This sugar-free Italian Ice is one the best treats to enjoy on a warm spring or summer day. It’s light and refreshing, sweet yet tart, and best of all at 11 calories per serving its very low in calories (84% lower than regular Italian Ice).
This recipe is adapted from the official Ninja Kitchen Lemon Italian Ice recipe but with a few key changes. The official recipe is made with just water and regular store bought lemonade mix. If you’ve read the Ninja Creami manual, you know processing a recipe with just water is a no-no and could risk damaging the machine. In developing this recipe (see Ninja Creami Lemon Italian Ice Experiments for details), I found that using an equivalent amount of allulose to match the amount of sugar in the regular lemonade mix can avoid causing any issues to the machine (at least in my experience). That said, since this is an unofficial recipe, you use this recipe at your own risk.
It’s also worth noting that this recipe can be adjusted to work in the original Ninja Creami. While the “Italian Ice” program is only available on the Creami Deluxe model, I have found that the Sorbet program on the original Creami closely mimics Italian Ice on the Deluxe version. You just need to decrease the amount of the ingredients to fit the smaller size 16 fluid oz pint containers than the 24 fl oz “pint” containers of the Deluxe.
What is Italian ice?
Italian ice is a frozen dessert typically made from water, sugar, and flavorings that was introduced to the U.S. by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s. It’s scoopable like ice cream but doesn’t have the creaminess of ice cream and tastes like a cold fruity drink. Unlike ice cream it has no dairy, no eggs, and no fat, but unfortunately most recipes are still high in sugar. Thankfully with the Ninja Creami it’s possible to make sugar free Italian ice.
Like the official recipe, this sugar free version has very few ingredients:
- Crystal Light Sugar Free Lemonade Mix: We used Crystal Light lemonade mix on-the-go packets because they are generally easy to find in grocery stores. However, Crystal Light is sweetened using artificial high intensity sweeteners which some try to avoid. For those preferring naturally derived alternatives, a liquid or powder lemonade drink mix using a natural high intensity sweetener like Stevia or Monk Fruit should work as well but I haven’t tested it. You can also substitute it with different flavored drink mixes to make other flavors of Italian ice. For example, use combine lemonade with strawberry flavor packets to make lemon strawberry Italian ice. The flavor variations are endless!
- Allulose: Allulose is a sugar alternative (technically a “rare sugar”) that has significantly less calories than regular sugar and is a critical ingredient in this recipe. In addition to providing sweetness it also functions to prevent complete freezing of the water. So you can’t leave this out and you can’t substitute it with erythritol based sweeteners like Swerve. The Ninja Creami Lemon Italian Ice Experiments post goes into more details on this.
- Hot Water: The original Ninja recipe doesn’t specify the source of the hot water or the temperature. One would assume this is plain hot water from the tap but an eagle eyed commenter pointed out that hot tap water is considered less safe for drinking due to the risk of contaminants. As it happens in my tests I used an electric kettle that has a thermometer partially so I could use filtered water. Using tap hot water as a reference, U.S. hot water heaters are generally set around 120 degrees Fahrenheit so I’d suggest using it out of the kettle before it reaches around 120 degrees Fahrenheit at the most. Note that the original recipe mixes the ingredients directly in the plastic pint container and that’s been duplicated here. However, as was pointed out in the comments, this risks leeching chemicals from the plastic Creami container. So you may want to mix the ingredients in a glass container until it cools or make sure the water temperature is only warm.
How to Make
Step 1: Pour the Allulose and Sugar Free lemonade drink mix packets into a Creami pint container.
Step 2: Pour hot water from the tap or an electric kettle set to 120-140 °F into the Creami pint.
Step 3: Stir until completely dissolved (approximately 2-3 minutes should suffice) and place the Creami pint in your freezer.
Step 4: Take out the Creami pint from your freezer after 24 hours and place it into the outer bowl. If there is a bump in the middle, slice it down to create a flat surface (so Ninja Creami can mix better). Install the Creami paddle into the outer bowl lid, place the lid on the outer bowl and lock into place according to the instructions in the Creami manual.
Step 5: If you are using a Deluxe Creami, select the Top, Full, or Bottom processing mode. If you are using the original Creami model, then you can skip this step.
Step 6: If you are using a Deluxe Creami, rotate the main dial to the Italian Ice program and press the dial to start processing. If you are using the original Creami mode, then select the Sorbet program.
Step 7: When the Creami program finishes, open the outer bowl and observe the results. If it’s powdery as shown in picture 7, then add a teaspoon of water and proceed to step 8.
Step 8: Place the container back into the Creami and select the re-spin program. Note that you may need to repeat steps 7 and 8 multiple times (I typically have to do it 2 – 3 times) until it has the appropriate texture.