Home Articles Sherbet vs. Sorbet vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato (What’s the Difference?)

Sherbet vs. Sorbet vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato (What’s the Difference?)

Sherbet vs. sorbet vs. ice cream vs. gelato are all delicious. But what are the differences between them?

It all comes down to their origins, ingredients, flavor, texture, fat content, and temperature.

Scoops of Different Flavors of Ice Cream

I’m here to guide you through this icy maze. 

From the rich, creamy swirl of ice cream to the refreshing zest of sorbet, there’s a treat for every tastebud. Let’s look at what sets these delicious treats apart.

What Is Sherbet?

Sherbet is a tasty frozen treat made with fruit and a touch of dairy, like milk or cream. This blend creates a fruity and creamy taste.

But there’s more! Sherbet might have egg white or gelatin, so it’s not always vegan or lactose-friendly.

You might think it’s like sorbet, but it’s closer to ice cream. Ice cream contains dairy, but sherbet focuses on fruit purée made creamier with dairy.

Melon Sorbet Scoops on a  Bowl

What Is Sorbet?

Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from fruit, typically free of dairy and eggs. So, it’s a great friend to vegans and folks with dairy or egg allergies.

It tastes like pure, icy refreshment! 

It doesn’t have the rich silkiness of some ice creams or sherbets. But it has an unmistakable, crisp fruit taste. It’s a bit like a frozen fruit smoothie. 

Grab a spoon, and enjoy the cool taste of pure fruit goodness! There are so many different sorbet flavors to enjoy. 

What Is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a popular frozen treat made from cream and sugar. It’s known for its rich, creamy texture and a wide variety of flavors.

Unlike sorbet, ice cream is rich in dairy, sweeteners, flavors, and, let’s not forget, at least 10% milk fat. That’s what gives it that creamy texture and appearance we can’t resist.

Traditional ice cream is the king of cold treats. It’s made with the good stuff like cream, butterfat, milk, sugar, and flavorings. What’s not to love?

And don’t get me started on the hundreds of different flavors out there. Cone or cup, a scoop of ice cream is always a delicious treat. 

Scoops of Berry Gelatos in a Bowl

What Is Gelato?

Ready to take a tasty trip to Italy without leaving your freezer? Say ciao to gelato, ice cream’s richer, denser, and smoother Italian cousin.

That’s right, gelato means ice cream in Italian, but oh boy, it has its own delicious twist. 

Like ice cream, gelato starts with a mix of milk, cream, and sugar. But here’s where it takes a different path. 

Gelato uses more milk and less cream and usually skips the egg yolks.

Gelato is churned slowly, making it dense, and served a tad warmer, so it’s not completely frozen. This process makes gelato smooth and oh-so-scoopable.

These days, if you wander into a gelateria (that’s Italian for gelato shop), you’ll find heaps of gelato flavors

Chocolate, Vanilla and Avocado Ice Cream on a Bowl

Sherbet vs. Sorbet vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato

There are several major differences between these three frozen treats. Here’s a breakdown: 

Origins

Gelato comes from Italy, invented by Bernardo Buontalenti. But it was Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli who gave us the modern form in Paris. 

The origins of ice cream? Well, it’s a fascinating debate. Ancient Persia, Nero’s Rome, and the Mongol Empire all claim a piece of the story.

Sorbet, on the other hand, has its roots in ancient Persia. It even has connections to historical figures like Marco Polo.

Say it with me: “sharbat.” That’s the Persian word for an iced fruit drink, and it’s where sherbet gets its name! The concept of iced desserts traveled all the way from the Middle East.

Ingredients

The ingredients make these treats distinct. 

Gelato combines cream, milk, sweetener, and flavoring. It can be all kinds of flavors, from vanilla and chocolate to modern fruity varieties. 

Ice cream is made with milk, water, sweeteners, fats, and cream, and it’s found in every imaginable flavor. 

Sorbet keeps it simple with sugar-sweetened water and various flavors.

Sherbet is mainly made with fruit juice or fruit purée, with just a touch of dairy, egg whites, or gelatin. It has a light and luxurious taste.

Fat Content

Looking for a rich treat? Ice cream is the cream of the crop when it comes to fat content, with a luxurious 14 to 25 percent milk fat. 

Gelato has 4 to 9 percent butterfat. It’s creamier than sherbet but leans a bit slimmer than ice cream. Ah, that perfect Italian balance!

Fancy a fruity flair without the fat? Sherbet might be your sweet spot, offering a hint of creaminess with just 1 to 2 percent butterfat.

And sorbet sweeps in with nearly zero fat. There’s no cream, just pure, icy fruit goodness. It’s the guilt-free treat that tastes like a celebration in a cup!

Flavor

Gelato flaunts flavors from sweet cream to raspberry to stracciatella. It has a slightly richer taste than ice cream. 

Ice cream is like the ultimate canvas for taste, ready to embrace anything from caramel to pistachio.

If you’re all about fruit, sherbet has your back. Its flavor choices are mainly limited to fruity delights. While not as versatile as ice cream or gelato, sherbet keeps things fresh and fruity.

Sorbet is pretty similar to sherbet. It revels in flavors like watermelon and strawberry.

Texture

Fluffy and creamy, ice cream’s texture is a one-of-a-kind treat. It’s full of air bubbles thanks to high-speed churning, making it light yet luxurious. 

Gelato’s texture is thick and dense because it’s churned slowly, allowing less air into the mix. 

Not too rich, but not too icy, sherbet strikes a happy medium. With a bit less cream than ice cream or gelato, it’s less indulgent but still has a hint of creaminess that sets it apart from sorbet.

And if light and icy is your thing, sorbet has you covered. With zero cream, it’s the most refreshing option on a hot day. 

Temperature

Gelato, sherbet, and sorbet are all served at around 10 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now, here’s where ice cream stands apart. It likes to chill at the coldest temperatures of most frozen desserts, between 6 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit. 

But be warned, that chilly temperature has a sneaky side effect. It numbs your taste buds. 

That’s why strong flavors might not come through in ice cream as vibrantly as they do in gelato, sherbet, or sorbet.

Sherbet vs. Sorbet vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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