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Coming from San Francisco, a place where there essentially aren’t any seasons, it’s been an interesting transition living in France, where each season has its own rhythm and distinct feeling. Winter, as you can imagine, is the least favorite season of the year and this past winter was particularly somber and dismal. Parisians refer to the dreary gray days of winter, and the tristesse that accompanies it, an effect of la grisaille.

grilled lamb

Yet when seasons change here, it usually happens in one day. All of the sudden, you find yourself able to open a window and you might head out with just two, instead of seven, layers of clothing. And from that day on, it’ll stay that way until the start of the next season.

(Although I’ve been proven wrong and now I know better than to stow away my winter gear and change the comforter until I am absolutely, positively sure the cold is gone for good.)


I was also triste to realize that spring was here and that I was out of ice cream and sorbet; I had neither in my freezer, which is unusual. It’s a bit early for summer fruits and the last batch of pears I got wasn’t exactly stellar. So when I saw these large pink grapefruits at the market, and the vendor told me I could get a free one if I bought six, I was sold. Or I should say, they were sold.

grapefruit campari sorbet pink grapefruits

Another thing that surprised me when I moved to France is how popular American pink grapefruits are. It kind of struck me as odd that something that was “Made in the USA” was a prominent feature in ads and on signs at the markets. Then I realized something: Pink grapefruits are really good, and are worthy of global recognition.

pink grapefruit

Once home, I squeezed the copious juice out of them (and if there’s anything more satisfying to juice than juice-rich grapefruits, I don’t know what it is) and turned it into a refreshing sorbet with a splash of colorful, tart, Campari.

To celebrate being able to be outside without hat, gloves and scarves, I was invited to a bbq in the backyard of some friend’s house just outside of Paris. Parisians are kind of like New Yorkers, who swear up and down that they couldn’t – and wouldn’t – live anywhere else.

romain grilling grilling mushrooms

But once they get outside the city, you can see them visibly relax and all we want to do is to soak in all the fresh air. I must admit that shortly after we arrived, I was thinking how nice it would be to have a yard…and better yet—a grill.

The weather was stellar and our friends had been busy making some beautiful foods, such as prunes wrapped in bacon, which they baked (although if I had gotten there earlier, I would have intervened and grilled them), to accompany the iced bottles of rosé.rosé lamb shoulder

They were boiling a big pot of white asparagus off and had a bag of champignons de Paris (button mushrooms) that were ready for skewering. One of the things that we Americans do right is grilling and Romain had braised for a few hours one lamb shoulder and a few shanks, and they were primed to go right on the grill, to pick up additional flavor from the heat and smoke.

prunes and bacon

When I saw the roaring flames, I channeled my ex-Californian and threw everything else on the grill that I possibly could. People thought I was a little nuts – especially when I grabbed the asparagus they’d boiled and put them on there too. (Can you tell I am starving for a grill?)

grilled mushrooms and asparagus

I ransacked the lush garden for rosemary, bay leaves, and branches of fresh thyme, then dipped them in the lamb sauce and heavily basted both the meat and the vegetables with the savory juices while they were grilling. (Although I’ve learned that highly charred food, I think, is an American taste, so I toned it down a bit…and someone warned me that all the herbs I was throwing on everything might add trop de goût, or “too much flavor”.)

I could not have been happier enveloped by clouds of grill smoke, and once everyone could wait no longer, we piled all the food on plates and gathered around the table.

grapefruit campari sorbet grapefruit campari sorbet chocolate mousse

The meal was a big success, and the frosty Grapefruit-Campari Sorbet was just right after such a hearty meal in the sunshine. One of the hosts had made chocolate mousse, and I made chocolate chip cookies, so no one was lacking for desserts. And after several hours of eating, when it was finally time to leave at the end of the day, I looked back and saw what else no one had been lacking for.

