Are sorbet, sherbet, and sherbert all the same? Despite the fact that the definitions of sorbet and sherbet could be used interchangeably, there is a distinction among American frozen dessert manufacturers and a pretty clear difference in the use of one ingredient: dairy.
Sherbet — which is alternatively spelled sherbert — is a frozen fruit and dairy product that contains anywhere from 1 percent to 2 percent milkfat from milk or cream. Anything below 1 percent is referred to as water ice, anything between 2 and 10 percent is considered a frozen dairy dessert, and anything above 10 percent is generally labeled ice cream.
On the other hand, sorbet usually implies a fruit-based frozen dessert with little to no dairy — although the use of the term sorbet is unregulated. To add to the confusion, in other parts of the world, sherbet may refer to a fizzy powder stirred into beverages, or a beverage made of diluted fruit juice.
So there you have it — the two delicious desserts are not, in fact, the same despite the terms often being used incorrectly. The main difference: sherbet contains dairy and sorbet does not.