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Sorbet is essentially a frozen dessert made out of crushed ice which is sweetened and usually flavored with either fruit (using either a juice or puree) or sometimes certain liqueurs or even wine. It is similar to a frappe and has a melt-in-the-mouth kind of mushy consistency, with the frozen water melting rapidly in the mouth and giving way to the fruity taste. This dessert typically has no milk in it and is quite simple to prepare with minimal ingredients but needs to be consumed immediately. It is often served as a low-fat or non-fat alternative to ice creams.

Another way of defining the sorbet is as a form of tart ice, made using fruit juice that is served as a dessert or, at times, between courses of an elaborate meal in order to refresh the palate.

Classification and Description

Sorbet is often confused with ‘sherbet’. Sorbets and sherbets although similar, have some significant differences:-

The main difference between sorbet and sherbet is that sherbets contain milk or another form of fat, making it somewhat similar to ice cream. Despite that one difference, these two icy treats are quite similar in terms of their base ingredients. While Sorbets are made primarily with puréed fruits, water, and sugar, sherbets are made with those same three same ingredients, but additionally they can also contain milk, egg whites, or gelatin. Sorbets are generally characterised by a granular texture whereas sherbet is creamy as a result of the added fat.

In fact, most common brands of sherbet sold in the supermarkets contain from 1to 2 % milk fat or cream. In contrast, sorbets never contain any type of dairy product. Sorbets are also known for their somewhat softer consistency. The smoothness of a sorbet is dependent on the nature of secondary ingredients used, because of which they can transform the structure of the frozen recipe. For instance, alcohol significantly lowers the freezing temperature thus resulting in a relatively softer texture. Addition of more or less sugar and/or alcohol or even the quantity of water would make a big difference in the texture of the final product.

Thus sorbets are ultimately friendly to lactose-intolerant individuals given that they don't contain any dairy ingredients. Sherbet on the other hand does contain dairy in it.

The main difference between an ice-cream and sorbet is that the former is basically a dairy product with plenty of air whipped in, while a sorbet has neither, making it a much denser and flavorful product.

In Italy, a very similar though crunchier textured dessert called ‘granita’ is popularly made. As the liquid used in the granita freezes, it forms visibly large-sized crystals, which are left unstirred. Granita is then sharded using a fork to deliver an even crunchier texture just at the time of serving.

In summary, an ice cream is made using milk, cream, eggs, and sugar. Sherbet is made using fruit juice or puree, water, sugar, and dairy (usually milk). Sorbet is made with primarily fruit juice/puree, sugar, and water (with no dairy).


On the sherbet packs that display both English and French labels, sherbet is translated into ‘sorbet laitier’ which is literally translated into English as ‘dairy sorbet’, thereby differentiating the milk-containing sherbet from the milk-less sorbet.


There are various versions with regard to the invention of the sorbet. It is considered a Roman invention by some, while others classify it as a middle-eastern drink – ‘charbet’, consisting of fruit juice and crushed ice that has been further sweetened. Another account also claims that these were actually the first iced dessert produced, probably having been invented at some point of time by the Asians and from there later introduced to the Middle East and Italy. The term ‘Sorbet’ is believed to have emerged from the Latin word ‘sorbere’ or the Italian word ‘sorbire’ which implies something that may be eaten and drunk at the same time.

How to make Sorbets

It is believed that the beauty of a sorbet evidently lies in its simplicity: It is fundamentally no more than frozen water or juice that is sweetened with fruit, chocolate and/or flavoured with liqueur, wine, or even some fresh herbs.

Owing to the fact that much unlike sherbet and ice cream, since sorbet typically contains no dairy ingredient, many of these sorbet recipes offer a good choice for individuals who maybe lactose intolerant or vegan. From the fruity strawberry sorbet to the decadent chocolate sorbet, the choices offered by this frozen treat are endless.

Fruit Sorbets

Pineapple Sorbet


· pineapple, peeled cored and cut

· fresh lemon juice

· sugar

· Mint sprigs (optional)


1. Pineapple pieces and lemon juice are placed in a food processor and blended until smooth. Sugar is added and blended till it dissolves completely.

2. This mixture is poured into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer and then frozen. Then sorbet is spooned into a freezer-safe container, covered and left to freeze until firm. A garnish with fresh mint sprigs, if desired can be done prior to serving.


If an ice-cream freezer is not available, a covered metal bowl may be used. The mixture is frozen until it is hard on the outer surface but still slushy in the centre. It is then removed from the freezer, beaten with a whisk until smooth, and once again returned to the freezer, covered, until firm.

Nutritive Value

A serving size of about 100 g provides-

  • 116 calories with only about 2 calories from fat
  • 0.0 g Saturated fat, 0.1 g poly and mono unsaturated fats, 0.0 mg cholesterol
  • 30 g carbohydrate with 0.5 g fiber
  • 0.2 g protein
  • 0.2 mg Iron, 1 mg sodium and 3 mg calcium

Various fruit based sorbets are prepared in a similar manner, blending fruits like strawberry, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, watermelon, peaches, pears, mangoes, coconuts etc. with sugar and freezing as described above.

Liqueur Sorbets

Addition of flavoured liqueurs like Chambord (raspberry-flavour), Vodka, Sauvignon Blanc with Green-apple, Sparkling wine, French Martini, Champagne and other such spirits to the basic fruit sorbets produces exciting, elegant and irresistibly light and easy frozen desserts.

Nutritional Enhancement

Apricots, raisins, figs, walnuts, almonds and other such dried fruits may be sliced or used whole in order to increase the protein, vitamin and mineral content of the dessert. These have a number of positive health effects owing to the healthy unsaturated fats some of them contain. Also the high fiber, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamin E, and trace minerals like copper, zinc, selenium contained in these can make sorbets a healthy, low-fat, fresh and icy dessert to beat the summer heat.