Lemon and Basil Granita

Lemon and Basil Granita

There are so many ways to enjoy a granita. This recipe tells you how to make the icy granita itself, serve it up in hollowed lemons, turn it into a smoother sorbet, and stir it up into Italy’s answer to a boozy slushy: the sgroppino, spiked with vodka and a splash of bubbly. If you’re serving in the lemons, read step 3 before juicing them and making the granita, to be sure you slice them the right way.

Total Time: 5 hours (includes chilling)

Active Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4-6

crushed ice on a metal trayperson spooning crushed ice into hollowed out lemons


  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice

For the sgroppino:

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 3 ounces chilled Prosecco


  1. Make the lemon-basil syrup: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, stir in basil and steep 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a mixing bowl. Squeeze all liquid from basil and discard. Stir in lemon juice.
  2. Make the granita: Pour syrup into a 9-by-9-inch cake pan, and place in freezer. Let freeze partially, about 1 hour, then drag the tines of a fork through mixture to break up ice crystals, and return to freezer. Repeat process until you have a shard-like, icy granita. Total time will vary depending on temperature of freezer. Give it at least 4 hours.
  3. To serve the granita in frozen lemons: (Makes about 5 lemon desserts.) Before making granita, take a tiny slice off bottom of each lemon so it sits upright. Make a lid by slicing across lemon 1 inch from top. Squeeze out juice and reserve for making granita. Scoop out any remaining seeds and pulp from lemons. Set lemons on a small sheet tray, and place in freezer. When granita is ready, fill frozen lemons and put lids on top. Keep in freezer until ready to serve.
  4. To make sorbet: Mix syrup as directed in step 1 and pour into an ice-cream maker. Churn until frozen.
  5. To make a sgroppino cocktail: To a chilled coupe or flute, add one 1 scoop granita or sorbet. Top with 1 ounce vodka and 3 ounces chilled Prosecco.

Original WSJ Article