Lemon Sorbetto

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6

Sicilians are the premier sorbetto makers of Italy. They turn out the frozen dessert in a wide variety of flavors, from berry to almond to chocolate, and eat it at all times of the day, often sandwiched in a soft brioche roll. This lemon version is the perfect finish to a seafood meal. 


  • 3 cups water
  • 2/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest 
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained 


In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of the water and the sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes.

Pour the sugar syrup into a bowl and let cool. Stir in the remaining 2 cups water, the lemon zest and lemon juice; cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours or for up to 24 hours.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The sorbetto can be served immediately, directly from the ice cream maker, when it is still soft and very fruity tasting. Or, you can transfer the sorbetto to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or for up to 2 days, before serving. Let soften slightly before serving. Makes about 1 quart; serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).