Olive Oli Gelato

- Amanda

The apotheosis of Mario Batali's cooking and the Mediterranean diet is, in my dessert-loving view, the olive oil gelato at Otto. It's as smooth as aioli, pulsing with green olive flavor, and has sugar and salt dueling in the background.

Shop the Story

Batali published a recipe for it in Molto Gusto -- it can be found on Serious Eats. The recipe, though good sounding, seemed like it would produce something richer and sweeter than I remember. As I fumbled through my cookbooks, I came across another version in Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati by Robin and Caroline Weir.

The Weirs are the foremost authorities on frozen desserts, and this book is the culmination of all of their research. And yet, I was also skeptical of their recipe, which calls for water in the custard, no cream or salt, and a whole lot of olive oil.

I was wrong about the custard -- it makes for a lovely thin yellow sauce (I did add a large pinch of salt). After chilling it overnight I whisked in olive oil to taste. The custard drank the oil like a good, dense mayonnaise, getting thicker and smoother with each stroke of the whisk. But after 6 tablespoons of oil -- the Weirs call for 12 -- I called it quits, and churned the gelato as is.

When something is good, you don't always want to share it. But you'll know when something you've made is really great, because you want everyone you know to taste it. Want to come by?

Olive Oil Gelato

Adapted from Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati by Robin Weir and Caroline Weir

Serves 2 to 4 (you can double the recipe if you want more)

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • Large pinch salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil (preferably Arbequina; I used Frantoia Barbera)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • hong_pham
  • jankak
  • Brsboarder
  • boulangere
  • lajuliaficationdumonde
Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


hong_pham June 1, 2011
We just made this and it turned out fabulous. We didn't think the 2 extra tbs of olive oil was too much at all, but then again, that might depend on your brand and taste. We actually made several batches and in one batch, experimented with a the idea of a salad dressing gelato...we know that sounds weird but we incorporated a balsamic reduction swirl...thus oil n vinegar gelato! we love the tangy sweetness it brings to counter the rich butteryness of the olive oil.
Amanda H. June 5, 2011
Very cool.
jankak April 4, 2011
Excuse me, I mean Bulgarinis! in Altadena.
jankak April 4, 2011
The olive oil frozen yoghurt at Bulgatis in Altadena, CA is beyond wonderful. All the gelatos are great, but the olive oil is the best.
Brsboarder April 3, 2011
Has anyone tried this and the serious eats one? I would love thoughts on preferences and why
boulangere April 3, 2011
It's a hit! I took it to my friend this afternoon, and we both had to dig into it. At the first bite, her eyes grew huge, and as it melted on her palate her jaw slackened, her shoulders relaxed, and then she yelled to her husband, "You've GOT to try this!"
Oh yum! I love olive oil gelato. I had an amazing one at Terroni's in LA served alongside their salted caramel crostada. Pretty incredible. I can't wait to make this! Thanks Amanda!

Do you have any suggestions for a European gelato recipe? Tart deliciousness? I used to love going to Pazzo Gelato and getting that with their ricotta sour cherry gelato but alas I have moved to San Francisco and have yet to find a gelato place as delightful as that. Sure, Bi Rite creamery is delicious, but it doesn't have the amazing breadth of interesting flavors that I could discover at Pazzo.

If anyone has suggestions about that too, I'm all ears! Thanks!
Amanda H. April 3, 2011
Have you tried Humphrey Slocum?
Amanda H. April 3, 2011
Misspelled it -- here's the link: http://www.humphryslocombe.com/|_Home_|.html
Not yet but I will now! Thanks Amanda!
zingyginger April 18, 2011
much as i like the creativity with flavors at humphryslocombe (you have to try their secret breakfast-cornflakes & bourbon), i've been there a couple of times and both the ones i've sampled and purchased were a tad icy. have you tried scream sorbet? it's hard to believe they use no cream as their sorbets have very creamy mouth feel. they have a myriad of flavors i haven't seen elsewhere.

