Homemade Lemon Italian Ice Recipe

Homemade Italian ice isn't a treat that you'll only find at a store or restaurant. Believe it or not, you can make the treat in the comfort of your own home. Ting Dalton is the mastermind behind easy homemade lemon Italian ice, and if you're new to making it, she says that it's very simple. "Absolutely super easy," she raves about beginners making it. "Anyone can try this — and even if the texture isn't smooth, you're still going to have refreshingly zesty sweet ice granita."

The recipe is perfect for kids and adults alike and anyone who is a big fan of lemon flavor. While it's pretty refreshing in the hot summer months, this treat is also a hit year-round. In addition, there are a few more ways to "dress up" the recipe, Dalton shares. "If you wanted to add more of a mint flavor to the Italian ice, you can add a few leaves to the cooling lemon water and then take them out when you pour to freeze," she raves. This sounds like a great idea to us! If you'd like to take a stab at the recipe with a different kind of fruit, Dalton shares that it's another option. "You can also use different citrus ' orange, grapefruit, limes if you wanted different flavors," she says.

Now that we have your attention, it's time to get down to business. Keep reading to find out how to make homemade lemon Italian ice.

Gather the ingredients

The first step in the process is to gather all the required ingredients. In this case, there a few that you must have and one that is entirely optional. The first and most important ingredient that should be on your list is lemons. You will need about five of them — four for the juice and one for zest. The sweetness comes from a cup of caster sugar. In addition, you need four cups of water, which you already have at home. The recipe also has one optional item, which adds a little more flavor to the frosty treat: mint leaves. 

Now here comes the fun part: putting everything together.

Heat the water and add your sugar

The first step in the process is to get out a big enough pan to fit your water. Fill it with four cups, and then place it on your burner. Set the temperature to medium to heat the water. You won't want to do anything else until the water is hot. You can tell it's hot and ready by either hovering your hand over it or if you start to see the steam coming from the water. Then, turn down the heat and add the sugar. Stir it well until it dissolves.

Add the lemon

Now that you have your sugar and water mixed together, there is one more element that is missing ... the lemon juice! After the sugar dissolves into the water, turn off the heat. Now you can add your lemon juice and the zest. Be sure to stir again to make sure that everything is combined well. "Try not to grate any of the white pith of the lemon, as this can make the Italian ice bitter," Dalton shares.

Take the mixture off of the heat and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Once it's cooled off, pour it into a suitable dish or baking tray and put it into the freezer.

Check on the frozen masterpiece

After you pop the lemon mixture into the freezer, you need to keep checking on it. Stir it with a spoon every 30 minutes so that it doesn't freeze into ice crystals. Instead, you want it to have a smooth texture. Once the mixture starts to look more like Italian ice and less like slush, it's ready to come out of the freezer.

Dalton says that you can use a food processor as an aid if you're having any trouble. "If you can't get the Italian ice to be smooth, a helpful hint is to whizz it all in a food processor, which will break down the ice crystals," she shares.

Serve and enjoy

Once it's done, take the Italian ice out of the freezer and scoop it into either dishes or jars. If you opted to use the mint for garnish, here's where it comes into play. Create your own masterpiece by placing the mint leaves wherever you deem fit. This homemade Italian ice is perfect for pretty much any occasion, including "after a meal or as a palette cleanser," Dalton says. "It's brilliant for summer to cool down."

You can also make this ahead of time, but remember to "take out the dessert 20 minutes or so to thaw before serving." Enjoy!

Homemade Lemon Italian Ice Recipe
4.9 from 38 ratings
Homemade Italian ice isn't a treat that you'll only find at a store or restaurant. Believe it or not, you can make the treat in the comfort of your own home.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Homemade Lemon Italian Ice in glass
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • ¾ cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 4 lemons)
  • Zest of one lemon
Optional Ingredients
  • Mint leaves for decoration
  1. In a pan, heat the water on medium heat on the stove.
  2. Once the water is hot, turn down the heat, add sugar, and stir so the sugar dissolves.
  3. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and zest, then stir.
  4. Leave to cool down for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Pour the lemon sugar water into a suitable dish or baking tray, and place it in the freezer.
  6. Every 30 minutes, you want to stir the mixture with a spoon so that it doesn't freeze into ice crystals but becomes a smooth texture. Do this for 3 to 4 hours.
  7. Scoop into dishes or jars, decorate with mint leaves, and serve immediately.
Calories per Serving 200
Total Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 52.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Total Sugars 49.4 g
Sodium 10.7 mg
Protein 0.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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