The meaning of the term ice cream varies from country to country. Terms like frozen custard, frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato and others are used to distinguish different varieties and styles. In some countries, like the USA, the term ice cream applies only to a specific variety, and governments regulate the commercial use of all these terms based on quantities of ingredients. In others, like Italy and Argentina, one word is used for all the variants. 

Ice Cream is defined as is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners. In some cases, artificial flavourings and colourings are used in addition to (or in replacement of) the natural ingredients. This mixture is stirred slowly while cooling to prevent large ice crystals from forming; the result is a smoothly textured ice cream.  In the United Statees, ice cream must have at least 10% milkfat to be defined as ice cream. 

Some of the more popular varieties and definitions include:

¨ Frozen custard: at least 10% milk fat and at least 1.4% egg yolk and much less air beaten into it, similar to Gelato, fairly rare. Known in Italy as Semifreddo.

¨ Frozen yogurt: a low fat or fat free alternative made with yogurt.

¨ Gelato: an Italian frozen dessert having a lower milk fat content than ice cream and stabilized with ingredients such as eggs.

¨ Sherbet: 1–2% milk fat and sweeter than ice cream.

¨ Sorbet: fruit puree with no dairy products.

¨ Snow cones:  made from balls of crushed ice topped with sweet syrup served in a paper cone.


Less popular, but worth mentioning:


¨ Ais kacang: a dessert in Malaysia and Singapore made from shaved ice, syrup, and boiled red bean and topped with evaporated milk. Sometimes, other small ingredients like raspberries and durians are added in too.

¨ Dondurma: Turkish ice cream, made of salep and mastic resin.

¨ Halo-halo: a popular Filipino dessert that is a mixture of shaved ice and milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans and fruits, and served cold in a tall glass or bowl.

¨ Ice milk: less than 10% milk fat and lower sweetening content, once marketed as "ice milk" but now sold as low-fat ice cream in the United States.

¨ Ice pop (or lolly): frozen fruit puree, fruit juice, or flavored sugar water on a stick or in a flexible plastic sleeve.

¨ Kulfi: Believed to have been introduced to South Asia by the Mughal conquest in the 16th century; its origins trace back to the cold snacks and desserts of Arab and Mediterranean cultures.

¨ Mellorine: non-dairy, with vegetable fat substituted for milk fat

¨ Parevine: Kosher non-dairy frozen dessert established in 1969 in New York

NOTE:  The quest for “the best ice cream in the world” includes several different varieties.  For definition purposes, any of the above listed will be considered “ice cream"

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