Fresh Prickly-Pear Ice

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I’ve written the main fruit-ice recipe using prickly pears simply because preparing the fruit requires a little more explanation. Ices made of more common fruit follow the same general procedure, as detailed in the variations. Prickly pear ice is delicious with the nontraditional addition of 1½ tablespoons Cointreau.

Serves5 to 6 cups, 6 to 8 servings


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseDessert

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Kosher, Lactose-free, Low Cholesterol, Low Saturated Fat, Low-fat, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan

EquipmentIce Cream Maker

Five Ingredients or LessYes


MoodAdventurous, Romantic

Taste and TextureFruity, Sweet, Tart

Type of DishFrozen Dessert


  • 3½ pounds (about 18 medium) fresh prickly pears (tunas)
  • 1 cup sugar, plus a little more if necessary
  • About 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


  1. Preparing the prickly pears: Cut a ½-inch slice off both ends of the prickly pears, then make a ½-inch-deep incision down one side, end to end. Carefully (remember, there are little stickers) peel off the rind, starting from your incision: The rind is thick and, if ripe, will easily peel away from the central core of fruit. Roughly chop the peeled prickly pears.

  2. The ice base: Place the fruit in a blender or food processor, add 1 cup water, the sugar and lime juice, and blend for several minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve; taste for sweetness and tartness, adding more sugar or lime juice as necessary. If time permits, chill thoroughly.

  3. 3. Freezing the ice: Pour the mixture into the canister of your ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. When the ice comes from the machine, it may be rather soft; for a firmer texture, let it “ripen” in your freezer for a couple of hours before serving.

    Traditional and Contemporary Variations

  4. Mango, peach, Nectarine or Cantaloupe Ice: Peel, pit and/or seed about 2 pounds (slightly more for cantaloupe) fruit, to yield 2 cups of fruit pulp. Puree with 1½ cups water, ¾ to 1 cup sugar, and lime juice to taste. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. A tablespoon or so of dark rum is a delicious addition.

  5. Strawberry, Blackberry, Boysenberry or Kiwi Ice: Puree 2½ cups of packed-down fruit (hulled and halved strawberries, peeled and diced kiwi) with 1 cup water, ¾ to 1 cup sugar and about 2½ tablespoons fresh lime juice. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. A tablespoon or so of Triple Sec or Cointreau are good additions.

Notes :

  1. Timing and Advance Preparation

    It takes about ½ hour to prepare the ice base; it can be done a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Plan 20 to 30 minutes to freeze the ice and at least 2 hours to “ripen” it.


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