Orange Sorbet Recipe

For some reason, people think I eat out all the time. I like eating in restaurants, but I really like to cook make for myself and friends. When I do, I get to pick and choose exactly what I’m going to make, what I’m going to put into it, and how to cook it. I become the proverbial free man in Paris. At least in terms of cooking and baking.

Working as a pâtissier for so many years, people assumed that I want or make complicated, fancy desserts bulging with buttercream and towering with spun sugar, foam, spheres, and powders strewn all over the place. While I appreciate the work and skill that goes into those kinds of things, I really like simple food, especially after a big meal. I’m happy with simplicity, especially when it involves finding the best fruit at the market and taking it home and doing as little to it as possible, so it shines in the best possible way.

I’ve been writing a bit about Korean food, but Japanese cuisine is a pretty good example of how I like to eat. Japanese food shares something with French cuisine; start with good ingredients, and don’t over complicate them. Let the flavors shine.

I recently read Untangling My Chopsticks by Victoria Riccardi, about her studies of the food and ritual of tea kaiseki in Japan, and observed: “Through tea kaiseki I genuinely had come to believe that when you leave a meal, moment, or place not quite completely satisfied, you cherish it that much more because it was ephemeral and left you wanting.”

That was an interesting observation and remembered when Alice Waters was kind enough to write an introduction to Room for Dessert, my first book. She compared my sensibility to a perfect glass of tangerine juice that she was served in Japan for dessert. It wasn’t complicated, but the cool-sweet sensation of that little glass of juice hit exactly the right note after dinner. I always find desserts like that to be the most appealing, too.

Blood orange sorbet recipe

Being citrus season, my market is exploding with colorful oranges sanguines. The merchants always slice a couple of blood oranges open and leave them facing outward, which act as a beacon to shoppers who marvel at their color, and can’t resist bringing a few home. When I started working at Chez Panisse back in the 1980’s, not many Americans had seen red-fleshed oranges, and customers were forever asking me, “How do you get the oranges that color?”

At the time, we’d gotten ours from Italy, but times have changed and now blood oranges are grown in America, and depending on where you live, they’re readily available. If they’re not, I think they’re worth moving for.

Orange Sorbet
Print Recipe
1 quart (1l)
If you can't get blood oranges, this sorbet works very well with regular oranges, tangerines, or even grapefruit juice. Be sure to use freshly-squeezed juice for best results! If you want to add Champagne or sparkling wine, about 2 tablespoons per cup (250ml) is about right. A bit of wine will improve the consistency for the sorbet, which tend to freeze quite hard. If you leave it in the freezer and it gets too hard, let it soften at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes before serving. You can read my other Tips on Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer. And if you can bear to toss the peels away, they can be candied and just a few rinds will reward you with enough candied peels to last you months and months. I have a recipe to make those in my book, Ready for Dessert if you want to give them a try.
3 cups (700ml) freshly squeezed blood orange juice (or regular orange juice)
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1. In a small nonreactive saucepan mix 1 cup (250ml) juice with sugar.
2. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Scrape the dissolved sugar and orange juice into the remaining 2 cups of blood orange juice.
4. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Serving: This sorbet is terrific served shortly after serving and since it's natural, and there are no stabilizers or invert sugar (such as corn syrup), it will freeze harder than other sorbets if kept in the freezer. You may want to remove it from the freezer 5 to 10 minutes before scooping if it's too hard. You can also melt it down and rechurn it in your ice cream machine.


Ice Cream Tips and Recipes

Oranges by John McPhee (A fascinating book on oranges.)

Making Ice Cream Without A Machine

Tangerine Sorbet Recipe

Tips for buying an Ice Cream Maker


  • sam
    February 8, 2008 3:56pm

    good timing – i need to make candied peel this weekend since i am taking delivery of a sack of oranges from a kindly Marinite Mad blogger. Apparently they will be peel-heavy and not so juicy so I will need to candy the peel.
    I don’t have the book you used but if my memory serves me right M Rechuitti has one in his book which I will take a ganders at.
    now I m heading off to see if you have any chocolate tempering posts – something else I need to learn how to do. (I mean. I have to dip my candied peel in chocolate, right?!)


  • February 8, 2008 3:59pm

    Looks so good, I need to get an ice cream machine.

  • February 8, 2008 4:18pm

    My absolute favorite sorbet to make/eat ever. The color alone makes me swoon!

