Have you ever wondered what's the difference between ice cream and sherbet – definition-wise?

Sure, you know the difference from experience. Sherbet comes in a limited number of flavors: orange, lime, lemon, raspberry, maybe pineapple. And the ubiquitous "rainbow," of course.

Ice cream, on the other hand - well, you'd need more than two hands to count all the flavors of ice cream in the world.

Technically speaking, ice cream is made with cream and must contain a minimum 10% butterfat. Sherbet, made with milk, checks in at just 2% butterfat.

Texturally speaking, ice cream is... well, creamy, of course. Sherbet is lighter, more a cross between a grainy sorbet/granita and ice cream.

Still, each deserves a place in your freezer. Choose ice cream when you want to totally indulge your baser instincts. 

Choose sherbet when you want something cold and sweet, but not overwhelmingly rich. Think refreshing, rather than decadent.

And choose this homemade Orange Sherbet, with its delicate hint of vanilla, when you want to relive those childhood days chasing the ice cream truck down the street after supper, desperate for a Creamsicle.

Orange sherbet + vanilla ice cream = Creamsicle.

And orange sherbet + vanilla extract? That signature Creamsicle flavor – without most of the fat.

Want to make your own vanilla-scented Orange Sherbet? Here's how.

How to make Orange Sherbet

Start with a strong, aromatic vanilla. I'm partial to our own King Arthur vanilla extract. I use it a LOT – as you can see!

Next, get out your ice cream machine. Again, I have a definite preference: Cuisinart's electric ice cream maker. Pour in your homemade ice cream (sherbet, sorbet, gelato) base; press the button; and come back less than 30 minutes later to a flavorful frozen treat.

You know, I fooled around with a wooden bucket, rock salt, cracked ice, and cranking a handle for years; and I'm over it. My ice cream maker is the best $59.95 I've spent on a food gadget in quite some time.

That said, can you make this sherbet without an ice cream maker?

Well, kind of. You can pour the base into a shallow pan, freeze it solid, then chunk it (be careful!) into a food processor and process until softened and smooth. It won't have the same texture as sherbet made in an ice cream maker, but it'll still taste good.


Let's start with the "base" – the liquid that will go into your ice cream maker to become sherbet.

Combine the following, blending until smooth:

1/3 to 1/2 cup (67g to 99g) sugar, depending on the sweetness of your oranges
2 cups (454g) orange juice, freshly squeezed preferred
1/2 cup (113g) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed or partially thawed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (28g) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (14g) vanilla extract, optional
1 1/2 cups (340g) milk, whole milk preferred

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it's very cold, overnight if possible. Make sure the canister for your ice cream maker is in the freezer, too; at least 24 hours is preferable.


When you're ready to make the sherbet, pour the base into your ice cream maker canister, and freeze according to manufacturer's directions; this took about 25 minutes in my Cuisinart.

The sherbet won't be smooth like ice cream, but rather soft/chunky; don't worry, it'll smooth out a bit in the freezer.

Transfer the sherbet from the machine's canister to a freezer-safe container. If desired, stir in 3 tablespoons Cointreau, Triple Sec, or brandy; this alcohol will keep the sherbet from becoming rock-hard in the freezer.

Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. If you haven't used liquor to keep it soft, remove the sherbet from the freezer about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to serve it, to soften.


See? I told you it would smooth out. It'll retain a somewhat grainy texture, but should scoop nicely.

Now, how about adding some color and flair to your sherbet?


I suggest a raspberry swirl.

This swirl is homemade raspberry preserves, made with our Microwave Berry Jam recipe.

Just dollop in preserves (or raspberry sauce), swirl, freeze...


...scoop, and enjoy!

You might even want to take your bowl of sherbet outside – and enjoy it sitting on the curb beside the road, to TRULY relive that ice cream truck experience.

Please read, make, and review our recipe for Orange Sherbet.

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About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.&nbsp...
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