The Savory Ingredient Giada De Laurentiis Tops Her Ice Cream With

A bowl of ice cream is always great on its own, but add the right toppings and it can quickly transform into an extraordinary dessert. A scoop of toasted nuts can bring much-needed crunch, a drizzle of hot fudge can turn it into something rich and decadent, and there are always syrups, sprinkles, whipped cream, marshmallows, and cherries if you'd like to make a traditional ice cream sundae. In Giada De Laurentiis' kitchen, however, a bowl of ice cream is often topped with a savory ingredient: olive oil.

Sharing her tip on TikTok, the "Everyday Italian" host suggested that top-quality bottles of olive oil are often better used to finish dishes rather than to cook them. These finishing oils are essentially those packed with flavor that would otherwise be lost in the process of high-heat cooking and therefore may be better used as a condiment to add a final touch of color, flavor, and texture to a dish. 

In the video, De Laurentiis recommends saving olive oils for topping dishes such as chicken Parmesan, salads, and believe it or not, even ice cream. That's right: According to De Laurentiis, you should be drizzling nutty, grassy, spicy, bitter, and flavorful olive oils on top of your ice cream before digging in, and she has a good reason as to why.

Why olive oil is a worthy ice cream topping

While Giada De Laurentiis' savory ice cream topping may come as a surprise to some, olive oil with gelato or ice cream is actually quite the pair. Olive oil makes the texture of ice cream luxuriously creamy whilst also bringing nutty and grassy notes to the mix. That's why olive oil is a common ingredient in ice creams sold in the gelaterias of Italy and why olive oil-based frozen desserts are becoming increasingly popular in Stateside supermarkets as well.

Another reason to try it? When you finish any ice cream with a drizzle of olive oil, the combination of fat on fat results in a bowl of ice cream that has a velvety and buttery mouthfeel, with a hint of savoriness that cuts through all the overt sweetness of the frozen dessert. 

The consensus among Redditors too is that while olive oil and ice cream may seem like an odd combination at first, it is one that totally works. One user points out that high-quality olive oils often have floral tones which taste like honey when drizzled on top of ice cream. As a bonus, olive oil is packed with nutrients like monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, so you can always use that as an excuse to dig into another bowl of ice cream!


Not all olive oil is meant for cooking! This is how to use a really nice bottle of olive oil that has more spicy or bitter notes than a more classic, neutral bottle of extra virgin olive oil. #oliveoil #howto #giada #giadadelaurentiis #giadzy #oliveoildrizzle #oliveoilgirl #oliveoilqueen #oliveoilcake

♬ Magic – Dylan Rockoff

Choose an oil that will work best

Pouring olive oil on ice cream seems simple enough, but a few tricks will go a long way in ensuring that you get the most out of the topping. For one, high-quality olive oils have a punchier flavor so it's best to splurge the extra cash on purchasing a top-shelf olive oil when using it to finish dishes like ice cream. Additionally, while Giada De Laurentiis recommends saving bitter and spicy olive oils for finishing dishes, lighter ones with fruity and floral tones will work better on the frozen treat than those that have a more in-your-face spiciness to them.

As for the ice cream itself, vanilla is a blank canvas that allows the olive oil to shine, but it's not the only one that pairs well with the oil's complexity. Chocolate and strawberry are excellent options as are more nutty ice cream flavors like pistachio or butter pecan. To up the anté even further, consider adding a pinch of flaky sea salt on top. Coarse flakes of salt will bring a salty crunch to the sweet and savory flavors; the trick also works well with fruity frozen desserts like lemon sorbet. De Laurentiis has done so before, also adding berries and aged balsamic vinegar to the mix. The possibilities are truly endless when you get creative.