One Pot Dish Recipe

Difference Between Sherbet and Gelato

Search Our many food guides

The Real Difference Between Sherbet and Gelato in 2021

Sherbet and Gelato are often interchanged in conversations most of the time. With so many kinds of frozen desserts available, they almost taste and look the same. However, these favorite sweets of yours have definitely subtle differences.

To give you a glimpse of it, sherbet and gelato are made in different ways. Also, their flavors and textures subtly differ, too. Sherbet has the same texture as ice cream but uses puréed fruit as its flavor. On the other hand, gelato is thicker in texture and dense than sherbet since it is made by churning slowly to have less air in the mixture.

We have also researched further to give you more information about these two frozen desserts. The details below are their differences in origin, flavor, ingredients texture, fat & dairy content, and more.

Origin of Gelato
Origin of Gelato

What Is Gelato?

Gelato is a frozen dessert made from a mixture of cream, milk, and a sweetener (can be sugar). It is no surprise that it came from Italy. Italian shops are called "gelaterias" and sell it.

  • Fat content. Gelato has less fat content than ice cream because it has less cream. Gelato food labels report a butterfat content of around 3.5 to as high as 10 percent. This is much less than ice cream, but much higher than either sherbet or fruit puree sorbet.
  • Texture. Gelato has a very creamy texture and is nice and thick, dense and rich because it is very slowly mixed or churned and so not much air gets into the mixture.
  • Flavor. Gelato is rich in flavor and you can have a wide range just like a premium ice cream without the sugar content a true Italian gelato is made with flavors ranging from local Italian fruits like raspberry to through to flavoring like chocolate.
  • Temperature. Gelato is served at slightly higher temperatures than say ice cream. In italy this sweet treat is served from 10 degrees to 21 degrees Fahrenheit. This warmer temperature stops the gelato's very dense texture from becoming hard to eat. It also intensifies the flavors to the palette vs ice cream.

What Is Sherbet?

Sherbet (sometimes referred to as "sherbert") is a frozen mixture usually of fruit puree frozen dessert including a sweetener and a small amount bit milk or buttermilk.

  • Fat content. Sherbet's has a tiny amount of dairy ingredients in the recipe and therefore gives it a butterfat level of less than 2 percent which is a lot lower than both ice cream and gelato, but still higher than a pure sorbet.
  • Texture. With less dairy content than both ice cream and gelato, sherbet is also not so rich.
  • Flavor. Sherbet is more restricted in its flavor range than both ice cream or gelato, because it is mainly made of fresh fruit or pureed fruit which is used as a flavoring.
  • Temperature. Sherbet is served between 10 degrees to 21 degrees Fahrenheit because if the temperature is too cold it will just freeze and be hard to eat, plus it will not be nice and smooth - just like a really hard ice cream. However, the warmer serving temperatures mean its flavor comes across much richer than ice cream and the taste buds love the rich frozen treat.
Enjoy The Ingredients of Sherbet
Enjoy The Ingredients of Sherbet

What Is Sorbet?

Sorbet is a little more simple and is a frozen dessert made up of just fruit puree ( fruit juice, like lemon juice). The sweetening agent  is usually sugar. It can also be sugar syrup or sweet liqueur. However, an important difference between sorbet and ice cream, gelato, and sherbet is that sorbet is dairy-free and therefore vegan.

Sorbet originally came about as a palate cleanser in high-class restaurants. Served between meal courses. French cafes were among the first to serve this.

  • Fat content. Sorbet of all the frozen desserts has the lowest fat content because it doesn't include cream.
  • Texture. Sorbet has an icy texture and is light in body - but very rich in flavor and often has a pure fruit flavor. Often served in a Masterchef establishment a variation on sorbet, called granita is made by periodically scraping the sorbet during the freezing process giving nice flaky ice crystals.
  • Flavor. Sorbet has fruit-based flavors. Sorbet recipes will often use fresh fruit. For example, popular sorbet flavors can include strawberry, lemon and watermelon.
  • Temperature. Sorbet is also presented at comparable temperatures to gelato and sherbet (between 10 degrees to 21 degrees Fahrenheit). The reason being you need to keep it soft enough so that it is nice and smooth to eat.

What Are the Differences Between Sherbet and Gelato?

Let's slowly get to the basics first to deeply understand these two sweet desserts.

Origin of Sherbet

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Sherbet originated in the United States but it was actually the Middle East who first introduced the idea of iced desserts in the world. It comes from the Persian word, "sharbat'' which means an iced fruit drink. During the 1950s, Emmanuel Goren modified a usual sherbet to a rainbow sherbet, which made it more popular in the United States.

