Vegetables for dessert? No, this isn’t a gimmick to trick a picky child!
Even though a picky kid might actually enjoy this!
This dreamy frozen dessert will have you craving your recommended five servings of produce a day. Though the presence of seeds makes them technically a fruit, cucumbers often get pushed to the savory sphere. But their light flavor lends nicely to sweet applications as well.
When paired with a touch of sugar and the bright floral notes of elderflower, this garden vegetable favorite makes a simple, refreshing dessert. This is the perfect dish to serve at a spring cookout after the meal, or for an afternoon by the pool.
Any variety of cucumber works nicely in this dish. I use American cucumbers, as they are typically the cheapest where I live. However, English or Persian ones would be lovely as well; they would even lend a touch more sweetness to the dish.
You could also use a combination of varieties – experiment with the flavors until you find what you like best!
If you are avoiding alcohol, you can substitute an elderflower syrup for the liqueur. However, keep in mind that this will affect the final texture. Read more about the roles of alcohol and sugar in sorbet here.
Looking for another version of spiked fresh fruit sorbet? You’ll love our recipe for a mango tequila version – find it here.
- 2 pounds cucumbers
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup elderflower liqueur, like St. Germaine or St. Elder
- Juice of 1/2 lemon about 2 tablespoons
- Prepare ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If your machine requires freezing the bowl, be sure to do so at least 12 hours in advance!
- Peel cucumbers and slice in half. Scrape out the seeds and reserve.
- Chop cucumbers into 1-2 inch pieces and put into a mixing bowl.
- Mix cucumbers with sugar, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice. Strain the cucumber seeds through cheesecloth, a strainer, or a chinois. Add any liquid that you’re able to squeeze out to the cucumber mixture, and throw away the seeds.
- Let sit for half an hour at room temperature so that the sugar, acid, and alcohol begin to break down the cucumbers. This process is called maceration.
- Blend the mixture with an immersion blender, or in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Perform an egg test to check the sugar ratio. Place a gently washed and dried egg in the sorbet base. If the egg floats, you are good to go. If it sinks, remove the egg and add sugar or simple syrup one tablespoon at a time until the egg is able to float.
- Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Churn according to manufacturer instructions.
- Serve immediately for a softer texture, or freeze for a few hours before serving in dessert dishes, floats, or cocktails.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Set up your ice cream maker
Depending on what type of ice cream maker you have, this may require some advance preparation.
For an old-fashioned hand churn variety, make sure you’re set up with an adequate supply of salt and ice. For the freezer bowl type, place the bowl in the freezer at least 12 hours in advance of making this recipe.
Other electric types generally require no advance warning – if you have one of these, you’re probably good to go! Check the manufacturer’s directions to make sure. And double check that you have everything you need before you get started, including power cords, dashers, and mixer attachments.
If you are looking to purchase an ice cream maker so you can churn your own frozen desserts at home, check out our helpful guide to choosing the best machine for your needs.
Step 2 – Peel the cucumbers
All set up? Wash all of your veggies, and get out your vegetable peeler. Looking for a new one? Check out our review of the best models on the market.
Be sure to peel all of the skin away, and cut off the stem ends. While it’s true that these contain a lot of their nutrients in the peels, you’re not going to want to add them to this recipe.
Instead, you can reserve the peels for use in a green juice recipe, or use them to make flavor-infused water (if they’re not waxed). Or, just toss them on the compost pile.
If you haven’t already, you can juice your lemon at this point too. I also like to measure out all of my ingredients before I start, so feel free to measure your sugar and liqueur or syrup now as well. Set these aside.
Step 3 – Slice cukes in half
This step’s not too complicated. Just be sure to cut those babies in half lengthwise – we’re trying to get at the seeds here.
Step 4 – Remove the seeds
Now that they’re exposed, get out a sturdy spoon and scrape those seeds into a bowl. Be sure to get them all! Set them aside, for straining in a later step.
Step 5 – Chop, then combine ingredients
Now, it’s time to chop up your peeled and seeded veggies. A coarse chop or even slices will do, since you’ll be blending these into a puree later.
Place your chopped cukes in a large mixing bowl and combine with the sugar, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice.
Step 6 – Strain the seeds
Remember those seeds that we set aside earlier? Get our your strainer and set it over a large bowl. With a sturdy spoon, press the seeds to get out as much liquid as you can. Add this to the mixture, and discard the seeds (or reserve them for juicing).
This step can also be done with a piece of cheesecloth – just place your seeds in the center, wrap up the bundle, and squeeze from the secured end down towards the center, until you’ve gotten out every last drop.
Step 7 – Macerate
This step takes care of itself. After giving the mixture another quick stir to assure that all of the ingredients are combined well, leave it to sit for about half an hour on the counter at room temperature, to macerate the cucumbers.
This process happens when the sugar, acid in the lemon juice, and the alcohol begin to break down the cucumber. While you wait, you can do the dishes. Or take a quick catnap!
Step 8 – Blend
Get out your immersion blender, food processor, or traditional blender and blend the mixture until you have a smooth puree.
I think an immersion blender simplifies the process, but all of these options work well! Check out our reviews of some of the best models of all of these products here, here, and here.
Step 9 – Check the sugar ratio
For this step, you’re going to perform an egg test. Carefully wash and dry a raw egg, and place it in your bowl of sorbet base.