  • February 8, 2008 4:34pm

    Shoot, I was going to swoon too but some one beat me to it. Now I’m just teetering on my feet with visions of blood oranges doing the tango in my head. I asked my honey “Is that a blood orange tree in the back yard?” Unfortunately no, I knew that but was hoping it had some how magically changed while reading this recipe.
    You know…my neighbors have a LOT of citrus trees….muahh ahhh ahhh….*sigh* dang my sense of right and wrong, guess I will keep my eyes open at the store for blood oranges.

  • timhenk
    February 8, 2008 4:38pm

    David, how much stabilizer would you add, if you had it?



  • February 8, 2008 4:53pm

    We have a small but prolific blood orange tree and I love the fruit–but have never candied the rinds. Great idea.

  • elarael
    February 8, 2008 4:56pm

    Gorgeous photo at the top. And I love how much good fruit is treasured in Japan. They really understand how simplicity can be sublime.

  • February 8, 2008 5:00pm

    The best thing is a “little bite” or something light–I looove a good sorbet or a bit of fruit on the tail end of a meal. Maybe it’s because I grew up on Korean food and cuisine but I never got used to a dessert course. Don’t get me wrong, I still order dessert with exuberance, but it feels like an entirely different track: Cakes and such were eaten separate of a meal–and when my then-fiance, now husband, showed up to his first dinner with my parents yielding a big rich chocolate cake, he got puzzled looks from my parents.

    It wasn’t until I entered college and went out for regular lunches and dinners at restaurants throughout SF (The Dining Room, Campton Place, Silks, Postrio, Masa’s, Fleur de Lys, etc.) with a major foodie friend with deep pockets that I learned to include the dessert course. Every time I begged to turn down dessert, he would say, “You’re going to END ON ENTREE?” Then he a beat of silence. “Well–suit yourself.” Of course I would then order a dessert. And end up gorged with a hazy memory of the meal.

    Anyway–this sorbet looks wonderful. Sorry for the blabber–but your point on dessert and “little bites” inspired me.


  • elarael
    February 8, 2008 5:04pm

    Of course, that comes from not having their palates fried by doritos and whatever else passes for food in the Western world, haha…It’s more an honoring of great fruit than treasuring.

  • Linda H.
    February 8, 2008 5:46pm

    Beautiful, beautiful sorbet, and any book by John McPhee is fascinating. He’s great.

  • February 8, 2008 5:52pm

    Delicious looking sorbet! Can’t wait for summer to make one… Your pictures made me miss the Caribbean! :)


  • February 8, 2008 11:16pm

    Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! I have got to make that!

  • February 9, 2008 2:27am

    Distracted by the great color, I always forget how differently delicious blood oranges are. What a wonderful mouthful! I wonder how they’d be in marmalade…

  • February 9, 2008 2:28am

    Tace: As mentioned, you can use any other kinds of oranges or tangerines with this recipe. Maybe you can make a deal with your neighbors? A trade?

    Kate: Cooking the juice tends to muddy the color, so I prefer to use blood oranges au naturale. There’s a great round-up of ideas over at Simply Recipes, too.

    Tim: I’ve never used stabilizers; they tried to get me to use gelatin at one restaurant I worked at, but I refused (!)

    An excellent resource in the US is Le Sanctuaire, which has all those kinds of products (and some pretty cool cookware and toys.)

    Linda H: Have you read it? People kept telling me “You have to read it. It’s a great book.” And when I finally did, it was pretty fascinating.

    Who knew all that interesting stuff about oranges?

  • February 9, 2008 2:50am

    Looks bloody good!!

  • February 9, 2008 4:42am

    I think I will make this and use regular oranges like you suggested. Though not as fascinating looking as the blood orange I know it’ll be delicious!


  • February 9, 2008 8:52am

    I made a grapefruit/campari sorbet that was the perfect palate cleanser!!

    February 9, 2008 9:43am

    You have no idea how happy I am to have found your blog!!

    I just picked about 20 lbs. of blood oranges in Lanuvio (a town outside of Rome) and I had no idea how I would juice them all before they rotted, so i am going to try this.

    One of the pleasures of the Italian winter is access to the best tasting citrus I have ever had! Although, sadly, this year, the fruit at our nonno’s land weren’t not nearly as juicy as last years. But that was the same with the olive oil. The 2006 harvest was the best in 20 years, and 2007 was just drops. Anyway, thanks for reminding me of what I can do with the gorgeous produce I just got!

