Affogato Recipe

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Last Updated on January 2, 2024

Imagine taking a bite of creamy vanilla ice cream drowned in a shot of hot espresso and enjoying the contrast of temperatures and flavors on your tastebuds; sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? This dessert is called affogato, which means drowned in Italian, and it’s one of the most delicious Italian creations that can grace your dinner table.

Close up of affogato drink with coffee and ice cream in the background

Affogato is made from two ingredients only, espresso and ice cream. Although it’s widely known as a dessert, some Italian restaurants put it on the beverages menu, considering it’s mostly liquid.

What makes affogato a worldwide-famous dessert and a favorite for many is its exceptional contrast of textures and flavors. The creaminess of the vanilla ice cream complements the boldness of hot espresso, bringing a unique sensation to the tip of your tongue.

If you’re ready to try the ever-delicious dessert, keep scrolling for my authentic Italian affogato recipe!


Before I jump into the recipe details, I’ll tell you what ingredients you’ll need to make affogato. You’ll only need two main ingredients, but you can add others for decorating your dessert. Also, these ingredients will give you one large serving. If you’re hosting a dinner and want to make affogato for more people, adjust the amounts accordingly.

vanilla gelato and hot espresso
  • Two scoops of cold vanilla gelato
  • Two shots of hot espresso
  • One tablespoon of chocolate shavings (optional)
  • One scoop of whipped cream (optional)
  • One tablespoon of chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • A drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce (optional)

How to Make Affogato

Now that you have all your ingredients prepared, it’s time to whip up a delicious cup of affogato. It’ll take you about 15-20 minutes to finish the recipe, less if you use an espresso machine.

1. Prepare the Espresso

First, you’ll need to prepare the hot coffee using an espresso machine or an Italian Moka. To use a Moka, first, fill its lower chamber with water. Then, put a coffee filter on top and fill it with two tablespoons of ground coffee. Next, scrape the top of the coffee with a knife or spoon so that it’s leveled, and attach the top chamber to the lower one, with the filter between them.

Put the Moka on the stove on medium heat and wait for 10-15 minutes or till it makes boiling sounds. Then, take it off the heat and leave it aside.

If you don’t want to go through all of this hassle, you can use instant espresso powder and a cup of boiling water. But it won’t give you the same boldness as when you brew extra strong coffee using a Moka pot or a coffee machine.

If you use a coffee machine, you have the freedom to use a single or double-shot espresso. Double shots will give you a bolder taste, so they’re my favorite. But if you aren’t strong on drinking coffee, use single shots.

2. Add the Cold Gelato

After preparing the strong brewed coffee, grab a large chilled glass for the gelato. Then, get your vanilla ice cream box from the freezer and grab a stainless steel scoop. Add two large scoops of sweet and creamy gelato to the glass.

You can use gelato flavors other than vanilla if you’re in a creative mood. However, I don’t recommend it. Vanilla is the best ice cream flavor you can use for this dessert.

Coffee gelato will taste too strong, and you’ll miss the contrast of flavors that’s present in the authentic Italian affogato recipe.

Meanwhile, chocolate gelato will give your dessert a slightly bitter taste close to unsweetened mocha. I prefer adding shaved chocolate on top of the ice cream before serving. This way, I enjoy both the unique flavor of affogato and the sweet effect of chocolate.

In some countries, coffee shops use fruit-flavored gelato for an affogato. But fruity flavors don’t blend well with coffee, so I wouldn’t try that.

The best gelato alternatives if you don’t have vanilla are hazelnut and walnut. They have mild flavors that won’t affect the delicious taste of your affogato too much, and they’ll provide the same sweet effect as vanilla.

vanilla ice cream next to shot of espresso

3. Pour the Hot Shot of Espresso

Now, it’s time to pour espresso over your ice cream scoops. Grab the Moka pot you used to brew coffee earlier, and pour two searing hot shots over the freezing gelato.

Your espresso must be hot here. So if it gets cold while you prepare the rest of the recipe, reheat it over the stove for a couple of minutes. Many people don’t mind using cold coffee for this recipe, but it isn’t ideal. Cold coffee is more bitter than hot coffee and will give you a different taste.

4. Decorate and Serve

Before serving the dessert to your family or friends, spice it up a bit with chocolate shavings, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and some hazelnuts. They’ll boost the flavor and appearance of your creation, making it look like it’s served by a professional coffee shop. And as a bonus point, they won’t take you more than a minute to add.

