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

What’s the difference between gelato 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.

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

Cinnamon Gelato

5 from 1 vote
This cinnamon gelato has subtle warmth and fragrance from the addition of cinnamon and vanilla to a classic egg and cream gelato base.
David Leite
Servings8 servings | 1 quart
Calories231 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time7 hours


  • 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.
The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto

Adapted From

The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 231 kcalCarbohydrates: 21 gProtein: 4 gFat: 15 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gCholesterol: 133 mgSodium: 36 mgFiber: 0.3 gSugar: 21 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 F W Pearce. Photo © 2010 Jason. All rights reserved.

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.

Leave it to upscale, innovative Ciao Bella to deliver the goods to those who want to make fabulous gelato at home. This frozen treat will both cool you down and spice things up. The custard base has a higher milk-to-cream ratio than many of my other favorite ice cream recipes, but a lot less sugar and fewer egg yolks (enough to convince me I can indulge a little more often).

The headnote is right on in calling this gelato both simple and sophisticated, and the “warmth” of the cinnamon also means that this is a frozen dessert for all seasons: imagine it paired with apple or pear pies in the colder months. For summer, it’s fabulous on its own, topped with berries, or served affogato-style with a shot of hot espresso. And don’t be fooled into thinking this is just for adults, either. On a scale of 1 to 10, my 7-year-old son gave this “a million.”

This gelato was rich in flavor, creamy in texture, and simple to make. I followed the directions exactly and it came out perfect. The recipe states to stir occasionally to prevent the skin from forming, and you do want to watch that—maybe stir a bit more then suggested, because it will create a skin pretty quickly if you’re not careful. I served this over an Apple Brown Betty and the cinnamon nicely complimented the spice in the topping of the brown betty.

I was so excited when I saw this recipe. One of my favorite local ice cream shops from time to time has cinnamon ice cream, and it’s always my first choice. Now, when they don’t have it, I can turn to this wonderful recipe. This gelato was so nice and creamy with just the right amount of cinnamon.

It was a hit served alongside of the peach cobbler. I didn’t make any changes to this recipe, as it resulted in a perfect gelato without having to make any adjustments. This cinnamon gelato is a winner in my book.

This is the easiest gelato recipe I’ve ever made. The base is wonderful and I plan to include other add-ins to give it wonderful flavors. The bitter cinnamon flavor is great with the creamy vanilla. It’s simply heaven in a bowl.

I even made this recipe using lactose-free milk instead of the whole milk, and it still was very creamy. The key while spinning the gelato is to not stop too early, or else you won’t get a smooth creamy texture—you’ll have a gritty texture with ice crystals.

I chose to use Ceylon cinnamon since I’ve recently been playing around with it and wondered how it would play in the gelato. The overall flavor was mild but pleasant, with nice depth. The directions were easy to follow and I didn’t run into any problems. I appreciated the included temperatures—I wouldn’t normally be that precise—but the extra information should be beneficial to beginners. If you like cinnamon, you’ll like this gelato.

This cinnamon gelato is everything a winning ice cream should be—rich, creamy, and smooth on your tongue. The warm spice of cinnamon is the star ingredient. Each melt-in-your-mouth bite is filled with notable flavor, making it the perfect accompaniment to apple cranberry crisp or a chocolate brownie.

This gelato is easy to make but can’t be rushed. I made the base a day ahead of time, and it took me awhile to heat the custard to 185°F on my stovetop. I eventually had to increase the temperature to medium-low and stir the base constantly so it wouldn’t boil and curdle. The custard thickened as it chilled, which made for easy processing in the ice cream maker.

After 24 hours in the freezer, the gelato had hardened well. It made approximately 3/4 of a quart and formed solid scoops, which featured its distinct sandy color. I recommend making two separate batches of this gelato, because just one is sure to disappear quickly.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  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.