  • Ellen
    February 9, 2008 11:27am

    Hi David–

    I’m having an ice cream sundae party soon using recipes from your book. I was actually thinking of making a citrus sorbet for people who want to go the less-rich route… And maybe chocolate sorbet… Then I’ll have chocolate & vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, hot fudge sauce, & white chocolate sauce. I’m having my guests bring other toppings. :)

  • Melanie
    February 9, 2008 2:47pm

    My husband makes me blood orange sorbet all the time. It’s my favorite.

    In Seattle, I has it infused with a hint of jasmine (or jasmine rice….I can’t remember) Haven’t been able to figure out the exact proportions yet on that one but oh was it yummy!

  • Krishna
    February 9, 2008 3:36pm

    Hey David, what do you mean by a non-reactive saucepan? Sorry if that’s a stupid question. I have stainless steel, copper, nonstick, and hard-anodized nonstick to choose from. Thanks :)

    It’s too bad you’re not in California right now! My various citrus trees are brimming with fruit!

  • Linda H.
    February 9, 2008 11:28pm

    David, I haven’t read “Oranges” by McPhee. I will now. I lived not far south of the Indian River in Florida for a couple of years, and can say the oranges are good. “Annals of the Former World” is my favorite of the several McPhee books that I’ve read. It’s all geology, but he makes it fascinating, for about 700 pages!

  • February 11, 2008 12:09am

    I had to try this and did. The blood oranges that Whole Foods had were Sunkist. They were large and heavy, so I expected a lot of juice. After making sugared rind out of the peels, I was surprised (and a little disappointed) when I cut the fruits in half to see how thick the rinds were. I got barely 2 cups of juice from the 6 oranges I bought. Second observation: these oranges don’t seem to have a distinctive flavor. The color of the sorbet was gorgeous, of course. And all the tasters found it to be delicious. Still, I think I’ll try a sweeter juicier orange next time.

  • February 11, 2008 2:25am

    Hi Sixty-five: Blood oranges can be tricky sincei there’s so many varieties being grown. I find the Torocco to be super-juicy with a lighter color whereas the Moro oranges are the most colorful, have the most concentrated flavor, and yield the smaller amount of juice.

    For regular oranges, ‘juicing’ oranges yield the most juice, like Valencia. Oranges from colder climates have thicker skins to protect them from the cold, too. And of course, all are affected by seasonal variations.

    As you know, (but for others out there)—the best indication of whether or not an orange will be juicy is to lift a few; the heaviest ones should have the most juice.

    Linda H. I was just thumbing through the book again and decided to re-read it. It really is pretty interesting and full of great stories and lore.

    Krishna: If the copper is nickel-lined, it’s ok to use. Not tin or unlined. Neither are cast-iron or aluminum good to use as they’re reactive.

    Stainless steel, glass, non-stick, or anodized aluminum are all non-reactive.

  • February 11, 2008 11:08am

    Wonderful post. Just curious though, what is your method for candying the peel? Mine never look as good as yours and go through a long boiling process.

    Would very much like to know.

    your kitchen bitch

  • February 11, 2008 3:33pm

    Garrett: I use my directions in my book, Room For Dessert (which I was certain you kept under your pillow.) Basically the juiced rinds are cooked for 30-60 mins, until tender. Cooled, then the pith is scraped out. I slice the colorful orange rind in strips and candy them in a sugar syrup to about 225F, then toss in a boatload of sugar, shaking off the excess.

    When are you coming to clean my freezer btw? Cenk can’t make it this week…

  • Amanda
    February 12, 2008 1:23pm

    Would it be unthinkable to use bottled blood orange juice? I bought a bottle at Trader Joe’s recently and have been pondering what to do with it — Other than just drink it, of course.
    If you think bottled juice is a bad way to go, I’m more than happy to go buy some fresh blood oranges…Just curious!!

  • Sanjay
    February 12, 2008 4:18pm

    Hi David,

    I recently discovered your blog, and I thank you very much for the simple yet elegantly written recipe for blood orange sorbet. My batch came out exceptionally well.

    I was wondering whether you could provide the recipe for french-style Cake batter ice-cream. I love this ice-cream flavor, yet two of my favorite ice-cream makers have stopped carrying them (Coldstone, due to Salmonella concerns and Giffords of Maine’s Cake batter ice-cream is not available in the stores anymore). I couldn’t find the flavor in your book, and an internet search returns only philly-style recipes. Please help!!


