Fresh Orange Sherbet

I talk a lot about how different types of foods bring back wonderful, warm memories. Whether it’s cookies my mom always made for the holidays or a simple, yet delicious recipe from my grandma, the smells and tastes are like a big hug. Comforting, reassuring and familiar. I had never experienced a food bringing up a relatively “bad” memory until a month or two ago. While why Chief Culinary Consultant’s parents were in town, they picked up a tub of orange sherbet for the freezer. One night I had put a couple of scoops in a bowl and took a taste. The cold, creamy, orange flavor on my tongue immediately stopped me in my tracks. I was instantly transported back 13 years, to Boston, to a sterile hospital room where my dad was fighting off a nasty reaction to a bone marrow transplant. It was hard for him to eat most foods, but he could put down sherbet easily. The nurses’ kitchen kept a supply of orange and raspberry sherbet, and we’d help him eat it from the cup. It’s not a pleasant memory; he never did walk out of that hospital, and I didn’t realize until last month that I’d never had sherbet since. Maybe I subconsciously stayed away from it, or maybe I just never thought to buy it since it wasn’t something I really ever ate anyway. One thing is certain – that first bite hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I would then go ahead and make something that obviously had such negative connotations for me. Well, a couple of reasons. First, My Chief Culinary Consultant loves orange sherbet, and that big tub of neon orange store-bought sherbet made me cringe every time I opened the freezer. There’s just nothing better than fresh and homemade. It had to be done. Secondly, for me, making food and sharing food is about sharing love and showing someone you care. That’s exactly what I was doing in that hospital room. I may not have made that sherbet, but I was using it as a means to try to nurse my dad back to health. In a way, even though it was a bad memory, I’m glad it came to me. It comforted me that after this long, specific memories of him could still be easily triggered. My dad would never want me to write something off because of him, and he would definitely encourage me to make the best version possible, and share it with people who love it and appreciate it.

It took me a surprisingly long time to find an awesome sherbet recipe. Some didn’t include any milk or cream, which is really more like a sorbet. Some recipes called for gelatin and egg whites, which I found to be slightly strange (although I didn’t try them, so I can’t vouch for them). I finally settled on this one and it’s wonderful. I sped up my inevitable carpal tunnel syndrome by juicing all of the oranges by hand, but it was, hands-down, worth every twist of the wrist. The bright flavor of the fresh orange juice comes through in every bite, and the inclusion of softly whipped cream gives it just the right amount of creaminess.

As I enjoy the cool, creamy spoonfuls, I think of my dad and smile. He would have loved this (he was a sucker for any type of ice cream or frozen treat!), and I think he loves that I made it.

One year ago: Pepperoni Pizza
Two years ago: Chewy, Chunky Blondies
Three years ago: How to Make Pastry Cream
Four years ago: Zebra Cake

Fresh Orange Sherbet

Yield: 1 quart

Prep Time: 5 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes (churn time)

Total Time: 5 hours


1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Triple Sec
2/3 cup heavy cream


1. Process the zest, sugar and salt in a food processor until damp, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add the orange juice and lemon juice in a slow, steady stream; continue to process until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 1 minute. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Stir in the Triple Sec, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F, about 30 to 60 minutes. Do not let the mixture freeze.

2. When the mixture is cold, whip the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Continue to whip constantly and add the juice mixture in a slow, steady stream, pouring against the edge of the bowl.

3. Immediately start the ice cream machine and add the orange mixture to the canister; churn according to the manufacturer directions. When done, the sherbet should have the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Transfer the sherbet to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.

(Recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe)


54 Responses to “Fresh Orange Sherbet”

  1. Kristen on August 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

    I’m sorry about your dad but enjoy your sherbet. And thanks for sharing with all of us out in cyberspace.


  2. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on August 16, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Awww this made me wanna cry. I’m sorry about your not-so-pleasant memories! Good for you for goin’ for it and making this 🙂 Looks delicious


  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on August 16, 2012 at 12:48 am

    That’s quite a story about your dad and I’m so sorry – even this many years later the memories of sherbet and all….But anyhoo…

    It looks wonderful. And I have that cookbook and it has never let me down. But I never would have guessed Triple Sec!


  4. Rodzilla on August 16, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Some sort of subconscious taste aversion would definitely make sense to me. I’m glad you could cast it in a more positive light.

    Orange sherbet always makes me think of the Flintstones push-pops, though you don’t get the triple sec with those 😉

    so, do you and CCC’s parents call it sherBET or sherBERT?


    • Michelle on August 18th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      I’ve definitely always said sherBERT, for sure. I actually didn’t realize it was spelled sherbet until I started looking at recipes 😉 Me in my shell, once again, ha!


  5. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on August 16, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Yum! Orange sherbet is my favorite kind of sherbet!!


