Olive Oil Gelato

This is the gelato that forced me into making my own ice cream. I was lucky enough to have lived in Brooklyn for a number of years. In case you live under a rock and don’t know this, New York City has become Disneyland for adults. For foodies, with its over 20,000 restaurants, it is a paradise. While I was there Mario Batali opened a wine bar and restaurant named Otto. It is kind of his pizza joint. I’m a big fan of Marios. I think his cookbooks are indespensible for cooking Italian food at home. And Babbo, for a long time his flagship restaurant, is a source of many fond memories of wonderful meals at the bar.

When Mario opened Otto I went to check it out. I sat at the bar and ordered what the bartender told me to. Mario’s New York restaurants have great staff and can almost always be counted on for good advice. The wine was very good and very reasonably priced, another signature feature of his restaurants. When it came time for dessert the bartender suggested a dish of olive oil gelato.

I thought he was having fun with me since this was obviously impossible but I went along with the gag and said, “sure”! Honestly I thought he was kidding and would soon be back with a real suggestion. Well a few minutes later a tall ice cream glass filled with green-yellow gelato was placed in front of me. In case there was any doubt about the ingredients, sea salt and olive oil were drizzled on top.

Well it was the most delicious gelato I had ever eaten and still is. Extremely smooth and creamy due to the 10 egg yolks and 1/4 cup of high quality olive oil that are the heart of the recipe. The flavor is a kind of super french (eggy) vanilla with a strong note of olive oil, but really that description doesn’t do it justice at all. You have to make it to experience just how incredible it is.

After I left New York this gelato was one of the things for which I would occasionally get serious but unresolvable cravings. One day at a bookstore I happened to pick up the latest Batali cookbook and while flipping through it found the recipe. Hallelujah! Thus began my adventures in ice cream making and here we are today.


The one recipe on this website that would be part of my last meal. What are you waiting for? Make it NOW. I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Olive Oil Gelato
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Olive Oil Gelato based almost entirely from Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali It makes 1.5 quarts, about 12 servings. The recipe can be halved. I strongly suggest you eat it out of your ice cream maker or after just a few hours of freezer hardening. Gelato does not store well for long periods. Use the highest quality extra-virgin olive oil and the freshest eggs you can.
  • 3½ cups of Milk
  • 1 cup of Heavy Cream
  • ½ vanilla bean split or 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 10 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling when serving.
  • flaky sea salt for serving
  • Ice bath. Bowl full of ice cubes big enough to fit another heatproof bowl that can comfortable hold your cooked custard.
  1. Whisk the egg yolks, ¼ cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium, heat proof bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine cream and milk in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring just to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove from heat.
  3. If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean with a paring knife and add them to the hot milk. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes. If you are using vanilla extract skip this step as it gets added latter in the recipe.
  4. Add ¾ cup of sugar to the milk and heat just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  5. Very gradually whisk 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spatula or spoon, until the mixture reaches 185° F. on an accurate instant read thermometer. If you don't have an instant read thermometer use you can tell the custard is ready if when you coat the back of a spoon with the mixture and run you figure across it, the track left by your finger doesn't get filled in by surrounding mixture. I urge you to watch this excellent video on tempering eggs in egg custard to really understand the cooking process. Note: 185° F is a good 15 degrees higher than most people recommend and very close to that scrambled egg line. If you don't have a fast and accurate instant read thermometer, I would suggest taking it off the burner once it is over 170° F.
  7. Immediately strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a heat proof bowl (No, not the one you used above!). It helps a little if you chill the bowl in the freezer first. If you are using the vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean stir it in now.
  8. Place this bowl into an ice bath and leave it there until the mixture gets cold. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours preferably overnight. A couple of notes on this. If you don't want to wait 6 hours, don't. I'm just not convinced you are going to taste a big difference in flavor. Also a faster if slightly messier way of cooling down the mix is to pour it into a large Ziploc bag and immerse that in the ice bath. You will end up with a very cold mix in less than 30 minutes.
  9. Freeze the custard in your gelato (ice cream) maker according to manufacturer instructions. Add in the olive oil about half way into the process.
  10. Pack into a freezer container and place in your freezer for at least one hour. If you actually do this, wait an hour before eating some that is, you are insane.
  11. Gelato is best served the day it is made.
  12. Sprinkle each serving with a very little bit of flaky sea salt and drizzle with a line or two of super high grade extra-virgin olive oil.

4 thoughts on “Olive Oil Gelato

  1. I’m making this tomorrow with some chocolate olive oil my husband got at the Paso Robles Olive Festival. I’ll let you know how it comes out!

      • It came out very well. So well, we ate the whole first batch (4 of us) the first night. So I made a second batch and brought it to my parents’ house the next night. I have made it a third time for a holiday – can’t remember which. And I’m going to make it again this week and probably again for Thanksgiving. It’s the best frozen treat ever!

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