post party

Grapefruit-Campari Sorbet

Grapefruit pairs well with slightly bitter Campari and the little bit of alcohol helps keep it scoopable after it’s frozen. If you want to omit it, or substitute another alcohol, you can. And check out Tips to Keep Homemade Ice Cream Softer for alternative ideas. This recipe would also work with orange juice, too.
  • 3 cups (750ml) freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice, (about 6 grapefruits)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Campari
  • Warm about 1 cup (250ml) of the grapefruit juice with the sugar over low heat, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and stir it into the rest of the grapefruit juice. Mix in the Campari.
  • Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.

grapefruit campari sorbet

Related Posts and Recipes

Julia Child’s Perfect Chocolate Mousse

How to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine

Blood Orange Sorbet

The Spritz Cocktail

Vanilla Ice Cream

Buying an Ice Cream Machine

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt


    • Brandon Matzek

    Wow, that looks refreshing. Thanks for sharing!


    • Chrissy @

    Those bacon wrapped dates look heavenly!

    • Camille

    Grapefruit and Campari is one of my favorite flavor combinations! I like Campari with lots of things, though – it’s probably my aperitif of choice. In an effort to facilitate and take the sting out of our recent move, Nick and I discovered that Campari mixed with passionfruit Sumol (Portuguese Orangina-type soda) makes a lovely cocktail. We dubbed it the Campari sunrise. :)

    • Sally

    I guess I’m feeling sorry for myself (and my fellow New Englanders) because it looks like spring or summer almost everywhere else in cyberland and it feels very much more like winter here. I guess I will have to comfort myself with this grapefruit sorbet–because it looks beautiful, because I love grapefruit and because (little known fact) northerners are the biggest consumers of ice cream no matter what the weather. Thanks for the bonne idee, David.

    • Kristin

    I can’t wait till it warms up enough here to have a bbq outside! We had 3 cm of snow this weekend!! It’s mostly melted already, but still! That pink grapefruit sorbet looks luscious, I’m definitely going to try it!

    • multikulinaria

    Pink grapefruits are regulars in our fruit basket, too. We love the sweetish-bitter taste of them. The juice plus some honey makes for a healthy kick-starter.
    Reading your post found me nod a lot. The way seasons change and everyone get’s excited about it, how certain city-dwellers (same here in Berlin) just can’t imagine to live anywhere else on the planet and how good it feels to be outdoors in great company with tasty food… Wish I was there.

    • Chez Loulou

    I’ve never tried Campari with grapefruit. Looks refreshing and tart – which I love!

    • stephanie

    I do not own an ice cream maker but I will save this recipe because one day I just might !

    Grapefruit, Campari and Perrier is my favorite aperitif :)

    • Kathryn

    How fabulous this would be for a summer’s evening. Perfect and refreshing!

    • Yuri

    The grapefruit-campari granita looks so refreshing!

    • Marie

    I didn’t read a lick of this post, but your vibrant grapefruit photos are lovely. My mom and I share grapefruits. She has a habit of eating ALMOST all of her half, then leaving the remaining few sections sitting around all day. She’ll sometimes even refrigerate it. Haha.

    • Michelle Cervone

    “Too much flavor”? Is there such a thing?

    • Cakes and The City

    Oh, I see. Now I know where else to enjoy Campari apart from Spritz ;) Fantastic sorbet :)

    • Brenna [fabuleuxdestin]

    This looks amazing. !!!

    • Molly

    My high school French was (cough, cough) many, many years ago, but I think I recall the word for grapefruit was the pretty fantastic-sounding “pamplemousse.” And, I think you’re on to something: the only thing better than a nice, juicy pamplemousse would be to add Campari and freeze it. It’s still too chilly here in Boston to grill and enjoy sorbet the way it should be enjoyed, but this one is definitely getting bookmarked for once we get some sun.

    • THE BASICS Magazine

    Sorbet looks amazing. Reminds me of when my sister and I were visiting Versailles. After we had walked the entire length of the Grand Canal we stopped at the end were an ice cream cart was stationed. We both got sorbets on that hot, early summer Parisian day.

    • Franklin from DineDelish

    Wow. I am looking at those lamb shoulder shanks! Yum Yum Yum!

    • Mikki

    only a french person could tell you it would add too much flavour!

