Icy Sweet: Orange and Rosemary Sorbet

I just love the refreshing nature of sorbet. Cool and icy down the throat, along with a hint of sweetness, these frozen confections are perfect both at the end of meals and in between courses. This sorbet is simple and if not, beautiful because its made almost entirely from freshly squeezed orange juice, unlike most commercial brands who use water as their primary ingredient. I used exotic South African Cara-Cara oranges, which have a juicy pink flesh and a slightly sweet flavor. Once the oranges are juiced, they are mixed with a simple syrup infused with orange zest and rosemary. It may seem like an odd pairing, but since rosemary has a naturally lemony taste on its own, it only brings out the flavor of the citrus, while adding a slight woodsiness to the whole party. I finish off the sorbet base with a shot of Cointreau, which allows the sorbet to remain scoopable once it has frozen. Churning the sorbet in an ice cream maker works wonders as well. It gives the sorbet a creamy and almost velvety feel in the mouth. If you ask me, this sorbet is nothing short of a pleasurable experience both to make and enjoy.

Recipe: Orange and Rosemary Sorbet


  • 6 pounds juicy oranges, such as Cara-Cara, Navel, or Blood Orange
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau, Gran Marnier, or any other orange-flavored liqueur


In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange zest, and dried rosemary. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring the sugar to dissolve it in the water. Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to steep covered for at least 30 minutes. Then allow the syrup to cool completely.

Take the oranges and juice them either by hand or in a juicer. You should end up with somewhere around 1.5 quarts of juice. Mix the juice with the simple syrup and Cointreau. Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for about an hour and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. It should take somewhere around 20-25 minutes to freeze. After churning, the sorbet will be quite slushy and will have the consistency of freshly scooped Italian ice. If you would like a firmer consistency, allow the sorbet to sit in the freezer for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.

Cooking Notes:

  • Cara-Cara oranges are typically available starting in late summer and heading in through fall. This sorbet can be made with any kind of orange, so its best to use those which are at their seasonal peak. Keep in mind that oranges have varying degrees of sweetness, so you may have to adjust the sugar content accordingly.
  • The Cointreau’s job here is to keep the sorbet scoopable and to prevent it from freezing up into a hard rock. However, I find that after a few days, a sorbet is bound to seize up no matter how much alcohol you have put in it. If this is the case, remove the sorbet 15-20 minutes before serving before attempting to scoop it out.
  • If you don’t like rosemary or would like to switch things up, fresh mint leaves would be fabulous in here too.

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