This easy Italian affogato coffee dessert recipe requires just a few minutes and few ingredients. The result is the most delicious Italian dessert! Just so you know, this post may contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission when you purchase through them.
Ciao ciao! We’ve just returned from Italy, and I have a whole bunch of recipes to share that I worked on there… but first coffee. If you’re a coffee lover, you need an affogato in your life this summer. Coffee ice cream has been one of my favorites forever, and this Italian version is even more fun.
With just two everyday ingredients you can make the most creamy, melty, delicious dessert in just a few minutes. Whether you’re looking for an easy (easiest ever!) dinner party dessert or just want a little pick-me-up treat for yourself, affogato is the answer.
What is Affogato?
Affogato means “drowned” in Italian, and it makes sense, as ice cream, or gelato, is drowned in coffee. Freshly brewed espresso mellows the sweetness of ice cream and the flavor combination is just perfect. Traditionally, gelato is scooped into a glass and hot espresso is poured over. Of course there are some variations you can make as desired, which I’ll be getting to in a minute. Affogato really is a crowd-pleaser – Starbucks even made a frappuccino based on this popular Italian dessert.
How to Make Affogato
The way I make my coffee every morning, and my preference for traditional Italian espresso is easy and relatively inexpensive. You don’t need a big fancy espresso machine, though those are great too, a stovetop Bialetti Moka pot will do. They come in a couple of different sizes. I like to stick with Italian espresso here and use Illy.
While we were in Italy I often used the Nespresso machine to make a single shot of espresso right into the little cups. Fun fact: small straight up espresso shots are the coffee of choice in Italy. Milky drinks like cappuccino are reserved for breakfast only, while espresso is often served at the end of meals. Grabbing a quick coffee in Italy also traditionally means standing at a bar. The “bar” is most commonly referring to coffee rather than cocktails.
Scoop Ice Cream
Vanilla ice cream is the standard and in my opinion the best choice here, as it lets the coffee flavor really shine. If you’d like more of a mocha/chocolate flavor, I recommend adding dark chocolate shavings, a sprinkle of cacao powder, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce at the end. For a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan affogato, I like Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss in Madagascan Vanilla Bean. Scoop the ice cream as close to espresso pouring time as possible to avoid too much melting.
Pour Espresso Over Ice Cream
Pour the fresh espresso straight from the pot or from little espresso cups.
How to Eat Affogato
If you haven’t had affogato before you may wonder if you drink it or scoop it up with a spoon, but the answer is both! Scoop up ice cream with the spoon, then drink the rest. The important part is to enjoy it immediately after adding the espresso as the ice cream melts quickly.
Affogato Recipe Variations & Tips
- Serve with Gluten Free Vegan Almond Biscotti
- For a slower-melting version, use cold coffee
- Top with chocolate sauce for a mocha version
- For dinner party prep, pre-scoop ice cream into glasses and freeze ahead
- For a holiday spin, top with smashed candy canes
- Use decaf if you’re sensitive to caffeine
- For a boozy version, add a splash of Italian amaretto liqueur
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream (dairy-free if desired)
- 4 shots strong espresso (decaf if desired)
- dark chocolate shavings or sauce (for garnish, optional)
- fresh mint sprigs (for garnish, optional)
- Scoop ice cream into small-medium sized glass cups or mugs.
- Immediately pour espresso over the ice cream.
- Garnish with chocolate shavings and mint, if desired.
- Serve immediately with small spoons.
Do-ahead: If making affogato for a dinner party, scoop the ice cream into glasses and freeze ahead of time.
This is an easy recipe but it's important to serve affogato as soon as the espresso is poured over the ice cream as it will melt quickly.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 29mg Sodium: 59mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 14g Protein: 2g