    • Sara

    Yum! Excellent timing for this post :: I just ate at Craige On Main in Cambridge MA last week and they served this same sorbet in their tasting menu. They added champagne foam on the top….yummm. Now, armed with a recipe, I anticipate this becoming a spring staple at my house!

    • Anna

    what a lovely day i’m jealous of your warm weather! everything looks wonderful, but baked bacon? can’t imagine it, next time you will definitely have to grill those baconed prunes :)

    • George

    That feast looks great, especially the roast lamb and these yummy bacon wrapped prunes. Are they Angels or Devils on horseback, I can never remember.

    Glad to see that there was someone there who appreciated good whisky! Bowmore is a classic Islay malt.

    • sarahb1313

    Oh thank-you! As one of those New Yorkers moved to actually some quite wooded suburbs (we do bears out my way) I totally got what you were saying. Hence the move.

    We are mere days away from the “we can count on grilling” every night and down by the lake cocktails and hors d’oeuvres that inevitably lead to no need for dinner! Almost, but not quite ready for the Rose. We haven’t packed in the winter jackets quite yet.

    I am totally seeing this sorbet featured in all of these evenings!!!

    • Mark

    Le drool

    • Caitlin

    I am so glad you threw those asparagus on the grill. Probably my favorite spring vegetable treat is grilled asparagus – usually with olive oil, a little red wine vinegar, and some good salt.

    • Bernadette

    That sorbet looks beautiful in the color alone and is making my mouth water. Bet that is terrific on a hot day. Barbecued meats and veggies, chocolate for dessert, rose on ice. . .sounds wonderful.

    Give in to the grill David!

    • sandra

    Oooh that looks pretty! I’m not into alcohol so will put something else in when I make it. Hubby went to a car boot sale a couple of months ago, and came back with an ice cream machine, one that has a freezer built in, Italian brand, for under €20! Having tried it out, it works still, although an old model. I just wish I had the space to keep it out in the kitchen, rather than the basement!

    • Gina

    Ooh I love pink grapefruit–the fruit of course, and it’s my favorite sorbet flavor. In fact, on Sunday I was wandering around the Ile Saint Louis looking at all of the Berthillon vendors for it, but no one had it. :(
    And since I live here, I don’t have (and don’t have room for) an ice cream machine, so is there an alternative way to make it sans machine?

    • cream canisters

    it looks delicious.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Jill Puleo

    I am sort of a little bit crazy, but my favorite part of this post was at the very end when you wrote:

    “One of the hosts had made chocolate mousse, and I made chocolate chip cookies, so no one was lacking for desserts.”

    Because as fresh, light, and lovely as the sorbet may be, you wouldn’t have felt complete without offering a proper cookie.

    David, you are awesome.

    • Harriet McAtee

    Such wonderful photos – and what looks like a beautiful sorbet! Us Australians also love throwing things on the barbeque (grill) it’s such a fantastic way to cook food. I love the idea of big skewers of mushrooms – yummm.

    • Tamsin

    I love prunes in bacon, they’re a staple on our bbq menu; sometimes I stuff them with goat’s cheese. The sorbet looks great, it must be time to dust off the ice cream maker and make some room in the freezer!

    • Sarah

    Campari always makes me feel so Hemingway-era glamorous. But putting it in sorbet? Oh, wow.

    • The Mistress of Spices

    Thanks for this fantastic recipe, David! Now that spring has finally sprung in Paris, I’m eager to dust off our ice cream maker (one of the best things we’ve ever purchased!) and make some nice sorbets and light ice creams. This one sounds refreshing and delicious, especially since I recently got over my Campari aversion. Thanks for sharing!

    • Henry G

    I had grapefruit Campari sorbet at MoMA from a cart by Il Laboratorio del Gelato. It was incredible, especially on a hot summer day in Manhattan. So glad I can make it at home now, though the weather is stil below freezing in Toronto. :(

    • J

    Right now I’m sitting in the garden, enjoying the sun and about five minutes ago, I decided against eating vanilla ice cream, because it’s kind of too heavy. I’m so glad that I just stumbled over this post – thanks for sharing, David! – the sorbet looks wonderfully refreshing and perfect for a sunny day like today ;) Gotta go and see if there are any grapefruits left …

    • di

    It embarrasses me to say, I haven’t tried grapefruit before. I been paranoid since my parents are fond of eating the pale fleshed ones and they’re pretty bitter. :x

    Although looking from these pictures, I’m willing to give it a try, they look gorgeous. Glad you had fun, the weather looks wonderful for a barbie.

