How to Make Traditional Italian Lemon Sorbet

Lemon Sorbet, or “Sorbetto al Limone”, is a non-dairy frozen dessert traditionally served between courses to help “clean your palate”.

Lemon Sorbet has a unique scent, perfect for cooling off on hot summer days. You can serve it as a drink between courses to help clean your palate or in cups like a dessert.

Sorbet is the dairy-free version of Italian Gelato, just as creamy but lighter and less caloric. The lack of ingredients of animal origin (such as milk, heavy cream and eggs), together with the generous dose of fruit, make the sorbet one of the lightest and most refreshing desserts ever.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe

The most popular sorbets are usually fruit flavored. Lemon sorbet is perhaps the most famous in Italy. But you must also try the orange sorbet, which is very fashionable in winter!

Now we are going to show you how to make it at home, WITH and WITHOUT an ice cream maker. So let’s start! Water, sugar and lemon, here are the ingredients to make homemade Italian lemon sorbet. You will be thrilled with the result!

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe


Ingredients

WITH Ice Cream Maker:

  • Prep Time: 30 Min + about 40 min in ice cream maker
  • Cook Time: 5 Min
  • Servings: 4/6 people that is about 500 g (1,1 lb) of Sorbet

WITHOUT Ice Cream Maker:

  • Prep Time: 30 Min + cooling in the freezer for about 4 H
  • Cook time: 5 Min
  • Servings: 4/6 people that is about 500 g (1,1 lb) of Sorbet

  • 180 g (7/8 cup) of granulated sugar
  • 230 ml (1 cup) of water
  • the juice of 4 lemons (about 150 ml or ~2/3 cup)

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

The most useful tool for making authentic Italian Lemon Sorbet surely is an ice cream and sorbet maker. There are various types, but the best is the one that has a compressor that cools while blending the sorbet or the gelato.

We recommend Whynter Automatic Ice Cream Maker and Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. This latter type is completely made in Italy but have successfully spread throughout the world. It’s made for home use but has the same features as the professional machines.

This type of machine is very similar to the professional one. It’s a little expensive but with this ice cream maker you will have a perfect Italian Sorbet and – above all – in quite a short time.

Other types of ice cream makers, without a compressor, plan to keep the special container of the machine in the freezer many hours ahead of time to cool the ingredients.

We recommend Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker which in our opinion is inexpensive and practical.

  • traditional italian lemon sorbet recipeThe Stainless Steel Container: Making sorbet recipe without an ice cream maker: the result will still be good if you follow really well our recipe step by step recipe. In this case you will need a stainless steel sorbet container.
  • The Juice Extractor: A juice extractor machine can be very useful for making excellent sorbets. With this appliance the juice is much more concentrated and tasty.
  • The Peeler: A good peeler make it easy making lemon sorbet. In fact it’s very important to remove only a thin layer of lemon peel, without the white part that would make the lemon sorbet bitter.

Lemon Sorbet Recipe: Instructions

Now we are going to show you how to make Lemon Sorbet WITH and WITHOUT the ICE CREAM MAKER. So follow our step by step recipe really well!

IMPORTANT: first of all, if you are NOT going to use the ice cream maker, remember to put a STAINLESS STEEL container (no plastic this time!) in the freezer a few hours beforehand. When you will pour the sorbet mixture, the container must already be frozen.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 1

Step 1)  – Let’s start preparing the lemons. Wash them very carefully then dry them. With the help of a peeler, remove the lemon peel, being careful NOT to remove the white, bitter part. Set aside.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 2

Step 2) – Cut the lemons in half and squeeze them to collect the juice. If you have a juice extractor you can use it to have a more concentrated, tasty and slag-free juice. You should get about 150 ml of lemon juice.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 3

Step 3) – Place in a saucepan 230 ml (1 cup) of water, 180 g (7/8 cup) of granulated sugar and the lemon peels. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 4

Step 4) – Now – if necessary – filter the lemon juice with a colander then add the syrup without the lemon zest. Mix really well.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 5

Step 5)Pour the mixture into a blender and blend everything for about 3 minutes. In this way the mixture will incorporate more air and the sorbet will be creamier.

Now we are going to show you how to make lemon Sorbet WITH and WITHOUT ice cream maker, so keep reading!

How to Make Lemon Sorbet WITH Ice Cream Maker

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 6

Step 6/1) – Now if you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into the machine and start it. It will take about 40 minutes, depending on the model. After the necessary time, your creamy Italian Lemon Sorbet is ready!

How to Make Lemon Sorbet WITHOUT Ice Cream Maker

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, don’t worry! We are going to show you how to make a terrific sorbet without the help of an ice cream maker. It takes more time (4 hours instead of about 40 minutes) and more work but the result is still exceptional! Let’s see how to do it!

raditional italian lemon sorbet recipe step 7

Step 6/2) – Pour the blended mixture into the previously frozen stainless steel container. Place in the freezer for about 4 hours. Every 30 minutes you have to break the frozen surface. So remove the sorbet from the freezer and mix using a hand whisk or a low speed electric whisk.

This step is necessary in order not to create ice crystals in the sorbet and to have a creamy result. Obviously this is a bit more laborious process, but it’s worth it. You will surely have an exquisite authentic Lemon Sorbet!

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe

YOU MUST ALSO TRY:

Storage

You can keep Lemon Sorbet in the freezer for up to a month.

How to Serve Lemon Sorbet: as a Drink or as a Gelato?

Generally the sorbet is served as a dessert, but it can also be an excellent interval between two dishes, used “to clean the palate” and prepare it for the following course.

