Sorbetto di Ananas | Pineapple Sorbet

ananas sorbetto in glass 2 The other day I looked up from my computer and found it was midsummer. Suddenly, I was no longer the parent of a high school senior, but rather a college-bound high school graduate, brown as a nut (as my friend Kelly might say) from his job as a tennis camp counselor. His younger sister, meanwhile, managed to earn her driver’s license, take her ACTs and SATs, and pick up two part-time summer jobs.

One of those jobs is scooping custard at a local frozen custard shop. It’s a place we’ve been going to since she was a toddler and seeing her behind the counter, taking people’s orders on a busy summer night, makes me proud. Driving home one evening (she was driving, of course) she listed the featured flavors of sorbet ~ lemon-rosemary, lime and fresh mint, plum with honey and thyme. A few I remembered from summers past, others were new. They all sounded lovely and poetic. She had been tasked with tasting them all so she would know exactly what she was serving customers (tough job, right?!).

ananas Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Her descriptions made me want to try my own hand at making sorbet. I loved the idea of plum sorbet, but I had no plums. I did, however, have some fresh pineapple in the fridge. We’ve been eating a lot of pineapple lately because it’s been exceptionally good ~ juicy and saturated with tart sweetness. (Apparently it is peak pineapple season.)

The Italian word for pineapple is ‘ananas’ (AH-nah-nas). It’s one of the funniest words in the Italian language (go ahead and say it), probably because it’s not Italian at all. The word, like the fruit, has its origins in South America. Pineapple arrived in Italy a few centuries ago by way of Spanish and English explorers. It is still popular in Italy, and every gelateria serves pineapple gelato and sorbetto.

pineapple sorbetto closeup

I found a good basic recipe on Giallo Zafferano, and tweaked it to my liking, adding basil and coconut milk. The coconut milk was, literally, a last minute addition. As the sorbetto was churning away, I could smell the sticky-sweet pineapple, which of course made me think of piña coladas. I dashed back to the pantry and dug around for that one lonely can of coconut milk that had to be there. And it was! How did it even get there? How was it not expired? Who was I to question serendipity?

Though I’ve made plenty of ice cream, gelato, and granita over the years, this was my first attempt at sorbetto; it’s icier than ice cream but creamier than granita and I’m delighted with the way it turned out ~ rich but not heavy, and full of syrupy pineapple flavor. I served it plain, but I’m guessing it would be wonderful with caramel sauce, or scooped atop a grilled pineapple ring.

I hope you’ll give this one a try. In fact, make it now, before your babies grow up and get summer jobs and go to college. Or at least before pineapple season is over.

Makes 1 quart

Sorbetto di Ananas | Pineapple Sorbet

Pineapple sorbetto, infused with fresh mint and basil, is especially refreshing in midsummer. To get the smooth texture of true "sorbetto," use an ice cream machine to churn the ingredients. This recipe is loosely adapted from one posted on the website Giallo Zafferano. The original recipe calls for adding milk to the pineapple mixture. I substituted coconut milk for half of the milk to give the sorbetto a nice tropical twist. You can use all coconut milk if you want to make this vegan.


  • 2 kg (2.2 pounds) fresh pineapple chunks
  • 350 g (1 3/4 cups) sugar (see Notes)
  • 800 g (3 1/3 cups) water
  • 3 strips lemon zest (no white pith)
  • 1 packed cup fresh mint leaves
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) whole milk
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) coconut milk


Puree the pineapple chunks in a stand blender until smooth; you will probably have to do this in batches.

Coarsely chop the mint and basil leaves, just to break them down a bit, not too much.

Combine the sugar and water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the lemon zest. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring gently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and bring the sugar syrup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sugar syrup is cooking, coarsely chop the mint and basil leaves. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and stir in the chopped mint and basil and the pineapple puree. Cover the pan and let the mixture cool and steep for 3 to 4 hours. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in the milk and coconut milk. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate overnight, or until completely chilled.

Churn the mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions until thickened and frozen. Transfer the sorbetto to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze until ready to serve.

