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Close up of Italian affogato in glass cup.

Italian Affogato Recipe – Italy’s Five-Minute Dessert

Last updated on June 7th, 2023

The title of this article isn’t clickbait – it actually does take only five minutes to make an Italian affogato.

The affogato is one of Italy’s most under rated desserts, in my opinion, not only because of its speedy preparation but also because of the combination of flavors and temperatures in your mouth.

The recipe for an Italian affogato is simple – scoop out some ice cream and pour freshly-brewed coffee on it. There you have it!

In fact, if you scroll below, you will see that there are only three steps to make this dessert and it doesn’t get any more complicated if you are preparing for a crowd. 

white sign with affogato for sale for 5.50 indicated with a small black price tag. Sign sitting on table with a lamp on right hand side by cash register.
Vivoli in Florence is known to make the best affogato in Italy

Recipe Pronunciation

Affogato means drowned or poached in Italian and it’s pronounced ahf-foh-gah-toh.

Listen to the pronunciation of affogato here:

What is An Affogato?  

An Italian affogato is a small serving of vanilla or cream-flavored ice cream or gelato, topped with a shot of freshly-brewed espresso. The result is a slow-melting gelato, drowned in hot coffee. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and bitter, hot and cold. 

Italians start eating it with a spoon. Then, they either drink the creamy coffee left in the bottom of the glass or bowl like a shot, or they slowly savor it as they spoon the last bits into their mouths.

espresso machine making coffee at restaurant in white cup close up
Espresso machine making coffee at restaurant

Italian Affogato Ingredients

Makes: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 min 

  • 1-2 modest size scoops of vanilla ice cream or gelato
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 1 tablespoon nut or coffee liqueur such as amaretto or Nocino (optional), or something comparable, like this.
  • dark chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa, for grating on top or a sprinkling of cocoa powder (optional)

Italian Affogato – Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Brew the espresso you need for the number of people (1 espresso per person). Learn how to use a moka pot here with detailed instructions and step-by-step pictures.
  2. Scoop 1-2 modest (meaning small) scoops of vanilla ice cream into a small glass or small bowl and pour over the shot of espresso.
  3. Pour 1 tablespoon of  liqueur, if using, over the ice cream and garnish with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder or a shaving of chocolate.
small clear glass with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso in it with coffee beans on ground and coffee moka pot in background

Italian Affogato – Substitutions

  • You can certainly take this recipe and use it as a guide to get creative in the kitchen. Although not traditional, you could play with the ice cream flavors and try hazelnut ice cream, chocolate chip, pistachio, etc. 
  • Use decaf coffee instead of regular if you want to avoid caffeine. 

Notes and Tips

  • Use the best quality vanilla ice cream you can find such as Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean. 
  • Use espresso coffee (100% arabica is best, generally speaking, if you want to really get picky). Brew it with a moka pot or espresso machine. If you don’t have one, you can make extremely strong coffee with a coffee pot.
  • Be sure you are using very cold ice cream. Don’t take it out of the freezer to soften up before making.
  • If you are preparing for a crowd, try to scoop out the gelato into cups, put it back into the freezer and then brew your coffee. The moment the coffee is ready you are also ready to go with your ice cream all ready dished out. It makes serving a lot easier! 

Learn More: Read about the 40+ Ways to Drink Coffee in Italy!

Close up of Italian affogato in glass cup.

Italian Affogato

Louisa
A quick, 5-minute, satisfying Italian dessert
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 scoops vanilla ice cream or gelato
  • 1 shot espresso
  • 1 Tbsp nut or coffee liqueur, like amaretto or nocino
  • grated dark chocolate or sprinkling of cocoa powder

Instructions
 

  • Brew the espresso you need for the number of people (1 espresso per person).
  • Scoop 1-2 modest (meaning small) scoops of vanilla ice cream or gelato into a small glass or small bowl and pour over the shot of espresso.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of liqueur, if using, over the ice cream and garnish with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder or a shaving of chocolate.

Notes

  • Use the best quality vanilla ice cream you can find such as Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean. 
  • Use espresso coffee (100% arabica is best, generally speaking, if you want to really get picky). Brew it with a moka pot or espresso machine. If you don’t have one, you can make extremely strong coffee with a coffee pot.
  • Be sure you are using very cold ice cream. Don’t take it out of the freezer to soften up before making.
  • If you are preparing for a crowd, try to scoop out the gelato into cups, put it back into the freezer and then brew your coffee. The moment the coffee is ready you are also ready to go with your ice cream all ready dished out. It makes serving a lot easier! 
Keyword easy, espresso, ice cream, quick, refreshing
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Italian Affogato FAQ

Is this a hot dessert or a cold dessert?

This is a bit of a trick question because it’s neither – it’s warm – cold on the inside from the gelato and hot on the outside from the freshly brewed coffee. The contrast is just perfect!

How should I eat affogato?

With a spoon you can eat the ice cream and then drink any of the coffee that is leftover in the bottom of the bowl or glass.

How should affogato be served?

It’s best served in a small glass or in a very small bowl that isn’t too wide but rather, something small you can cup in your hand if you were to pick it up. I personally prefer a small glass, like this option here, but there is no hard rule on this one. 

When was affogato invented?

It’s hard to identify an exact date but most people agree that the dessert started to become popular in the 1950s and today, it’s even more popular in America than it is with Italians!

Where is the best affogato in Italy?

I can’t promise this is the best in all of Italy but I do know that in Florence, Vivoli, the famous gelateria, is famous throughout the country for their affogato. Order it at the counter and eat it standing up with the old timers who make it a habit of indulging in this sweet treat at Vivoli. 

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