So, I'm new to the world of desserts and am getting into making some gelato. My ice cream maker is the type that has a cooler in it so it pre-cools the bucket and continues cooling it while churning.

Given that, I've seen some recipes that specifically call for heating the gelato base and then cooling it overnight before churning.

What are the pros/cons of such a tactic? My assumption is that, since my ice cream maker can cool the bucket, starting with a hot liquid will have little, if any, difference than starting with a chilled liquid. Am I incorrect?

4 Answers 4


Cooling the gelato liquid is important when your ice cream maker does not include a chiller built-in. Some makers rely on a bowl that is put in the freezer, so you have to get the mix as cold as possible or the bowl won't be able to freeze your base.

If you have a chiller in your ice cream maker then there's no need to chill your base as it's designed to take a hot base. Unless the chiller unit is a bit weak, that is, some makers can't handle a hot room.

Flavor-wise there's pros and cons of cooling the base first, if you freeze it as fast as possible you keep more of the volatile flavors, if you chill then sometime the result is more nuanced. Personally I have rarely found that chilling the base gives flavor improvement in ice cream.


I would chill overnight for several reasons. 1) the faster it freezes the smoother the smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the ice cream. 2) allowing to sit overnight seems to have a good effect on the flavor. 3) If your machine isn't made for handling hot liquids, it may damage it.

  • I'm not sure if (1) makes sense? The speed of freezing only matters once it's actually starting to freeze and form ice crystals. Since it's an ice cream maker it's going to keep the liquid pretty well-mixed, so it should effectively just cool it all down to the point where it's indistinguishable from having been chilled.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 22:19
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    The reason for (1) is that you want to get the entire mass close to freezing and then make the transition as quickly as possible. That minimizes the crystal size. If you put hot liquid directly into the ice cream machine, parts of the mass will freeze long before the rest of it does, resulting in a more grainy texture.
    – mrog
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 22:27
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    @Cascabel the bowl is precooled apparently, meaning that cooling will be fastest at the start. You want the fastest cooling to be from just above to just before freezing, so starting cold side like a good idea. On the other hand you don't want the mix to freeze to the bowl in big lumps, so the oaddle should be moving when you pour the mix in
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 6:01
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    @ChrisH Ah, ok, sure. That'd be good to clarify in the answer, mroll.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 6:05
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    Um, I just don't think this is right. 1) the chiller cools the base, then freezes it, it's how long it takes to go from cool to cold that matters and chilling it in the fridge makes no difference. 2) this entirely depends on the flavor and is generally bad advice 3) If the device has a cooler built-in then it's designed to take a hot base.
    – GdD
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 7:18

A pre-chilled base will not be able to deliver unlimited cooling (actually, won't be able to absorb unlimited heat), so a too-hot base can warm up the base beyond usefulness before enough churning has happened - resulting either in a prematurely stopped churning process, or in re-melted ice cream. The cooler the mixture, the longer you can churn with a given base.

Also, treat pre-chilling times for ice cream machine bases conservatively, if it says 1 day and the results are disappointing try 3 days.

Make sure you do not pre-cool the mix in an area of your fridge that is prone to actually freezing (eg in a container that is snug against the back of your fridge) - this can actually create spots of icyness that won't be undone by the churning process unless the mixture is completely thawed before churning....

  • I'm confused by your answer. My ice cream machine has an ac compressor and not only cools the bowl but continues to cool it while churning is taking place. The length of time of churning I am, as of now, completely leaving up to the machine (auto setting for gelato). Does this info affect your answer?
    – user68028
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 17:44

I'm pretty amazed that a beginner would go all in with the kind of ice cream maker you have. In the UK they have as much as a £100 premium over the ones with a bowl you put in the freezer (like mine).

You say you're confused about the talk of ice crystals, for which comparing sorbet to granitas would be a good point. Sorbet is smoother because the ice crystals are small compared to granita even though they're similar in content otherwise.

I would not recommend using hot mixture as it would put more strain on your ice cream maker. The bowl will expand as it absorbs the heat, but it is more demanding on the cooling unit to cool a hot liquid than a cold one. In that time, larger ice crystals form, resulting in a gritty texture.

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