Affogato: the beautiful recipe for an elegant Italian dessert

Total time: 15 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 1 person
By Cookist

For an elegant, effortless, and impressive dessert that you can make in no time, you'll love this beautiful affogato recipe. Affogato is a classic Italian dessert made from espresso coffee and vanilla ice cream (or gelato).

Simple yet satisfying, the combination of sweet, cold, creamy gelato and hot, slightly bitter espresso is a delight to the taste buds. Once the hot coffee hits the cold gelato, the ice cream begins to melt, mixing the two flavors perfectly.

The secret is to eat an affogato quickly before the gelato completely melts. Affogato ice cream coffee is a fantastic dessert to serve for any occasion, and it's a perfect single-serve dessert that you'll enjoy making again and again!

What is Affogato?

Also known as an affogato al cafe (pronounced affo-gah-toe), this tasty Italian dessert is made by pouring a single shot of espresso over gelato (although you can also use coffee and ice cream). In Italian, affogato means “drowned” referring to the drowning of the gelato in the espresso.

Some versions have liqueurs added to them such as amaretto or Frangelico. Affogato ice cream coffee is often served with a cookie or biscotti and the side. This delicious dessert marries hot and cold with the wonderful combination of hot espresso and cold gelato.

What Coffee to Use for Affogato?

Affogato is typically made with espresso. If you don't have espresso, you can use any type of strong, dark coffee in its place.

If you don't drink caffeine, simply swap it for your preferred type of decaf.

What is the Best Gelato for Affogato?

Gelato is the gold standard for making affogato. This traditional Italian dessert is similar to ice cream but is made with less cream and typically doesn't contain egg yolks. Gelato is lighter and has a softer texture compared to ice cream.

However, either ice cream or gelato will work when making affogato. The vanilla flavor is the most common, but you can use anything you like. Just make sure to use two scoops of gelato for every shot of coffee.

How to Make Affogato

Affogato couldn't be any easier to make, so it's perfect if you're a newbie to making desserts. Start by placing the gelato or ice cream into your serving glass. Put it in the freezer until it's time to serve.

Next, make the espresso. There are a few different ways you can make espresso depending on what you have available. Use an espresso machine, a Moka pot, French press, portable espresso maker, or an Aeropress (please note: espresso made in an Aeropress will be slightly more bitter). No espresso maker? Make some strong coffee, but half the amount of water you'd normally use. Now it's time to take the ice cream out of the freezer. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the scoops of ice cream. Bring your serving glass to the table, then pour the espresso over the gelato, and enjoy.

Affogato Topping Ideas

There are so many delicious toppings you can add to your affogato. Toasted chopped nuts, crushed biscotti or amaretti cookies, candied nuts, chocolate, chocolate-covered espresso beans, candied citrus peel, cocoa powder, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and more are a few ideas.

You can also experiment with different flavors of gelato.

How to Eat an Affogato?

Serve this delicious dessert in a clear glass in order to show what it happens when coffee touches ice cream. After adding the espresso, take a spoonful of gelato and espresso and enjoy. You should eat affogato immediately, ideally before the ice cream completely melts.

Can You Make Affogato Ahead of Time?

While you can't make the full dessert ahead of time, you can definitely prep parts of your affogato to streamline things when it's time for dessert. Place the ice cream in your serving glass, then pop it in the freezer until it's time to make the affogato. This can be done a day or two in advance.

Espresso and coffee taste the best fresh, so prepare it right before you plan on serving dessert.

Tips for Affogato Ice Cream Coffee 

You can add a shot of amaretto, Frangelico, or other types of liqueur to your affogato to give it a boozy kick.

To make vegan affogato, use vegan ice cream.

Don't have any espresso? Use two tablespoons of good, strong coffee as a substitute.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, you can use decaf espresso or coffee.

Can You Store Affogato?

Affogato should be eaten immediately. Once you add the espresso to the gelato, it will begin to melt, which means it's not suitable for storing.

More Desserts You'll Like

vanilla gelato or ice cream
2 small scoops
short espresso
1 shot
dark chocolate shavings, for garnish
chocolate sauce, for garnish (optional)


Scoop the ice cream or gelato into the serving glasses. Put the glasses in the freezer.

Prepare the espresso coffee with a coffee machine or a moka pot. If you use a classic Italian moka pot, unscrew the machine and fill the base with cold water to the valve level. Insert the filter and fill it with mocha ground coffee, without pressing down the powder. Screw the two parts of the moka tightly together and place it on the stove on low heat. As soon as the coffee comes out, turn off the heat and remove from the stove.

Take the ice cream out of the freezer. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the top of the ice cream. Place the serving glass on the table, then pour the espresso.

Garnish with chocolate sauce, if using.

Serve and enjoy!


Adding the espresso or coffee to the affogato should be done at the table so it can be consumed immediately.

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