Lemon Basil Sherbet

By • August 23, 2009 • 7 Comments



Author Notes: This is the first year that slugs did not devour my basil plants, leaving me with a surplus to play around with. Lighter than ice cream and creamier than sorbet, this lemon sherbet is tangy and bright, and the basil is a surprising complement to the fresh lemon. David Lebovitz's Lemon Sherbet recipe was my original inspiration for this slightly more indulgent incarnation, which incorporates cream, honey, and fresh basil. - Sandy SmithSandy Smith

Food52 Review: This sherbet is everything we want in a refreshing frozen treat. It's light and airy yet indulgent, with just the right balance of tart and sweet, and a hint of cream to round out the flavors. As if this weren't enough, Sandy Smith includes an inspired detail: she infuses the sherbet base with fresh basil leaves and then adds chopped basil before freezing the mixture. The results are subtle and bewitching. As Sandy notes in her recipe, the sherbet is best after a couple of hours in the freezer, as it emerges from the ice cream maker a bit soft. - A&MA&M

Serves about 1 quart

  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Juice of 3 lemons, chilled
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the half-and-half, sugar, honey, and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add 4 whole basil leaves. Using the back of a large spoon or ladle, bruise the basil leaves against the bottom of the pot. Cover and let steep 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the basil leaves and discard, then whisk in the milk. Place the mixture in an ice-water bath or refrigerate until completely chilled.
  3. Slice the remaining 4 basil leaves in very thin strips. Whisk the lemon juice into the chilled sherbet base, add the sea salt, and stir in the sliced basil. Taste for sweetness; adjust by adding an additional tablespoon or two of honey, if needed.
  4. Freeze the sherbet mixture in an ice-cream maker, following manufacturer's instructions. For optimal flavor and texture, freeze sherbet for a couple of hours before serving.
Jump to Comments (7)

Tags: citrus, frozen, herbs, Summer

Comments (7) Questions (1)

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about 2 years ago neighome

Love this recipe! So lemony and fresh! I sherbet is the perfect balance between creamy and refreshing. There wasn't as much basil flavor as I would like, though, so I'll add more next time. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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almost 3 years ago HoustonHeat

I've made this twice now and intend on making it regularly - it's the perfect balance between citrus tang and sweetness. I just used regular lemons, but will experiment with meyer lemons next. I don't have an ice cream maker, so followed DaniMama's suggestion of blending the ice hard frozen mixture in a blender (I don't have a food processor either). After blending, I let it freeze for another few hours, and then it truly became the texture of sherbet or sorbet. Great tip!

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about 3 years ago thirdchild

Just the right amount of tanginess and basil flavour, not vegetal-tasting, but supremely good. I served it with wild blueberry pie, and it was the perfect complement. Highly recommended, and thanks for the great recipe!

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about 3 years ago DaniMama

Made this without an ice-cream maker and it still came out great! I used meyer lemons and I added about an extra meyer lemon's worth of juice to the recipe. After allowing it to chill in the fridge for an hour or so, I froze it in an air tight container over night. I then carved out a serving into the food processor and blended it until it was nice and smooth. I liked this, too, because it kind of cut up the basil into even smaller pieces! Will make again!

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about 3 years ago qwickone

Mmm, mmm, MMM! The only thing I did differently was added more lemon juice until I was happy. I used it as a palate cleanser and it was FANtastic! Thanks for the recipe!

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about 4 years ago mdm

Delicious! I made this for my family and we all love it! Do you think this technique would work for other herbs? I'd like to make lavender ice cream, for example.

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about 4 years ago Sandy Smith

Yes! This technique works great for all manner of herbs and spices, and teas too. If you're using a dried herb, though, you'll only need about 1/3 as much. If you want to see how this would work with a tea, you might want to check out my blog post featuring my recipe for Earl Grey ice cream with crystallized ginger: http://www.atthebakersbench...

Cheers,
Sandy