just labeled as “cinnamon” in this country, will also work well.–F. W. Pearce and Danilo Zecchin

What's the difference between gelat and ice cream?

Gelato starts out like American ice cream, with an eggy custard base, but has a higher proportion of milk. It generally has less cream and eggs (occasionally no eggs at all). The lower amount of cold fat really helps to make the ingredients stand out, which is why gelato is often more intensely flavored than ice cream.

Cinnamon Gelato

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 7 H
  • Serves 8 | Makes 1 quart
Print RecipeBuy the The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto cookbook

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Special Equipment: Ice cream maker



In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk and cream and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to appear around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F (77°C).

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture, whisking continuously.

Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F (85°C). Do not bring to a boil.

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. (To hasten the cooling process, place the bowl of custard in an ice bath and stir until the custard has cooled.) Once completely cooled, cover and refrigerate the custard for at least 4 hours or overnight. Originally published June 09, 2010.

Gently whisk the vanilla and cinnamon into the custard. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon into an airtight container to chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Print RecipeBuy the The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto cookbook

Want it? Click it.

    An Elegant Scoop

    • For a beautiful presentation, try scooping your gelato into oval shapes called quenelles. First, soften the gelato slightly and have ready a bowl of hot water and two large dessert spoons. Dip one of the spoons in the hot water, scoop out the gelato, then use the second spoon to form it into an oval shape, transferring the gelato back and forth between the two spoons until the scoop is evenly shaped and perfectly smooth.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    For some reason, I thought gelato was much too hard to make at home. It turns out the hardest thing is separating the eggs. Yes, it’s rather time consuming—making the base custard can be a slow process thanks to slow heating and even slower chilling—but it’s worth it. This cinnamon gelato is rich and creamy, brimming with spicy cinnamon. I’m already making up excuses to make this again.

    Creamy and delicious, with loads of cinnamon flavor! These are easy-to-follow steps, but keep a watchful eye while the milk and cream simmer, and later when you add the egg yolks. I might add another 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla to pump up that flavor note, but otherwise, I didn’t alter the recipe.


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    1. Oh, gasp! Ciao Bella? The-most-wonderful-ice-cream-sandwiches-ever Ciao Bella? Don’t think they make their ice cream sandwiches anymore, as of a few years ago, but, they were key lime ice cream with graham crackers. Unbelievably blissful. My heart gets a little crimp in it every time I pass the frozen case, hoping against hope that they will materialize before my eyes. sigh.

      Okay, well, then, this cinnamon gelato must be made then if it’s Ciao Bella. Sounds more like an ice cream with the custard base. Thanksgiving’s around the corner. . .would be outstanding with a pear and cranberry pie with a gingersnap crumble topping!

    2. I made this gelato, and while it was not as rich or smooth as some others I’ve had, it was certainly bursting with flavor. I enjoyed the seeming paradox of the cinnamon’s warmth in a frozen dessert; this will easily survive in our repertoire way beyond the summer months. My son (age 7) gave it a 100 out of 10 and couldn’t stop eating it just as it was. I slid into a dangerous habit of enjoying it affogato style, “drowned” in a shot of espresso.

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