buttermilk granita with strawberries in balsamic

buttermilk granita with macerated balsamic strawberries

I got my air conditioning bill the other day, raised eye brows and all, and make no mistake – summer is upon us. At the rate this summer’s going, best to prepare myself for some higher cooling costs, despite my great desire to reduce my carbon footprint. I’ve resorted to some creative solutions too: ice cold water, fans continuously on, shades drawn in the apartment. But sometimes you have no other choice, and you push that “on” a/c button. Otherwise, you walk around in a hot and sleepy stupor, dented by the heat and humidity, your environmental altruism causing you serious suffering.


But, I think I have found yet another creative alternative to air conditioning and I wanted to share it with you. Friends, I’d like to meet a new buddy of mine. Its name is buttermilk granita and it’s here to stay for the summer. I think you might just become good pals with it too. It’s cold, tangy, refreshing, and requires only a dish and a whisk. That’s right, a shallow dish and a whisk only. No ice cream machine needed here. Nothing to plug in and chill for hours. Just periodic stirring with the whisk – that is all that’s required. So if you have a tiny kitchen, or don’t own an ice cream machine, but want to make a cold dessert while the summer heat is abound, this dessert here is for you. Think you can handle it?

buttermilk, sugarready, set, pour

The granita stands on its own and has a taste reminiscent of homemade frozen yogurt, but it’s lighter and tastes more like sorbet than anything else. Here, however, it’s paired with some lush strawberries that have been steeping in its own juices, a little sugar and some balsamic vinegar. Strawberries and balsamic are nothing new, of course, but when they’re paired with the buttermilk granita, it’s a whole new game. These are complementary flavors, working together to elevate one another’s notes even higher. Buttermilk tastes tangier, strawberries – sweeter. And while dessert is generally viewed as an enemy to an expanding waistline, this here little concoction is quite healthy, in fact, and tastes lighter than air – a welcome relief from some heavier desserts this long weekend will undoubtedly bring.* And you can even feel good about that carbon footprint reduction because this dessert is all over it.

macerated strawberries

Simple. Refreshing. Calming, even. And environmentally-friendly to boot. We could all use a friend like that. Don’t you think?

*[Not that I’d ever turn down pie. Ever.]

Buttermilk Granita with Strawberries in Balsamic
Adapted from Food & Wine

3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 pint strawberries, quartered
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
4 tiny tarragon sprigs [I had a ton of mint, so I used that, but tarragon would be heavenly here! or basil!!]


1. In a bowl, whisk 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar with 1/2 tablespoon of the lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the buttermilk and pour into a shallow baking dish; freeze until firm, whisking the mixture every 30 minutes, about 3 hours.

2. In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add the lemon zest and vinegar; let stand for 30 minutes. Spoon the berries and any juices into glasses. Using a fork, scrape the buttermilk ice into fluffy crystals and spoon over the strawberries. Garnish with the tarragon and serve.


  • kamran siddiqi

    Olga, I think my family and I can relate to you! We can’t help but press that “On” button! Although, I have to admit- it’s been quite beautiful outside for the past few days, and we’ve left the windows open.

    Anyway… RECIPE!

    Your description of this granita is currently making me drool and that first photo is assisting in this!

    I think I’ll have to make my own spin on this for Sunday…

    Great post! :)

  • Leela

    Fresh berries and a tangy, icy, sweet something to go with them – awesome summer dessert! You think kefir would work? I hope so as I have 2-3 bottle of it right now.

  • Radish

    Leela – I think it will and I’d love to hear how you do with it once you try it. I might give it a whirl myself, actually. Great idea!

  • codfish

    Love the flavor combo here. I think we’re going to need a lot of granita over the next few days, with the temps spiking again…

    And just have to say, I’m insanely jealous of your posting abilities — even with your work hours — and how you have such drop-dead gorgeous photos for every single post. :)

  • Radish

    Robin – thank you so much! I miss your posts, but cooking is your career now! I feel like I want to be posting more though – but work/life totally derail me. Thank you though – I hope you’re well! Enjoy the granita!

  • Kat

    So delicious! I didn’t have any strawberries but did have 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk in the fridge that needed to be used up. I made it with 2 tablespoons of raw sugar (was out of white) and served with a chocolate balsamic syrup that was in my cupboard.

  • 3 ways to use up extra buttermilk « Kat eats local in Toronto

    […] • Buttermilk granita This is the most recent and it’s easy and fabulous. It’s a good counterpoint to sitting at your computer for several hours – getting up every 30 minutes to stir is a nice break. It’s also flexible, so you can make it relative to however much buttermilk you have. I made it plain, without the strawberries (although they look good), and served it with a chocolate balsamic sauce on top. I also used raw sugar because I was out of white and it was just as good – and I reduced to two tablespoons for 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk. […]

  • Dana

    Strawberries in balsamic vinegar are just divine! I’ve never made a creamy granita before, mine are always just fruit ones. Sounds tasty!

  • Gina

    Fabulous! Love ’em!

    So much fun to find you again after all these years… by the way!
    I’m loving your blog, photos and recipe.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Radish

    Gina – hi there!! Lovely to find you too! And thank you so much for reading! :) Happy 4th!

  • Elizabeth

    This looks heavenly! I love the combination of strawberries and balsamic. What a perfect summer dessert. This is definitely on my list of things to eat as soon as possible!

  • Gabi

    Hey Sassy Radish,

    My fiance loves buttermilk. I can’t wait to try this recipe! My best friend is a huge granita fan, but I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet myself.

    Strawberries with balsamic is a popular home dessert in Italy. I learned it in my cooking class there, and I just recently rediscovered it, so I was delighted to see it in concert with buttermilk here. What an interesting combination of flavors.

    How do you keep it from getting too tangy? My original version of the strawberries has a lot more sugar. You should try them with rosemary something though. I found some growing on the way home from picking up strawberries and they made a delicious topping for sponge cake with walnuts.

  • Radish

    Gabi – yes, strawberries and balsamic (with basil) are a staple in Italy – love those flavors. Rosemary would work well here. Really a lot of herbs will. I’m currently having a love affair with thyme. As for tangy – I like things that are tangy so that’s never a problem. In fact, I find myself scaling down the sugar in recipes quite often.

  • Ngoc

    I made the granita during a heat wave last weekend, and was so grateful for the opportunity to stick my head in the freezer every 30 minutes. Had to double the batch, and it was gone almost immediately! My topping was blueberries and a peach balsamic vinegar – delish!

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