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Italian Ice: USA Regional Specialty Of The Mid-Atlantic

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woman putting spoon into lemonade & strawberry flavored italian ice

What Is Italian Ice & Why Is It A Specialty Of The Mid-Atlantic

Italian Ice (A.K.A. Water Ice) is a Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert best made to help people cool down during the summer time. Want to learn how to make Italian ice? Italian Ice is usually made with natural fruits, purées, & concentrates. Italian ice is prepared using machines that mix the ingredients while they freeze them, much like the process used to make ice cream.

Famous USA Italian Ice Makers

 John's Water Ice (Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) has been producing delicious high quality Italian ice since 1945. John Cardullo started this business using his secret recipe of: Hand Picked Fresh Fruits, Water, & Sugar. Ever since he began making his famous Italian Ice, it has become a regional dessert of Philadelphia.

A Super Easy & Tasty Italian Ice Recipe: Blue Raspberry Ice 

***Production time is about 18-20 minutes.


  • Neutral Sorbet Base - 1 pouch
  • Warm Water - 2 gallons (16 ounces)
  • Sugar - 4 pounds
  • Citric Acid - 1-2 ounces
  • Blue Raspberry Purée - 1-2 ounces

Make sure you stir all of your ingredients together in the machine. Then after running your Ice recipe through the machine, you can put your Italian Ice directly into the Nelson dipping cabinet (temperature of 15°F).

What Are The Profit Margins Of Italian Ice?

The Average profit margin of selling Italian ice is about 40-93% depending on the recipe, materials, labor, etc. But for simplicities' sake we made a small calculation of the cost of goods sold for Italian Ice.

Cost of Goods Sold For Italian Ice

**Costs are calculated for a 3 gallon tub

***Water doesn’t need to be filtered in small towns, you can just use regular tap water because locals are used to the taste. But if you live in a large tourist driven city (like Miami, FL), you must filter the water because tourists might not be accustomed to the local water’s taste.

1. Cost of importing Italian Ice from a third party company:

{$24 (Tub of Italian ice) + $10 (Shipping cost per tub) + $3 (Storage for excess ice)} = $37

 2. Using a Lemon Extract:

{$1.20 (Lemon extract) + $1.75 (Sugar) + $0.05 (Water)} = $2.90

3. Using a Lemon Base:

{$3.75 (Lemon Base) + $1.75 (Sugar) + $0.05 (Water)} = $5.55

4. Using Fresh Lemon Juice:

{$4.25 (Real Lemons) + $1.75 (Sugar) + $0.05 (Water)} = $6.05

What is the difference in net profit between making italian ice with real lemons instead of a lemon extract?

Only a small difference of $3.10. Out of a 3 gallon tub we produce 384 ounces of product. This is served in 4 ounce portions which gives us 96 servings. If we sell this for $2, which is very cheap for Italian Ice, our gross profit is $192 per 3 gallon tub. If we take away the cost of making the Italian ice with fresh lemons, our net profit is about $186!

So for $3.10 you are providing your customers with the freshest & healthiest Italian ice! Always try to make Italian ice as fresh as possible, your customers will feel greatly appreciate the quality & come back to you because of it. If you have a more difficult recipe to produce like bubble gum flavor or root beer, we recommend you use a base. If all else fails, use the extract but you should always produce your own Italian Ice.

What Type Of Machine Can I Buy To Make Delicious Italian Ice?

We recommend you use Batch Freezers to make Italian Ice. Our Premium Batch Freezers are specialized to help you make the best Italian Ice your customers have ever tasted. Check out our Batch Freezers or Call us at 352-262-9627 for more information.


* Follow all local and national health codes. Always refer to local and national rules. This article is just a suggestion.


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