    @ Yet when seasons change here, it usually happens in one day

    That sounds like Melbourne. :D

    • Francesca

    Sounds so refreshing! Could Aperol be substituted for the Campari?

    • parisbreakfast

    Anything colored pink is hands down a winner in France is my experience…
    What a FAB meal, expecially with your grilled additions plus the refreshing sorbet!

    • Claudia

    I “thought” I wanted a break from six months of winter and citrus. I “thought” wrong and will be scooping up the ruby-red grapefruits that still abound. It will be the perfect accompaniment to the 4 inches of snow that is coming our way.

    • Hillary

    Could you provide some advice on getting something with Campari (or other alcohol) to freeze completely? I tried making some orange-Campari popsicles last summer and, while delicious, they were a bit mushy.

    I make bacon-wrapped prunes as my go-to quick dish for brunches. Folks (under the age of 70, anyways) are always “ew, prunes!” but then scarf them down. Do they still call them “devils on horseback” in France?

    • Kiki

    summer roll on… :) thanks for this first outdoor meal, many will follow!
    and sorbet au grapefruit with Campari is delicious too. LOVE THAT bbq pixie – hazy, warm, you can feel the sunshine, the heat, smell the ‘perfumes’ – love particularly the ‘real’ fires with wood-charcoal if possible….

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Mikki: Yes, the key word on so many things here is moderation. And somethings things that are highly seasoned or flavorful aren’t savored as much as they are elsewhere. But I’m working to change that ; )

    Hillary: Alcohol doesn’t freeze you the best thing you can try is to cook it to ‘burn off’ the alcohol, by boiling it for a few minutes. You can also dial the sugar way down as well.

    Francesca: As mentioned in the headnote to the recipe, you can substitute another alcohol. If you try Aperol, let us know how it turns out!

    • hag

    Sublime! The colours, the food, the grill, eating en plein air
    I love the idea of pink grapefruit and campari sorbet.

    • sarah

    Salut David –

    This recipe is officially my current craving! But is there a way we can make sorbet without an ice cream machine? Our tiny Paris apartment still refuses space for one …


    • Nicole

    I’m going to try this as a granita since I stupidly put our ice-cream maker in storage when we started serving overseas 6 years ago. Campari is my drink of choice. Living in Italy and having to abstain from it (as a nursing mother) has been a cruel form of torture!

    • Lori-Vancouver BC Superhost

    I’ve never had bacon wrapped prunes…are they reffered to as Angels on Horseback?

    I will try them for my 1st bar-b-q of the year or if I can’t wait, I may try them in the oven. I guess I just cook them till the bacon is slightly crisp?


    • homegrown countrygirl

    I always say I keep returning to your posts because of your fabulous writing… which is true… but your photos are truely out of this world. Really good, David. Really speical. I love it all! Thank you so much for blogging… it’s always such a pleasure to read your posts!

    • Candela

    :) I really enjoy this post David .

    • Mikki

    believe me David, I’m working to change that too with my family here (I’m english and live in Normandie with my french fiance)! Speaking of lots of flavour, I wish I could find more great spicy food here! If you have any recommendations in my area, do let me know!

    • The Chocolate Covered Kitchen

    It never dawned on me to make my own sorbet, and your recipe looks so good and so simple I want to slap myself upside the head for not trying it sooner. I recently read that grapefruit pairs well w/ white chocolate; I used to detest the cloying tasteless white stuff til I tried the real thing w/ at least 30% cocoa butter. Perhaps I’ll make the sorbet and serve in white chocolate shells?

    • Marie M.C.

