Sorbet (/sɔʁ.bɛ/) or sherbet is a frozen dessert made from sugar-sweetened water with flavoring – typically fruit juice, fruit purée, wine, liqueur or honey. The terminology is not settled, but generally sorbets do not contain dairy ingredients, while sherbets do.

Raspberry sorbet
Serving temperatureFrozen
Main ingredientsWater, sugar, flavoring (fruit juice or purée, wine, or liqueur, and very rarely honey)

Tart sorbets are also served as palate cleansers between savory courses of a meal.[2] Escoffier recommends that they register 15° on the saccharometer and be of drinkable consistency.[1]


It is believed that sorbets originated in ancient Persia.[3][4][5][6] The word sherbet (see sharbat for the drink) first entered the language as the Italian sorbetto, which later became sorbet in French.[7] The first Western mention of sherbet is an Italian reference to something that Turks drink. In the 17th-century, England began importing "sherbet powders" from Ottoman Empire made from dried fruit and flowers mixed with sugar.[8] By 1662, a coffeehouse in London advertised the availability of "sherbets made in Turkie of Lemons, Roses and Violets perfumed".[9] In 1670, Café Procope opened in Paris and began selling sorbet.[10] (In the modern era sherbet powder is still popular in the UK.) When Europeans figured out how to freeze sherbet they began making sorbetto by adding fruit juices and flavorings to a frozen simple syrup base. In the US sherbet generally meant an ice milk, but recipes from early soda fountain manuals include ingredients like gelatin, beaten egg whites, cream, or milk.[8]

Agraz is a type of sorbet that is 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.


Like granitas and other ices, sorbet can be made without an ice cream maker. Alcohol, honey or corn syrup can be added to lower the freezing point and make softer sorbets.[10]


Mulled wine sorbet can be made with red wine, orange, lemons, mulling spices, ruby port, and egg whites. Muscat sorbet is made with dessert wine, lemon juice, and egg whites.[11]



In English Canada, sherbet is defined as a "frozen food, other than ice cream or ice milk, that is made from a milk product". Sherbet contains up to 5% milk solids. A typical Canadian sherbet may contain water, a sweetening agent, fruit or fruit juice, citric or tartaric acids, flavouring preparation, food coloring, sequestering agent(s), and lactose.[12]


Commercially produced sherbet in the United States is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as a frozen product containing one or more optional dairy products.[13] Sorbet, on the other hand, is made with sweetened ice and no dairy; it is similar to Italian ice, but made with real fruit instead of imitation flavoring.[14][15]

Homemade sherbets do not always contain dairy. Early 20th-century American recipes for sherbet include some versions made with water. The American Kitchen Magazine from 1902 distinguishes "water ices" from sherbets, explaining that "sherbets are water ices frozen more rapidly, and egg white or gelatin is often added to give a creamy consistency". In one recipe for pineapple sherbet, water may be used in place of milk. It also separately discusses "milk sherbets".[16]

According to The American Produce Review (1913) "Sherbet is a frozen product made from water or milk, egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and flavoring material". Sherbets are made from a base of "plain ice" which is water, sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice.[17]

See also



  • Lang, Jenifer Harvey, ed. (1988). "Agraz". Larousse Gastronomique: The New American Edition of the World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0517570327. OCLC 777810992.


  1. August Escoffier, The Escoffier Cook Book, 1976, ISBN 0517506629, translation of Le Guide Culinaire, 1903, p. 853
  2. Caroline Liddell, Robin Weir, Frozen Desserts, 1996, ISBN 0312143435, p. 32
  3. Book of Firsts. RW Press. ISBN 9781909284296. c. 550-330 BC, First mention of flavoured snow or ice : during the Persian Empire.
  4. Cousineau, Phil (2012-09-11). The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781936740253. The ancient Persians created a delicious and cooling concoction called sharbat
  5. "Who Invented Ice Cream? - Ice Cream Inventor". Retrieved 2019-10-11. History of ice creams begun around 500 B.C. in the Persian Empire where ice was used in combination with grape juices, fruits, and other flavors to produce very expensive and hard to produce summertime treats.
  6. Bot, History (2017-06-27). "The Origin and History of Ice Cream, Explored". World History. Retrieved 2019-10-11. Though nearly every civilization in the world aims to be credited with the invention of ice cream, earliest remnants for such a concoction appear to be of Persian nature. History shows that by at least 400BC, royals in Persia were known to indulge in cooled, pudding-like syrups blended with snow, rose water and vermicelli. Other flavors were also added to the mix including fruits and spices.
  7. Cousineau, Phil (2012-09-11). The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781936740253. By the time it left the deserts of Persia for the cities of Europe it had been transformed into an "Orientalized" dessert called sorbetto in Italian and sorbet in French.
  8. Weir, Robin; Quinzio, Jeri (2015-07-23). "Sherbet". The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-931339-6. Retrieved 2018-07-20 via Oxford Reference.
  9. Jurafsky, Dan (2014-09-15). The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-24587-5.
  10. Pappas, Lou Seibert (April 1997). Sorbets and Ice Creams: And Other Frozen Confections. Chronicle Books. p. 11-15. ISBN 978-0-8118-1573-4.
  11. Liddell, Caroline; Weir, Robin (1996-07-15). Frozen Desserts: The Definitive Guide to Making Ice Creams, Ices, Sorbets, Gelati, and Other Frozen Delights. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-14343-5.
  12. "Sherbet". Canada Food and Drug Regulations. Government of Canada. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  13. "Requirements for Specific Standardized Frozen Desserts". 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  14. Gallery, Christine (12 June 2017). "What's the Difference Between Sherbet and Sorbet?". The Kitchn. Archived from the original on 2017-02-12. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  15. Marshall, Robert T.; Goff, H. Douglas; Hartel, Richard W. (2003). Ice Cream. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-0-306-47700-3.
  16. The American Kitchen Magazine. Home Science Publishing Company. 1902.
  17. The American Produce Review. 1913.
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