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Sherbet vs. Sorbet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 19, 2023
Sherbet is a sweetened frozen dessert with fruit juice and dairy, while sorbet is a dairy-free frozen dessert made from sweetened fruit juice or purée.

Key Differences

Sherbet and sorbet are both delightful frozen desserts. While sherbet incorporates a small amount of dairy, sorbet remains dairy-free, made exclusively from fruit juices or purées, sugar, and water.
The creaminess of sherbet comes from its dairy content, which is typically milk or cream. Sorbet, on the other hand, boasts a more icy texture, resulting solely from its blend of fruit and sugar.
The ingredient list for sherbet often includes fruit juice, sugar, water, and a touch of dairy, giving it a lighter texture than ice cream but creamier than sorbet. Sorbet remains a simpler concoction, commonly made from fruit, sugar, and sometimes stabilizers or liqueurs for added flavor and texture.
In culinary traditions, sherbet can serve as a palate cleanser between courses, but it's also enjoyed as a dessert in its own right. Sorbet, being more refreshing and lighter, often takes the stage as a palate cleanser in gourmet meals or a refreshing treat on a hot day.

Comparison Chart

Dairy Content

Contains a small amount of dairy.


Creamier due to dairy content.
Icy and smooth.

Main Ingredients

Fruit juice, sugar, water, dairy.
Fruit juice or purée, sugar, water.

Purpose in Meals

Dessert or palate cleanser.
Often used as a palate cleanser.

Fat Content

Typically has a low fat content but more than sorbet.
Virtually fat-free.

Sherbet and Sorbet Definitions


A frozen dessert made with fruit juice and a touch of dairy.
Lemon sherbet is creamier than lemon sorbet due to its dairy content.


A dairy-free frozen dessert made from fruit juice or purée.
Mango sorbet tastes like pure, frozen mango goodness.


Often used in American parlance for a fruity and creamy frozen treat.
Orange sherbet reminds me of my childhood summers.


Can contain stabilizers or liqueurs for enhanced texture or flavor.
The champagne sorbet had a delicate effervescence to it.


Lighter than ice cream but contains some milk or cream.
I prefer raspberry sherbet over ice cream because it's less heavy.


Known for its smooth, icy texture.
The raspberry sorbet melted smoothly on my tongue.


Has a sweet-tart flavor profile.
The tanginess in the lime sherbet is so refreshing.


Is fruit-forward and can be made from various fruits.
From berry to citrus, almost any fruit can be turned into a sorbet.


Contains a minimum of 1% and less than 2% milkfat.
Sherbet offers a middle ground between ice cream and sorbet in terms of creaminess.


Often consumed as a refreshing treat or palate cleanser.
A lemon sorbet in between courses cleanses the palate beautifully.


Also sher·bert (-bûrt′) A frozen dessert made mainly of fruit juice or fruit purée, usually with sugar and milk or cream.


A frozen dessert made primarily of fruit juice or fruit purée, sugar, and water.


Frozen fruit juice, sometimes mixed with egg whites, eaten as dessert or between courses of a meal.


A kind of beverage; sherbet.


An ice containing milk


Why is sherbet creamier than sorbet?

Sherbet contains a small amount of dairy, which gives it a creamier texture compared to sorbet.

Does sorbet contain any dairy?

No, sorbet is a dairy-free dessert.

Can lactose-intolerant individuals eat sorbet?

Yes, since sorbet is dairy-free, it's suitable for those with lactose intolerance.

Are there specific fruits best suited for sherbet?

Sherbet can be made from a range of fruits, but citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and lime are popular choices.

Is sorbet vegan?

Generally, yes. Sorbet is made without animal products, making it vegan-friendly.

Which is more refreshing on a hot day, sherbet or sorbet?

Both are refreshing, but many find the dairy-free and icy nature of sorbet especially cooling.

Which has more sugar, sherbet or sorbet?

Both can be quite sweet, but the sugar content varies by recipe. It's best to check individual product or recipe details.

Can people with a dairy allergy eat sherbet?

It's best to avoid sherbet if you have a dairy allergy, as it contains some dairy.

Is sherbet the same as ice cream?

No, sherbet contains less dairy than ice cream, making it lighter in texture.

Do sherbet and sorbet come in non-fruit flavors?

While fruit flavors are most common, variations exist, especially in gourmet versions.

Is sorbet the same as Italian ice?

They're similar, but Italian ice often has a grainier texture compared to the smoothness of sorbet.

How is the texture of sorbet achieved?

Sorbet's smooth, icy texture results from the combination of fruit, sugar, and sometimes stabilizers or liqueurs.

Can sherbet be made without any dairy?

Without dairy, it would be closer to sorbet. The dairy gives sherbet its distinct creaminess.

Is sherbet popular outside the U.S.?

The term "sherbet" and its definition vary by country. In the U.S., it refers to the creamy frozen dessert, but in other places, it might mean a fizzy powder or drink.

Does sherbet come in non-citrus flavors?

Yes, while citrus flavors are popular, sherbet can be made with various fruits.

Is it easy to make sorbet at home?

Yes, with fruit, sugar, and a freezer, one can make a simple sorbet.

What's the main difference between sherbet and sorbet?

The primary difference is the dairy content. Sherbet contains a small amount of dairy, while sorbet is dairy-free.

How do you pronounce "sorbet"?

It's pronounced "sor-BAY."

Why might someone choose sherbet over ice cream?

Sherbet is lighter than ice cream and offers a fruitier and slightly tangy flavor profile, which some people prefer.

Are sherbet and sorbet used as palate cleansers?

While both can be used, sorbet is more commonly employed as a palate cleanser in gourmet meals.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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