What is sorbet?

Sorbet is a non-dairy frozen dessert made from puréed fruit or fruit juice mixed with water and sugar. It should be made up of very fine grains, and contain no large crystals of ice. In some countries, a small amount of milk might be added to sorbet, but this is not the case in the UK.

Sorbet is lighter than ice cream, but the high sugar content (a combination of natural fruit sugars and added white sugar) required to guarantee a good texture means that, although fat-free, it is high in calories. In general, sorbets will have about 50 per cent of the calories of a comparative ice cream, but this is still very high when compared to natural fruits and juices. Sorbets made from sharp citrus juices are likely to have a greater proportion of added sugar.

Liqueurs and spirits are sometimes added to sorbets, which results in a softer texture as these do not freeze at domestic appliance temperatures. This also increases the calories.

Find icy inspiration in our most refreshing sorbet recipes.

How to cook sorbet

If you're making your own, a beaten egg white folded into the mixture helps lighten the texture and slow down melting.

Sorbet should be softened slightly before serving. Put the container in the fridge for about 30 mins, then scoop into dessert glasses or bowls. This can also help enhance the sweetness.

If you like, serve a few scoops of complementary sorbets together, or try sorbet served with a scoop of ice cream. You could also try garnishing with fruit, wafers or sweet biscuits, as these will give a contrast in flavour and texture.

How to store sorbet

Keep it frozen. Sorbet melts faster than ice cream, so it needs to be insulated during transport.

Where can I buy sorbet?

Sorbet can be easily made at home, and is available in many shops, though there is less variety than in ice-cream products.

Choose the best sorbet

Check the label: cheaper versions might include ‘natural flavours’, which often means a low fruit content has been balanced by flavouring the sugar syrup. Some sorbets might also include a stabilising agent, which gives better texture to a mixture that contains less fruit and would otherwise be icy.