This lemon sorbet recipe is so easy to make, without an ice cream maker, and just one simple ingredient transforms it into a deliciously creamy and smooth sorbet. It also has elderflower because I LOVE that lemon elderflower combination, but it is easy to omit as well.
As a bonus, this is a fairly low calorie and very low fat dessert! How perfect is that. Just the more a reason to make this sorbet over and over again during summer. If you want other low calorie ideas you could also try to make homemade jello or watermelon slushie.
Italian Lemon Sorbet (Sorbetto di limone)
I remember when I was in Italy a few years ago (read: over a decade ago... wow), I tried Italian gelato and Italian lemon sorbet. My mind was blown away by the deliciousness. Now, the Italians may not make it without an ice cream maker, but let me tell you, this sorbet tastes just like Italian sorbetto di limone, and I couldn't be more excited!
In Italy it is used as a palate cleanser in-between meals, and to help with digestion. I think it is a pretty fantastic dessert, thirst quencher and overall refreshment during the summer months.
Lemon sorbet is my absolute favorite sorbet because it is so incredibly FRESH. And fresh is what we need when the sun is scorching hot and all you want to do is to relax. This lemon sorbet ice cream really is very low effort and high reward, and is just perfect for those warm days. It is basically just frozen lemonade!
Yes, all the ingredients are pretty basic to a lemonade, although with one exception (egg white, or I don't know if you put egg white in your lemonade, but I don't).
- Lemon (juice and zest)
- Liqueur, e.g., elderflower
- Egg white
- Fresh elderflowers for an extra floral note
How to make it creamy
One secret little trick turns any sorbet into a creamy sorbet. And that is one egg white. It may sound weird, but trust me! This is such a creamy lemon sorbet and it has NO cream in it. Which is perfect, because I actually do not like regular lemon ice cream, but I love this.
The egg white is a binder which holds the other ingredients together (emulsifying them), making the end result fluffy and ultra creamy and smooth. You will not taste the egg white at all. And if you use pasteurized eggs, you do not have to worry about eating raw eggs.
How to make sorbet in a blender (no churn)
Last year I hopped on to the no-churn train and I never got off. I was smitten by how easy it was and how much like the real deal it tasted (I couldn't tell them apart). I first started with a chocolate coffee ice cream, moved on to pistachio ice cream and Earl Grey ice cream, and now I'm here with a sorbet recipe - also in a no-churn fashion.
It is so easy to make sorbet in a blender. The general idea is to have the sorbet mixture freeze for 2 hours, and when it is half-frozen, add it to your blender along with 1 egg white. Pour it back into the pan and freeze until it's completely solid, around 3+ hours.
Yes, my mind was blown too.
Why we use alcohol in ice creams and sorbets
As I mentioned earlier, lemon sorbet is extra delicious with a hint of elderflower. That is where the fresh elderflowers and the elderflower liqueur comes in. Just a few elderflower heads are all you need. You don't actually need the elderflower liqueur as well, although that is so good.
But - the liqueur is there to help with the creamy texture. Alcohol reduces the freezing temperature because of its low freezing point, which helps the sorbet to not turn rock hard. What is happening is that you increase the proportion of liquid syrup to solid fat and ice, which makes for a softer scoop. It is not for the alcoholic effect, so you can serve this to kids as well.
However, if you don't have elderflower liqueur, you can use whatever you have on hand. It could be gin, vodka, Cointreau, whatever that is either plain or complements the lemon flavor. But if you need an excuse to buy elderflower liqueur, I also use it in these grapefruit mimosas (and other cocktails not yet published).
If you use hard liquor instead of liqueurs, you should reduce the amount of alcohol down to 2 tbsp. This is because too much alcohol (in %) can result in the sorbet not freezing enough to scoop. But I'm thinking if you accidentally did it, I'm sure it will be a mega delish frozen cocktail. Just a thought.
So how do we make this dessert?
Let's get down to business now. Start by making a sugar syrup, mix sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat, and let boil for 5 minutes to thicken. Now remove it from the heat and add in elderflowers and lemon zest. Let this infuse while the mixture chills. I infuse it for 6+ hours and oh my the flavor is amazing.
Once it's cold, add the lemon juice and elderflower liqueur and strain the lemon sorbet mixture through a cheesecloth into a small bread pan. Let it freeze for 2 hours, until it is half-frozen.
Add the half-frozen sorbet and one egg white into your blender and blend until smooth. Pour it back into the pan and let it freeze completely, about 3+ hours. It may take a long time, but it is almost all no-hands time and soo worth it. Best enjoyed on a warm summer day!
And if you like this, I'm confident you would love a Brazilian lemonade too, which can be made and drunk in less than 5 minutes so drink it while this sorbet is freezing.
If you want a boozy kick instead, why don't you try one of these 6 classic cocktails made into deliciously boozy popsicles?
Did you like this fruity recipe? Here's more summery treats for you:
- Coconut mango granola
- Watermelon limeade
- Grapefruit mint green iced tea
- Vietnamese summer rolls with mango
- Classic mojito (by the pitcher because it is too good)
- Simple strawberry scones
- ... or check out these 99 Summer Drinks in my new cookbook!
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