If you're looking for a refreshing, icy, adults-only sweet treat during these hot summer months, then look no farther than my spicy pineapple margarita granita. This granita is super easy to make, can be made in advance and doesn't require an ice cream maker. Made with sweet, fresh pineapple, lime juice, jalapeño, tequila and orange liquor, this sweet, tart and spicy spin on a pineapple margarita cocktail is perfect for sunny, summer days and is absolutely delicious.
What is granita?
Granita generally falls somewhere in between shaved ice and a sorbet. It's not as coarse as shaved ice, but not as smooth and fine as a sorbet. Typically, granita is made with a flavored liquid, water and a sugar syrup that is frozen and is scraped with a fork every couple hours to create small ice crystals. Granitas are more intense in flavor compared to shaved ice, or snow cones, but can come close to sorbets in the intensity of their flavors - particularly when using purées. Sorbets and granitas are usually made with the same ingredients, though sorbet is churned and granita is not. The stirring and scraping of granita every few hours allows for fine ice crystals to form, allowing the mixture to freeze in a shaved ice-state, but with smaller and more delicate ice crystals.
Granitas can be made with just about any sort of liquid, usually being some sort of fruit juice or puree. But other liquids like coffee, wine and even chocolate are used often as well. I prefer to use purées for the most concentrated flavor.
About the ingredients
A super ripe, fresh pineapple is the best for this recipe. Ripe pineapples are super sweet and have intense flavor, so not much sugar is added to this granita. Fresh lime juice is also needed for this recipe, as well as a small jalapeño. Don't be scared of the jalapeño. A bit of spicy heat goes so, so well with pineapple and really makes this granita special. There are ways to control the heat level in the granita that I'll hit on further down in the post.
Two different kinds of alcohol is used in the granita - tequila and orange liquor. I used Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila. Use the tequila you like to drink in your margaritas. You can use any orange liquor - I used Grand Marnier because it's what I use in my margaritas.
How to make this spicy pineapple margarita granita
This granita is super quick to pull together and involves little work. Make a simple syrup by combining the water, sugar and jalapeño in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, until the sugar is dissolved. This allows the jalapeño to steep and for the simple syrup to get infused with the heat and flavor.
*A note on jalapeño heat.* Heat and spice tolerance is subjective. What's spicy to you, may not be noticeable at all to me, and so on. I want you to love this granita with the jalapeño, so I'm going to give you some tips on how to get a sweet, even heat and not an overpowering spicy nightmare. The goal here is to have a perfectly balanced pineapple margarita granita with a smooth hint of heat.
When steeping the jalapeño, you can remove the seeds if you would like. This will help you err on the side of less heat in your syrup. I steep mine with the seeds to get the most flavor. The pineapple, lime juice, tequila, and orange liquor are blended until smooth in a blender. Then I determine how much heat I like in my granita but mixing in a little bit of the simple syrup at a time to the pineapple mixture, tasting it after each addition to determine if I need more. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't remove it. Jalapeños don't all have the same heat intensity - another reason to add the syrup little by little.
I should also mention that alcohol levels can be decreased or increased depending on your preference as well. This recipe is not intended to be a choose your own adventure type of recipe, but I'm merely pointing out, that it's 100% customizable to YOUR preferences, but can still create a delicious spicy pineapple margarita granita.
The mixture gets poured into a 13x9 or a shallow pan and popped in the freezer. Stir and scrape the granita every 30 minutes or so, mixing it up to break up any large chunks and ice crystals. This will also keep the mixture from separating. You will want to do this for 3 to 4 hours so that the ice crystals remain delicate and uniform and the consistency is close to that of a sorbet. At this point you can serve it or store it in the freezer.
I like to serve my spicy pineapple margarita granita in salt rimmed glasses and a sprig of mint. Enjoy!
Spicy Pineapple Margarita Granita
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 small jalepeno, or ½ of a large jalepeno, cut into pieces
- 1 lb (2 cups) fresh, ripe pineapple, peeled and cored
- ⅓-1/2 cup tequila, to taste
- 2 tablespoons orange liquor - I used Grand Marnier
- Juice of 1 lime
- In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and jalapeño over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, until the sugar is fully dissolved. Cool until just warm.
- Place the pineapple, lime juice, orange liquor, and tequila in a blender. Blend to combine
- Add the simple syrup a few tablespoons at a time, stopping to taste the mixture to determine if you want more heat. It's possible you will not use all of the syrup.
- Pour the pineapple mixture out into a shallow dish. I use a 13x9. Place the dish in the freezer.
- Stir and scrape the mixture every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours or until chilled through. Serve immediately or store for up to one week in the freezer.