The Difference Between Sorbet And Sherbet

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Sorbet and sherbet are both absolutely delicious. When you need a cool and refreshing treat in the summer, these two desserts are a favorite among many. However, very few actually know the difference between the two frozen treats.

Often, the names sorbet and sherbet are used interchangeably when referring to this type of dessert, but there are in fact some distinguishing differences between the two of them.

What is the difference between sorbet and sherbet? The main difference between sorbet and sherbet comes down to the amount of dairy each contains. Sherbet contains a small amount of cream or milk, giving it a creamier, richer texture, whereas sorbet contains no dairy at all.

Sorbet and sherbet definitely have a few more differences, and both act as a lighter alternative to either gelato or ice cream, and are perfect to enjoy in the warmer months where there is an abundance of fresh fruit available.

The Difference Between Sorbet and Sherbet

Here are all the differences between sorbet and sherbet, helping you tell the difference between the two!

1. Ingredients

One of the biggest differences between the two is that they are made from different ingredients.

Sorbet has two main ingredients of fruit and sugar. Sometimes, water and other natural flavors are added in as well, but in the purest form, sorbet is churned much like ice cream, with fruit and water.

Granita is very similar to sorbet with regards to the ingredients, but granita is not churned like sorbet is, and is instead flaked off and frozen to have a coarse, icy texture. 

Sherbet, much like sorbet, is made with fruit and sugar but has an addition of cream or milk. As per the FDA, sherbet needs to have between one and two percent of milkfat.

In comparison, ice cream needs to contain between ten percent milkfat. The addition of milk or cream is what really sets sherbet and sorbet apart.

2. Texture

While sorbet is churned like ice cream, which does give it a softer texture, without the presence of milk or cream, it can have a drier and rougher texture.

Because of this, sorbet often needs to be left at room temperature for a while before it is eaten. As it softens at room temperature, it does have a smoother texture, which is much more enjoyable to eat.

You will have a fruitier, yet ‘rougher’ texture with sorbet compared to sherbet. Thanks to its diary content, sherbet has a much creamier texture and is very similar to the texture of ice cream.

It is smoother and easier on the tongue, still with the same fruity flavor, only with the addition of a bit of a dairy taste, which is more of a personal preference than anything else.

Sherbet does not need to be left to soften at room temperature like sorbet and can be enjoyed straight from the freezer.

3. Purpose

Sorbet is a popular dessert now, but commonly it was used as a palate cleanser in high-end restaurants.

This was thanks to its decent texture and lack of fat. It is a good way to reset between courses in a meal, and it could be made with so many different flavors and fresh ingredients, allowing it to be created from scratch to suit any meal.

Sherbet has always been around as a dessert with the famous rainbow sherbet craze taking place back in the 1950s and still being popular today.

Rainbow sherbet is a mix of different color and flavor sherbets, swirled together to form a colorful cup.

4. Calories

If you are watching your waistline, you might be interested to know the difference in calorie count between sorbet and sherbet. Unfortunately, neither will help you with your diet.

Many often think that sorbet or sherbet hold fewer calories than traditional ice cream, but the truth, in fact, is that a cup of vanilla ice cream has fewer calories than a cup of sorbet.

This is all thanks to the sugar content in both sorbet and sherbet, which cannot be substituted for anything else, without losing the great flavor and texture that both of them traditionally have.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a vegan or dairy-free option, sorbet is a perfect choice!

Sherbet and Sorbet Summed Up

To avoid having the age-old debate of what differs between sherbet and sorbet – here are the two in a nutshell, not only highlighting their differences but what makes them unique and so delicious!


Sherbet is considered a fruiter version of ice cream. Due to the addition of dairy, it often has a pastel color, with a creamy, rich texture.

The flavors of sherbet range greatly, from raspberry to lime, or rainbow sherbet with a mix of many different flavors.

Made with fruit, water, and dairy, either heavy cream or milk, sherbet has a luxurious creaminess which sorbet does not.

It is the perfect combination of the creaminess of ice cream and the fruitiness of sorbet, perfectly balancing out the two.

Sherbet can be enjoyed on its own as a dessert or a special treat, or it can be added to milkshakes and smoothies for a burst of fruity flavor, tied together with the dairy creaminess.


