sherbet vs sorbet

Sherbet vs Sorbet – What Are The Differences?

Have you ever walked into an ice cream shop and seen sherbet and sorbet? Did you think they were the same thing? If you did, then this article is for you! 

Keep reading to find out what are the differences between sherbet and sorbet. You will not regret knowing this information the next time you are about to enjoy a cold treat! 

What Is Sherbet?

Unlike what many believe, sherbet does contain dairy. It is essentially a mixture of cream, milk, eggs, and sometimes gelatin. These ingredients make up for a very dense and creamy texture. 

However, unlike ice cream, you are not entirely overwhelmed by the density of the milk in it. That is why you might be fooled into thinking it contains no dairy. Nonetheless, it is lower in calories and fat because it is lighter. 

A typical recipe for sherbert includes water, sugar, cream or milk, and fruit juice or syrup. In some cases, sherbet might contain liqueur, spices, or chocolate and vanilla. The most common flavor and presentation out there is the rainbow sherbert, which contains three flavors and three colors, orange, pink, and green. 

There are some cases in which sherbets contain egg whites instead of dairy. In other recipes, milk might also replace all of the water, resulting in a texture similar to ice cream. 

The story goes that sherbet has ancient Persian roots, where sherbet was a drink made with flower petals and fruit. Eventually, the drink spread across Iran and Turkey, reaching across the world. In time, sherbet became available across Europe thanks to the travels of Marco Polo. 

Nutrition Facts

One scoop of sherbet (160 g) of garlic salt has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 230 calories
  • 106 g water
  • 1.76 g protein
  • 3.2 g fat
  • 48.6 g carbohydrate
  • 2.08 g fiber
  • 38.9 g sugar 
  • 86.4 mg calcium 
  • 0.224 mg iron 
  • 12.8 mg magnesium 
  • 64 mg phosphorus 
  • 154 mg potassium 
  • 73.6 mg sodium
  • 19.2 µg vitamin A 

Is Sherbet Healthy?

Sherbet can be a healthier option than ice cream. It contains less fat and less sugar, but it is still relatively high in these. Since it contains cream and full-fat dairy, it is relatively high in fat. 

Another thing to consider when you eat sherbet is what it is flavored with. Depending on the ingredient, the sugar content might vary. If real fruit or fruit juice is used, the sherbet will likely be healthier than using a syrup. 

You can also use egg whites to reduce the fat content in the sherbet. The egg white is high in protein and has very little fat. It is also a great binder and adds density and texture. 

Since it contains dairy, sherbet does contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals. It can be a source of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Adding fruit will also improve its nutrient profile. 

What Is Sorbet?

Sorbet is also called “ice water” because it consists of frozen water sweetened with fruit juice, fruit puree, a liqueur, or syrup. It does not contain any dairy, so it is safe for lactose intolerant individuals and those with milk allergies. It is a simpler recipe, making it easier to prepare at home. 

The word sorbet comes from the Italian sorbetto. Where rumor goes, the Roman emperor would like to have snow mixed with wine and honey. Eventually, the word beverage became popular in France and across Europe.  

Since it requires very few ingredients, you do not need an ice cream maker. Variations of sorbet include liquor, such as mulled wine sorbet, muscat sorbet, and even limoncello sorbet. Unlike Italian ice, sorbet does not contain large pieces of ice and is much creamier. 

Because it contains no milk or eggs, it is lower in fat and calories. Sorbet is a good alternative to ice cream, especially for those watching their figure or dairy intake. You can also use honey instead of sugar to sweeten it. 

Nutrition Facts

One serving of sorbet (89 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 88 calories
  • 57.5 g water
  • 0.632 g protein
  • 0.04 g fat
  • 21.7 g carbohydrate
  • 0.4 g fiber
  • 20.6 g sugar 
  • 2.4 mg calcium
  • 0.136 mg iron 
  • 1.6 mg magnesium 
  • 2.4 mg phosphorus 
  • 22.4 mg potassium 
  • 10.4 mg sodium

Is Sorbet Healthy?

