What is sorbet ice cream made of?

Sorbet ice cream is a refreshing frozen dessert that is lower in fat and calories than traditional ice cream. It is made without cream or eggs, deriving its rich and creamy texture mainly from fruit purees. The primary ingredients in sorbet are fruit, sugar, and water. Additional ingredients like citrus juice, alcohol, and stabilizers are often added as well. Sorbet has a lighter, fruitier flavor compared to ice cream. Let’s take a deeper look at what goes into making this delightful frozen treat.


The main ingredient in sorbet is fruit, which provides its signature flavor and color. All kinds of fruits can be used to make sorbet, either on their own or in combination. Common fruits include:

  • Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
  • Stone fruits – peaches, apricots, plums, cherries
  • Citrus fruits – oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit
  • Melons – cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
  • Tropical fruits – mangos, pineapples, bananas, kiwis
  • Pome fruits – apples, pears, quince

The fruit is pureed and strained to remove solids like skins and seeds. Berries generally do not need to be strained. The fruit puree provides the bulk of flavor, sweetness, and color to sorbet. Up to half of the finished product can come from fruit.


Sugar is another major component of sorbet. Granulated white sugar, such as sucrose, is most commonly used. Sugar balances out some of the tartness from the fruit and gives sorbet its signature sweet flavor. The amount of sugar added depends on the natural sweetness of the fruit being used. Sweet fruits like mangos require less added sugar than tart fruits like raspberries. Sugar also lowers the freezing point of sorbet, creating its characteristically smooth, scoopable texture.


Simple syrup is made by dissolving sugar in water and is then added to the fruit puree when making sorbet. Water is needed to dissolve the sugar properly and thin out the mixture so it can freeze into a creamy consistency. Plain water can also be used alone to thin out very thick fruit purees. The amount of water added depends on the moisture content of the fruits. Juicy berries require less added water than starchy bananas, for example. But in general, sorbet contains much more water than ice cream.

Additional Ingredients

While fruit, sugar, and water form the base of sorbet, additional ingredients are often incorporated as well:

  • Citrus juice – Lemon, lime, or orange juice help balance sweetness and round out flavors.
  • Alcohol – Spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, or champagne can add complexity.
  • Stabilizers – Gums like guar gum or xanthan prevent iciness and improve texture.
  • Egg whites – Sometimes added to make sorbet smoother and richer.
  • Dairy – Small amounts of milk, cream, or yogurt for creaminess.
  • Herbs and spices – Mint, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, etc for flair.

These optional mix-ins enhance flavor, modulate sweetness, and improve the overall consistency of sorbet.

The Process

Now that we’ve looked at the key ingredients, let’s go through the basic process for how sorbet is made:

  1. Wash, peel, seed, and chop the fruit into small pieces.
  2. Puree the prepared fruit into a smooth mixture.
  3. Pass the puree through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove solids.
  4. Measure the amount of fruit puree obtained.
  5. In a separate pot, make a simple syrup by dissolving sugar in water.
  6. Mix the syrup with the fruit puree based on a desired ratio, along with any other ingredients.
  7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  8. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until thickened and icy.
  9. Transfer to a freezer-safe container to freeze solid.

The churning step whips air into the mixture as it freezes, preventing iciness and creating a creamy end product. Homemade sorbet can keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Standard Recipe

While ingredients vary widely based on the type of fruit used, here is a standard starter recipe for sorbet as a reference:

Ingredient Amount
Fruit puree 2 cups
Sugar 1 cup
Water 1 1/4 cups
Lemon juice 2 Tbsp
Stabilizer 1/2 tsp

This makes around 3 cups of sorbet, or 4-6 servings. The ingredients would be adjusted based on the type of fruit and desired sweetness level. More or less sugar and water may be used.

Popular Flavors

Sorbet comes in endless varieties, but some of the most popular flavors include:

  • Raspberry – Made with sweet and tart raspberries.
  • Lemon – Bright and refreshing flavor.
  • Mango – Tropical, sweet mango sorbet.
  • Mixed berry – Combines blueberries, blackberries, raspberries.
  • Watermelon – Sweet sorbet with mellow watermelon.
  • Peach – Made with sweet, ripe peaches.
  • Pomegranate – Deep pink color and tart flavor.
  • Passionfruit – Exotic and lightly tangy taste.
  • Chocolate – Rich chocolate sorbet for dessert.
  • Coconut – Creamy tropical coconut flavor.

Chocolate or coconut sorbet generally use dairy or dairy alternatives to achieve their rich textures since those flavors are not fruit-based.

Benefits of Sorbet

Sorbet offers several benefits that make it a cool and refreshing treat:

  • Lower in fat – Sorbet contains no cream, eggs, or butter, making it much lower in fat than ice cream.
  • Fewer calories – With no dairy products, sorbet is a lighter calorie treat.
  • Allergen-friendly – Contains no milk, eggs, nuts, wheat, or soy.
  • Naturally sweet – Gets sweetness from fruit instead of relying heavily on added sugar.
  • Fruit flavored – Provides an easy way to get more fruit into your diet.
  • Vegetarian – Contains no animal products.

The lighter ingredients and focus on fruit make sorbet a flavorful frozen dessert to enjoy without as much guilt! It provides a refreshing finish to a meal rather than weighing you down.

Nutrition Facts

The nutrition content of sorbet can vary based on the ingredients used. But in general, a 1/2 cup serving of sorbet contains:

  • 100-150 calories
  • 0-2g fat
  • 25-35g carbs
  • 20-30g sugar
  • 0-2g protein

Since sorbet has no cream, a 1/2 cup serving may contain around 100 calories versus 150 calories for the same amount of ice cream. Sorbet is also lower in fat and higher in carb and sugar content from all the fruity ingredients. But the tradeoff is the refreshing, light flavor and the health perks of the fruit.


Sorbet does have a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Higher sugar content – Can be high in natural and added sugars.
  • Less protein – Lacks the protein content that dairy provides.
  • Not as creamy – Has an icy texture compared to creamy ice cream.
  • Allergies – Some sorbets contain common allergens like soy.
  • Serving size – Smaller serving sizes due to sugar content.

Those looking for protein, creaminess, and larger serving sizes may prefer traditional ice cream. But sorbet can be enjoyed occasionally as a fresh, fruity alternative.


Sorbet offers a deliciously refreshing take on ice cream by focusing mainly on fruit instead of dairy. It is lower in fat and calories than ice cream, providing guilt-free refreshment on a hot day. The primary ingredients – fruit, sugar, and water – lend natural sweetness and intense flavor. Optional mix-ins like citrus juice, alcohol, and stabilizers enhance the taste and texture. Raspberry, lemon, mango and mixed berry are popular sorbet flavors, but the possibilities are endless. While sorbet is higher in sugar than ice cream, the nutritional benefits of the fruit make it worth enjoying in moderation. So next time you want a cool, flavorful frozen treat, try a scoop of sorbet!

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