    I have a backyard, David. You are welcome to come grill anything, anytime. And I live in California. San Francisco. Right now it is over-cast and drizzling. Remember? I have a question about transporting ice-cream and other frozen goodies. How do you do it? I’ve tried carrying ice-cream in a styrofoam chest (with lots of ice) to Sausalito — a thirty minute trip — and when I arrive, well, it’s no longer frozen. Help!

    • kathleen

    I’ve just started eating pink grapefruits with a bit of local honey drizzled across the top as my daily snack…and now onto making some sorbet! Fabulous. Thanks!

    • naomi

    It’s 9:21 pm, and the temperature has dropped, to 80º. We took the comforter off four days ago, because it was finally over 65º during the night. I’ve been mulling through the sorbets in your book, and checking the herbs in my tiny yard – I don’t have grapefruit growing here, but I know someone in Plaquemines Parish. I did make the mint ice cream last week, but it’s already too hot for cream. Thanks for the recipe.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Marie: I use an isothermic (insulated) sack, which they sell at most supermarkets and frozen food stores here in France, and you can transport frozen foods for at least 30 minutes in them. (I add an ice pack just to make sure!) In the US, they sell similar bags for carrying lunches around.

    Zac designs makes these Insulated Ice Cream Containers with freezable gel inside which they claim “keeps the contents chilled for up to 90 minutes.” I haven’t tried one – (they’re one of those “European products” that don’t seem to be available in Europe!) – but that might be your solution.

    homegrown countrygirl: Thanks! : )

    • Natasha

    Hi David! I’m totally hooked on to your blog, just love your writing… make want to eat, cook, bake and you make me laugh!!
    Ok I have a question for you….I don’t have an ice-cream maker, so I end up beating the ice-cream mixture by hand. Should I be doing the same for a sorbet to keep it smooth?

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Natasha, Gina and Stephanie:

    At the end of the post, right beneath the recipe, there is a list of related links. The second one is a link to a post I did on How to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine.

    • Adele

    We used to pay a premium price for grapefruit-campari sorbet from the specialty store, until we got our own ice cream maker. Now, come April or May when we realize we still have a few grapefruit left from the holiday-season-music-department-Florida-citrus-fundraiser, we go to town making sorbet. And since our cupboard is never without a bottle of Campari…….it’s so refreshing and never fails to impress our guests. Sometimes we serve it as a palate refresher between courses, in mini French picardie tumblers.

    • Leah

    What an enjoyable post! I am now craving for a barbeque party.

    • Jennifer

    I love this blog. I love the text. I love the photos. (…and France, Paris, and a man called David – mine, not Mr. Lebovitz, not that he’s not really wonderful).

    Anyway, what has happened to the photos? They have gone away. For some weeks now there have been no photos on the posts. I know others can see them since they write comments such as “yummmmmm…those bacon wrapped prunes look delish!!” or something to that effect.

    It’s probably my fault as I’m a technophobe disaster area, but I’d be very grateful for a suggestion/explanation.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Hi Jennifer: The photos are hosted on Flickr but should appear on the site when you read it. If anyone else is having that issue, let me know. Depending on where you live, a few countries block Flickr (for a variety of reasons) and the images don’t show up, but they should appear within the entries. If not, there is often a “Sorry, this photo isn’t available on Flickr” message. Hmmm…

    • Lisa

    mmm! that recipe sounds lovely! I would love to try it.. but I’m allergic to loads of things (gluten, egg, milk) :( I guess your blog fills me in with that I’m missing :P
    I was wondering if I could give you the challenge of making a soya ice cream without an ice cream machine? ;) only if you have time of course! xxx

    • Cesar

    I usually make this sorbet with a Cordon Bleu recipe, is an excellent excellent and powerful combination.


    Your SWEET books are my cardinal rules. Having some trouble w/the CARAMEL ICECREAM though. It never fails to light up my life, but getting there isn’t always half the fun. Have made it twice, by the way. When I add the heavy cream all at once, whisk/paddling away as I do, it seizes into virtual hard candy; I then slowly dissolve same over a medium-low flame. Might it NOT seize at all if the heavy cream were just-under-the-boil hot when added? I do not believe HomeMade Caramel IceCream cannot be in the rest of my life, so ————— heeeee-llllll-ppp and many thanks for any such. JHH

    • Jessica

    I loved reading this post and want to make everything in it! I cannot stop looking at the picture of that grill – it looks so cool with the wood fire on the slab, and the low grate. Do you know if it was hand made? I love my Weber, but would love to build (or who am I kidding – hire someone to build) something like that.

