Sorbet the easy way.

Is it hard to make sorbet?


This simplest of frozen treats is VERY easily made with the help of an ice cream maker.

Don’t have an ice cream maker? All you really need is a stove to boil up the syrup; a blender or food processor to purée the fruit; and a pan, a spoon, your freezer, and several hours of being on call to occasionally stir your gradually freezing sorbet.

So, enough with the small talk. Looking for an easy, refreshing summertime dessert? You’ve found it. Let’s dive in.

Start by combining 1 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove the syrup from the heat, pour it into a bowl, and set in the refrigerator to cool.

When the syrup is cool, select your fruit. You’ll want about 16 to 25 ounces of prepared fruit; about 3 3/4 to a generous 4 cups.

For the pale green sorbet pictured at the top of this blog, we’ll use green(ish) fruits. Not unripe; just green-colored. Kiwi is bright green (with black seeds); pear and apple are cream-colored, and the final result is a mild-flavored, lovely pastel-green sorbet.

Select 2 large Granny  Smith apples; 1 large, ripe pear; and 2 to 3 ripe kiwi fruits.

Peel the apples and pear, slice them, and microwave till soft.

Peel the kiwis, and cut them into chunks, if necessary.

Place the fruit in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until fairly smooth, but not puréed.

Add the cooled sugar syrup and 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.

Pulse briefly, just to combine.

Chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Overnight is fine.

Making sorbet with an ice cream maker? It’s just SO easy….

Get your frozen canister out of the freezer.

Place it into the machine, and add the chilled purée.

Turn the machine on, and let it work for about 25 minutes…

…or until the sorbet is fairly solid.

Serve sorbet immediately, or scoop it into a container and “ripen” it for a couple of hours in the freezer to firm it up, if desired.

To make the sorbet by hand: Place the mixture in a shallow pan; an 8” x 8” square pan or 9” round cake pan are both good choices.

Place the pan in the freezer. There’s no need to cover it.

After 2 hours, remove the sorbet from the freezer.

Use a fork or spoon to stir the slushy mixture around.

Bring the frozen edges into the center.

Smooth, and return to the freezer.

Continue to stir every hour or so, until the sorbet is nearly as firm as you like. This may be as little as 4 hours total, start to finish; or it may take longer, depending on the temperature of your freezer.

When the sorbet is uniformly icy (like a fairly solid slush drink), you can purée it in a food processor or using a hand blender, if you like; this will make a “creamier” sorbet. Place in a bowl, cover, and return to the freezer.

Sorbet should be ready to serve about 4 to 6 hours after you first put it into the freezer. Waiting a couple of hours beyond that will solidify it beyond scoopable. To serve beyond that window, allow sorbet to soften slightly at room temperature; this will only take about 10 minutes.

On the left, sorbet made in an ice cream maker. On the right, sorbet made by hand. The “by hand” sorbet is just slightly grainier; but clearly acceptable.

How about peach sorbet? Start with a 1-pound bag of frozen and thawed peaches; or 1 pound of peeled, sliced peaches. Purée the peaches with the cooled syrup and lemon or lime juice.

Freeze in your ice cream maker…

…or manually, using a pan and your refrigerator’s freezer.


Does that look refreshing, or what?

And then there’s raspberry: start with 1 pound frozen raspberries.

Why do I call for frozen peaches and frozen raspberries, rather than fresh? Because they’re readily available, and inexpensive.

Certainly, if you have a surfeit of fresh, beautifully ripe fruit – use it! Your sorbet will be even tastier.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Sorbet Two Ways.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Wei-Wei

    Yuuuuummmy 😀 I wonder what would happen if you reduced the sugar? Or just made sorbet out of pure juice? I’m concerned about my sugar intake and I wonder if pure juice would work… But maybe it needs the sugar to crystallise. Ah, I don’t know. I’ll try 😉


    You can make sorbet without added sugar, Wei-Wei – it’s best to add some all-natural (no sugar added) fruit juice, in order to be able to purée the fruit till it’s pretty smooth. Give it a try – it may seem a bit “flat” as sugar enhances flavor, but I think you’ll like it just fine. Try canned pineapple packed in its own juice – PJH

  2. Jasmine

    Looks great. And yes, alcohol lowers the freezing point in ice creams and sorbets so it would work in any ice cream or sorbet recipe. I use it all the time to keep my ice cream, from becoming rock hard.

  3. Tinky

    What a perfect post for this extremely warm day (where I am, anyway). I’m going to do strawberry very soon, I think…….. Thanks!