If it floats, hooray! The sugar ratio is perfect. If not, take the egg out of the mixture and add sugar (or simple syrup) about a tablespoon at a time. Give it a stir, redo the test, and repeat until the egg floats.
Step 10 – Chill, then churn
Time to take another break! Cover the bowl with plastic and put it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
Whenever you’re making a frozen churned dessert, you always want to chill the base before pouring it into your ice cream maker. Time to get something else done around the house, or watch an episode of your favorite show.
Pour the mix into your ice cream maker, being sure to get all of that tasty goodness out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for churning.
When it’s done, you can serve immediately, or place your sorbet in a lidded storage container in the freezer for a few hours, for a more firm and scoopable treat.
Speaking of scoops, there are so many out there, but we’ve done the work for you. Take a look at our review.
Though this is delicious and refreshing on its own, I have another serving suggestion for you:
Try turning this sorbet into a float by adding a citrusy soda or sparkling water, like grapefruit, to a tall glass filled with a few scoops, and a straw. Or make a cocktail float by serving a scoop in a glass with an ounce of gin and 4 ounces of tonic water, or bourbon and citrus soda.
For more sorbet options, try our sweet and tart grapefruit honey version.
Be sure to tell us about any other fun combinations that you try in the comments below!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.
13 thoughts on “Stay Cool by the Pool with this Cucumber Elderflower Sorbet”
I’m all over this recipe from the first picture of that gorgeous pale green dessert! I love refreshing flavors like this. It looks so perfect for a hot day! So… this makes dessert healthy, right?
I’m so excited to make some ice cream and sorbet this summer! I’ve found so many great recipes on this site that I can’t wait to try. Cucumber is one of my favorite flavors as odd as that sounds. It seems obvious but I wouldn’t have thought to remove the seeds, which could’ve ruined my sorbet, so I’m really glad I checked this out instead of just “winging it” like I usually do.
It’s recipes like this that make me want to go out and actually get an ice cream maker. I’m also honestly surprised that cucumber ice cream is a thing, but it definitely looks good.
The recipe itself also looks easier than I thought it would be. That’s one thing I’m finding about cooking, that it really is as hard as you make it (for the most part.) If you prepare right and keep things clean, then cooking is much more fun than work.
Great tip about checking the sugar ratio! You surely saved any future cucumber sorbet, I make.
What a delicious sounding recipe! Last year held two firsts for me – I grew cucmbers for the first time, and I bought an ice-cream churn for my Kenwood mixer. I’ve just spotted this year’s first cucmber seedlings popping up and I’ve printed this recipe and put it in my personal recipe book in the kitchen cupboard all ready for harvest time. All I need now is the pool…
Hmm, could be a bit of a problem there. I’ll just have to put my feet in a bucket of water and pretend!
This looks so refreshing. I mean, how could it not be if it has cucumber in it? I love sorbets so much and I’m always trying to find new recipes to pair up together to serve. Glad I stumbled across this article – this recipe is getting a spot on my self-made recipe book for sure. Yum!
This is a very fresh take on cucumbers. I only eat them in salads and in only small quantities. Although I’m an adult I think this recipe can definitely trick me into eating more of them, haha! If I don’t know where that green of the sorbet came from, I’d probably gulp this down in minutes. In any case, whether the taste of cucumber emerges in this delightful recipe, I think the sugar can cover it up and I won’t be thinking I’m eating them! Super love this recipe idea. Turning it into a float is also a fantastic idea.
It just seems like it wouldn’t be sweet enough for me. I’ll have to try it and see if I like it. I pretty sure my kids would like it.
This looks so delicious, and what a ‘sophisticated’ sounding recipe. What better reason is there to pull out my ice cream maker? I am realizing what a big mistake i made in deciding not to plant cucumbers this year. I passed them over while buying seed packets, thinking it is one of those things that I’ll end up with piles of and nothing to do with them. I’m not big on pickles…but I’m thinking I need to make a quick seed run. Or I suppose there is always the farmer’s market. Thanks again!
This sounds quite refreshing for a hot summer day. We certainly have a lot of those coming up here in Georgia. The only thing I’d change would be to swap lime for the lemon as we generally prefer it over lemon. Now I just need to get us an ice-cream maker so we can try this recipe.
You totally got me on the first line!
I thought ‘cucumber sorbet? Eww!’ But after reading, I have to say this actually sounds good to be honest.
I’ve never been picky with vegetables and/or fruits, basic healthy eating and I’ll try anything atleast once and if I don’t like it, atleast I tried it right?
But I’m gonna try this now, especially since summer is here and it gets hotter every year here in England!
I was kind of skeptical at first because I’ve never even heard about a cucumber sorbet, but now that I’ve seen this I want to try it. Thankfully, the summer is almost here and it’s gonna be great to chill with a bowl of this. I might even trick someone into eating from it then I tell them it’s cucumber.
I really love how specific you are with all your recipes, at the end of the day I really can’t find a doubt, so thank you for that! 🙂
My mouth just watered while I read this recipe, it seems such a good desert! Specially when it’s almost summer and I’m actually melting over here. I also really like the idea of using cucumber for an ice cream, it seems to be a really refreshing one. And also, when it comes to using vegetables for ice cream, in my country they literally make ice cream out of everything, one day I read that there was avocado ice cream, can you imagine that?
Thanks for sharing!