Ice Cream vs Sorbet – What’s the difference?

Ice Cream vs Sorbet – What’s the difference?

If you’re wondering what the differences are between the two, which is better for your diet and how to tell a good sorbet from an ice cream, then you’re in the right place.

One of the more common things that I’m asked is what the difference is between ice cream and sorbet. To me, that’s kind of ludicrous; it’s easy! Here, I’ll give you a quick round up of what the main differences are, then we’ll dig a little deeper into telling the difference between the two.

Quick Roundup

If you don’t have time to check out the full article, you can check a short round up on the main difference between gelato and sorbet here;


Traditionally just a mix of sugar and a fruit puree

This makes it lower in calories than ice cream, because you don’t need to worry about fat content

Increase in popularity because it’s vegan friendly

Churned the same way as ice cream, but you can make no churn sorbet much easier than no churn ice cream

Ice Cream

Thicker than sorbet due to the fat content

Usually a lot higher in calories than sorbet, even though it contains much less sugar

Traditionally available in far more flavors than sorbet as sorbet typically comes in fruit flavors only, although you can find chocolate sorbet too.

Definitely my favorite of the two, though I’m not adverse to a nice sorbet either!

These are the main points that you may notice a difference between ice cream and gelato. You’ll also notice that you don’t need an ice cream maker for making sorbet, whereas you do with ice cream. There aren’t many other differences between the two, and you likely won’t notice a difference unless you really love ice cream.


This is the area where ice cream and sorbet truly differ. Whilst they are made in a similar fashion and some people mistake ice cream for sorbet and vice versa, they really couldn’t be further from each other in this sense.

Whilst a traditional ice cream includes cream (no, not milk – if there’s milk then it’s considered a gelato), a traditional sorbet will never include cream or any dairy products. Here’s an example of the base ingredients that you would use to make a sorbet;

  • Water
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Whichever fruit juices and purees you desire

And that’s it! Really. This is why sorbets have become extremely popular to make at home, due to how easy it really is to make them. You only need a couple of ingredients and you can make yourself a delicious sorbet from home.


Sorbet is pretty much all carbs. Not just carbs, but carbs that sugar. This makes sorbet an extremely bad choice if you’re an sort of low carb or ketogenic diet. The high amount of carbs in sorbet make it almost impossible to stay under the daily carb allowance on these diets. Certain ice creams however, can be part of a low carbohydrate diet – especially if you find one that is low carb friendly.

Just because there are a lot of carbohydrates in sorbet, doesn’t mean that you can enjoy it as part of a balanced diet. Just make sure you continue to exercise and you’ll be able to work off the carbohydrates that you are eating.

Fat Content

A really good sorbet will have minimal fat content. This is because of the ingredients that are used in it, as it really only contains sugars.

This is good if you are looking to go on a low calorie diet, where high carbohydrates and low calories are usually what is accepted. Carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram, so you can afford to eat a lot more carbohydrates than you can eat fats and alcohols.

Ice cream will have much more fat than a sorbet, which will usually mean that it is much higher per calories than a sorbet.


There is minimal protein in sorbet, so it’s not a great choice if you’re looking to include more protein in your diet. One trick that I like to use is to scoop a small amount of whey protein into my sorbet, as this can increase the protein content of your food significantly.

Ice cream also has minimal protein, which is why it’s usually avoided by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Again, a great trick is to mix a scoop of whey with your ice cream to increase the protein content.

Which is better for dieting?

Unless you’re on a low carbohydrate diet, then sorbet is undoubtedly better for you when you’re on a diet. This is because it’s quite significantly lower in calories than ice cream, as it only uses fruits and sugars which do not contain high amounts of calories.

For the healthiest sorbets, you could even look to using a homemade recipe which limits the amount of added sugar. Here’s a great example of a healthy sorbet which limits the amount of added sugars.


Sorbet is usually much more tart than ice cream due to the ingredients that are used to make it. A general rule is that the less sugar that is used in the sorbet, the more tart that it will taste. This is because sugar will usually make things sweeter and less sour. This makes sorbet ideal for citrus flavors like lemon, as it allows the sour flavour to come through.


The texture of sorbet is undoubtedly much coarser than what you would usually have with an ice cream. This means that a sorbet will have a much higher density, which is great if you prefer a more textured dessert.

Just because sorbet is coarser than ice cream, this doesn’t mean that it is necessarily of a stronger taste – though this is usually the case. The reason that sorbet usually tastes much stronger than ice cream is because it is primarily made up of pureed fruits, which give it a tart taste that won’t be favorable to many.  Sorbet is still considered an acquired taste.

Variety of Flavors

Ice cream undoubtedly has a much wider array of flavors than a sorbet.

Generally, you’ll only find fruity sorbet flavors as it’s made with fruit puree and not with cream and the ingredients that ice cream is made with. You can find chocolate sorbets, though this is a rarity and not traditionally the norm.



Sorbets are absolutely fantastic if you have allergies to some of the ingredients in other desserts. Any top restaurant will always have some sort of sorbet on the menu to cater for those with allergies, like celiacs or lactose intolerant. This is because sorbets generally only contain three ingredients; water, sugar and fruits! Unless you have a fruit or sugar allergy, you’re not going to have any issues with eating sorbet.

Ice cream however, is not ideal for those with allergies. There’s actually a huge amount of people who have a lactose intolerance without knowing it. If you think this might be you, exclude lactose from your diet for a week and see how you feel!.

Top Brands

My favorite sorbet in the United States is, and always will be, Ciao Bella. I love the taste of it, and find that it’s the most similar to what you would find in an Italian town or city.


If you’re looking for a nice ice cream, then I’d recommend Breyers as my favorite brand of ice cream. I know, I know.. you love Ben & Jerry’s. But in my opinion, Breyers make some of the highest quality ice creams around.


Overall Verdict

To conclude, I don’t think there is too much difference between a good sorbet and a good ice cream. You will easily be able to tell the difference (taste, texture) but they both provide the same thing – a delicious cooling dessert for the summer months.

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