Frozen Watermelon Granita Recipe

A frozen Watermelon Granita is a real summer treat. It’s a refreshing, crunchy frozen dessert with just three simple ingredients. And if you want to make it extra special top the granita with fresh mint whipped cream.

Frozen Watermelon Granita, naturally gluten-free

What is a Granita?

Granita is a semi frozen Italian dessert from Italy.  It’s a very simple dessert that takes very little preparation time.  I make this one in a shallow pan and freeze it for a few hours.

People often compare this to a sorbet – except that a sorbet is passed through an ice-cream maker to produce the texture. A granita has a wonderful texture that lingers on the palette as it’s enjoyed.

And you wont need any special tools or equipment. I use a food processor (a blender works, too) to make them at our house. When I’ve made them at a friends house I’ve even used just a masher, fork and spoon (the blender was busy making adult beverages).

So, if you have a favorite sorbet but you don’t have an ice cream maker (hint, hint  -> husband), you can serve the sorbet a granita. And conversely you can turn a granita into a sorbet simply by churning it in an ice cream maker.

The biggest difference between a sorbet and a granita is in the texture. A granita has a chunkier texture, full of crystalized ice, whereas a sorbet is smoother more like ice cream.

Ingredients to Make Watermelon Granita

  • watermelon
  • lemon (juice + zest)
  • granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt (optional)
fresh watermelon, cubed in a food processor
Lemon Zest for the Watermelon Granita

How To Make Watermelon Granita

Watermelon Granita in a glass baking sheet

The good news is that you don’t need to a fancy ice cream maker to create this refreshing frozen dessert.  With just a few minutes of prep time, you can create a frozen desert that’s full of flavors and textures to surprise and delight family and guests.

  1. Begin by roughly chopping about two cups of fresh watermelon into large chunks.
  2. First zest, then juice the lemon. I love to use this microplane for zesting.
  3. Puree the watermelon, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in food processor.
  4. Transfer the watermelon puree mixture into a 9×9 shallow baking pan. I use a glass pan, but you can also use a metal one.
  5. Freeze for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and use a regular fork to scrape the frozen watermelon mixture in the pan to form ice crystals.
  6. Freeze for an additional 3 hours.

Tips for making Granita

Frozen Watermelon Granita in a dessert jar topped with mint whipped cream

Granita are all about flavor and texture. Once you’ve made them a few times, you’ll get a feel how chunky you like them to be. If you like a less chunky version be sure to puree it longer in the food processor. This is a dessert that encourages experimentation.

I like my granita to be on the chunkier side, because it’s what makes them so distinctly different from sorbet, sherbet, or ice cream.

to be on the chunkier side, because it’s what makes them so distinctly different from sorbet, sherbet, or ice cream.

If you want add some creaminess to this frozen dessert, top it with fresh whipped cream. I absolutely love to combine this granita with fresh mint whipped creamed. My husband loves when I cut in fresh strawberries.

Top your granita with fresh strawberries to add flavor and visual interest. Tip: if you like the strawberries to create strawberry liquid, sprinkle a little sugar over them a little while before serving.

A pinch of salt is optional, but I think it goes a long way to enhance the natural flavors.

Watermelon Granita
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Granita Variations

Cut the amount of watermelon in half and replace it with an equal amount of fresh strawberries. Add lemon and granulated sugar and proceed as before.

If you’re trying to reduce the tartness, look for Meyer’s lemons. Meyer’s lemons are a smaller, sweeter type of lemon (a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange) that have orange undertones.

Finally, add your watermelon granita to a glass of cold Rosé enjoy. 😉

More Summer Favorites

Frozen Watermelon Granita. A perfect summer treat

Watermelon Granita

This frozen dessert is a real summer treat.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Gluten-Free
Keyword: gluten free dessert, no bake desserts
Servings: 4
Calories: 77kcal
Author: Maike


  • 1 pound watermelon
  • 1 lemon juice + zest
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt optional


  • Cut the watermelons into large cubes and it them to a food processor. Add the lemon zest and juice and sugar. Puree the watermelon on low speed using the pulse function of the food processor (or the on/off button).
  • Pour the puree into 9×9 baking pan and freeze for 2 hours. Take the mixture out of the freezer and stir with a fork to create the crystal like texture. Freeze for another 3 hours.
  • Spoon a half a cup into a dessert glass and decorate with a piece of mint.


Top with fresh whipped cream. (Optionally)


Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 645IU | Vitamin C: 23.5mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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