The Real Difference Between Sorbet, Sherbet, and Sherbert

Susannah Chen

Are sorbet, sherbet, and sherbert all the same? Despite the fact that the definitions of sorbet and sherbet could be used interchangeably, there is a distinction among American frozen dessert manufacturers and a pretty clear difference in the use of one ingredient: dairy.

What Is Sherbet?

Sherbet - which is alternatively spelled sherbert - is a frozen fruit and dairy product that contains anywhere from 1 percent to 2 percent milkfat from milk or cream. Anything below 1 percent is referred to as water ice, anything between 2 and 10 percent is considered a frozen dairy dessert, and anything above 10 percent is generally labeled ice cream.

Related: 11 Homemade Ice Cream Treats Both Moms and Kids Will Love

What Is Sorbet?

On the other hand, sorbet usually implies a fruit-based frozen dessert with little to no dairy - although the use of the term sorbet is unregulated. To add to the confusion, in other parts of the world, sherbet may refer to a fizzy powder stirred into beverages, or a beverage made of diluted fruit juice.

So there you have it - the two delicious desserts are not, in fact, the same despite the terms often being used incorrectly. The main difference: sherbet contains dairy and sorbet does not.