DIY Italian Ice {Lime, Lemon, Orange}

Today I have a refreshing summer recipe for you!


If you’ve ever been to the North End in Boston, you’ve most likely tasted Polcari’s lemon ice. When the weather’s hot, Polcari’s hundred-year-old barrel of lemon ice appears on the corner of their family owned store. For around $2 you can purchase the best lemon Italian ice in Boston.


Authentic Italian ice is easy to make. It’s not like the rock-hard frozen cups you buy in the supermarket, and it’s not icy-crunchy like a snow cone. It’s smooth like a sorbet and has the consistency of a frozen lemonade. It’s also perfect on a hot summer night or on a sore throat.

So today I’m sharing my favorite Italian Ice recipe. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures! (Plus it’s pretty frugal to make!)


Today I made Lime Italian Ice, but you can substitute any citrus fruit.

Any Flavor Italian Ice

4 cups water

4 cups sugar

Bring to boil on the stovetop, and simmer for 3 minutes until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then add

3/4 cup *freshly* squeezed lime juice, (about 8-10 limes) ( or lemon, or orange juice. Lemon and Lime juice should be freshly squeezed. Don’t use lemon juice that comes in a plastic squeezy lemon. You won’t like the results. You can use 100% orange juice with good results.)

2 cups water

2 T lime zest (lime, lemon or orange, depending on what flavor you are making.)

Combine well. Pour into 9X12 glass pyrex dish and freeze for 2 hours. Then “rake” the mixture every hour until the ice is snowy and smooth. This can take up to six hours. Transfer to a plastic container with lid for storage.

*Actual freezing time varies by freezer. Can take over night.

*”Raking” with a fork can take elbow grease! :) Use a large serving fork.

*The ice goes through several stages: slivers of ice, to a thick goo-ey mess that feels like you are stirring petroleum jelly, to fluffy, smooth ice.


Let me know how you like it!












  1. I like that this recipe is simple, frugal, and doesn’t require an ice cream maker. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Sarah Beals says:

      You are welcome! It takes a little elbow grease and time ( I make it on a day when I am home all day anyway)–but it is so refreshing!

  2. deeprootsathome says:

    Wow, Sarah, This looks amazing! Could one cut back on the sugar or use honey, do you think?

    • Sarah Beals says:

      I have never made it that way, but I think you probably could. I wonder if there is a healthier version on line. I bet there is! :) this makes a perfect dessert for company on a hot night because it tastes so fresh. :)

  3. Can’t wait to try this!!!! Boston’s italian ice is the best! I was always a Richie’s fan, but I’ll have to try Polcari’s next time, ;)

  4. jen says:

    Is this polcaris recipe? I always want to stop to try their slush but I am worried that it might have HFCS.


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