  6. Jen @ Savory Simple on August 16, 2012 at 7:55 am

    The timing of this is amusing. I haven’t thought about orange sherbet in years, though it was one of my favorite desserts as a child. My mom always kept it around. Yesterday I went for some gelato and got 2 flavors- lemon ricotta and southern comfort fresh peach. I was a bit disappointed in them. They weren’t overly creamy and didn’t have the flavors I was expecting. Then I suddenly realized that the two flavors combined reminded me of orange sherbet! I enjoyed it much more after that. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!


  7. megan @ whatmegansmaking on August 16, 2012 at 8:06 am

    This sounds absolutely perfect. We love orange flavored things around here – I have to make this while the weather’s still warm!


  8. Tracy {Pale Yellow} on August 16, 2012 at 9:10 am

    It’s amazing how one taste can bring back so many memories. Thanks for sharing a recipe that looks wonderful!


  9. Amy @ Elephant Eats on August 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I’ve been a lurker for a while and never commented…Tastes are such strong memory inducers, almost as much as smells for me. I’ve totally had bad memories triggered too, although not sad like yours. Although in the end I think any memory of your dad must be a good one because you get to think of him 🙂 For me, every time I eat artificial banana flavor, I get transported to the time I had 7 teeth pulled at once and they gave me banana novocaine, yuck!

    Anyway, this sherbert looks totally delicious! I so wish I had an ice cream maker.


  10. Angie on August 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Making this tonight. Thanks for sharing!


  11. Jennifer on August 16, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Sending you hugs just because. Orange sherbet reminds me of the playground in elementary school and push-up pops.


  12. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on August 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Love how creamy this sherbet is! Need to try it!


  13. Mulch Naperville on August 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I also love how creamy this sherbet is… sometimes they can be too icy.


  14. Mal @ The Chic Geek on August 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Yum! I love orange sherbet


  15. Kerry on August 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

    This made me misty eyed. What a wonderful tribute to your father. I will try this for sure.


  16. colleen @ Secrets fromthe Cookie Princess on August 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for sharing the story and you are a brave woman to recognize the beauty in a painful memory.


  17. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on August 16, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I’m so sorry Michelle. Thank you for opening up and sharing this with us. It’s such a personal story to go along with the recipe. Which btw is one of my favorite ice creams. I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe too and kept running into the same strange ingredients as you had.


  18. Susan Sunde on August 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Your orange sherbet recipe sounds good. However, we are non-drinkers and I hate to go buy some Triple Sec for just two teaspoons. Do you have any suggestions for a replacement or can I can I just omit it? Thanks. Love your blog!


    • Katy on August 17th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      We don’t drink either… but I keep a small “airplane” bottle of vodka in the freezer for making pie crust or ice cream, using in cake decorating to thin colors and shimmer dust, and other random things. I think the bottle cost me $1 at the liquor store (first time I’d ever set foot in one, hah!). The alcohol in this recipe helps the sherbet not freeze rock-solid so it’s easier to scoop and eat – I wouldn’t omit it if you want to stay true to the texture. I do think you could sub it with any alcohol that’s not a counter-flavor to the orange.


    • Michelle on August 18th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Susan, I wouldn’t omit it, as the alcohol helps keep fruit-based frozen desserts like this from freezing hard (keeps them soft and scoopable). If you have vodka, you can use that. You could always buy a small airplane-size bottle (as suggested below), which shouldn’t cost very much at all.


      • Tara on December 29th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

        Is there anything at all that could be used that does the same thing to keep the ice cream scoopable like the alcohol? and if not will it be safe for my toddlers to eat with the triple sec in it? I mean two tsp doesn’t really sound like a lot to me but I’m not really sure how much would be harmful?


        • Michelle on December 30th, 2012 at 10:36 am

          Hi Tara, I did some poking around and found some folks who have made this particular successfully without using the alcohol. It may freeze a little harder, but should still be okay. I don’t have kids, so I can’t really give you any indication of how much, if any, would be harmful.


    • Katie on September 1st, 2012 at 12:15 am

      Yup, tiny bottles are the way to go. I got some triple sec for $1.50.


  19. ally on August 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    this looks quenching, creamy & perfect!


  20. ruby on August 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for such a heartfelt post, my eyes welled up as I thought of my own aging father. Orange sherbet, or as i say sher-bert, takes me back to memories of eating it as a kid with him. Next opportunity I get, I will make this for him. The addition of triple sec is brilliant. Thanks for the inspiration. I love your site.


  21. Amanda A on August 16, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Yum. It’s good to take something that was once a bad memory and make it something to enjoy.


  22. Agnes on August 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I have the same memory with my Grandpa, pistachio ice cream and hospital. It was all he could/would eat and we were happy to bring it to him. I’m sure your Dad is glad you tried this recipe 🙂 Thanks for sharing, it looks yummy!


  23. Laura Dembowski on August 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Such a tough story, but it’s great you were there for your dad. I’m sure he is somewhere thrilled you made this. I can’t wait to make it too!


