Sherbet vs Sorbet: What’s the Difference

Sorbet and Sherbet are both delicious treats that we all vastly enjoy. Pick your favorite fruity frozen treat that are favorites among many people today. I find them better than frozen yogurt and regular ice cream. You can make them both in an ice cream maker.

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However, few people actually know what the differences are between these two tasty treats. Often times, the names sorbet and sherbet are interchangeably used when referring to this type of frozen fruity yumminess.

But regardless there is a fair few differences that distinguish them from each other. 

The primary difference between sorbet and sherbet is all down to the dairy contents of each. Sherbet contains a small amount of cream or milk, which gives it a creamy and rich tasty and texture.

On the other hand Sorbet has no milk content, no dairy at all in fact which makes it a suitable treat for lactose intolerant individuals as vegans too.

Sorbet and Sherbet have a few more differences beyond just their dairy content difference. Both act as a lighter alternative to traditional gelato, or ice cream.

They are also both a spectacular choice in the water month when there is an abundance of fresh fruit to enjoy, and you need something cold and tasty to cool you down in the sun.

What are the differences between Sorbet and Sherbet?

Today we are going to take the time to talk you through all the differences between sorbet and sherbet.

So that you know exactly what you are getting next time you buy one of these at the store. And, so that you know which is best for you, your dietary preferences and your eating habits.

What is in it?

One of the biggest difference between these two tasty desserts is their ingredients, since they are made from different ingredients they will be suitable for different people due to this.

Let’s have a look.


Sorbet has two main ingredients, these are fruit and sugar. Sometimes there will also be the addition of water, and other nature flavors too.

But, in its purest moments, sorbet is churned much like ice cream, just with fruit and water instead.

Granita is also a lot like sorbet is, in regard to the ingredients it takes to be made. However, granita is not churned like sorbet is, and it is instead flaked off and frozen to have a more coarse and icy texture.


Sherbet, which is in many ways, is a lot like sorbet, is made with fruit and sugar, but also has the addition of cream or milk.

As per the FDA, sherbet must have between 1% to 2% of milk fat, in comparison, ice cream must have around 10% milk fat.

When it comes to sherbet v sorbet, the only real difference between the two is in the milk or dairy content.

Texture Differences

Texture is important when it comes to frozen dessert, many people like the texture that really melts in your mouth, so the difference in texture can be a defining factor in which of these desserts is best for you.


While sorbet is churned like an ice cream, which gives it a smooth and soft texture, even without the milk content, it can have a slightly rougher and drier texture.

Due to this, sorbet is often needed to be left at room temperature for a little while before it is consumed.

It softens at room temperature and then gains the smooth texture we know you are after. You will also have a fruitier and rougher texture with a sorbet than you would get in comparison to sherbet.


Thanks to its dairy content, sherbet is creamier in texture, and it is very, very similar to the texture of ice cream.

It is smoother and easier on the tongue, it still has the fruity flavor, but it has the addition of a mild diary taste too. This dairy taste is something of a personal preference more than anything else.

It also does not need to be left to soften at room temperature like sorbet does, so you can enjoy it straight from the freezer, why even bother getting a bowl right? Just eat it right from the tub.


Sorbet and Sherbet have different purposes, meaning they tend to be enjoyed on different occasions.


Sorbet is a popular dessert now, much more than it used to be. Before now, it was often used as a palette cleanser in high-end restaurants. This was thanks to its texture and lack of fat, and if you have ever tried sorbet, you will definitely see why. It is so refreshing!

It is also a great way to reset between courses in a meal, so it could be made with a plethora of different flavors and fresh ingredients, which allows it to be created from scratch to suit any meal.


Sherbet has always fallen into the desert category. With the famous rainbow sherbet coming into a craze taking place in the 1950s and still being a wildly popular option today.

Rainbow sherbet is a mixture of different color and flavored sherbets, swirled together in order to form a super colorful cup.

Calorie Counting

If you are mindful of your calorie intake, you are probably staying away from ice creams as you know that they aren’t exactly calorie light. However, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid deliciousness altogether.

You are probably interested in the different in the calories between sorbet and sherbet, considering dairy is the only major difference between the two foods. Where sugar comes in… it’s not really all that much of an improvement on normal ice cream.

Sorbet and Sherbet

Many would think that sorbet or even sherbet have fewer calories altogether than ice cream, however when it comes to sugar content. A cup of vanilla ice cream has fewer calories than a cup of sorbet does. Damn you sugar!

The sugar content in these two is rather high, and it cannot be substituted for anything else, not without losing the texture and the flavor, and if they did that, would anyone even have it?

Then again, if calories are not your concern then sorbet and sherbet are fine. Sorbet is actually great as a dairy-free, or vegan choice dessert, so even if it isn’t cutting those calories away for you, it is still helping you out in another dietary aspect at least.

Summing Up

In order to avoid having one of those age-old debates about the differences between sorbet and sherbet, we have condensed all the information you need here, about what makes them unique, and similar, and absolutely mouth wateringly delicious.

It is important to remember that while you can buy these in the ice cream aisle at your local superstore, they are not ice cream, the process is different to ice cream and both of these contain way less dairy product than ice cream does.


Sherbet is a fruitier version of ice cream. Due to its additional dairy content it also retains a pastel color, with a creamy and rich texture.

It has so many flavors, ranging from raspberry to lime and everything in between. You can even get a rainbow sherbet with a mixture of many different flavors all in one tasty tub.

It is made with fruit, water and a little bit of dairy, which is either heavy cream, or milk. This means that it offers a delicious luxurious creaminess that sorbet lacks, but this does not make it better.

It is a wonderful combination of the creaminess you get with ice creams, and the fruity goodness of a sorbet. It is a perfect balance, a middle ground between the two luscious desserts.