You can also add a scoop of whipped cream on top if you like extra creaminess. But it’ll make the dessert more fulling than it’s supposed to be, which isn’t ideal after a heavy dinner.

After decorating the dessert, serve immediately. If you wait for a few minutes before serving, the ice cream will melt and lose its creamy texture. Accordingly, you’ll serve a beverage instead of a flavorsome affogato coffee ice cream.

If you’re making affogato for many people and fear that by the time you’re done serving, the ice cream scoops will have melted under the espresso heat, here’s an idea. Serve the decorated ice cream scoops alone alongside small hot shots of espresso. This way, your guests will pour the espresso themselves and get to enjoy the ice cream while it’s still cold.


Tips and Tricks

I’ll give you a few tips and tricks that’ll make your affogato even more delicious.

First of all, don’t take your gelato out of the freezer too early before using it. You want it to be soft enough to scoop but not so much that it feels melty. Also, when it’s firm, it’ll take more time to melt under the scalding heat of espresso shots, which gives you more time to enjoy the creamy texture of the dessert.

Second, always put the hot coffee after the ice cream, not vice versa. Putting the gelato second will make a splash that’ll ruin the aesthetic of your dessert. Also, the gelato won’t melt as elegantly as you want it to.

Another trick you should know is that you shouldn’t add sugar to the espresso before using it in this recipe. The vanilla gelato will provide the right amount of sweetness to the dessert without letting it overpower the strong flavor of hot coffee.

Also, to save time while preparing the affogato glasses, you can chill them after adding the ice cream, not before. Then, bring them out right before serving.

Most importantly, many people let their espresso shots cool down before pouring them down on the gelato or ice cream. But doing so will make you miss the unique contrast between hot and cold temperatures in this dessert. Accordingly, it won’t taste or feel the same.

Finally, you should pay attention to the proportions you use to make affogato. You don’t want your ice cream scoop to swim awkwardly in a large amount of coffee, and you don’t want the espresso to barely cover the scoop.

Ideally, you should get to enjoy eating the ice cream before it melts and then drinking the vanilla-laced remaining espresso. To achieve this, add a shot of espresso to every scoop of gelato you use.


Can I Store My Affogato in the Fridge?

You can’t store an affogato after making it. Both the hot coffee and gelato will lose their consistencies and form a coffee-flavored beverage. If you want to store an affogato, you should do it before adding espresso. Scoop the ice cream into a small drinking glass, and push it into the freezer till you’re ready to use it.

Can I Serve Affogato in Opaque Glasses?

Yes, you can, but I don’t recommend it. Watching the searing hot shot of espresso hit the gelato and melt through it is part of the authentic Italian experience. So clear glasses are the way to go, as they’ll show you the complementary gold color of the ice cream and coffee after they blend.

How Do Italians Eat Affogato?

Italians eat affogato after lunch or dinner, and they use a spoon to enjoy the ice cream before drinking the rest of the creamy espresso. Some coffee shops also serve the dessert with a straw.

Can I Make a Frappe From Leftover Affogato?

If you’re unable to finish your affogato and the ice cream is still cold, you can pour the dessert into your mixer and hit the button. Then, pour the cold mixture into a tall cup, top it off with some whipped cream, and enjoy a delicious cup of frappe. If the ice cream is completely melted, add ice cubes to your cup.

Is Affogato Gluten-Free or Vegan?

Affogato is gluten-free since most ice cream brands don’t use gluten in making their products. However, it isn’t vegan because ice cream contains dairy. If you want vegan affogato, use dairy-free vanilla gelato. Also, make sure to check for the gluten-free label on the ice cream box you purchase to be sure.

What Are the Best Toppings for an Italian Affogato?

There are many topping ideas that you can try, and they’re all equally delicious. Here’s a quick list of toppings that you can use:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Crushed Italian biscotti
  • Whole espresso beans
  • Crushed almonds or pistachios
  • Dark chocolate pieces
  • Maple syrup
close up of affogato with espresso and ice cream in the background
Yield: 2

Affogato Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes

If you're looking for a delicious drink to treat yourself this dessert season, look no further than affogato! This Italian delicacy is rich and creamy, with the perfect blend of espresso and vanilla ice cream. It's sweet, delicious, and oh-so-good.


  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1 cup vanilla gelato or ice cream


Place 1 cup of ice cream (coffee, chocolate, or vanilla) in a coffee cup, then pour a shot of espresso or three tablespoons of strong brewed coffee.

Top with shaved dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 726Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 345mgSodium: 328mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 1gSugar: 69gProtein: 13g

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