If you don't have an ice cream machine (or a stand mixer ice cream attachment), pour the sorbetto mixture into a sturdy container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze for 2 to 3 hours. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender and return it to the freezer for another 2 to 3 hours. Repeat the blending step two more times to break up the sorbetto, and then once again 30 minutes before serving (see Notes).

I used vanilla sugar, which is simply sugar into which I have buried a few pieces of vanilla bean.

Churning the sorbetto in an ice cream machine gives it a creamy and smooth texture. I have not tried the immersion blender technique, but included it as it was described in the original Giallo Zafferano recipe.

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18 Responses to Sorbetto di Ananas | Pineapple Sorbet

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland June 29, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Mmmhhh, refreshing and divine! A great summer treat.



  2. elisa June 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Ananas was my husband favorite fruit, (I say was, because I lost him last month)…..I will make this sorbet in his memory and I like the idea of coconut milk (also one of his favorite flavors). Grazie Domenica, I am sure he woud have loved it….

    • Domenica Marchetti June 29, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

      Elisa, I am so sorry to hear that you lost your husband! I am sure even writing those words were difficult. Please accept my heartfelt condolences and know that my thoughts are with you. I hope you do make this in his memory, and if you do I know you will give it your own special touch, as always. xo

  3. Paola June 29, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    LOVE the sound of this Domenica, in particular with the addition of coconut milk to make a piña colada flavour. I will of course have to wait until the Australian summer to make this – probably right in the middle of the Australian Open tennis season. I like the sound of that – sorbetto alla piña colada & tennis

    • domenicacooks June 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

      Paola, I think this would be an excellent dessert for the Australian Open tennis season. One day I am going to be there to watch it LIVE with you. xo

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way June 30, 2015 at 7:42 am #

    I don’t have an ice cream maker but for this recipe it would be worth purchasing. We have a weakness for icy, creamy like gelato. Hubby and I can’t resist. But oh! the sherbet looks wonderful. Yes — it seems like babyhood to college is just a blink of the eye. My kids are gone with kids of their own. I wonder where the time went!! Thank you for sharing this great recipe. Buona giornata!

    • Domenica Marchetti June 30, 2015 at 10:24 am #

      Thank you Marisa. I don’t have a fancy ice cream machine, just a plug-in Cuisinart, but it does the trick.

  5. Rominique June 30, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    I once worked for a fancy French Restaurant in Manhattan and I would make ice cream and sorbet that looks like yours. Keep up the good work!

    • Domenica Marchetti June 30, 2015 at 10:25 am #

      Hi Rominique, thanks for visiting and for your kind words. Cheers, D

  6. Paula Francese June 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    This looks delicious. I’ve been thinking about making a frozen dessert. This will be perfect and unusual. Thanks

  7. Chiara June 30, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    mai assaggiato all’ananas, voglio provare a farlo ! Buona settimana Domenica !

  8. ciaochowlinda June 30, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    Oh you have to know I will be making this. I’ll bet the coconut milk, mint and basil really make this recipe sing in the mouth. Enjoy your summer with the kids before your oldest one leaves for college. The years go by too qucikly.

  9. bettyannquirino @Mango_Queen July 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    Your description and the recipe process just made me sooooo hungry. What a delightful pineapple sorbet. I love the coconut milk in it. Must try this soon. Thanks for sharing, Domenica. Happy 4th!

  10. Frank Fariello July 3, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Interesting to hear that you made gelato and granita before turning to sorbetto. For me, it was the other way around. Basic sorbetto is *so* easy, it appealed to my lazy side… Anyway, I love the idea of adding coconut milk—besides the flavor I bet it smoothens the texture very nicely? Definitely trying that soon!

  11. M j Anderson July 5, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    Congratulations on your graduate! Off to college is major transition for Mama and bambino. The sorbetto sounds delightfully summery- pineapple is so refreshing.

    • Domenica Marchetti July 23, 2015 at 8:48 am #

      Belated thanks! I’ve been traveling and am just now catching up on comments. Cheers, D

  12. sippitysup July 11, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Ah-nah-nahs. That’s how my baby sister said bananas until I myself went away to college. There’s some serendipity there with your son perhaps. I’ll consider that while I wait for a scoop of pineapple sorbet. GREG

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