A Comprehensive Guide to Sorbet and Sorbetto

A Comprehensive Guide to Sorbet and Sorbetto

If you’ve ever wondered what’s in your sorbet (or sorbetto), where it comes from and what the best flavors are, then boy have I got a treat for you!

I love sorbet. It’s my second love, closely behind regular ice cream – in fact, there’s many sorbets that beat ice cream hands down! Sorbet can be a great alternative to ice cream if you’re looking for something a little different than ice cream. There are a few reasons for this, which I’ll touch on a little later. Let’s have a look at where sorbet originates first, then a few other questions which I think need resolving.

A Comprehensive Guide to Sorbet and Sorbetto

Sorbet Meaning

Sorbet literally means “a water ice”, though the common perception of what a sorbet is is that it mans a fruit puree, sugar and ice (water).

It has taken on several different meanings throughout the years, but the common perception is what we’ll be considering today. Of course, first we will have a look at the history of sorbet and where the name derives from.

Sorbet History

Both Sorbet and Ice cream are thousands of years old and have been traced back to Asian cultures who used to crush their ice, then pour flavourings on them to taste. This is the original sorbet. You’ll notice several different eras in history where they made a variation of sorbet, which is essentially ice or water with fruit juices or puree. You can see examples of this back in ancient times, with the pharaohs offering their guests a variation of this through to the bible, where there are many examples of people enjoying ice with fruit.

The name sorbet undoubtedly derives from Arabic, where over a thousand years ago they would drink ‘sharabt’ – which eventually became sherbet. Sharabt is essentially just an icy drink mad with fruits – it was not long before European and Western cultures ended up adapting their own versions of this recipe.

Depending on who you speak to – and what you want to truly believe – there are many different ways that sorbet travelled from the Middle East through to Europe. If we want to really trace back where sorbet comes from and how it got to France and Italy, then we can go back to the 1500s.

An Example of a Sorbet Seller in Italy.

Many people trace the first genuine sorbet back to Antonio Latini in the 1600s, where he is traced as writing the first recipes in his cookbooks for Sorbetti. From there, sorbet developed into ice cream and spread throughout Europe and eventually into America.

What is sorbetto vs sorbet

This is another common question, as it seems some companies prefer to use the term “sorbetto” as opposed to “sorbet”. It there a valid reason for this, or is it just very clever marketing?

Well, there is actually. Whilst in America the terms tend to mean the same thing and someone referring to a sorbetto will generally be referring to a sorbet, in Italy they mean slightly different things. In the South of Italy, a sorbetto will refer to a slightly creamier version of a sorbet that uses a higher ratio or fruit. This may be different in different regions, but this is what I know to be a sorbet.

Or course, the words sorbet and sorbetto are different in origin; sorbetto is Italian, whereas sorbet is French.

Does sorbet have dairy?

A traditional sorbet most definitely does NOT have any dairy in it! Remember that generally, sorbet is only the 3 ingredients of fruit puree, sugar and water. Nothing else!

If you’re adding milk to your sorbet, then you’re not making a sorbet any more – you’re making a sherbet! The general rules are that an ice cream is heavily based on cream, whereas a gelato has more milk than an ice cream. A sorbet and a sherbet are more fruit puree based desserts than ice cream and gelato.

Is sorbet ice cream?

Some people like to consider sorbet as a subsection of ice cream, it really depends on how you view things. Technically though, they aren’t similar at all – I guess they are churned pretty similarly, but that really doesn’t make sorbet and ice cream the same thing in my opinion.

Is sorbet Vegan?

Yes, one of the best things about sorbet opposed to ice cream is that sorbet is suitable for vegans. This means that you don’t need to worry about upsetting your vegan friends by serving sorbet at your dinner party.

Ever wonder why so many restaurants always have a sorbet on the menu? It’s the go to vegan option for many, as so many other desserts are usually not vegan friendly.

Sorbet Calories

The calories in sorbet are relatively low if you compare them with other frozen desserts. One of the reasons that I’ll opt for a sorbet over an ice cream is that I can polish off a whole tub without feeling too guilty about it!

Remember though that although the calories may be slightly lower, you’re usually going to get a bit more sugar in a sorbet. So, if this is something that concerns you then you could look at other options.

So is Sorbet Healthy?

