Simple Lemon Granita Recipe

Lemon Granita

With today’s modern ice cream makers, frozen fruit mixtures like granitas and sorbets can be whipped up in no time! Usually containing only fresh fruit, water and sugar, Sicilian granita is one of the simplest frozen desserts breakfasts you can make.

We moved back to the California from Sicily a year and a half ago and one of the things I miss most is the granita from Catania. I can’t believe that it took me this long to figure out how simple it is to make granita at home!

My first attempt at granita was a few weeks ago, when I made brioche for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  Since I was making brioche for the first time, it only made sense that I attempt some homemade granita. In Sicily, granita and brioche are eaten together for breakfast during the hot months of summer.  It might sound strange, but don’t knock it til you try it!  You’ll also see Sicilians eating ice cream sandwiches of brioche and gelato, another tradition of which I highly approve!

So as I was saying, I made some fresh strawberry granita to go with my brioche.  It was good, but the fruit/water/ sugar ratio wasn’t quite right, so I need to give it another try.  It was the following week that a friend and food writer from Catania showed up unexpectedly on twitter.  And guess what she was tweeting about?  Brioche and granita!  She even shared a quick Lemon Granita recipe.  Of course I had to try it!

Although the textures vary from province to province, the granita I grew accustomed to eating in Catania is somewhat soft and slushy, rather than granular and icy.  By processing it in an ice cream maker until semi-solid, it is quick and easy to replicate the texture of the granita I know and love.

Like anything, the lemon granitas in Sicily vary in sweetness and tartness from bar to bar. Some are almost unbearably tart (I love those!), some are almost too sweet.  I’d say this one falls somewhere in the middle.  Please feel free to adjust the amounts of lemon juice and/or sugar to suit your own taste.

Now I just need someone to teach me how to make granita di mandorla (almond granita) and I’ll be even happier!

Simple Lemon Granita
adapted from this recipe

1 1/2 cups water
scant cup of sugar
juice of 2 1/2 lemons

Heat water and sugar, stirring, until sugar dissolves.  Let cool completely.  Stir in lemon juice and refrigerate until cold.  Process in an ice cream maker until slushy, but not frozen completely.  Serve immediately.

Yield: approximately four servings

Recipe notes: Lemon juice and sugar amounts can be adjusted to suit your own taste.  You may freeze leftovers, but keep in mind that it will freeze solid.  Just let it sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes or so, then stir with a fork until slushy again before serving.

As you can see, twitter is increasingly becoming the place to talk about food!  Have you joined yet?  If so, you can follow me here.  And don’t forget to follow Alessandra, perhaps she’ll tweet some more of my favorite recipes from Sicily!  And here’s a list of several other food bloggers on Twitter.

  1. Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves)

    I love the simplicity of this recipe! Can’t wait to try!

    8:29 am  Jun 19th, 2009
  2. Haley J.

    Love the plating and arrangement on this recipe! The little jar is very cute. And lemon granita sounds delicious!

    9:36 am  Jun 19th, 2009
  3. The Italian Dish

    Oh, I love this stuff – we put it in prosecco and make sgroppinos!

    11:01 am  Jun 19th, 2009
  4. Jodi

    It’s just simply to charming to even eat!!!!!!

    11:04 am  Jun 19th, 2009
  5. Cynthia

    Hmmmm, so refreshing.

    2:20 pm  Jun 19th, 2009
  6. Gera @ SweetsFoods

    This granita is really appealing!! ideal to have it near you meanwhile you tweet 🙂



    7:18 pm  Jun 19th, 2009
  7. Joey D

    I love the use of the ice cream maker! The way I learned to make it was the freeze in sheet layers (using a lasagna pan) and scraping with a spoon. Refreeze. This is certainly an easier way to approach it. I’ll need to use it with my brioche! Thanks Nicole!

    7:30 pm  Jun 19th, 2009
  8. Laura

    Yum! It sounds delicious. Perfect for the summer.

    12:56 pm  Jun 20th, 2009
  9. Charles Thompson

    Oh my! I love hearing about new foods, new combinations of foods — brioche and granita for breakfast?! It makes total sense for a place like Sicily. Thanks for a fun read and a great idea for summer eating. Grazie!

    4:33 pm  Jun 20th, 2009
  10. CJ

    Here’s one to start with for granita di mandorla from Epicurious:

    5:56 pm  Jun 20th, 2009
  11. Jen Schall @ My Kitchen Addiction

    So delicious for summer! Just got home from vacation, and have been eating rich foods for a week. This looks like a perfect simple and healthy dessert that will help me get back on track!

    7:08 pm  Jun 20th, 2009
  12. Allen

    Looks refreshing and is so simple (finally, another use for my ice cream maker!).

    10:47 am  Jun 21st, 2009
  13. julie Schiffman


    My favorites are pistacchio, chocolate, mandorla, e cafe. Have you found good recipes for those? I don’t have an ice cream maker 🙁 I could live without a brioche, but I would love un raviolo fritto!

    11:38 am  Jun 21st, 2009
  14. Debby Peterson

    I just found your blog. Your recipes look fantastic.

    2:54 pm  Jun 21st, 2009
  15. Wendy

    I made a fresh raspberry granita a few weeks ago. It was the first time i made one. It was so simple and delicious. I’ll have to try a lemon one. It looks great.

    9:03 pm  Jun 21st, 2009
  16. Jeff

    I did something like this last year with the remaining Meyer lemons and was in heaven.

    Yeah for another person to follow. Stupid addiction to Twitter.

    5:18 am  Jun 22nd, 2009
  17. Mrs. L

    I’m like you, I prefer my granitas more tart than sweet. I’ll have to try this.

    3:05 pm  Jun 23rd, 2009
  18. Lacy

    Pretty cool post. I just came by your site and wanted to say
    that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    3:14 pm  Jun 23rd, 2009
  19. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)

    This looks so delicious! I can totally envision myself eating some of the granita on a hot day 🙂

    2:14 am  Jun 24th, 2009
  20. ATigerintheKitchen

    Lovely picture…thanks for the recipe! I ate so many of those ice-cream sandwiches when I was in Sicily last July. You just made me miss them all over again…

    1:17 pm  Jun 24th, 2009
  21. Heather Turner

    Found your site looking for “how to make” granita di mandorla (almond granita) We currently live in Sicily, transferring soon 🙁 and LOVE granita. I will try making lemon and then move on to almond. Ciao

    11:37 am  Jun 30th, 2009
  22. Doug

    Heather Turner and anyone else in Sig. The best G and B in Sicilia is at Daidone in Catenanuova (on the way to Enna). We would drive from Motta every weekend for them. The brioche have a hint of orange zest and the granite (pl) are to die for. Our favorites are gelsi (mulberry) and pesca (peach), both con panna (fresh whipped cream). Sorry, translations are for the non-initiated.
    Buon Appetito!!

    2:27 pm  Jul 4th, 2009
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  29. Carol Carpenter

    Granita is wonderful with pink grapefruit juice. Squeeze fresh grapefruit, add sugar to taste (if the fruit is room or yard temperature just mix the sugar into the juice and stir) Add cold water to taste. (I have so many grapefruit falling off the tree at the moment I don’t add water! Follow the directions for freezing.

    4:24 pm  May 19th, 2016
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