Liquid Nitrogen Sorbets

Friday, May 11, 2007

stirring up the liquid nitrogenLooking to shake up our Friday routine, my workplace declared this Friday to be a fun picnic sort of day. We took our lunch outdoors and gave our drinks a twist by stirring them up with liquid nitrogen.

To allow our cocktails to be available both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, I made the drinks virgin and brought along a shaker of half tequila and half triple sec. Keeping the alcohol separate allows us to dress up each drink individually. However, in a serendipitous moment, my boss Monte brought in a bottle of Champagne today for us to toast the lab’s new research paper. Champagne sorbet floats part II! Just the sparkle our slushy Friday needed.

Our drinks, soon to be sorbet: a bottle of Santa Cruz Raspberry Lemonade -unadulterated, and a batch of guava puree mixed with orange juice, lime and a touch of simple syrup.

This Flickr set gives a photo journey of my lab making the liquid nitrogen sorbets, step by step.

I was initially afraid that the drinks would seize up into hard frozen chunks since I wasn’t using a sorbet recipe. They surprised me by behaving beautifully with the liquid nitrogen. Continuous stirring of the drinks results in a sorbet that’s as amazingly smooth as pudding.

Since these sorbets don’t need alcohol or excess sugar to act as antifreeze (theory outlined in Alton Brown’s Melon show: Melondrama) they can carry wonderfully subtle flavors that don’t get buried in sugar. In fact all you need is a favorite liquid and you can transport it directly into sorbet with no recipe tinkering.

if you have liquid nitrogen on hand that is. Not that you needed an excuse to befriend a scientist…

Sabrina approves

Liquid Nitrogen Guava Sorbet

In a sauce pan combine 1/4 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Boil for 2 minutes and allow to cool.

Combine sugar solution with:

Pour into a plastic or metal bowl and assemble your helpers and liquid nitrogen. You will need:

While constantly stirring the fruit mixture, gradually pour the liquid nitrogen in directly on the fruit mixture a drizzle at a time.
The mixture will produce a lot of fog during the cooling process. Continue to drizzle in liquid nitrogen. Eventually the fruit mixture will thicken into a slush. Add liquid nitrogen until the mixture is too thick to stir.

Transfer into an air tight container or plastic bag and freeze till ready to eat.

Liquid Nitrogen Frozen Margaritas

single serving
In a cup scoop two servings of liquid nitrogen sorbet.
Pour over three tablespoons of tequila and one tablespoon of Triple Sec.
Gently stir and enjoy with a lime garnish and salt if desired.

More Great Frozen Recipes


posted May 12th, 2007 at 6:25 am

Oh man – this looks great! I’m slowly convincing my friend the scientist to try – I’m totally aching for it :)

- Anne
posted May 12th, 2007 at 6:31 am

Okay, I totally live near J-Lab… there has to be some foodie scientists close at hand!

Oh, and how on earth did I miss your carbonated ice cream? That rocks!

- s'kat
posted May 14th, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Ok, so maybe YOU should come here this sunday to twach my sorbet and ice cream class?

we’re gonna be really old fashioned– gonna use and ice cream maker and these ice cream “balls” from LL Bean that use salt & ice!

but, of course, this looks WAYYY more exciting. Looks like I need to get me a scientist!

posted May 15th, 2007 at 11:58 am

I would not eat ANY food colder than 32F or 0C for fear of doing cell damage. Liquid Nitrogen is well below this and folks should be very, very careful. Do not touch liquid nitrogen with bare skin or even cheap winter gloves for that matter. Do not seal any liquid in a container as it will soon explode due to pressure.

Thanks for the standard liquid nitrogen warnings Matt.
However, your advice doesn’t quite apply to this situation. Ice cream or sorbet made with liquid nitrogen is in no way as cold as the vapor or liquid itself.
Also- if one happens to get liquid nitrogen splashed on them, it won’t likely burn your skin as it will evaporate immediately. Submerging ones hands in the stuff is what would cause damage- and anyway, my instructions call for safety equipment in the places needed.

Just wanting to shed some reality on your warnings


- matt
posted June 11th, 2007 at 8:15 pm

[...] Liquid nitrogen works so well to make ice cream not just because it freezes the mixture so quickly, but because it also vigorously boils, thus fluffing up the ice cream mixture as it freezes. – McAuliflower | (Permalink) [...]

posted February 14th, 2020 at 11:23 am

I dying to try this, but and this is missing from all the articles, how does one acquire a small quantity of liquid nitrogen?

- gregg
posted April 17th, 2021 at 1:49 pm

[...] I looking to see what all we could make with liquid nitrogen and here was a a few recipes for snacks that I thought was interesting.… [...]