Affogato – Drink? Dessert? Both!

how to make affogato, making affogato, what's affogato, affogato what is it

Creamy, Dreamy Affogato

Affogato = drowned in Italian, which is apropos, as the delicious dessert is ice cream soaked in espresso.

Is it a coffee? Is it a dessert? Well, you decide, as you can switch it up with just a bit of ice cream that melts in the espresso. Or scoop up a big bowl and add the espresso as a topper. Regardless of the proportions, the combination is divine!

Spillin' the Beans, coffee
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

About Affogato

Coffee Baseespresso
Water Addedno
Cupglass cup, mug, or bowl
Suppliesespresso, ice cream or gelato
Sugar or Added Flavorsthe basic recipe is just espresso and ice cream or gelato, but liqueurs and other ingredients can be added
Notesvanilla is the traditional flavor, but other ice cream or gelato flavors create new taste profiles
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

What is an Affogato?

An Affogato, or affogato al caffé, is a classic Italian dessert that consists of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream.

Combining the hot espresso and the cold, creamy ice cream creates a delightful balance of flavors and temperatures. Also, a garnish of chocolate shavings or biscotti adds texture and sweetness. This simple yet elegant dessert can be enjoyed as an after-dinner treat or during an afternoon coffee break.

Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Basic Affogato Recipe

A traditional affogato requires just two ingredients:

  • espresso
  • vanilla ice cream or gelato

Don’t be deterred if you don’t have an espresso machine, as there are plenty of ways to make it.

Espresso Making Alternatives

Moka Pot


Cezve (or Ibrik)

Nespresso machine

Coffee sticks

Like a Sundae

Scoop your ice cream or gelato into a glass cup and pour the shot of espresso on top – it’s like the hot fudge in a hot fudge sundae.

You can use less ice cream, and it’s drinkable. But affogato is typically served with a spoon.

affogato, ice cream and coffee, affogato recipe
Spillin' the Beans, coffee
Spillin' the Beans, coffee
caramel ice cream affogato
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Not So Vanilla

Espresso and quality vanilla ice cream are enough for a heavenly sweet treat. However, you can crank up the volume by using a different flavor or making your own vanilla ice cream. And we’ve got a no-recipe recipe for homemade vanilla that you’ll love!

What other types of ice cream work well with an affogato?

Experiment with different flavors. Chocolate ice cream works exceptionally well, bringing out the nutty notes in the espresso. Salted caramel or dulce de leche go nicely, too, providing a unique twist to this classic Italian dessert. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try something like honeycomb or gingerbread – these flavors will really bring out the sweetness in the espresso!

Our favorite = sweet cream ice cream. Stop by Cold Stone Creamery and grab a pint. It’s a yummilicious combo!

Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Homemade Ice Cream

Even though we provide plenty of how-tos and recipes here at Spillin’ the Beans, we prefer the no-recipe recipes. They provide techniques and the basics but leave room for a dash of this and a dash of that.

Since we’re focusing on the affogato, we get to share one of those no-recipe techniques for super-easy, super-fast, and super-delicious homemade ice cream.

First, you’ll want an individual ice cream maker, like Dash. You can buy it at Target or Amazon, and it’s typically under $25. Even if you’re not an affogato aficionado (we really wanted to say that!), you’ll love this little baby if you’re an ice cream fan. Just keep it in your freezer, and it’s ready to go whenever you are – 30 minutes to creamy, dreamy, deliciousness.

Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Grab a measuring cup, like one of those 2-cup Pyrex cups
  • Fill it to the 1/4 cup mark with sugar
  • Add about 1/2 cup of cream and 1/8 cup of milk – here’s where you play around, though – change the proportions, use nut milks, more cream, etc. It’s up to you, but you want the mix to measure just under one cup
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Stir the mixture and pour it into a plastic bowl with a tight lid
  • Shake, shake, shake and then put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes
  • Take the mix and your ice cream maker out of the freezer
  • Pour the mixture into the maker and let it run for 15 minutes

Get the espresso ready around the 12-minute mark, and you’ll time your homemade affogato perfectly.

Spillin' the Beans, coffee
making an affogato
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

How to Take an Affogato to a New Level with Liqueur

Adding liqueur to your affogato creates a whole new espresso-based treat!

Choose your favorite liqueur – whether it’s Frangelico hazelnut liqueur or amaretto almond liqueur. Then pour just enough over the top of your dessert to mix with the espresso and ice cream. You could also add some creme de cacao for a hint of chocolatey flavor or Grand Marnier for extra orangey sweetness.

Oh, and whipped cream on top? Why not?!

Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Affogato Cocktail

While we’re on the subject of making your affogato more spirited, how about going all in with an affogato cocktail?

Affogato cocktail, how to make an affogato cocktail, affogato cocktail recipe

Affogato Cocktail

A cocktail based on the affogato, which is a simple Italian dessert with espresso poured over vanilla gelato or ice cream
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Beverages
Servings 2 servings


  • espresso maker if you don't have a way to make espresso, espresso coffee sticks are a viable option – no machine needed


  • 2 ounces espresso
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream or gelato
  • 2 ounces amaretto liqueur
  • 2 ounces cream or half & half
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • chocolate shavings or other garnish


  • Begin by brewing two shots of espresso in a coffeemaker or espresso machine
  • Once the espresso has finished brewing, pour it into two glasses
  • Place a scoop of ice cream or gelato into each glass
  • Add one ounce of each of the remaining ingredients – amaretto, dark rum, and cream into each glass
  • Stir gently and top with chocolate shavings


This cocktail also works as a blended cocktail – put all ingredients into the blender and combine to a milkshake consistency. Divide into two cocktail glasses and garnish with chocolate shavings or chocolate syrup.
Keyword coffee cocktails, coffee drinks
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

As an affogato is such a simple dessert, quality ingredients are a must – fresh espresso and homemade or gourmet ice cream or gelato

Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Variations On the Affogato

If you’re looking for other ways to enjoy this classic Italian dessert, you can try plenty of different switch-ups.

  1. For a lighter version, you could opt for sorbet instead of traditional ice cream – raspberry sorbet offers a tart contrast against the richness of espresso.
  2. Experimenting with nuts and spices can elevate this classic dish – think chopped hazelnuts and ground cinnamon sprinkled on top.
  3. If you want more of a dessert presentation, add some caramelized bananas and whipped cream.
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an affogato?

An affogato is a simple Italian dessert consisting of vanilla ice cream, custard, or gelato with a shot of espresso poured on top.

Is the affogato alcoholic?

No. A traditional affogato is just ice cream and espresso. However, adding optional liqueurs, like Frangelico, is a way to take the dessert to a new level.

Can you drink an affogato?

In most restaurants, when you order an affogato, it’s served with more ice cream than espresso, and you’d use a spoon. However, you can create a variation similar to a macchiato with espresso and just a small spoonful of ice cream that’ll melt quickly.

Spillin' the Beans, coffee
  • Cinna-Claus Churro Cheer Latte

    Cinna-Claus Churro Cheer Latte

  • Jingle Spice Whiskey Cocoa Buzz

    Jingle Spice Whiskey Cocoa Buzz

  • Almond Joy Delight Coffee Shake

    Almond Joy Delight Coffee Shake

  • Festive Spice Delight French Press Christmas Coffee

    Festive Spice Delight French Press Christmas Coffee