What is sorbetto?

What Is Sorbetto? The Difference Between Sorbet, Gelato, and Ice Cream.

Ever wondered, “What is Sorbetto?“.

Sorbetto is a refreshing, fruit-based delight that’s inherently gluten-free. While the basics might seem simple, there’s a rich tapestry of details awaiting those who seek more.

In this article, we’ll cover:

…and much more! Let’s roll.

Key Takeaways

  • Sorbetto is a vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free Italian frozen dessert made from fruit, water, and sugar.

  • It’s the perfect lactose-friendly treat for those with dietary restrictions.

  • Popular flavors include lemon, mango, and raspberry – explore similar treats like granita or sherbet for unique textures & flavors.

What is Sorbetto – The Basics

Originating from Italy, sorbetto is a delightful frozen dessert. Comprised of fruit, water, and sugar, this dessert is a dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free alternative to gelato and ice cream. Sorbetto is often served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream and is used as a palate cleanser between courses during multi-course meals in Italian cafés.

Sorbetto also serves as a refreshing snack, or it can be added to other desserts to enhance their flavor.

Pronunciation and Origin

Pronounced sohr-beht-toh in Italian, sorbetto can be traced back to ancient China, Arab, and Roman cultures. The name “sorbet” is derived from the Italian word “sorbetto,” which itself has its roots in the Turkish word “sharbat”.

Its smooth texture results from the simple ingredients it’s made from: just fruit puree or fruit juice, sugar, and water.

Sorbetto vs Sorbet

In case you’re wondering if there’s a difference between sorbet and sorbetto, rest assured, they’re pretty much the same! The terms are used interchangeably in French and Italian.

That said, some say the subtle difference lies in the texture because Italian Sorbetto often has a smoother and denser consistency (due to its traditional preparation methods). Sorbet, on the other hand, is more universally recognized and might have a slightly icier texture.

Anyway, both are essentially the same dairy-free, fruit-based frozen treats that provide a delicious option for those with dietary restrictions or lactose intolerance.

Sorbetto vs Sorbet

Vegan and Lactose-Friendly

Being devoid of dairy or eggs, sorbetto is an excellent choice for vegans and those with lactose intolerance. However, it’s important to check the ingredients of store-bought sorbetto, as some brands may contain non-vegan additives.


Sorbetto, when served in a cup, is typically gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities. However, this may not be true when served in a cone. Always double-check with the manufacturer or server to ensure a gluten-free experience.

To be on a safe side, ask for serving in a cup, not a cone.

Comparing Sorbetto, Gelato, and Ice Cream

Classic Gelato Flavors
So many classic gelato-flavors to choose from!

Sorbetto, gelato, and ice cream, while not all frozen treats, distinguish themselves through their ingredients, fat content, and texture, unlike ice cream.

Sorbetto, first of all, is created with water and sugar. In contrast, gelato incorporates dairy and egg, and ice cream is made with more milk fat and air.

Fat Content Comparison

With zero grams of fat per serving, sorbetto is the healthiest option among the three when considering fat content.

Gelato, with its lower milk fat content of between 4 and 8 percent, makes it a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream, which usually contains between 14 and 25 percent milk fat.

The choice is yours 🙂

Texture and Consistency

Sorbetto, gelato, and ice cream each possess their distinct textures. Gelato offers a creamy and dense consistency, ice cream is airy and creamy, whereas sorbetto presents a light and icy texture.

Gelato is churned slower, resulting in less air incorporated into the base, giving it a rich and dense consistency.

Benefits of Fruit-Based Sorbettos

Fruit-based sorbettos offer intense, natural flavors and are a healthier alternative to other frozen desserts. They are lower in fat and calories, and the natural sugars in the fruit provide a satisfying sweetness without the need for added sugars.

Pairing Sorbetto with Foods and Beverages

Pairing sorbetto with wines, spirits, desserts, and dishes can enhance your dining experience. Sorbetto can be the perfect addition to your meal, and it pairs well with the following wines, dishes and other desserts:

Wines and Beverages

These options all complement the fruity flavors of sorbetto:

  • Prosecco or Champagne: The bubbles from a sparkling wine add a zestiness that complements the smooth texture of Sorbetto. This pairing is particularly great for celebrations.

  • White Wine: Light wines, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, can complement lighter Sorbetto flavors like lemon or pear.

  • Herbal Tea: For a non-alcoholic option, the calming notes of herbal teas, such as chamomile or peppermint, go well with most Sorbetto flavors.

  • Fruit-Infused Water: Adding slices of citrus or berries to your water can be a refreshing companion to a serving of Sorbetto, enhancing its natural fruitiness.

Food and dishes

Sorbetto can be paired with various desserts and dishes for a refreshing and balanced meal. Some options include:

  • Fresh Fruit Salad: Pairing Sorbetto with a fresh fruit salad enhances the fruity essence, especially if you match or contrast the Sorbetto flavor with the fruits in the salad.

  • Gluten-Free Shortbread or Biscotti: The lightness of Sorbetto contrasts beautifully with the rich, buttery notes of shortbread or the crunch of a biscotti.

  • Meringue: Light, airy meringue combined with the icy smoothness of Sorbetto offers a delightful texture contrast.