Serving sherbet was a cultural practice in the 20th century by making it a refreshment in the palate between meals. Now, serving sherbet is quite the opposite; it is better served after meals.

Origin of Gelato

According to the International Wine & Food Society, Gelato is an Italian term that means "frozen". It is a term that refers to dairy-based milk which is somewhat similar to America's ice cream. However, what makes this different from ice cream is it is made from a mixture of milk, cream, and sweetener while ice cream is made from a custard made of milk, cream, sweetener, and often egg yolks.

Moreover, gelato was made as early as 3000 BC when Roman emperors enjoyed servings of ice sweetened with fruit juice. It was even made more popular when Bernardo Buontalenti prepared a creamy, frozen dessert in the 1500s to serve for the visitation of the King of Spain in Italy. Until then, it has become a frozen dessert that Italians enjoyed in every gelato shop called gelateria.

Sherbet And Romance Go Together
Sherbet And Romance Go Together

Ingredients of Sherbet

Sherbet is usually served frozen from mixed ingredients of water, frozen fruit, sugar, milk, and (or) cream, and flavorings. Some also add gelatin, lemon juice, or egg whites to improve its thicker texture.

Ingredients of Gelato

Gelato is also served as frozen and contains common ingredients such as milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and flavorings such as nuts, coffee, fruits, etc. Take note, gelato contains more milk than sherbet and ice cream. Also, it uses less fat than other frozen treats making it more suitable for those who are on less-fat diets.

Flavors Range of Sherbet

Another thing that makes sherbet different from gelato is its flavors. A classic sherbet only comes in fruit flavors such as lime, lemon, strawberry, and orange. The fruit is usually puréed and mixed with other common ingredients such as milk and sugar.

Flavor Choices for Gelato

Gelato is available in more flavors and sweeter than sherbet. This is usually flavored with fruit, chocolates, nuts, and other sweeteners. Gelaterias in Italy are commonly served with chocolate or hazelnut-flavored ones, making them more savory and sweet than sherbet.

Range Of Flavors Of Sherbet
Range Of Flavors Of Sherbet

Palette of Sherbet

Their differences in texture will make you distinguish which is which. If you have a keen attention to food and its details, you will surely identify one.

Sherbet is different in texture than gelato and even sorbet, too. Primarily, making a sherbet requires you to use an ice cream maker even though they vary in procedures. One thing it has in common with ice cream is it should stay in the machine past the freezing point. With that, it will allow the mixture of ingredients to mix with air; hence, it will change in density making it almost the same with ice cream.

And since it already has a combination with air, it usually stays frozen for a longer period than a gelato. When about to serve one, it should be removed from the machine first and let it soften a little because it is normally solid and harder to eat.

Texture of Gelato

The texture of gelato is more delicate, smooth, and soft, which melts easier in the mouth than sherbet.(not unlike frozen yogurt) Though it is also made using an ice cream machine, it requires a slower speed in mixing to prevent the air from combining into the ingredients. Also, it should be churned in a slower way and should be removed out from the machine once the ingredient becomes frozen. Then transfer into a container and store in a freezer to keep its temperature and texture.

Its smoother texture is the reason why it is more preferred than sherbet. More than that, it is also available in more flavors that will make you interested in eating.

Related Questions

Which is Healthier - Gelato or Sherbet?

Mostly, gelato contains more fats and calories than sherbet because of its ingredients. As previously mentioned, sherbet is primarily made up of fruits while a gelato can be made up of chocolates mixed with nuts, or nuts, and other artificial sweet flavors. Hence, sherbet is healthier than gelato. However, it may vary depending on its flavors. If you want a healthy gelato, you can opt to make your own or buy a dairy-free, gluten-free gelato.

Why is Sherbet Not An Ice Cream?

Basically, sherbet is not ice cream because its ingredients contain lesser to no dairy products (1-2%). Also, it is processed differently and has a harder texture than ice cream.

Is Gelato Healthier Than Ice Cream?

A half-cup of vanilla gelato contains 140 calories and 12 grams of sugar while a half-cup of vanilla ice cream contains 266 calories and 22 grams of sugar; thus, gelato is healthier than ice cream.

Is sherbet bad for your cholesterol?

Sherbet has no dairy, then it is okay for your cholesterol because it is basically made of fruits, which is a healthy sweet, and a little bit of sweetener.

Is sherbet better for you than ice cream?

Yes. A hundred grams of ice cream contains 200 calories, while a hundred grams of sherbet only contains 135 calories. So, if you are strict in your calorie intake, better choose sherbet over ice cream. Moreover, it may vary again depending on the ingredients and how it is made so do check the labels first.