    • Lori Lynn

    Hi David – Such a happy post. Love the spring-like colors in all the photos.
    Too much flavor, no comprendo!

    I have been searching for inspiration for a white asparagus dish for an April blog project, love the grilled idea…

    Wishing you a wonderful Passover too.

    • Linda

    Trop de gout?! Those are gorgeous grapefruit photos, and a lovely way to enjoy them. As a fogged in San Franciscan, I understand your innate thrill of the grill. There is nothing we don’t throw on the grill here, including whatever fruit is around, like the sugar prunes on the trees in our backyard. And as you know, rosemary grows like a weed around here. One of my summer favorites is to skewer figs on rosemary sprigs, toss them in a little olive oil and sea salt– and grill them. Hope I haven’t made you too homesick.

    • Nicole

    Would kirsch work instead of campari? Or would it be better to just sub in OJ like you suggested?

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Nicole: I would be wary of putting that much kirsch in sorbet as it might not freeze – and I think the flavor would be rather strong. I’d try half the amount.

    • the barking dog

    Bowmore! First scotch I bought (well, and only, to this point). Good stuff for the price point.

    • sandra

    David, I apologise for being off topic, but thought you may like to read the list of Top Ten Restaurants in the World

    The top ten:-
    1. ‘Noma’ – René Redzepi, Copenhague (Denmark)
    2. ‘El Celler de Can Roca’ – Hermanos Roca, Girona (Spain)
    3. ‘Mugaritz’ – Andoni Luis Adúriz, Rentería (Spain)
    4. ‘Osteria Francescana’ – Francesco Bottura, Módena (Italy)
    5. ‘The fat duck’ -Heston Blumenthal, Bray (Great Britain)
    6. ‘Alinea’ – Grant Achatz, Chicago (United States)
    7. ‘D.O.M.’ – Alex Attala, Sao Paulo (Brazil)
    8. ‘Arzak’ – Juan Mari Arzak, San Sebastián (Spain)
    9. ‘Le chateaubriand’ – Iñaki Azpitarte, París (France)
    10. ‘Per se’ – Thomas Keller, Nueva York (United States)

    Since you are such a foodie, thought you may like to visit them all for us! It was a boast in the spanish paper as Spain has three!

    • Nancy Baggett

    I just finished off some pink grapefruit-tarragon sorbet that was in the freezer. That’s a really nice combo, too–very refreshing. It’s for a summer story. I suggested adding a little pom juice or cranberry juice to boost the color–so it looked a lot like yours. I think that grapefruit sorbet might actually be my fave, though I once had some passion fruit that was totally amazing. Then again blackberry is nice, and lemon, and ….

    • Legume

    Amazing info…and your pictures looks like waiting to be enjoyed.

    • TGirlZA

    Kudo’s to Romain! I think the braised and grilled lamb is a great idea – I would never have thought of bbq’ing those cuts, and this has opened up a whole world of ideas for me now!

    • Noah

    For the love of God, boiled asparagus? Why??

    • flavia

    I have made something similar I made up called Negroni ice pops. Grapefruit, campari, a bit of gin and a bit of Punt e Mes (sweet vermouth can substitute but isn’t as good) Put them in ice pop forms. Be careful not to add too much gin or they don’t freeze well.
    Unless you have liquid nitrogen

    • Michael

    Hi David
    Very interesting site you have with a lot of exciting recipes
    I have a Danish website with recipes, advice and guidance in homemade ice-cream. I was wondering if I am

    allowed to translate some of your recipes into Danish and use them on my website? Surely, I

    will link to blab bla and encourage my visitors to by your book if they liked your recipes.

    Best regards

    • nc

    It looks so yum!!


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