  • Dark Chocolate: The bitterness of dark chocolate complements the sweet, fruity tones of Sorbetto. Consider serving a piece of dark chocolate on the side or drizzling some melted chocolate over the top.

Some other interesting pairings:

  • Grapefruit and pomegranate

  • Candied fruits and mint

  • Sour-cherry lambic sorbet

  • Strawberries and cream gelato cake

  • Boozy frozen strawberry lemonade

The Art of Making Sorbetto

Creating sorbetto at home presents a fun and rewarding opportunity to customize the flavors and sweetness levels. However, if you’re short on time or prefer the convenience of store-bought options, trusted brands are available to satisfy your sorbetto cravings.

Homemade Sorbetto

Creating sorbetto at home involves:

  1. Pureeing your preferred fruit

  2. Combining it with a simple syrup mixture

  3. Churning the mixture in an ice cream machine until it reaches the desired consistency, being careful not to churn over, as this can cause the sorbetto to become icy.

Store-Bought Options

Various flavors and quality levels of store-bought sorbetto are available, extending from mass-produced versions to artisanal selections. Look for brands that use natural ingredients and have a good reputation for quality.

Trusted Brands to Look Out For

Different sorbetto flavors

For purchasing sorbetto, consider trusted brands such as Talenti, Ciao Bella, and Häagen-Dazs. These brands are known for their use of natural ingredients and high-quality products.

My favorite two are:

Ciao Bella:

  • Overview: Renowned for its authentic Italian flavors, Ciao Bella offers a range of Sorbettos that scream freshness.

  • Gluten-Free Status: While most of their Sorbettos are gluten-free, always check the packaging for confirmation.


  • Overview: Talenti’s Sorbettos are known for their rich texture and intense fruitiness.

  • Gluten-Free Status: The majority of their Sorbettos are gluten-free, but they do produce gelatos, too, so always read labels carefully.

Serving and Enjoying Sorbetto

Often served as a palate cleanser between courses or after a heavy meal, sorbetto provides a refreshing break for your taste buds. Popular sorbetto flavors include lemon, mango, and raspberry, depending on seasonal fruit availability.

Palate Cleanser

Sorbetto, with its cold, crisp, and sharp flavor, serves as a palate cleanser, refreshing the taste buds. It is typically served in small portions, providing just the right refreshment at the ideal serving temperature.

Most Popular Sorbetto Flavors

Generally, lemon, mango, and raspberry are go-to sorbetto flavors, offering a burst of natural fruitiness. Of course, some flavors may be available at different times of the year, depending on seasonal fruit availability. The last time I checked, the following ones were available in my neighbourhood:

  • Limone (Lemon): The zestiness and tang of lemon make it a refreshing and palate-cleansing Sorbetto.

  • Fragola (Strawberry): With its natural sweetness and vibrant red color, strawberry Sorbetto is a perennial favorite.

  • Mandarino (Mandarin Orange): A delicate citrus flavor that offers a sweeter and less tart alternative to lemon.

  • Melone (Melon): Often made from cantaloupes, this Sorbetto boasts a sweet and creamy texture.

  • Lampone (Raspberry): A perfect mix of tartness and sweetness, raspberry Sorbetto is both vibrant in flavor and color.

  • Albicocca (Apricot): A less common but delightful flavor, apricot Sorbetto has a mild sweetness and hint of tartness.

  • Amarena (Sour Cherry): Distinctly tangy with a deep, rich color, sour cherry Sorbetto is both flavorful and visually striking.

Note: If you’re intrigued by Italian dessert flavors, we have a dedicated post about flavors of gelato that’s a must-read.

Similar Frozen Treats to Explore

If sorbetto appeals to you, consider exploring similar frozen treats such as:

  • Granita

  • Cremolata

  • Shaved ice

  • Sherbet

Each offers unique texture and flavor profile, providing a delightful range of options to satisfy your creamy frozen dessert cravings, including the irresistible frozen delight made using an ice cream maker.


I hope I’ve sufficiently explored the world of sorbetto, its origins, how it compares to gelato and ice cream, and the art of making and serving it.

I’ve also touched on pairing sorbetto with foods and beverages, popular flavors, and similar frozen treats to explore.

With its refreshing and fruity flavors, sorbetto is a versatile and delicious frozen dessert that can enhance your dining experience or be enjoyed solo.


Is sorbet and sorbetto the same thing?

Yes, sorbet and sorbetto are the same thing. Sorbetto is a dairy- and egg-free frozen treat with a low-fat content made with sweetened juice, fruit puree, or water and is denser than gelato.

What is Italian sorbetto?

Italian sorbetto is a dairy-free, refreshing dessert made of fruit purée or juice and sweetener. It was initially served as a palate cleanser between extensive courses, but it is now also enjoyed as a low-fat treat.

Is sorbetto healthier than ice cream?

Sorbetto is lower in calories and fat than ice cream and has a high vitamin C content. However, its sugar content is higher, and it lacks the calcium, vitamin A, and iron found in ice cream and gelato.

Is gelato the same as sorbetto?

No, gelato and sorbetto are not the same. Gelato is usually made from dairy products, while sorbetto typically has a lower fat content and is water-based, achieving its flavor with fruit instead of dairy.

What are some popular sorbetto flavors?

Lemon, mango, and raspberry are popular sorbetto flavors you can enjoy all year round!


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