The Difference Between Sorbet And Sherbet

They may sound alike (and both taste delightful), but there's a major distinction between the two treats.

Cool and creamy desserts steal the spotlight from late spring throughout the hot summer months. Treats like homemade ice cream, fruity granitas, and icebox pies can bring refreshing relief on those warm days. Don't forget to add sorbet and sherbet to your list of frosty favorites. These two frozen desserts really embrace the bounty of fresh fruit available this time of year. While very similar, there are some distinctions between the two. Here are the differences between sorbet and sherbet.

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What Is Sorbet?

Sorbet is made from two main ingredients, fruit and sugar. Water or other natural flavors might be added, but essentially sorbet is just fruit and sugar that is then churned like ice cream. Restaurants use sorbet as a palette cleanser during multi-course meals because its fruity flavor is extra refreshing.

Don't mistake sorbet with granita or Italian Ice. Like sorbet, granitas are often made from a puree of fruit, sugar, and water, but the difference is in their textures. Unlike sorbets, which are smooth-churned, granita purees are poured into a pan and placed in the freezer. The surface is scraped multiple times as it freezes, creating coarse, icy flakes.

What Is Sherbet?

Sherbet and sorbet are similar in that they are both made from fruit and sugar, but sherbets include an additional ingredient: dairy. According to FDA guidelines, sherbet must contain between one and two percent milkfat, whereas ice cream must contain at least 10 percent milkfat. While sherbet has far less fat than ice cream, it still has a bit more than sorbet.

A Note On Textures

Sherbert and sorbet have different textures. Because a sorbet lacks dairy, the consistency can often feel drier and rougher. Conversely, since sherbet does contain dairy, it has a smooth consistency that is more similar to ice cream.

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  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Standard for Ice Cream, Effective October 29, 1977.

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.

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