Gelato vs Sorbet

Gelato vs Sorbet

With the onset of summer, people around the world look forward to indulging in a frozen dessert to help manage the sweltering heat. Frozen desserts come in a few variants that are popular across the globe, such as Ice Cream, Gelato, Sherbet, and Sorbet.

In addition to these, there are minor modifications that result in tasty treats such as Granita, which is a variation of Sorbet and is sometimes also referred to as Italian Ice or Water Ice.

To differentiate between Gelato and Sorbet would require an in-depth look into the ingredients, manufacturing process, and style of the desserts. This will help you comprehend the differences easily.

Although in many regions across the world, the name of the frozen dessert differs based on the culture, some subtle differences between them can help people differentiate between gelato and sorbet.

What is Gelato?

Gelato is a frozen dessert made from ingredients that include a mixture of milk, cream, and sweetener (usually sugar). It originates from Italy and became ever so popular in the 17th century, thanks to its flavor-packed, creamy texture. As the popularity of frozen desserts grew, across the world, gelato was more easily accessible and is sold in Italian gelato or ice cream parlors called “gelaterias”.

Gelato is always made using a combination of milk, cream, sugar, and a main “flavor” such as hazelnut, chocolate, pistachio, etc.

The manufacturing process also differs from other frozen desserts (like Ice Cream, for example) as Gelato is made in a distinctly Italian style, which includes slowly stirring the dessert with the help of a machine while it is freezing, that ensures that very little air is incorporated or whipped in. This differs from Ice Cream, where the churning process is at a higher rate, and a more substantial proportion of air is included.

Although “gelato” means “Ice Cream” in Italian, the two desserts are not the same. Gelato has a custard base like the American Ice Cream, but it contains less fat and more sugar per serving. Further, Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than Ice cream, which results in it being softer and denser in texture.

As we go deeper, one will start comprehending the specific differences between Gelato and Sorbet, in particular, and we have merely used Ice cream as a point of reference.

Does Gelato Have Dairy?

What Does Gelato Taste Like?


Gelato: Key Parameters

Fat Content

Gelato is made with less cream when compared to ice cream, which also means that it has less fat than an equal-sized serving of Ice cream but higher than a Sherbet or a Sorbet.


Gelato has a dense and thick texture, more so than ice cream due to it’s a slower churning process. However, this process is like the one used in the making of sorbets.


Gelato is flavor-packed and has almost no restrictions on variants as this frozen dessert can be made with nearly every ingredient ranging from caramel to pistachio, sweet cream, raspberry, etc.


Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than Ice cream but is similar to a Sorbet, in this regard. The warmer serving temperature allows its flavors to come across much better than Ice cream while also ensuring that its texture remains dense and isn’t too difficult to eat.


What is Sorbet?

A sorbet is a unique frozen dessert, in that it has one fundamental difference that makes it stand out from Gelato, Ice cream and Sherbet, which is that Sorbet is dairy-free and hence vegan!

Unlike with gelato or Ice cream, Sorbet is a dessert made from fruit juice (or fruit puree) and sweetener (such as sugar or liqueur) and has no milk or dairy-product whatsoever.

Initially used as a palate cleanser between meals by the elite of Italian and French society, Sorbets became more popular as a dessert in 17th century France. Currently, the popularity of this tasty frozen dish has increased amongst vegans and other consumers with special dietary requirements, thanks to it being dairy-free, lactose-free, and generally fruit-based flavors.

The lack of eggs and dairy makes this unique frozen dessert a fantastic item for all consumers! Further, it has a similar churning process to Ice cream, and thereby a similar texture as well.

Although it is fat-free, Sorbets tend to have more sugar per serving than Ice Cream and Gelato while not having the calcium that the latter two provide (since there is no cream or milk).

One of the ingredients that might be included in sorbet is wine, which helps reduce the icy texture to make for tasty dessert during summer!


Sorbet: Key Parameters

Fat Content

As mentioned, Sorbet has zero fat. This is because there is no cream or dairy-product used in the making of sorbets.


Once again, due to the lack of cream, milk, or any dairy product, this wonderful frozen dessert has the lightest and most “Icy” texture when compared to Ice cream, gelato or sherbet.

One of the variations of Sorbet is Granita, which is scraped during the freezing process to get flaky Ice crystals.


One of the downsides of not having cream or any fat is that Sorbets are limited in its flavors to fruit-based flavors. The recipes very often include fresh fruits such as watermelon or raspberry, for example.


Sorbets are served at a warmer temperature, like gelatos and sherbets, but not as cold as Ice Cream. This warmer serving temperature translates to a more flavor-packed dessert than Ice cream.


Conclusion: Gelato vs Sorbet

Therefore, we can summarize by saying that some of the key differences between gelato and sorbet would include ingredients. That is, gelato uses dairy, while sorbet does not. This means that gelato has fat and higher calories, packed with flavor thanks to the slow churning process.

However, Sorbets are fat-free and have lower calories than an equal-sized serving of gelato. That said, due to the ingredients, Sorbets have higher sugar levels per serving than Gelato while also lacking the calcium provided by dairy-products.

It would be difficult to ascertain which of the two would be considered a healthier option for consumers when one looks in a little deeper.

As many of us have found with experience, gelato is so rich and creamy, that people tend to have smaller portions and are still satisfied. However, with Sorbets, the lack of fat and lower calories tends to translate to larger volumes being consumed per serving while the higher sugar content isn’t necessarily good for health.

The decision would have to be left to you, the consumer, but as always, we recommend that all good things must be had in moderation! When combined with an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle, there is no reason why anyone should restrict themselves from indulging in one of these fabulous frozen desserts every once in a while.

After all, sometimes, all the key differentiating factors do not matter, and what it comes down to is personal preferences.

  • Do you want a dairy-based dessert or not?
  • Would you prefer a fruit-based flavor as opposed to classic options such as chocolate?

As the saying goes, “one can resist anything but temptation!”

We strongly recommend that consumers take the time to research into the ingredients used along with the quantity and quality of said ingredients, before opting for the perfect frozen dessert for you! Or, if you don’t have special dietary requirements, why not try them all, at least once and then decide for yourself.


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