Today we’re making refreshing Italian cream sodas ~ from scratch! No bottled flavorings here, just fresh fruit syrup, lots of fizz, and a touch of cream
Italian cream soda is a classic refresher that’s been around since the early soda fountain days of the 1920s, and you can easily make it at home! Made with fruit syrup, carbonated water, and a touch of cream, it’s lighter than a frappe or a smoothie, and so refreshing. Italian soda can be made with virtually any type of fruit (think raspberry, blackberry, peach, or pineapple) so it’s a lot of fun to play around with different combinations. Today I’m making my soda with a fruit syrup made with fresh Italian plums, but I’ll also show you how to make this easy drink with readymade flavoring syrups like Torani.
did you know?
Italian cream soda, aka “crema” or “cremosa,” originated in the United States rather than Italy, despite its name.
The fizzy drink is often attributed to the California based Torani syrup company. Founders Rinaldo and Ezilda Torre brought their syrup recipes from Lucca, Italy in 1925 and introduced them to San Francisco’s North End, a first generation Italian-American neighborhood, at a time when soda fountains were all the rage.
They experimented with adding cream to their traditional Italian style sodas and the cream soda was born!
what you’ll need for Italian cream soda
The difference between my Italian cream soda recipe and others is that I’m using a fresh fruit syrup, made from scratch, rather than a bottled product. The flavor is vibrant and natural, which makes this Italian cream soda stand out from the others.
- fresh fruit
- today I’m using Italian prune plums which I spotted in my supermarket: they’re small to medium-sized, oval-shaped plums with dark blue or purple skin. The flesh of Italian prune plums is bright yellow or amber, and they have great flavor.
- sugar is not only used for sweetness, it actually brings out flavors. Taste it before and after adding sugar and you’ll see! Use honey if you prefer.
- lemon juice
- lemon juice adds tartness and blooms the fruit flavors in Italian cream soda.
- seltzer or carbonated water
- half and half or cream
- you have lots of leeway to experiment with non dairy creamers, coconut milk or cream, cashew cream, etc. If you do use a creamer product that contains sugar, omit the added sugar in the recipe. Be aware that half and half can curdle when mixed with acidic fruits like citrus, so cream is a better choice there. The greater fat content of heavy cream prevents curdling.
- optional: vanilla or almond flavoring
a better method
I love my method for making fruit purees for easy sodas and cocktails, etc. It’s a quick, less mess, less waste method that lets you get to homemade soda in record time.
- Wash, pit and puree the raw fruit
- then bring the puree to a boil in a saucepan with a little sugar and lemon juice
- and strain!
I love the juxtaposition between the purple peels, the bright green interiors, and the magenta puree ~ nature’s pretty wild! (There’s no food coloring in that puree.) When you puree the fruit really well the natural color in the peels permeates through. Heating it up also helps bring out the color.
how to make Italian cream soda
- Fill a glass with ice: fill a tall glass with ice cubes.
- Add flavored syrup: Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your chosen flavored syrup into the glass. The amount of syrup you use depends on your taste preferences and the glass size. You can adjust the quantity to make it as sweet as you like.
- Pour in bubbly water: Slowly pour club soda or sparkling water into the glass, leaving a bit of space at the top to add the cream. (If you stop at this point you’ve made a healthy homemade soda.)
- Add half and half or cream: Gently pour a small amount of half-and-half or cream over the club soda.
- Stir gently: Use a long spoon or straw to gently stir the syrup, club soda, and cream together. This will create a beautiful swirling effect.
- Top with whipped cream and cherry: If desired, add a dollop of whipped cream on top of the cream layer. Garnish with a maraschino cherry for a classic pop of color and flavor.
variations on Italian cream soda
Feel free to use many other types of fruit for your syrup. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, etc., are all good choices. Prep them the same way, and add sugar and lemon to taste.
Make this vegan using coconut cream or other dairy free cream of choice.
To make Italian soda just omit the cream element. Italian soda is simply flavored syrup mixed with carbonated water over ice.
Use honey instead of sugar to sweeten your soda.
Use readymade flavored syrups, such as Torani, to make a quick Italian cream soda. Vanilla, almond, grenadine, pomegranate, etc., are a few suggestions. Commercial flavoring syrups are concentrated, so you won’t use as much.
Create sophisticated combinations using herb or spice flavored syrups like matcha/vanilla, blackberry/sage, or lemon/thyme.
more refreshing drink recipes
- Frozen Mint Lemonade (Limonana)
- Creamy Lemonade ~ better than TikTok’s!
- Fresh Peach Lemonade
- Rosemary Lemonade
- Fresh Strawberry Milk
- Homemade Cream Soda!
- Rhubarb Soda
Italian Cream Soda
- 1 lb Italian prune plums
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice plus more to taste.
- 3 Tbsp sugar, or to taste, you may like more or less.
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract, optional.
- crushed ice
- sparkling water
- 1 ½ cups half and half or cream. (Add 3-4 tablespoons to each drink.)
- whipped cream
- maraschino cherry
- Wash and pit the plums. Add them to a high speed blender along with the water and puree until completely smooth. You will see the color develop as the machine pulverizes the peels. When it's as smooth as you can get it (you will still see very tiny bits of peel) transfer to a medium saucepan.
- Add sugar and lemon juice to the pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a full boil, stirring with a silicone spoonula almost constantly so it doesn't scorch.
- Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer. Push it through with the back of your silicone spoon so you get as much through as possible. You should only be left with a thin dry layer of solids. You'll have about 2 cups of plum puree/syrup. Chill the syrup.
- When ready to make your cream soda, fill a glass with crushed ice. Add about 1/4 cup of the plum syrup to the glass. Fill almost to the top with sparkling water. Drizzle cream into the glass. Serve as is or top with whipped cream and a cherry.
- Follow the directions in step 4 of my recipe substituting readymade syrup for the scratch made fruit syrup. Readymade syrup is quite concentrated, so you will use less of it ~ start with 2 tablespoons and add to taste.