Strawberry Sherbet with Buttermilk

A light, fruity frozen treat with just a hint of exotic rose water, my Strawberry Sherbet with Buttermilk gets its tang and body from buttermilk… Garnished with sliced fresh strawberries and pistachios, it’s a perfectly lovely chilly dessert on a hot summer’s day!

2 coupe glasses of Rose Water and Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet with sliced strawberries, pistachios, and mint on a white background.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Why Strawberry Sherbet with Buttermilk?

Buttermilk biscuits and pancakes, buttermilk ranch dressing, buttermilk as part of the breading process… Can you think of any to add to this list of uses for tangy buttermilk?

I once made a delicious chess pie with a generous amount of buttermilk providing the foundation for the filling. Yum. However, I had not had buttermilk in a frozen dessert until I tried a spoonful of lemon buttermilk ice cream in Charleston in April. Mmmm. It was so good.

Of course buttermilk is naturally tangy and creamy, and paired perfectly with the lemon. Given my propensity to chase after “new and creative” rather than “tried and true,” I came up with my own frozen dessert using buttermilk as a base.

Rose Water and Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet in pan with a scoop.

🍨What is Sherbet? About Frozen Desserts

If you’re like me, you find the names of different frozen desserts a bit confusing… Sorbet is easy – no dairy whatsoever. Frozen yogurt? Well, it’s made with – yogurt! Then we get to gelato, sherbet, ice cream, and frozen custard, and things get a little murky.

Sherbet does contain dairy, but is only 1-2% fat. Gelato is a very rich, dairy-based confection with 4-8% butter fat, and less air is incorporated into the mix, resulting in a very dense end product. It’s totally decadent, and one I rarely indulge in. DISCIPLINE. Haha.

Frozen custard (my mother always made custard!) is made extra rich with the incorporation of cooked eggs, and has a dense, creamy texture. See my pumpkin custard and red bean frozen custard for fine examples!

Ice cream contains  10-16% butter fat. Its high fat content and the amount of air whipped into it, give it exceptional creaminess.

So, now that we cleared that all up, why did I go with a sherbet? As I mentioned, I loved the combination of lemon and buttermilk at the ice cream shop in Charleston. It seemed likely that fresh strawberries would be similar.

Always looking for a creative “twist,” I decided to play with rose water (always in my well-stocked pantry). The rose water adds a subtle layer of complexity to the sherbet. If you can’t find it, or can’t be bothered with it, by all means omit it! You will still have a lovely sherbet. I promise.🍓What is Rose Water?

Rose water is made by steeping rose petals in water. I don’t make my own.  🙄 I have fabulous international foods sources available to me in the Rio Grande Valley, and commercial rose water is easy to come by. Rose water is used heavily in Persian and Middle Eastern cooking. You’ll find small amounts of it in tea, cookies, dairy-based custards and ice creams, marzipan, etc.

If you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons, rose water is a fun ingredient to play with. Just remember it’s a lovely subtle ingredient, not meant to hit you in the nose, and assault your tongue! I hope you’ll give it a try in my Rose Water and Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

Lastly, in keeping with the Persian-ish flavor notes of this recipe, I decided to garnish with toasted pistachios and slivered fresh mint leaves. It’s as tasty as it is pretty!

📋 Strawberry Sherbet Ingredients

  • strawberries – This sherbet recipe really benefits from seasonal, fresh strawberries. Use frozen if you must…
  • buttermilk – Buttermilk is usually available in full fat and lowfat. I use lowfat (to cut fat and calories), but either one is fine.
  • neutral agave nectar – Agave nectar has a neutral flavor profile, and that is why I chose it to sweeten my sherbet. Honey is the best substitute, and can be substituted 1:1. Keep in mind it will slightly alter the flavor.
  • rose water – Rose water is an optional ingredient, but it adds a lovely depth to the sherbet.
  • white wine – White wine is an optional ingredient. I use it in most of my frozen desserts because it lowers the melting point, and makes it more scoopable. See The Real Rules of Making Boozy Ice Cream for more information.
  • fine sea salt

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  • Purée all sherbet ingredients together until smooth. Chill until very cold in either the refrigerator or the freezer. If you put it into the freezer to chill, don’t forget about it! My ice cream freezer does a better job if I start out with a really cold mix.
  • Pour the mixture into your ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Either serve immediately, or scoop into an air-tight container and freeze until ready to serve. Garnish as desired.

What is the best way to store leftover ice cream?

Keep your ice cream as cold and stable as possible. This means keeping it in the back (or bottom) of your freezer away from temperature swings. Air is the enemy of ice cream. In addition to using a container with a tight-fitting lid, press plastic wrap against the surface prior to putting the lid on.

What is the best freezer temperature for ice cream storage?

Store ice cream below 0°F. If you have a freezer thermometer, adjust your freezer’s settings to maintain this temperature. Conversely, you can set your freezer dial for as cold as possible.

💭 Tips

Rose water is typically a subtle flavor in a recipe. I love the complexity and nuance it adds, but the recipe is great without it.

Air is responsible for freezer burn and ice crystals. However you choose to store your sherbet, keep air away from the surface. A tight fitting lid is helpful, but I highly recommend pressing plastic wrap against the sherbet surface.

I add a bit of alcohol to all of my frozen desserts as it lowers the melting point, and makes it more scoopable. In this recipe, it doesn’t add much in the way of flavor, and is totally optional.

Frozen desserts are enjoyed year ’round at Andersen casa… because it’s south Texas. 🥵 If you like a little alcohol in your ice cream/sorbet/sherbet, be sure to check out 20 Boozy Frozen Desserts!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Strawberry and Rose Water Buttermilk Sherbet in pan

Strawberry Sherbet with Buttermilk

A light, fruity frozen treat with just a hint of exotic rose water, Strawberry Sherbet with Buttermilk Sherbet gets its tang and body from buttermilk… A perfectly lovely chilly dessert on a hot summer's day!
5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Freezing Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 192 kcal



  • 32 ounces fresh strawberries - trimmed and quartered
  • 2 ½ cups buttermilk - (I use lowfat)
  • ½ cup light, neutral agave nectar
  • cup rose water - (optional)
  • ¼ cup white wine - (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt


  • ¼ cup toasted pistachios - to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves - chiffonade (roll & slice thin)


  • Purée all sherbet ingredients together until smooth. Chill until very cold.
  • Pour into ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Either garnish and serve immediately, or scoop into an air-tight container and freeze until ready to serve.


Rose water and white wine are optional. See the body of the post for more information.


Calories: 192kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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