  • February 12, 2008 9:30pm

    This looks absolutely beautiful. I may try it with regular oranges first though, as I have some nice juicy organic ones in my fridge right now…

  • February 13, 2008 6:27am

    I DO need to make this. Do you think it would benefit from one or two whisked egg whites for better texture? Thanks a lot David :)

  • February 13, 2008 6:39am

    Amanda: I always used fresh juice; that’s the benefit of making your own sorbet—that fresh-flavor. Bottled juice would work, but it won’t be as delicious.

    Angie: I’d say to add a pour of Champagne if you think the texture needs improving. I don’t add egg whites to sorbet since I like the purity of flavor and the egg white can make them a bit frothy-tasting.

    Lyre: Yes, it works great with regular oranges too!

    Sanjay: I have no idea what cake-batter ice cream is~sorry~

  • Sanjay
    February 13, 2008 2:47pm

    Hello David,

    Thank you for your swift response. The Cake Batter Ice-cream flavor is readily available in the summer months in most mom-and-pop ice-cream parlors in New England. It usually contains cake flour, chocolate swirls or chunks mixed in the usual Vanilla ice-cream. It also happens to be the most popular ice-cream flavor at Cold Stone creamery.

    I will definitely experiment with this flavor, and send you the recipe when I am close to perfecting it. I am planning to start with the recipe listed in this link – I definitely recommend that you taste Gifford of Maine’s Cake batter ice cream during your next trip to the States.

    Thank you again,

  • February 13, 2008 6:52pm

    ah! how’d you know that blood orange sorbet is my favorite. The best combination I’ve tasted is blood orange – guava. They complement each other perfectly! But I’ll take some of your suggestions too the next time I make it.

  • Mari
    February 14, 2008 12:00pm

    I have to admit, I never make sorbet in my ice cream maker. I don’t like the consistency. Instead I do it exactly as my mom taught me:

    Make the mix by blending in the food processor.

    Freeze in a shallow tupperware.

    Break up the icy disk with a spoon and scrape all the chunks into the food processor.

    Process till entirely smooth.


    If you want to eat it a few days later and it’s hardened too much, simply repeat the step of putting the frozen disc into the food processor.

    Of course, both the food processor and the ice cream machine are a pain in the butt to wash.

  • Alex
    September 30, 2008 10:49pm

    Hi David,

    If you didn’t have champagne or sparkling wine, is there any other kind of alcohol you’d recommend to use?


  • Alex
    September 30, 2008 10:51pm

    Drat, I also meant to ask: Are enamel pots non-reactive?

  • October 2, 2008 11:14am

    Alex: You could use rosé or dry white wine, or even a shot of vodka or gin. Alcohol, while optional, keeps the texture smoother. Yes, enamel pots are non-reactive. One shouldn’t use gray aluminum pots, which can react with acidic ingredients.

  • Jared
    October 17, 2008 12:05am

    I need to get your book! I told my wife and put it on our amazon wishlist, and she’s really good at listening to me, so I think it will be mine soon… Meanwhile, after the success of my blackberry sorbet, several of my friends have put in requests, and I don’t have enough blackberries left. I was thinking of a Cranberry-orange sorbet for Christmas, and google led me here. I was thinking of cooking crushed berries with all the orange juice and maybe some cloves then straining, but after reading your comments maybe I shouldn’t, at least not with all of the orange juice. Any suggestions? I’ll probably try it without the berries too, just following your recipe, but I wanted to try something Christmassy.

  • November 19, 2008 6:43pm

    Hi David
    This may be a bit off topic for blood orange sorbet, but I’ve been making sorbets for a while now, and I find that Strawberries have given me the best texture hands down. This lead me to thinking as to why this would be the case. I know that in jam making, strawberries (and some other berries) are probably the only fruit that do not need the addition of pectin as a gelling agent. My theory that pectin gives a smooth sorbet texture had me googling pectin and sorbets. There is some mention that pectin does contribute to a smooth texture (something to do with “hydration solids” ).

    My question is, have you explored pectin as an agent for smooth sorbets, and how if you have, can you explain the effects, when and how much to use?


  • November 20, 2008 12:44am

    Hi Fouad: I don’t use pectin in my sorbets so I can’t advise, but I would say that the strawberry sorbet texture is perhaps more to your liking because there is a lot of fiber in strawberries, whereas in oranges, it’s mostly water, which freezes harder.

    That’s one reason I advise adding some liqueur to sorbets (above), which keeps them from freezing too hard. For those avoiding alcohol, alternatives include adding gelatin or an invert sugar like glucose, or honey.

    For more on making frozen desserts, you can also check out: Ice Cream Making Tips

  • Waylon
    January 14, 2009 4:02pm

    Hello David!

