Recipe Spotlight

Got Fruit, Sugar, and 15 Minutes? Make Icy, Refreshing Granita

Sicily’s frosty, fruity sweet treat is the easiest-ever frozen dessert.

Published July 25, 2023.

Granita might be the world’s simplest, most accessible, and most refreshing frozen treat. 

With its flakes of flavored ice that are wonderfully cooling as they melt in the mouth, it’s the frosty, fruity sweet treat to make when it’s too hot to bake. When you don’t have the equipment to churn sorbet or mold popsicles. When you’ve got a glut of berries that need using up. When it’s handy to have a dessert that can double as a cocktail. When you want to pretend you’re in Sicily.

Anyone can make it, any time. All you need is a blender, a sieve, a shallow dish, a fork, and the proper ratio of ingredients.

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What Is Granita? 

This Sicilian treat can be made by blending a flavor base of fruit, coffee, or nuts, with sugar and water; freezing that mix in a shallow dish; and periodically scraping it with a fork as it chills to encourage the formation of fine, icy flakes. Once fully frozen, it’s mounded in clear glassware to show off its vibrant color. 

How Is Granita Served?

Granita is often served as a dessert, but in Italy it’s also enjoyed at breakfast alongside brioche col tuppo and espresso. No matter when you eat it, it can be layered with unsweetened whipped cream like a frosty, creamy parfait; mixed with aromatic additions such as citrus zest, mint, or ginger; scattered with fresh berries; or splashed with prosecco or a spirit, turning it into a frozen cocktail of sorts. 

How Is Granita Different From Sorbet?

Granita and sorbet both descend from the ancient Arabic sharbat and have nearly identical ingredient lists but feature dramatically different textures. Whereas a well-made granita is light, airy, and crystalline, sorbet tends to be dense and smooth, almost creamy. 

There are two reasons for the contrast:

  1. Sorbet is churned in an ice cream maker, the constant agitation of which prevents large ice flakes from forming.
  2. Sorbet contains less liquid and more sugar, which contributes to a finer, softer texture. Sugar depresses the freezing point of water, which means that the more sugar you use, the more water will stay in liquid form after churning and freezing, translating to fewer ice crystals and a softer consistency.

How to Make Granita

The key to properly light and flaky ice is to be precise about the ratio of fruit, water, and sugar: 

1 pound of berries : 1 cup liquid : ½ cup sugar. 

Too much sugar will prevent the mixture from fully solidifying, so it remains slushy and syrupy. Too little and the mixture will freeze hard and be difficult to scrape or will form chunky, dense flakes. 

Why? Because as granita dips below 32 degrees, some water freezes solid, while the sugar remains dissolved in the liquid water. As more water freezes, the sugar concentration in the remaining syrup will increase, making it less and less able to solidify. Therefore, the correct ratio is critical to a successful granita.


1. Blend 

Process the berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and water in a blender until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Strain

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish.

3. Freeze 

Freeze, uncovered, until the edges are frozen and the center is slushy, about 1 hour. 

4. Scrape

Using a fork, scrape the edges to release crystals. Stir the crystals into the middle of the mixture and return the dish to the freezer. Using the tines of the fork to mash any large chunks, repeat scraping and stirring every 30 minutes to 1 hour until granita crystals are uniformly light and fluffy, 2 to 3 hours. Immediately before serving, scrape granita with a fork to loosen. 


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