Orange Sherbet: the ice cream man cometh

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.


So, when Bert asks Ernie if he’d like some ice cream and Ernie responds with his usual snappy reply, he’s not really answering the question. Ice cream and sherbet (notice the lack of an “r” in that second syllable) are two different beasts.

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

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.


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 sugar, depending on the sweetness of your oranges
2 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed preferred
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed or partially thawed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, optional
1 1/2 cups 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.

Print just the recipe.


PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Paul from Ohio

    Definitely a FOR-SURE-GONNA-DO-IT recipe. Thanks. Oranges were a big part of my childhood: my grandfather (and great-grandfather) were Orange Ranchers in Southern California. Yup, just step outside the kitchen door and grab a couple of Oranges off a tree for breakfast and even better for my Grandmother’s Orange Ice Cream. We actually spent the entire month of August on the Ranch for many of my early years.

    I actually have an open CAN-YOU-MAKE-IT challenge to whomever at KAF that would like to pick up the gauntlet. Amy has my Grandmother’s recipe and I would love to see it turned into a modern wonder for today’s ice cream maker vs old bucket of ice and churn churn churn. Of course us kids got the dasher – talk about “making our day”!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Paul, I’ll have to contact Amy and get a copy of the recipe – I’ll bet your grandmother’s recipe, considering its provenance (right from the ranch!), is wonderful. Thanks for connecting here, as always – PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We don’t yet have the nutritional information posted for the orange sherbet. I will see if we might get that out for you.~Jaydl@KAF

  2. Samsara

    Hmmmm…I live in Nepal & oranges are a winter fruit here. We do have tasty mangoes in season now here though… sherbet anyone?

  3. bakerchick3

    I have to agree. I am thrilled with my ice cream maker and can’t wait to try this recipe!! Thanks so much King Arthur Flour! You guys are the best!!

  4. christi

    Watermelon sherbet is hard to find now. It didn’t even make your list! Friendly’s made great watermelon sherbet coolers which were perfect on hot humid summer days.

  5. halfmoon-mollie

    And then there is sorbet. Dictionary definition – same as sherbet. But I had some green tea sorbet once. It was wonderful.

  6. Ryan Lewald

    Very nice read & a wonderful recipe for the family!! Snack seasonings can really make or break a recipe but it looks like you have some nice ingredients here to stir up a yummy treat!!

  7. waikikirie

    I just read the title of his blog to my husband. His response, “Don’t toy with me woman”. Orange sherbet is one of his all time Favorites. Will be making this soon.

  8. Jeanne

    Sounds yummy, but too much work too put into format for my recipe collection…could you please summarize with the list of ingredients and instructions…make it so much Easier to see all the ingredients at one time. Thanks.

  9. pmayre

    Made this yesterday and my husband and son devoured it. Served it up with mini dark chocolate chips. Will probably make a second batch tomorrow. Many thanks.

  10. Nancy H

    Kemps brand of ice cream makes a wicked Wild Strawberry sherbet. I had never heard of that flavor of sherbet when it was first served at some gathering, but once I’d tried it, it was definitely at the top of my list along with orange and raspberry sherbets. Yum.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Kate- We generally wouldn’t recommend substituting non-dairy milks in this case if you are looking to achieve the proper texture. While you would probably still get a frozen orange treat with a non-dairy milk, the difference in the contents regarding fat, water, etc. in those other milks, may change the texture of the sherbet in a potentially undesirable manner. That said, if you’re feeling adventurous, you certainly could give it a try and possible discover a wonderful realm of sherbet recipes! Happy Sherbet Making!! Jocelyn@KAF

  11. Wendy

    I’m trying dairy free today. I’ll let you know how it goes. Almond Milk is my choice, but canned coconut usually gets good results because of its high fat content.

  12. Sharon

    1/2c orange juice concentrate + 1-1/2c water (makes 2c orange juice)
    1/2c orange juice concentrate + 1-1/2c milk
    plus a little lemon, sugar, salt, and vanilla.

    Tastes just like you’d expect — delicious! (But my tastes run to a lot less vanilla!)


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