grapefruit and campari sorbet

This grapefruit and Campari sorbet is the perfect balance between sweet and bitter with a light texture which I love. It is also very easy to make with a minimal amount of heating, cooling and churning going on. Ice cream in general has to be the easiest dessert to make, and once you start making your own, its difficult to settle for anything but the best. With a sorbet, you want to taste the essence of the ingredients you are using. Without any cream or milk, the flavours should be bright and clean.


I saw a friend tweet a pic of an ice cream made with this flavour combination recently and couldn’t tell if it was an ice cream or a sorbet but I fell in love with the idea. I decided to make it the latter as I felt the flavours would be better suited without any cream. This is perfect as a dessert or palate cleanser and I was thinking it could be lovely scooped into a glass and topped up with bubbly and served as a drink too.


Campari is a lowish alcohol liqueur that is drunk as an apéritif with a bitter flavour from the citrus and herb infusions. It forms the base of the famous Negroni and Americano cocktails and is most often served with soda and garnished with a twist of orange. I find those cocktails a little too bitter for me as I’m sensitive to the bitter flavour profile, but I am however a big fan of pink grapefruit and have been eating it regularly for breakfast  for over 20 years. The Paloma is my all time favourite cocktail too. I have only used 40 ml of Campari in this recipe as it’s a fine line when adding alcohol to sorbet before they don’t freeze well. I find around 50ml max to this quantity of liquid is as far as you can go. If you are wanting to intensify the Campari flavour, it would be best to add more afterwards.

The egg white and Campari (alcohol) give the sorbet it’s lovely light texture. It almost seems aerated and is why I like to add it. You could leave the egg white out if you are vegan. The downside with this recipe is that with all the natural ingredients and alcohol, the crystals melt very quickly. You will want to serve it straight after scooping.


*Cooks notes ~ I like to beat the egg white to a soft peak stage before adding it, along with the alcohol, to the sorbet and around 5 minutes before it has finished churning. I have a fabulous semi-industrial Italian ice cream maker so I have never attempted making it by hand. You could take a look at my passion fruit sorbet recipe where I give instructions on how to make it by hand. This is a standard method as I’ve seen published in many places. A tip I have found that helps with keeping the ice cream or sorbet cold when decanting is to pre freeze a metal container and use that to store the ice cream. I like to use a small  loaf tin which you could line with dampened baking paper.

grapefruit and campari sorbet

Recipe – Makes about 600ml

  • 200gm sugar (about 1 cup)
  • 400ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, strained
  • 100ml water
  • thick zest of a grapefruit, cut with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten to soft peaks
  • 40ml Campari (2Tbsp +2tsp)

Place the grapefruit juice, sugar, water and peel in a pot and bring it to a boil. Stir and ensure that all is the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Strain the cooled liquid and place in a freezer proof container and freeze for around 3 hours. You just want to get it ice-cold.

Pour this into an ice cream machine and churn until almost done. Add the whisked egg whites and the Campari and continue to churn for a further 5 – 8 minutes. Decant into a metal dish that has been pre-frozen. Cover and place in the freezer immediately.

grapefruit and campari sorbet

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  1. Sam, these pictures are simply too beautiful! And how amazing is that pink colour?! Perfect 🙂

  2. Sam

    Thanks Darling, I thought it might turn out insipid for the shoot, but the pink contrasts very nicely against the black and grey. A pop of green and gold xx

  3. Sam

    HI Ursula as I discissed in my post and I shared a link to a recipe with instructions as to how to mek it by hand. I have never, but that is the trusted way to do it.

  4. This not only looks beautiful but looks so refreshing fora hot day…is it summer yet?!?

  5. Sam

    HI Claudia, I gave detailed information on how to do this in the blog post.


  6. oh gosh sorry. I will read through it properly now. I love your blog and seeing that you are based in Cape Town I wanted to ask you if you know where one can get white eggs? I am looking for white eggs to paint and dye for Easter.. Maybe you can help? Many, many thanks

  7. Sam

    Hi Claudia, I cant think off hand other than seeing them at the odd market. Most in retailers are brown (as you know) I think Ive seen white ones at Milnerton Market. The guy who sells veggies also sells farm eggs and Im sure some are white.Also tro Oranjezicht City Farm market at the waterfront.

  8. Just wondering, is there a nonalcoholic swap for the Campari or could I just omit it? Thx,

  9. Sam

    HI Kim, you could omit it I guess. I find alcohol helps soften the texture of a sorbet though.

  10. Thanks Sam, for the toddler version I think I’ll omit. But will keep for an adults only version. Thanks!

  11. Made it as is, and it was fantastic! Truly a treat that my husband and I will hoard until after the kids are asleep 🙂

  12. Sam

    Oh, Im so happy to hear you enjoyed it kim 🙂

  13. Vegans wanting to make this could substitute whipped chickpea (or other legume) liquid (Google “aquafaba” if you want to know how) for the egg whites in this with a barely noticeable difference. Lovely recipe Sam. I am going to share this with my omni sister. For once, we can have the same thing 🙂

  14. Sam

    Oh wow, did you try it with aquafaba? I recently made meringues with it. So interesting to see it whip up, but flavour was not great for me. Perhaps with this sorbet it woul dbe fin becasue there is so much other flavour goiing on yo uwouldnt notice.

  15. That’s what I thought. The stronger the other flavours, the less the aquafaba flavour intrudes. It’s hardly noticeable at all when you cook your chickpeas from scratch and reduce the liquid and use that like aquafaba. The canned varieties tend to be stronger in “flavour” (most likely salt and starchy residue from the cooking processes). You can use other legume cooking liquid for the same thing and you can also use split pea or other lentil cooking water the same. Just reduce it down and don’t salt it, till it is thicker and more viscous. It can be used for egg white subs through to mayo. Excellent stuff and whoda thunk we used to throw it away! 🙂

  16. Sam

    Hi Lindsay, I made that recipe because I liked the combination of those two flavours together and haven’t tried it with anything else. Campari has a very specific taste

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