  24. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe on August 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I LOVE orange sherbet! Can’t wait to give this recipe a try!


  25. Angelyn on August 17, 2012 at 12:37 am

    This was such a beautiful post. The sherbet looks delicious & refreshing.


  26. Tara @ AnythingButPickles on August 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Orange sherbet was always my favorite too:) This looks delicious!


  27. Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} on August 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

    This looks so perfect and refreshing for those hot and sweaty summer days. I love citrus flavours and sherbet is awesome too. Two favourite things in one place.


  28. carrian on August 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I love sherbet!! It seems like such a kid ice cream, but I looooove it!


  29. Dianna on August 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I can’t stand Triple Sec….can it be eliminated or replaced with something else like lemoncello? I love orange sherbet and haven’t had it for so long!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I can understand why you might develop an unintentional aversion to sherbet due to the very sad circumstances you experienced. Maybe now you can remember only how much he enjoyed that sherbet instead. My brother nearly died after his colon burst and my memories of his hospitalization are horrid…but I was thrilled everytime I could bring him something that he could eat and savor.


    • Michelle on August 18th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Dianna, You could definitely substitute limoncello or even a flavorless liquor like vodka.


  30. Riley on August 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I love sherbet! This looks so yummy!


  31. Christina @ Sweet Peas Kitchen on August 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I have made this sherbet before and it is soooooo delicious! Definitely one of my favorites! 🙂


  32. Karly on August 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    This made me cry. I love that you’re choosing to eat the orange sherbet in honor of your dad instead of shying away from it.

    I’ve been on the lookout for a good orange sherbet recipe. I’ll have to try this one!


  33. Shannon on August 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I made this today and it was absolutely wonderful. It is hard to just have one scoop on a hot evening. Thank you for this recipe!


  34. Chris on August 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Looks like the perfect end-of-summer treat! I’ll have to go pick up some oranges now!


  35. Kate on August 22, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I made this yesterday, and let me tell you IT IS FANTASTIC! Thanks for a great recipe… I had to sub Grand Marnier for the Triple Sec… it works, although I’d definitely use Triple Sec in the future. YAY for Orange Sherbet!


  36. Katie on September 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I just made this today, and it is amazing!! Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  37. Sofia on September 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Loved your story even though sad. Want though to write a quick noted letting you know I just made your orange sorbet and it was spot on. The flavors were intense of orange, with a tad bitterness yet sweet, but not overly sweet either. THis will be my to go recipe each time I will make orange sorbet. Do you think we could use the same amounts for a lemon one? perhaps adding a bit more sugar?


    • Michelle on October 5th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Sofia, I think you could definitely use this as a base for a lemon version. I would add more sugar to cut the tartness. I’m glad you enjoyed it!


  38. Lolalo on January 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I made this sherbet last night….it is SO good! I didn’t have whipping cream, but I did have fresh raw milk, so I poured off the top and used the cream. I also didn’t have triple sec, so I used vodka. I used a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker. Even with these substitutions, it was fabulous. I had leftovers, so I put them in the freezer, tasted it this morning and it is still creamy and soft. This is not even in the same league with store bought because it is so much better!!! Saving this recipe!


  39. Kristine on January 24, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Hi Michelle.
    Do you use an icecream machine for any of your ice creams? They all look absolutely mouthwatering!


    • Michelle on January 24th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Kristine, I use an ice cream maker for all of my ice creams. Thank you!


  40. Lizzie on May 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    What a good reason to hustle out for some Triple Sec!!


  41. Brisa on September 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I stumbled upon your post on orange sherbet because I have recently started making ice cream at home and today I suddenly thought of orange sherbet because it was my late mom’s favorite frozen treat. I lost my mom to cancer, very quickly and unexpectedly. It’ll be 6 years in 11 days from today. I have many memories of going to the mall on Friday evenings with her as a pre-teen. We would usually have (dinner &) dessert at our local suburban mall Friendly’s, and her choice for dessert was always orange sherbet. Even though she loved commercial orange sherbet, which we now think of as so un-natural, she also loved fruits and vegetables and eating healthy and in-season. I feel like I would give anything for the chance to make her an all-natural orange sherbet in my kitchen. As the orange season rolls in, I am going to make your posted recipe as homage to her. I bet my daughter will love it.


  42. Jodi on February 24, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I just made this and it is awesome! I used orange juice (not from concentrate) because I didn’t have oranges and vodka because that is what I had. It tastes wonderful!


  43. Jill on March 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I was looking for an orange sherbet recipe to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. Like your dad, she passed away 13 years ago and we served her favorite dessert, orange sherbet, enjoyed frequently in the hospital during her last days, at her reception.

    Browned eyed too,


  44. Lauren on July 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Can I make this without an icecream maker? I used to love orange and lime sherbet as a kid (in a Neapolitan style with vanilla), but they don’t make it anymore! Thank you.


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