Not to be confused with Sharbat.

Raspberry sorbet
Type Frozen dessert
Main ingredients Water, sugar, flavouring (fruit juice or purée, wine, or liqueur, and very rarely honey)
Cookbook: Sorbet  Media: Sorbet
Strawberry sorbet

Sorbet /sɔːrˈb/ is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water with flavouring (typically fruit juice or fruit purée, wine, liqueur or, very rarely, honey).

Classification and variants

Sorbet is often confused with Italian ice and often taken to be the same as (American) sherbet (see below).

In the UK and Australia, sherbet refers to a fizzy powder type of sweet. (The variant pronunciation /ˈʃɜːrbərt/ is so common in all kinds of English that the corresponding spelling sherbert makes up about a quarter of the examples found in the Oxford English Corpus.)

Sorbets and American sherbets may also contain alcohol, which lowers the freezing temperature, resulting in softer texture.

Whereas ice cream is based on dairy products with air copiously whipped in, sorbet has neither, which makes for a dense and extremely flavorful product. Sorbet is served as a non-fat or low-fat alternative to ice cream.

In Italy, a similar though crunchier textured dish called granita is made. As the liquid in granita freezes it forms noticeably large-size crystals, which are left unstirred. Granita is also often sharded with a fork to give an even crunchier texture when served.

Agraz is a type of sorbet, usually associated with the Maghreb and north Africa. It is made from almonds, verjuice, and sugar. It has a strongly acidic flavour, because of the verjuice. (Larousse Gastronomique)

Givré (French for "frosted") is the term for a sorbet served in a frozen coconut shell or fruit peel, such as a lemon peel.

Early history and folklore

The word "sorbet" is derived from the Arabic word "Sharbat" (fragrant mashed fruit drink).[1] However, the root is present in such Indo-European languages as Greek and Persian for example.[2] The English word "sherbet" entered English directly from the Turkish in the early 17th century.

Other folklore holds that Nero, the Roman Emperor, invented sorbet during the first century AD when he had runners along the Appian way pass buckets of snow hand over hand from the mountains to his banquet hall where it was then mixed with honey and wine.

Distinction from sherbet

Fudge Sorbet with chocolate and strawberry

American terminology

In the United States, Sherbet and sorbet are different products. For Americans, sherbet typically designates a fruity flavored frozen dairy product with a butterfat content between 1% and 2%.[3] Sorbet, on the other hand, is considered by Americans to be a fruity frozen product with no dairy content, similar to Italian ice.

Sherbet in the United States must include dairy ingredients such as milk or cream to reach a milkfat content between 1% and 2%. Products with higher milkfat content of 10% or higher are defined as ice cream, while those between 2% and 10% milkfat are termed "frozen dairy dessert"; products with lower milkfat content and not using any milk or cream ingredients, and no egg ingredients other than the egg white, are defined as water ice.[4] The use of the term sorbet is unregulated and is most commonly used with non-dairy, fruit juice Italian ice products.[5]

British terminology

In British English the term "sherbet" refers to a fizzy powder used in confectionery, and not a frozen dessert. The frozen dessert known to Americans by that name is not commonly known in the UK.

Central and Western Asia

A Central Asian Sherbet with nuts

In Central and Western Asia, sherbet is not an ice cream; rather, it has a solid state.[6]

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sorbets.
Look up sorbet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.



  1. sorbet @ (in French language). Also the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles entries for sorbet and sherbet sorbetto @
  2. "Etimologia : sorbire". 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  3. "Requirements for Specific Standardized Frozen Desserts". 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  5. "What's in the Ice Cream Aisle". International Dairy Foods Association. 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2015-08-31.
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