Sherbet can be enjoyed on its own as a creamy fruity dessert, or as a special treat. It can also be added to milkshakes or smoothies for a bursting of fruity flavors, which can be tied together with that dairy creaminess.


Sorbet, on the other hand, is not really like an ice cream at all, and it is different to sherbet too, simply in it not containing any dairy or eggs at all.

It is most famous in Italy, and it is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of making a frozen dessert in the Italian culture.

It is a dessert that has the ability to use almost any fruit purée, and some water, to make it. Its construct makes it into a simple, but yet decadent dessert, that is both refreshing and invigorating. It is also a great source of relief for a sore throat, and it makes for the ultimate palette cleanser between courses of a meal.

It has every flavor you could dream up, from mango, to strawberry, to coconut, to lemon, or lime. There is a flavor for every taste bud, every desire, and every situation.

Not only that, but sorbet trumps it all with its dairy-free qualities. This lack of dairy makes it the ultimate tasty treat in the summer for those who suffer lactose intolerance, or those who have a vegan diet.

Making these delicious dishes at home.

What is even more brilliant about these two irresistible dessert delicacies, is how amazingly easy they are to make from your own home. While you would need to churn the sorbet like you would ice cream this is easy enough to do with a home ice cream machine if you have one.

Making sorbet and sherbet at home is a fantastic way to use up excess fruits that you have. It also gives you the freedom to come up with your own flavor combinations, why not put orange with raspberry and see what happens?

You can even go as far as to whip up a whole tub for each member of the family so you each have a tub of your own favorite flavor! You can’t go wrong. It is super easy to do and fun at the same time!

When you whip up your homemade sorbet or sherbet at home, you can also leave it in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy it. It saves you from wasting delicious fruits, and you also get yourself a tasty dessert, prefect for a summers' day, after a hefty meal at night, or a soothing dish to ease a sore throat.

Some Tasty FAQs

What is the proper way to pronounce ‘sherbet’?

Sherbet is most commonly pronounced as “Sher-bert”, which although rolls of the tongue easy enough (just like actual sherbet) is actually wrong. ‘Sherbert’ is also a common misspelling and has seemingly rolled over into its pronunciation too.

There is no extra ‘r’ in sherbet, so it really should not be pronounced that way. The name of this delicacy comes from a Persian drink which was made from a fruit juice, a sweetener, water and snow, which was called ‘Sherbat’.

When should you eat sorbet?

In present times sorbet is often eaten as a desert, however it is still used as a palette cleanser during meals in many places.

It is presented, before, during or after the main course, it is done at this time because this is often the heaviest course of a dinner, and therefore is usually the one you want to clean your palette around.

The difference in temperature from the ice-cold sorbet to the warm meal, will wake up your taste buds, so you get the full experience of the next course without any lingering flavors. Helping you to savor the individual textures and tastes of the dish you are consuming.

Which is healthier sorbet or sherbet?

Sorbet and sherbet or both types of frozen dessert made from a mixture of fruit puree, juice, and sugar.

Although they have a lower sugar content than many gourmet, high fat ice creams, when you compare this content to the amount that is found in lighter ice creams, you will find that they contain quite a lot of sugar.

The number of calories in sherbet and sorbet can differ between the brand as you will find that some add sugar in higher volumes than others.

Because of this, one type isn’t necessarily healthier than the other as they both contain a similar amount of calories and quite a lot of sugar.

Why is sorbet pronounced sherbet?

Both terms, sherbet, and sorbet have Arabic routes and there is often some confusion regarding how they are supposed to be pronounced. In Arabic, both of these terms originate from the term ‘sharbat.

Sherbet is often pronounced as ‘sherbert’’ as many people feel the need to pronounce it with another ‘R’ that it does not contain. Because of this, when pronounced properly, ‘sorbet’ and ‘sherbet’ actually sound virtually the same.

In Italian the word sherbet was first referred to as ‘’sorbetto’’, however, it gained its title as sorbet in the French language shortly after.

Now sorbet tends to be pronounced as sherbet because this is the name given to a sweet, frozen dessert that has been made from fruit juices and fruits, which is essentially what both are although there are slight differences in the ingredients that are used.

Is all sorbet dairy-free?

Sorbet is dairy-free because unlike sherbet it does not contain any milk and is instead made from a mixture of water and fruit juice or water and fruit puree with added sugar.

It also isn’t made with any eggs or cream. Because of this, it can be enjoyed by those who are lactose-free. Although it is generally a dairy-free product, it isn’t always vegan-friendly because in some instances it may be flavored with honey.

Sherbet on the other hand is not dairy-free because the key difference between both types of frozen dessert can be identified through the ingredients that they are made from.

Whereas sorbet is made from water and fruit juice, sherbet contains cream or milk to give it a thicker and richer texture that very much resembles that of ice cream.

What is healthier sorbet or ice cream?

As sorbet is made from a mixture of fruits or juices many would presume that it is healthier than ice cream, however, this isn’t always the case. Ice cream is made from egg yolk, cream, milk, and sugar.

Although ice cream contains more calories and fat as it is made using double cream and full-fat milk, sorbet contains more sugar than many low-fat ice creams.

Furthermore, sorbet contains less iron, calcium, and Vitamin A than ice cream but it is packed with a lot more vitamin C. There are also certain flavors of ice cream that contain more saturated fat positioning them as a less healthy option than sorbet.

Some would suggest that neither are healthy options because one contains a lot of sugar and the other contains more fat and calories. However, out of both, sorbet has a lower calorie content and is also fat-free.

Although sorbet does contain sugars some of these are deemed to be good sugars that are provided via the fruit juice. If you would prefer to eat ice cream, there are ways of finding healthier options. For example, you can select flavors that don’t contain as much saturated fat.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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