This water dessert can be relatively healthy. Since it does not contain dairy or eggs, it is safe for individuals with a milk or egg allergy. However, it might have other ingredients that are not safe for everyone. 

On one hand, it is low in fat but can contain high calories depending on the fruit or sweetener used. You can choose a lighter flavor, such as lemon, berry, or ginger, and use honey as a sweetener. In some cases, sorbets are not sweetened but use natural fructose in fruits. 

Since it contains fruit and water, sorbet is not very nutritious. These days, though, you can find recipes that have more fruit pieces. Using whole fruits can add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Finally, be careful with using liqueur since it adds more calories and sugar. You will likely see sweet dessert wines used in sorbets, but these can rack up a lot of sugar. Using a spirit can also help reduce the calories. 

As a final warning, be careful with store-bought sorbet because it could have a lot of unnatural ingredients. It contains preservatives, coloring, and corn syrup, which are not necessarily healthy. Making your sorbet at home can also make the dessert much healthier. 

What Are The Key Differences Between Sherbet and Sorbet?

The main difference between sherbet and sorbet is the dairy. As we mentioned earlier, sherbet contains less dairy than ice cream but still has some. Sorbet does not contain any dairy at all. 

Because sherbet has cream or milk, it will also have a heavier and creamier texture. Sorbet tends to be lighter and sometimes even “see-through.” Since sorbet only contains water, it is translucent and less dense. 

Another key difference is the recipe. Sorbet contains only water, fruit, and flavoring. Whether you want to use fresh fruit, fruit juice, syrup, liquor, or spices, the main ingredient is still water. Sherbet contains a milk product or egg white, depending on preference. 

In terms of nutrition, sherbet is higher in fat, calories, and sugar. While sorbet can be relatively high in sugar by choosing lighter ingredients, it can be much healthier. However, sherbet does contain more protein and higher vitamins and minerals due to dairy. 

Because they are different in texture and flavors, you use sherbet and sorbet differently. For the most part, sherbet is considered a dessert and is available in ice cream shops. Sorbet was originally a drink, but it is a dessert and a palate cleanser in many cultures. 

The final last difference has to do with dietary restrictions and preferences. Since sherbet contains dairy or eggs, it is not safe for individuals with a milk or egg allergy or vegans. Sorbet contains no animal products and often no allergens, so it is safe for individuals with these allergies and vegans. 

Sherbet vs Sorbet Main DifferencesSherbetSorbet
Origin Ancient Persia Italy 
ColorMilky but color depends on the flavor Translucent but color depends on the fruit in it 
Taste and SmellSweet flavor, but might contain sour ingredients. It smells sweet and aromatic when it contains liqueurSweet and refreshing taste. Fresh and tart smell but might also be aromatic depending on the liqueur or spices in it   
Uses  Dessert food is served in ice cream shops and after dinnerDessert food is served after dinner, as a snack or treat. It is also a palate cleanser in many cultures 
Cost$1.97- $5.99 per 1.5 quart $1.97 to $9.99 per 1.5 quart 
Calories per 175 gram serving252 calories 150 calories 

Is Sherbet or Sorbet Healthier?

While sherbet is higher in calories and fat, sorbet might not necessarily be that much healthier. Since sherbet contains dairy or egg whites, it can have more fat and is denser. The sorbet adds calories depending on the syrup or fruit used. 

Making your sherbet or sorbet at home will make it more nutritious. You can choose a dairy-free alternative, such as coconut milk for your sherbet. Use some fresh fruit and honey or no sweetener for your sorbet. 

Either way, be careful when buying sherbet or sorbet in a store. Take a look at the ingredients list carefully. Go with the sorbet that is likely a healthier choice when in doubt. 


Now that you know exactly what sherbet and sorbet are, you will never make the mistake of ordering the wrong one. Knowing the sorbet vs sherbet differences is very important because it can help keep you safe if you are lactose intolerant or if you want to save calories. Enjoy your dessert without worrying anymore. 

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*image by studioM/depositphotos

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