Sorbet is unlike ice cream or sherbet, as it does not contain dairy or eggs at all. Most famous in Italy, it is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of making a frozen dessert.

The ability to use almost any fruit puree, and some water, makes this a simple yet decadent dessert that is absolutely refreshing, and which can be a great relief for a sore throat!

From mango to strawberry to coconut, there is a flavor of sorbet for everyone, with the benefit of being dairy-free for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

Making Sorbet or Sherbet at Home

One of the best things about sorbet or sherbet is that they are so incredibly easy to make at home. While you will need to churn the sorbet-like ice cream, it is fairly easy to do so using a home ice cream machine.

Making sorbet and sherbet at home is great as you can use up any excess fruit you have, and come up with your own flavor combinations and profiles that you and your family love.

You can simply whip up a batch of sorbet or sherbet at home and leave it in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy it on a hot summer’s day, or after a hefty meal at night.

Related Questions

Can You Substitute Sorbet for Sherbet?

You can substitute sorbet for sherbet in many cases, such as adding it to smoothies or milkshakes, for a dairy-free option where possible.

Sorbet has a fruity flavor much like sherbet and is enjoyed frozen. If you are wanting a lighter and fruitier taste, sorbet does make for a great substitute for sherbet.

This goes for substituting sherbet for sorbet in most cases as well. However, if you are making something like a cocktail, you’ll need to consider the texture and creaminess, as it could alter the consistency and look of your drink.

What Is the Proper Pronunciation of Sherbet?

Sherbet is most commonly pronounced ‘sher-bert’, which is actually wrong. Sherbert is a common misspelling and a common mispronunciation.

There is no additional ‘r’ in sherbet, so it should not be pronounced that way. The name comes from a Persian drink which was made from fruit juice, sweetener, water and snow, named sharbat. 

When Should You Eat Sorbet?

Nowadays, sorbet is commonly consumed as a dessert, but it is still used as a palate cleanser during meals. It is presented before, during, or after the main course, as this is generally the heaviest dish in a dinner course.

The difference in temperature from the ice-cold sorbet to the warm meal wakes up the taste buds to enjoy the next course as much as possible, savoring the individual tastes and textures of the dish.

Is Sherbet Healthier than Ice Cream?

Sherbets and sorbets have the same amount of calories as most light ice-creams, but what they lack in fat, they do make up for in sugar content, which means that they are no healthier than ice cream.

The sugar in sherbet or sorbet makes them pop with a fruity, sweet flavor, and without the sugar, the dessert will not taste the same at all.

So while the sugar does add quite a dimension to the dessert, it does, in fact, add on the unhealthiness of the dish, but that does not mean you shouldn’t indulge every now and then!

Can You Make Popsicles Out of Sherbet?

Yes, you actually can make popsicles out of sherbet! If you were ever a fan of Pop-Ups as a kid, this is exactly what they are! Sherbet has a delightful creaminess that stays softer when frozen and makes for a deliciously melty popsicle.

However, the reason this brand packages them the way they do is because they’re so soft that they melt pretty quick, and simply putting them on a stick is a recipe for a sticky and messy disaster.

If you want to try something a little less messy, you can also turn sorbet into popsicles with a little bit of added lemon juice and sugar. These popsicles tend to come straight out of the fridge harder and more substantial.

If you want to try making popsicles yourself at home, we suggest using squeeze ice-pop molds for sherbet and silicone popsicle molds for sorbet.

The Difference Between Sorbet and Sherbet

So while sorbet and sherbet might seem very similar, there are quite substantial differences between them.

The biggest being the dairy content in sherbet, and while it is a small amount of dairy included in the dessert, it is still more than the zero-dairy content of sorbet.

For those who love a fruity, frozen dessert, sorbet is a great option, and for those who want something a little creamier, sherbet will fulfill all those cravings. Both of these treats are perfect for summertime and for fruity cocktails as well!

Why not try to make some sherbet or sorbet at home, and come up with your own flavor combinations and profiles with some delicious seasonal fruits?

Want a quicker explanation? This video by Well Done on YouTube will explain everything you need to know in 48 seconds!

Up Next: Can You Freeze Soy Milk?

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