  4. Allie

    I can’t wait to try these. Especially the peach and chocolate. I’ll have to hunt up some other green thing for the green one, though. I’m allergic to kiwi.

    I made peanut butter ice cream in my ice cream machine a week or two ago. YUM! There’s nothing like peanut butter ice cream on top of a brownie!

    Sounding REALLY good, Allie- PJH

  5. HMB

    Got a lot of peaches from my farm share this week — maybe I should make sorbet since it is so hot!
    Yes, alcohol freezes at a temp far below water, so you can use some vodka, rum, liqueurs, etc. to make your sorbet softer — I’m thinking a bit of amaretto in the peach sorbet would be tasty (though I have some peach liqueur in the house too).

    Yes, it’s fun to match liqueur flavors to your sorbet. Framboise, cassis, amaretto (as you say)… Kahlua with chocolate… YUM! PJH

  6. Rebecca

    Wow, these look fantastic! I’ve made the KAF strawberry sorbet for years and it may be my favorite summertime desert, so I definitely want to give these sorbets a try. Could the first sorbet be made entirely with apples? It would certainly make a great treat in the fall with perhaps a light touch of cinnamon and drizzled with homemade caramel. 🙂 Also, is it essential to add the vodka to the chocolate sorbet? I know the original recipe doesn’t include it, but I’d hate to have it come out too icy. Thank you so much for this amazing blog!

    Yes, Rebecca, I think an apple-cinnamon sorbet would be yummy. And yes, if you don’t add alcohol to the chocolate sorbet, it’ll definitely become harder to scoop. But no worries; just let it thaw at room temperature till it’s scoopable, 10-15 minutes. PJH

  7. kim

    Thanks for reminding me that I have an ice cream maker and that I ought to make some sorbet on this hot Sunday afternoon!!

    I used a package of Goya frozen blackberry fruit pulp, some key lime juice, and syrup (I used slightly less sugar because we like tart sorbets in our house).

    My sorbet is firming up in the freezer right now. The test spoonfuls I had were delicious!!

  8. Joan

    I wonder if Splenda would be a reasonable substitute for sugar.

    I wonder, too – I’m thinking it would work just fine. Give it a try, Joan, let us know – PJH

  9. HMB

    For those interested in the science of the sugar in your sorbet, check out Harold McGee’s book The Curious Cook — he has a whole chapter on fruit ices.

    Harold’s the BEST. Thanks for reminding us – PJH

  10. christine

    i make an almost instant sorbet… i use frozen fruit like raspberries or blueberries, some sugar, lemon or lime juice and some liquid (juice or water) and blend in the food processor till u have a soft serve texture. sometimes i use cream or half and half for a sherbert like dessert. u have to serve it right away cause it’s pretty soft but definitely yummy… chilled bowls are a plus!

    Christine, I’ve seen this method, too – it is, indeed, a REALLY delicious and super-easy “instant dessert.” Thanks for reminding us – PJH

  11. ATL Cook

    I don’t think Splenda will work. I am looking at the ZOKU and it states that only natural sugar, honey, and agave will work. Said Splenda, etc will not freeze.

    Allergic to alcohol, so will try it without. Just got a new refrig today; really a loaner until my special order comes in. I need to put that freeze base to my ice cream maker in the freezer.

    Picked my first tomatoes today–how about tomato sorbet???

    Tomato sorbet would be delicious – I’d add some sweetener to cut the acidity, as well as lemon for flavor. I’ve made a jellied tomato type side dish with lemon Jell-O, and it’s REALLY good… Thanks for the idea! Also, the ZOKU is designed to make rock-solid ice cream pops, not sorbet. Sorbet is designed to be softer, so I think the Splenda would work fine. PJH

  12. Marianna

    Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been away from my kitchen doing all the things I love. This recipe looks like the perfect way to get back into the swing of things. I have a bag of peaches in the freezer just crying out to become sorbet. Thanks PJ!

    Yes, I can hear them all the way from here, Marianna – peaches can be SO demanding! 🙂 PJH

  13. Ann Marie

    I can never wait for ice cream (or sorbet) to thaw, so I put them in a microwave! About 15 secs makes them scoopable. Who can wait for 10 minutes?

  14. Lish

    Chocolate sorbet has always been a weakness of mine, and now I can make it at home, how cool is that? I have used splenda in homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt with great results. Their are recipes on the splenda website to make snow cone syrup, simple syrup, and several frozen desserts, so I think it would work really well in sorbet. I think I might make some today, since my diabetic mom is coming for dinner. Thanks for the great ideas!

