From my [limited] exposure, it seems like sorbet is merely sherbet with a higher price tag.

Is that a fair understanding?

If not, what is a better way of understanding the difference(s)?

2 Answers 2


Actually, they are not quite the same. Sorbet is ice sweetened with fruit, wine, or liquer. Italian ice, which is similar, does not contain ice but contains frozen fruit purees or similar. Sherbert contains a small amount of dairy, but the milkfat content is less than 3%, differentiating it from ice cream.

In the U. S. what is commonly called sorbet is most likely an Italian ice. The difference is the lower milk fat content.

  • cool - and that's the difference I couldn't find elsewhere :)
    – warren
    Nov 23, 2010 at 14:52
  • 4
    In my experience, the definition of sorbet vs. Italian ice is exactly reversed: sorbet is frozen fruit puree, and Italian ice is, like the name suggests, ice with flavoring syrup (different from a slushy in that the flavoring is added prior to freezing, instead of after).
    – Marti
    Nov 23, 2010 at 16:14
  • My experience is more in line with Marti's. For instance, Ciao Bella makes an incredible coconut sorbet which was clearly not ice with flavoring.
    – Joe
    Nov 23, 2010 at 18:35
  • Apparently, my usage of sorbet is an Americanism. (At least per Wikipedia.) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbet en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_ice Note that in all definitions, a sorbet contains no dairy whatsoever.
    – Marti
    Nov 23, 2010 at 20:46
  • The words are used rather widely depending on where you are, so definitions are tricky without restricting to a locality. This applies to food words in general.
    – Orbling
    Nov 24, 2010 at 3:23

When I was a child in Britain, sherbet was a fizzy powder. Sorbet is definitely water, sugar and flavourings: no milk.

  • 2
    +1 Sherbet as the fizzy powder is a very British use of the word, especially if you tell people there should be a liquorice stick in it. ;-)
    – Orbling
    Nov 24, 2010 at 3:25

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