This depends on the brand and variation of sorbet that you buy, as well as your definition of what “healthy” is. Many people associate the high sugars in sorbet with unhealthiness, so it does depend on what you mean by healthy.

The good thing about sorbet is that it can be made entirely from natural ingredient pretty easily. This means that you don’t really need to worry about lots of additives in sorbet – though you should always check the label first. This makes sorbet pretty healthy in this aspect, if you’re trying to avoid lots of additives in your food.

Is a Sorbet Maker different to an Ice Cream Maker?

No! No no no! One of the biggest marketing schemes I’ve seen in this industry is people trying to sell a ‘sorbet maker’ because it’s more classy and dignified than an ice cream maker. Well, I’ve got news for you.. they do exactly the same thing! If you can make ice cream, then you can also make sorbet in the same appliance. Get yourself a good ice cream maker that can do both.

Can you make sorbet without ice cream maker?

Yes, you can! Although it might not be as creamy as what you can get with an ice cream maker, you can still make a good quality sorbet without using an ice cream maker.

Can you make sorbet in a blender?

Yes! This is the best way to make sorbet if you aren’t using an ice cream maker. If you want to learn a bit more about how to make sorbet in a blender, check out this handy video that goes through the processes that you need to take to make a good sorbet without churning.

Sorbet brands

I’m often asked what my opinion on what the best brands that make sorbet and ice cream are. It’s not easy to say, because I’m extremely pick when it comes to this kind of stuff. I’m hesitant to recommend any brands of sorbet, you should go and try them out yourself! Okay, okay.. here’s some brands that I particularly like;

Talenti Sorbetto – The first brand that I’d recommend if you’re looking to try a delicious sorbetto is undoubtedly Talenti. They make some really high quality frozen desserts, even if their prices are a bit expensive.

Haagen Dazs – I know it’s an obvious recommendation, but Haagen Dazs sorbet is a pretty great option. They’re a good balance between quality and price, so if you see it on special in your local supermarket then you should definitely consider purchasing some!

Ciao Bella – Although not my very favorite brand, Ciao Bella sorbets are pretty delicious and you can often find them at good prices in your local supermarkets. Don’t forget to try and few different brands and see which one works best for you.

Best sorbet flavors

Again, the best sorbet flavors is a subjective question that isn’t particularly easy to answer. I’ll go with my personal preferences, though you need to make up your own mind!

Mango – Mango is a great sorbet flavor if you want somehting that isn’t too overwhelming for your taste. Some flavors just work better with sorbet than they do with ice cream, mango being a prime example of this. You can get a great mango ice cream too, but I much prefer a mango sorbet to avoid the milky texture.

Lemon – Any citrus fruit will work amazingly with sorbet, with lemon likely being the most popular. This is because the tangy taste will delight certain peoples tastebuds – though I have friends who hate lemon sorbet with a passion! Its definitely an acquired taste.

Chocolate – Chocolate sorbet is one of the most underrated flavors of sorbet, it’s truly delicious! It works well with sorbet, even though you don’t have the milky texture, you can still enjoy a nice chocolate sorbet.

There are many, many more sorbet flavors that you may end up loving if you give them the chance! Sorbet is really something that works well with all different kinds of flavors, especially flavors that are citrus or alcoholic!

Can you make sorbet without sugar

Not really. Some people like to use fake sugars to make their sorbet, or they’ll try and make it without any sugar at all – this isn’t really sorbet. To get a truly delicious sorbet, you need to have some sort of sugar ingredient there to make it a sorbet, otherwise it’s just fruit puree!

What else can I do with a sorbet?

Sorbet Balls – Sorbet Balls can be a great addition to your champagne or any drink, really. If you’re having a dinner party, sorbet balls can add a little extra to your menu.


Sorbet Shake – Is a sorbet shake just a fruit juice? Well, no not really. A sorbet shake can be a delicious addition to any meal, giving you a thicker texture than a regular juice. Perfect for those summer months!

Sorbet Cake – Sorbet is an awesome ingredient and can be included as part of any cake, as it won’t melt too quickly and can give a certain kick to it.


In conclusion, Sorbet is one of the finer things in life. It’s a dessert that you can really enjoy, without being too concerned about the calorie content because they’re pretty low. The minimal fat content in sorbet makes it great for a diet if you’re trying to cut calories, which is why I sometimes even tend to prefer sorbet over ice cream (sacrilege!).

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