The consistency of the sorbet changes according to the use you want to make of it. If you intend to use the sorbet as an interlude between dishes or as a digestive, it’s better that the sorbet has a slightly more liquid consistency. So serve it in a flute with a straw, like a drink.

If, on the other hand, you want to serve the sorbet as a dessert, then it must have a full-bodied consistency like a gelato. So serve it in cups with teaspoons.

You can decorate your lemon sorbet with some mint or basil leaves and a few slices of lemon.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe

Lemon Sorbet Variations

The main feature of the sorbet is that it’s creamy like a gelato but much lighter because dairy-free. The fruit sugars and the freezing method make the sorbet creamy.

However, there are some ingredients that, added to the syrup of water, sugar and fruit, speed up the freezing process and make the sorbet even creamier. So whisk until stiff about 30 g (1 oz) of egg white and add to the mixture before pouring into the ice cream maker or freezing.

Obviously the sorbet will lose in lightness and will be richer and more caloric.

Let’s see what are these ingredients.

Lemon Sorbet with Egg White

A secret for a lemon sorbet particularly creamy is to add the egg white whipped until stiff. The egg white prevents the ice crystals from thickening and allows the sorbet to have a fine and creamy consistency.

Another plus is that the addition of egg white makes the sorbet more easily amalgamated even after a long stay in the freezer. Obviously this method is not for vegans and adds calories to your sorbet.

Alcoholic Sorbet

Even the addition of alcohol prevents the formation of large ice crystals and facilitates freezing by shortening preparation times.

So, if the sorbet is not intended for children, you can add a shot (about 50 ml) of Vodka or Limoncello to the lemon juice and then follow the lemon sorbet recipe above. Your sorbet will be creamier and certainly more digestive!

Try our recipe for limoncello!

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe

Sorbet Recipe: History and Curiosities

The first to use the ice of the mountains to prepare gelato and sorbet were the Chinese, already in the seventh century BC.
That usage then passed into the Middle East: the term “sorbet” derives from the Turkish “sherbet” (fresh drink), in turn taken from the Arabic “sharab”.

The first testimonies of a cold dessert in Italy, dating back to Sicily in the 1300s, speak of something very different. In fact, at the time, the Arab conquerors collected the snow that was deposited on the slopes of Etna during the winter and kept it in iceboxes until the summer.

The Arabs exported sorbet recipe to the lands they dominated, in Sicily and in Spain. From here to the rest of Europe. Especially in Sicily there is a great tradition of frozen desserts based on fruit and citrus.

traditional italian lemon sorbet recipe

lemon sorbet
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

YOU CAN FIND THE FULL RECIPE WITH PHOTOS, TIPS AND VARIATIONS ABOVE!

Lemon Sorbet Recipe
Lemon Sorbet, or “Sorbetto al Limone”, is a non-dairy frozen dessert traditionally served between courses to help “clean your palate”.
Lemon Sorbet has a unique scent, perfect for cooling off on hot summer days. You can serve it as a drink between courses to help clean your palate or in cups like a dessert.
Sorbet is the dairy-free version of Italian Gelato, just as creamy but lighter and less caloric. The lack of ingredients of animal origin (such as milk, heavy cream and eggs), together with the generous dose of fruit, make the sorbet one of the lightest and most refreshing desserts ever.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword lemon sorbet, sorbet
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 121kcal
Ingredients
  • 180 g granulated sugar ⅞ cup
  • 230 ml water 1 cup
  • 150 ml lemon juice ~⅔ cup (4 lemons)
Instructions
The Basic Preparation
  • Wash the lemons very carefully then dry them. With the help of a peeler, remove the lemon peel, being careful NOT to remove the white, bitter part. Set aside.
  • Cut the lemons in half and squeeze them to collect the juice. If you have a juice extractor you can use it to have a more concentrated, tasty and slag-free juice. You should get about 150 ml of lemon juice.
  • Place in a saucepan 230 ml (1 cup) of water, 180 g (7/8 cup) of granulated sugar and the lemon peels. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  • Filter the lemon juice with a colander then add the syrup without the lemon zest. Mix really well.
  • Pour the mixture into a blender and blend everything for about 3 minutes. In this way the mixture will incorporate more air and the sorbet will be creamier.
How to Make Lemon Sorbet WITH Ice Cream Maker
  • Now if you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into the machine and start it. It will take about 40 minutes, depending on the model. After the necessary time, your creamy Italian Lemon Sorbet is ready!
How to Make Lemon Sorbet WITHOUT Ice Cream Maker
  • Pour the blended mixture into the previously frozen stainless steel container. Place in the freezer for about 4 hours. Every 30 minutes you have to break the frozen surface. So remove the sorbet from the freezer and mix using a hand whisk or a low speed electric whisk. This step is necessary in order not to create ice crystals in the sorbet and to have a creamy result. Obviously this is a bit more laborious process, but it's worth it. You will surely have an exquisite authentic Lemon Sorbet!
Nutrition
Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.002g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 27mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.03mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @recipesfromitaly or tag #recipesfromitaly!

4 thoughts on “How to Make Traditional Italian Lemon Sorbet”

  1. I have prepared your recipe using the ice cream maker, a simple one which is actually an attachment to a Kenwood major titanium machine, I added the egg white as recommended, I also decreased the amount of sugar only with 30g and it turned out to be a great success.
    Thank you so much

    Reply
  2. have made twice using the inexpensive Cuisinart which doesn’t freeze it all the way. So, I use your other technique of every 30 minutes in the freezer of whisking it to finish. This is the best textured sorbet I have made at home!

    For my tastes, it is too sweet so I cut the sugar in half. But, this is personal and I get that the recipe was made for the average person.

    This is definitely bookmarked now! Thanks so much.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating