How to Make Sorbet
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Looking for a fruit-forward frozen treat? We tapped our Taste of Home culinary experts to learn how to make sorbet. It's easier than you think!
If you’ve mastered the art of making homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt, it’s time to churn your tastebuds onto sorbet. The fruit-forward dessert is a favorite for several reasons—it tastes fresh, is usually dairy-free and cools you down on hot days. Plus, learning how to make sorbet is simple. All it takes is fresh fruit, sugar, water and lemon juice.
We tapped Taste of Home Culinary Deputy Editor, James Schend, for everything you need to know about making the yummy treat. It’s so easy you’ll want to turn all your favorite fruits into sorbet!
How is homemade sorbet different from ice cream?
Making sorbet is a lot like making homemade ice cream. The only difference is, “Sorbet is usually dairy-free or most often vegan,” explains James. “Sometimes, recipes will include honey or milk products but this isn’t the norm. The process for churning the sorbet can be done a number of ways. The traditional method would be to churn it like ice cream, like in this recipe for lemon sorbet. Another way is to make a pureed mixture, pour it into a pan and let it freeze, stirring frequently until smooth and slushy like this rosemary citrus sorbet recipe.”
What are the best fruits for making sorbet?
“Almost any fruit can be made into a sorbet but the best fruit should be just that, the BEST fruit you can find,” says James. “Since all of the flavor comes from the fruit, if you start with peaches or berries that aren’t that flavorful, then your sorbet won’t be flavorful. Always select the best available. Fruits with a lot of pectin, like stone fruits and berries, as well as fibrous fruits, like bananas or apples, give sorbet a beautiful creamy texture. Melons and citrus fruits can be a little thin and icy since there isn’t a lot to help give the sorbet some body. It doesn’t mean they won’t be good, they just won’t have a silky smooth texture to then.”
What ingredients are used to make a sorbet base?
“The most common ingredients are fruit, water/juice, sugar/sweeteners and maybe a touch of acid, like lemon juice,” says James. “You can add other things, like herbs or spices, as well as dairy products, but technically, if you add milk or cream then it’s more like a sherbet instead of a sorbet.”
How to Make Sorbet
Tools You’ll Need
- Ice cream maker or frozen fruit soft serve maker. For fool-proof sorbet, we recommend using an ice cream maker. The Taste of Home Test Kitchen loves the Cuisinart Gelateria ice cream maker thanks to its easy-to-use, hands-off operation—and it features a sorbet setting. The Yonanas frozen fruit soft serve maker is another sorbet-making gadget that instantly turns frozen fruit into sorbet—no extra freeze time necessary.
- Sorbet storage tub. Keep your homemade sorbet in this ice cream storage tub. The tight-fitting lid prevents freezer burn while the double wall construction keeps condensation at bay. It’s one of our favorite ice cream accessories!
- Coconut bowls and spoons set. Serve your frozen treat using these wooden bowls and spoons that look just like coconuts. Eating ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet or even smoothie bowls out of these dishes will instantly transport you to a tropical oasis.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup fresh fruit of choice (frozen works, too)
- 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice.
- Optional: 1-1/2 teaspoons of an herb of choice, and/or natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup
Step 1: Prepare the simple syrup
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on high until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
Step 2: Prepare the sorbet base
Puree your fresh fruit of choice (frozen fruit works, too) with a puree machine or blender. Blend until the fruit is smooth without any visible chunks.
Step 3: Combine the simple syrup and sorbet base
Combine the simple syrup and pureed fruit in a mixing bowl. Stir in the fresh lemon or lime juice along with any additional ingredients like herbs. Pro tip: Taste test your mixture and add any additional sweeteners or pureed fruit as needed.
To Make without an Ice Cream Maker
Step 1: Add the base to an airtight container, freeze and enjoy!
If you’re not using an ice cream maker, pour the base into an airtight container and store in the back of your freezer until frozen. Let thaw for a few minutes before scooping. (Our best ice cream scoops get the job done). Sorbet will stay fresh for five to seven days, so make sure to eat it up before it’s past its prime!
To Make with an Ice Cream Maker
Step 1: Chill the base for 24 hours
If you are using an ice cream maker, pre-chill the sorbet base for 24 hours in an airtight container. James notes this helps get the base as cold as possible before adding it to the ice cream maker.
Step 2: Add the base to the ice cream maker and churn
Pour the cold base into the ice cream maker. If it has a sorbet setting like the Cuisinart Gelateria ice cream maker, select this churning method. Let it work it’s magic then voila! Your homemade sorbet is ready to eat and store in the freezer in a storage tub or airtight container.
Do you need an ice cream maker to make sorbet?
Nope! While an ice cream or sorbet maker is helpful, James adds it’s not required. But if you’re curious, here’s how to use an ice cream maker.
Tips for the Best Sorbet
Aside from using ripe, fresh fruit, James adds, “Taste the sorbet base mixture before you freeze it. That’s the best time to adjust. And, if your sorbet goes wonky in the freezer, either becoming too hard or just never sets, just start over. Let it thaw until it’s liquid again. If it doesn’t set, you probably have too much sugar so add additional pureed fruit. If it’s the texture of an iceberg, add more sugar. And, if all else fails, toss it in a blender with some rum and have a frozen cocktail.”