    Wonderful site and wonderful looking sorbet. I have some chilling in the fridge right now.

    I noticed that your recipe doesn’t call for water of any kind. I am used to recipes that call for more water than juice. Do you always leave water out and use 100% juice?

    I never add water to orange or grapefruit sorbets; I find that the juice is just fine on its own and I wouldn’t want to dilute it. -dl

  • March 30, 2009 11:06am

    Hi David,

    I wanted to let you know that I made this sorbet and it was a knockout! We loved the vibrant flavor and slight bitterness. It was delightful- the perfect counterpoint to a coconut lime cake and papaya coulis. Thank you for this recipe!


  • Jane G
    May 8, 2009 7:43pm

    I don’t know what to say except that this was *good*. Amazingly good. Perfect ending to a long, elaborate meal – so simple & yet so subtle and complex. The killer app of the blood orange, and of sorbet, for that matter. Yum.

  • Ben Curtis
    December 14, 2009 7:08pm

    I’ll be trying this tomorrow, for sure! This recipe is the most reasonable of all I’ve found — all of the others dissolve the sugar in water, but the added water seems to make the sorbet icy (at least in the pictures). I think a shot of vodka is going in mine, since it needs to stay in the freezer for a couple days.

    Which of your ratios are correct? I suspect you rounded when converting to/from metric. I’m going to follow the metric measurements since you’re in Paris. The American measurement (cups) ratio that you give is 1 part sugar to 4 parts juice, while the metric (milliliters) ratio is 1:5. Maybe the best ratio is in between?

    Thanks for the wonderful site!

  • January 4, 2010 3:28pm

    I have blood oranges and Untangling My Chopsticks is one of my favourite food books, so this seems like a natural! Although it is snowing outside, so I’m not sure how appealing a sorbet is.

  • Corie
    January 26, 2010 2:35pm

    I finally made this blood orange sorbet recipe with blood oranges from the farmers’ market. There are no words to describe how good it was. In fact, I made a second batch with some lavender simple syrup. Also made some blood orange martinis :)

    Thanks for the recipe and tips!

  • Anna
    February 8, 2010 10:23pm

    sounds divine, but can i just freeze it in a bucket or container? i don’t have an icecream maker.

  • February 9, 2010 2:12am

    Anna: Yes, you can make it following the instructions in my post: Making ice cream without a machine.

  • pepovst
    February 12, 2010 10:02am

    Somewhere on your site there seems to be a grapefruit sorbet with anis – I can’t find it though. Please help! I have freshly squeezed juice of 12 grapefruits (I froze it while I hunt for recipes) and sorbet seems the best use (my husband finds it rather sour to drink, so I thought the sugar addition would solve that point…) Any other recipe idea for grapefruit sorbet gratefully received!

  • February 18, 2010 9:27am

    I made this last night for friends–it was the perfect counterpoint for the spicy, vegetarian meal we had. The color was stunning and I have saved my peels for candying. Thanks, David.

  • Helen
    May 28, 2010 1:41am


    Just wondering if anyone has suggestions for Litchi sorbet? Was thinking I could use the ratios from Perfect Scoop for Pineapple sorbet but am pretty new to sorbets and ice cream, so will defer to any opinions offered.

    Made the blood orange sorbet when they were in season and my friends are still talking about it.


  • E
    July 15, 2010 5:07am

    Hi David, I used Sunkist orange instead of blood orange. It melted very fast and when i scooped it , it cracked into small crunchy pieces .. so difficult to scoop it round and whole. what can i do to improve? Will adding egg white help?


  • July 15, 2010 5:16am

    Because orange juice is mostly water, and this sorbet has no additives, if the sorbet wasn’t just-frozen, you should remove it from the freezer to give it time to soften so it’s scoopable.

    I don’t add egg whites to my sorbets, but if that’s what you normally do, you could certainly do that. Check out some of my Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer.

  • Miguel
    August 15, 2010 9:23pm

    Hi David,

    I was in New York City 2 weeks ago and stumbled upon a gelato bar near Times Square (next to Madame Tussaud’s Museum).

    They had a blood orange and vodka sorbet that was absolutely amazing. Its texture was different from other gelati- in that it was very stiff and more icy. When the waitress tried to scoop it, it crumbled apart. When you put it in your mouth, it wasn’t too sweet and it melted like water and without any gummy consistency or aftertaste. I’d swear it was like being in heaven.

    Do you have any suggestions to make a blood orange sorbet with a texture like that? Was it the vodka that made it like that?



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