How is sorbet made?

Sorbet is a beloved frozen dessert that is lighter and more refreshing than ice cream. It is made from sweetened fruit juice, fruit puree or fresh fruit that has been frozen while churning to create a smooth, icy texture. Sorbet contains little to no dairy, making it a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. High quality sorbets have an intense fruit flavor and creamy mouthfeel thanks to the incorporation of air while churning. Let’s take a closer look at how this tasty treat is made!


The primary ingredients in sorbet are fruit, sugar and water. Additional ingredients like lemon juice, zest or alcohol may also be used to enhance flavor. Here are some of the main components:

  • Fruit – Fresh fruit or fruit juice/puree provide flavor and color. Berries, stone fruits, citrus fruits and tropical fruits like mango, pineapple or passionfruit are commonly used.
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar or other sweeteners like honey or agave nectar are used. Sugar balances the tartness of the fruit and provides a smooth texture.
  • Water – Water dissolves the sugar and creates a liquid base when chilled.
  • Lemon juice – Small amounts of lemon juice help balance sweetness and round out fruit flavors.
  • Zest – Zest from lemons, oranges or other citrus adds bright, aromatic notes.
  • Alcohol – Liquors like rum, vodka, wine or champagne can provide depth of flavor and control iciness.

Key Steps

Making sorbet is a relatively straightforward process that involves:

  1. Creating a syrup from sugar and water
  2. Allowing syrup to cool completely
  3. Mixing syrup with fruit and other ingredients
  4. Chilling the mixture
  5. Churning in an ice cream maker
  6. Transferring to a freezer-safe container to freeze solid

Let’s go over these steps in more detail:

1. Make a Simple Syrup

A simple syrup is made by dissolving sugar in water over heat. Granulated white sugar is most commonly used. The proportions vary, but a common ratio is:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until the sugar fully dissolves. Bring to a brief boil, then remove from heat. Let the simple syrup cool completely before using.

2. Prepare the Fruit

Fruit can be used in sorbet in several forms:

  • Puree – Fruit is blended into a smooth puree. Berries, stone fruits and tropical fruits work well.
  • Juice – Fruit juice provides concentrated flavor. Citrus fruits and berries make great juices.
  • Chopped – Some firm fruits can be finely chopped to add texture. Try apples, pears or mangoes.

For purees and chopped fruit, strain out seeds, pits and skins for the smoothest texture.

3. Mix Syrup and Fruit

In a large bowl, combine the cooled simple syrup and prepared fruit. Use these general guidelines for proportions:

  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 2-3 cups pureed or chopped fruit
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fruit juice

Taste the base mixture and add more sugar, fruit or citrus juice like lemon to achieve the desired sweet/tart balance. Stir in any additional ingredients like zest, alcohol or spices at this stage.

4. Chill Thoroughly

Transfer the sorbet base mixture to a sealed container and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight until completely chilled. This helps the sorbet stay creamy and scoopable once frozen.

5. Churn in Ice Cream Maker

Pour the chilled sorbet mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Churning incorporates air which lightens the texture. It also agitates the mixture to prevent ice crystals from forming. Churn until thickened to a creamy, soft serve-like consistency, typically 20-35 minutes.

6. Freeze Until Solid

Transfer the churned sorbet to a freezable container like a loaf pan or quart container. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent icy crystals from forming. Seal and freeze 4-6 hours or overnight until solidly frozen. Properly frozen sorbet can be scooped and served or stored frozen for up to a month.

Tips for Making Sorbet

Here are some helpful tips to make picture-perfect sorbet at home:

  • Use ripe, high quality fruit at the peak of flavor
  • Chill the base mixture well before churning
  • Prevent icy texture by controlling crystal formation during churning and freezing
  • Enhance fruit flavors with citrus juices/zests, extracts or liqueurs
  • Err on the side of less sugar – sorbet won’t freeze solidly if syrup is too concentrated
  • Work swiftly once churned – sorbet melts fast!
  • Store airtight in coldest part of freezer


Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

Issue Solution
Sorbet has icy, grainy texture
  • Chill base more thoroughly before churning
  • Churn a shorter time to limit ice crystal formation
Sorbet is too soft/won’t freeze firmly
  • Increase simple syrup concentration slightly
  • Freeze in coldest part of freezer for longer time
Sorbet melts too fast
  • Store in airtight container in coldest part of freezer
  • Eat immediately after scooping
Fruit flavor is too subtle
  • Use very ripe, flavorful fruit
  • Increase amount of fruit puree or juice
  • Add zest or extracts for more intense flavor
Simple syrup crystallized during cooling
  • Heat syrup to a higher temperature when cooking
  • Add corn syrup to inhibit crystallization

Serving Suggestions

Here are some fun ways to serve and top sorbet:

  • Scoop into a bowl, cone or serving glass
  • Top with fresh fruit like berries, diced mango or kiwi
  • Drizzle with fruit liqueurs like Chambord or Amaretto
  • Sprinkle with nuts like almonds, pistachios or candied pecans
  • Sandwich between cookies or cakes for an ice cream sandwich
  • Layer sorbet with fresh fruit in a parfait glass
  • Float a small scoop of sorbet in a flute of sparkling wine or champagne

Popular Sorbet Flavors

Sorbet can be made in virtually any fruit flavor under the sun. Here are some of the most popular varieties:

Fruit Flavors
Berries Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry
Citrus Lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, blood orange
Melons Honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon
Stone Fruit Peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, cherry
Tropical Fruit Mango, pineapple, passionfruit, guava, papaya
Other Fruit Apple, pear, kiwi, pomegranate, fig

Recipe Inspiration

Here are a few delicious sorbet recipes to try at home:

Raspberry Sorbet

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mango Sorbet

  • 2 cups mango puree
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp rum (optional)

Blackberry-Lime Sorbet

  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • Zest and juice from 2 limes
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vodka (optional)

Blood Orange Sorbet

  • 1 cup blood orange juice
  • Zest from 2 blood oranges
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup
  • 2 tbsp Campari (optional)


Sorbet is simple to prepare at home with just a few ingredients and basic equipment like an ice cream maker. Choosing ripe, flavorful fruit and properly controlling crystal formation are keys to creating scoopable, melt-in-your-mouth sorbet. Feel free to get creative with different fruit flavors, mix-ins and serving ideas! Making sorbet is a fun summer activity that results in a light, refreshing frozen treat.

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