    Hope it works well for you, Lish – and that your mom loves it. I’m betting she will… PJH

  15. Alice

    These look delicious! I love the orange flavor Whole Fruit bars… I wonder if a citrus sorbet would work? Do you think you would add the whole fruit, peel and all? or just the segments? I have some grapefruit in the fridge that I need to use up. Also, one of my summer standbys is a recipe from Cooking Light for Sangria Ice… very similar to the process you use without a machine and using Sangria… it is really yummy!

    This sounds like a great experiment. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  16. Donna Jo

    Last Thanksgiving I made a Mango-Lavendar Sorbet. I used sugar that I had stuck a few stalks of Lavendar in for several weeks.
    I love making sorbets–they are so easy and the variations are endless.
    Brilliant way to flavor your sugar! ~ MaryJane

  17. KimberlyD

    I have a juicer that shoots the skin and some of the pulp one way and juice and some pulp other way, do you think this would work?

    Sure, don’t see why not, Kimberly – PJH

  18. Erin R.

    Xanthan gum! I always put half a teaspoon of xanthan gum into my ice cream/sherbet/sorbet/frozen yogurt before churning, and it comes out wonderfully smooth and not at all icy.

    These all look incredible. I can’t decide which one to try first! I have recently done cranapple sorbet (boiled cider is the magic ingredient) and banana sherbet made with a buttermilk base. Those two have been my favorites so far this summer. And the possibilities are indeed endless. Bing cherries and mangoes are definitely on my list to experiment with soon.

    Also, I always use Splenda and it works fine.

  19. Patricia Conley

    Xanthan gum and inverted sugar. First I make inverted sugar by adding a little cream of tartar and simmering that with the water and sugar. It breaks down the sucrose reducing the size of the sugar crystals. While blending the fruit with the inverted simple syrup I add Xanthan gum. Keeps the sorbet from getting rock hard. I have fallen in love with sorbet all over again.

  20. Ophelia

    I don’t usually have alcohol on hand, but since I am doing a vanilla extract experiment, I happen to have a jug of brandy with tons of vanilla bean, steeping in a dark closet. Will use that to soften and flavor…yum!

    YUM is right!! Oh boy… PJH

  21. maggierose

    I once made an icecream type of dessert and added creamed cottage cheese and other healthy things.

  22. Margo

    I have made sorbet with Splenda (because I’m diabetic) and find it grainy. I did not boil the Splenda into a syrup because it doesn’t thicken the way sugar does — just added it “raw” to pureed berries and then processed in an ice cream maker. The taste is wonderful, but the texture is not. After a few days in the freezer, it was like granite, and thawing it 10-15 mins. on the counter only served to turn the edges liquid. Still wasn’t scoopable. Hmm … maybe some cassis added to the berry mixture would keep it from getting rock hard. It would be truly wonderful to hit on a perfect berry sorbet recipe that doesn’t require sugar. Berries (like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) are a “free” food for diabetics because they don’t contain the sugars that other fruits do.

    Margo, I’d absolutely give the cassis a try… also, I’ve heard that 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum smooths out the texture of ice cream or sorbet, eliminating crystals. Haven’t tried it – but probably worth giving it a go sometime… PJH

  23. gpyrocat

    I’ve used this recipe to make dark sweet cherry sorbet. The cherries were frozen, so I let them defrost, ran them thru the blender and added two tablespoons of your cherry concentrate. Not only was it totally delicious, even a week later it is still scoopable. Not sure if that’s the concentrate or the fruit, but either way, yummy!

    Nice! I’m not sure why it remained scoopable, either, but enjoy this unexpected bonus, right? 🙂 PJH

  24. chinchillalover

    I wanna give this recipe to a friend because she recently got an ice cream maker. I’m just a little worried about the sugar syrup,she has a lot of little brothers and sisters who run through the kitchen a lot. The point is can i tell her any substitute for that?
    Unless you buy it pre-made, not really. Tell her to bake some cookies before hand so the kids are out of the kitchen for 5 minutes! Works for me every time. 😉 ~Jessica

  25. VSweet

    This recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it! Do you think I could use canned fruit, like peaches or cherries in it?
    Drained canned fruit should work fine, just be sure to get the unsweetened kind in it’s natural juice rather than the kind in a sugary syrup. ~Amy

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    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Adding the corn syrup will keep the frozen sorbet soft – as Vodka would.~Jaydl@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tina, we don’t do much testing with sugar substitutes here, but we suspect it would be worth a try with your favorite one. If you do give it a go, let us know how it comes out! Mollie@KAF

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