Amidst the vast variety of the world's cuisines, there are certain foods that everyone loves, no matter where on the planet they're from. And ice cream is at the top of the list.
From mochi in Japan and gelato in Italy, to Indian kulfi and Turkish dondurma, not to mention the classic frozen custard so beloved in the American Midwest, it seems that every culture boasts their own unique take on ice cream.
Here are some of the tastiest and most popular ice creams from around the world. To keep the list somewhat manageable, we had to omit frozen treats such as Italian ice or sorbet that don't include cream or some other dairy ingredient.
01 of 10
American Ice Cream
The United States boasts a number of ice cream styles. The most common type, sometimes called Philadelphia-style, New York-style, or simply American ice cream, is made with milk, cream and sugar, but no eggs.
Other varieties include New England-style (think Ben and Jerry's) a rich, chewy blend made with eggs and added milk protein, and frozen custard, a soft, creamy, high-fat ice cream that originated in New York but became popular in the Midwest after the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.
And let's not forget soft-serve, an eggless, relatively low-fat (3 to 6 percent vs 10 percent or more for ice cream) dessert that is mechanically whipped to give it its distinctively airy, swirly texture.
Fun fact: The tradition of serving frozen desserts in an edible cone dates back to the 18th century, most likely in France.
02 of 10
Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream, and it's much denser than American ice cream because it contains less butterfat than ordinary ice cream, and because it's churned more slowly. It's also a bit sweeter.
Otherwise, gelato and ice cream are quite similar; it's made from frozen milk, cream, and other ingredients, sometimes with egg yolks and sometimes without. Since gelato is denser, its flavor can be more intense than ice cream. And it's served slightly warmer than ice cream, which also intensifies its flavors.
03 of 10
Another Italian take on frozen custard that originated in the 19th century is semifreddo, which in Italian means "half frozen." While ice cream and gelato are made by slowly churning the milk, cream and sugar together before freezing, semifreddo is made by rapidly whipping the ingredients into a mousse-like consistency, so the final result is much lighter and airier than ice cream. Also, semifreddo is frozen into molds and served by slicing it like a cake.
04 of 10
Mochi ice cream, which is widely enjoyed in Japan, was actually invented in the early 1990s by a Japanese-American businesswoman in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo (although a similar confection, filled with red bean paste rather than ice cream, has been a Japanese delicacy for centuries). Mochi ice cream is made by wrapping balls of ice cream within a sweet dough made from glutinous rice flour. Popular flavors for the ice cream filling include vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, as well as green tea, red bean, black sesame, plum wine, and mango.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Dondurma is a Turkish frozen dessert made from goat's milk, which imparts a distinctive flavor and aroma. But dondurma is best known for its hard, chewy texture, its elasticity, which allows it to be stretched and twisted like a dough, and its resistance to melting. These properties are derived from a pair of thickeners: one, called salep, which is the root of a wild orchid indigenous to southern Turkey, and the second, mastic, a plant resin from an evergreen shrub native to the Greek island of Chios. The ice cream is kneaded with a long, metal pole to give it its characteristic stretchiness.
Dondurma is so thick it is often wrapped around a spit like a doner kebab and served by slicing it with a knife rather than scooping it. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, raspberry, strawberry, cherry, and mulberry. A similar treat, called pagoto, is served in neighboring Greece.
06 of 10
Kulfi is a dense, creamy, frozen dessert popular in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere in South Asia and the Middle East. It's made by cooking sweetened milk along with nuts and spices until it's reduced by half, which thickens and caramelizes it. The mixture is then frozen in narrow metal molds immersed in a mixture of ice and salt, to freeze the sweet reduction into a solid shape; it's often served on a stick. There's no churning or whipping involved, only a gentle stirring of the milk mixture as it slowly reduces.
Kulfi flavors include rose, pistachio, mango and saffron.
07 of 10
A whimsical Italian living in Germany created this next entry in the 1960s. Spaghettieis is a frozen dessert made by pressing ice cream through a potato ricer or spaetzle press (a form of fried noodle), squeezing it out into thin strands the shape of spaghetti, which is then topped with a strawberry sauce made to look like tomato sauce, and sprinkled with white chocolate shavings made to resemble Parmesan cheese.
08 of 10
Also referred to as rolled ice cream or stir-fried ice cream, I-Tim-Pad is is a Thai frozen dessert made by mixing milk, cream, sugar and other flavoring ingredients and then pouring the mixture in a shallow pool onto a superchilled ice pan, where the ingredients are stirred together. Eventually the mixture freezes into a thin layer of ice cream which is then scraped off using a spatula, which simultaneously rolls the ice cream into hollow, spiral-shaped logs. These logs are then served in a bowl or cup garnished with additional toppings such as fruit, chocolate sauce, cookies, and whipped cream.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Another popular frozen street food treat is sorbetes, a favorite throughout the Philippines. Traditionally made from the milk of a native water buffalo called the carabao, the modern version of sorbetes can be made from carabao milk or cow's milk. Popular flavors include mango, melon, coconut, avocado and strawberry, as well as chocolate, cookies and cream, and even cheese.
Sorbetes is sold by vendors known as sorbeteros who move through the cities with colorful carts. Sorbetes is served in cones, in cups and in bread buns.
10 of 10
Fried Ice Cream
Fried ice cream is enjoyed in various cuisines, including Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and North American, and it's unclear where it actually originated. But the idea is, ice cream is dipped in some sort of batter and then briefly immersed in boiling fat, which turns the batter brown and crispy while leaving the ice cream within still frozen. The resulting pastry can then be dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with chocolate, caramel or custard sauce, along with other garnishes.
In Japan, fried ice cream is made using tempura batter, whereas in Mexico the ice cream is coated in crushed Corn Flakes before frying.