*Almond Pink Peppercorn
*Saffron Almond
Apple Cinnamon
Apple Fennel
*Hosui Asian Pear
*Moro Blood Orange
*Sanguinelli Blood Orange
Cashew Caramel
*Blackberry Chocolate
Coconut Thai Basil
Coconut Kale
Cranberry Apple Cider
Concord Grape
White Guava
*Hazelnut Chocolate
*Hazelnut Coffee
Kabocha Coconut
Lemon Rosemary
Lemon Sage
Lemon Shiso
Lime Jasmine
Honey Mandarin
Satsuma Mandarin
Mandarin Lime
Meyer Lemon
*Macadamia Vanilla
Peanut Sesame
Rangpur Lime
Strawberry Lemon
Vanilla Almond
boulangere April 3, 2011
I made the rush version, as I needed something to take as a hostess gift this afternoon, and I was set on taking this. Made the custard, did a rapid chill over icy water, emulsified the olive oil (which was beautiful), and spun it. If anything next time, and there will certainly be a next time, I'd use an even more generous pinch of salt. This is simply wonderful, and I'm already imagining ways of serving it. Thank you so much, Amanda!
foodpluswords April 3, 2011
this sounds so very lovely! the color is divine, and the texture looks sumptuous. i can't wait to try this!
Nikolia April 2, 2011
Any chance you can make without the ice cream machine?
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
You can make it without a machine but it will be icy. This is a little more complicated but you can make the base custard, whisk in the oil, and then fold in whipped meringue and whipped cream and freeze it so it's like a semi-freddo -- then you won't have any texture issues.
vvvanessa April 2, 2011
that gelato is hands down the best thing on the menu at otto. and i'm a big fan of frantoia, too. thanks for sharing the recipe!
saltandpeppersf April 1, 2011
This has got to be my favorite dessert in life. And it's perfect timing since I'm flying into NY tomorrow so I am able to head over to Otto and have some!! Random, but a couple of NY trips ago I ran into Meredith Kurtzman at the bar at Lupa, except I didn't know it was her. We were chatting, and somehow got to talking about the olive oil gelato (I'm assuming I was rambling about how great it was bc that's what I do when I get excited!), and then she told me how it was her creation! Sadly she said it would be most difficult to achieve the same result with a normal ice-cream maker. I think she also said she used creme fraiche in her recipe, but I was on such a high from meeting the inventor of my favorite dessert that I honestly can't remember what more she said on the subject... maybe half creme fraiche, half cream? I know, I can't believe I've forgotten either! Foodie amnesia!
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Definitely worth trying with some creme fraiche. I leaned toward the cream-less Weir recipe because I was afraid having both oil and cream in the mix would leave a greasy feeling on your palate, but Kurtzman has clearly had success with it.
italianchef April 1, 2011
I was always skeptical about the Olive Oil Gelato thing, but you have sold me on trying it. Plus, you used my favorite olive oil.
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Yes, mine, too!
gingerroot April 1, 2011
Wow, this sounds amazing! What a beautiful color. Thanks for sharing the recipe - I'm looking forward to trying this soon.
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Dina A. April 1, 2011
Olive oil gelato? Sounds like bliss...
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Try it!
deanna1001 April 1, 2011
Gorgeous. Making this over the weekend hoping for warmer weather!
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Hope you like it.
ravenouscouple April 1, 2011
fantastic, just got a bottle of arbequina and will definitely try this
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Want to hear how it goes -- don't add all the olive oil at once. Taste as you go, because you might want to stop before adding the full amount.
AntoniaJames April 1, 2011
Uh oh . . . . I virtually always have in my kitchen everything needed to make this. Fascinating, and irresistible!! Thank you for sharing this. ;o)
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Nice work on the pantry staples.
fiveandspice April 1, 2011
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Now I'm craving gelato. Is it okay to go out and eat frozen desserts before it's even lunch time?!
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
In my book, yes.
TiggyBee April 1, 2011
Does this taste like frozen Mayo? It looks great!!
Amanda H. April 2, 2011
Sort of, yes.
innoabrd April 2, 2011
That's what I love about food52, in this community, tasting like frozen mayo is a GOOD thing! I feel so, well, normal here....
lapadia April 1, 2011
Wow...this sounds great, thanks for sharing it, Amanda!
Amanda H. April 2, 2011