Sherbet vs Sorbet: What’s the Difference?

If you had asked 8-year-old me the difference between sherbet and sorbet, I would have (politely, of course) assumed that you had simply stuttered. To me, they would have meant the same thing: delicious dessert. But, with age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes the knowledge that, “Hey, dummy, just because one word sounds sort of similar to another word doesn’t mean they are the same word!” Yes, folks, today we discuss the difference between sorbet and sherbet…both delicious, both desserts (8-year-old me would have gotten partial credit), but both are subtly different. Allow 35-year-old me to elaborate!

Sorbet vs Sherbet

Despite their similar sounding monikers, the baseline distinction between sorbet and sherbet is: dairy! Sherbet contains dairy products while sorbet has no dairy at all. That’s right, sorbet is made with fruit but no eggs, milk, or cream, so it’s generally vegan-friendly and suits those with egg or dairy allergies. 

Related: Best Frozen Treats if You Don’t Do Dairy

Sherbet is also made with fruit, but contains dairy, like milk or cream, so it’s definitely not vegan or lactose intolerant-friendly, so be forewarned when offering it around to guests at your barbecue! Sherbet can also contain egg white or gelatin and there are even federal regulations that mandate sherbet should have 1–2 percent butterfat, So, it’s actually closer to ice cream than it is to sorbet, simply due to the presence of milk, cream, and butterfat. 

Nutritionally, sherbet has more nutrients (along with more saturated fat) than sorbet. Since sherbet includes dairy, it has more protein and minerals like calcium than sorbet. Typically, both are better for you than traditional ice cream. 

Okay, but then what is sherBERT?

This confused me too! Well, my research showed that, in the U.S. English language, sherbet and sherbert are words that are used interchangeably and mean the same thing. However, In British English, sherbert is its own thing entirely! It’s a sweet powder that you can mix into water to create an effervescent beverage. Who knew? Well, now you do! So the next time you’re about to order a delicious bowl of sherbert, be sure to ask yourself one thing: “Am I in England right now???”

Related: Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream

At the end of the day (what better time for dessert?) you truly can’t go wrong with both of these fantastic frozen treats. If you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, sorbet is your summer pal, while those who don’t have dietary restrictions can enjoy sherbet. One thing’s for certain: Both will have you asking for second helpings, and you’d better get them quick…gotta eat it all before it melts!

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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