My husband, Steve, is the best. I make mistakes, and sometimes I’m a big doofus. And yet, he loves me anyway. We’ve been married for almost three years but it feels like I’ve known and loved him always, and I wouldn’t choose anyone else to spend the rest of my life with.

Steve has been extra patient with me recently and so when he asked if I would make him some basil ice cream, I couldn’t say no. We were treated to some amazing basil gelato at a small event organized by The Vintage Mixer at Vinto pizzeria here in Salt Lake City. It was presented with a sampling of other gelato flavors and Steve was alone in singling out the basil and happily lapped up the majority of it. And he’s been talking about it ever since.

I don’t blame him, really. The gelato’s flavor was clean and bright, only slightly sweet and bursting with basil. He’s the kind of person that prefers the savory to sweet (I couldn’t be more opposite) and so this is his perfect dessert. It’s in dishes like this that our tastes collide.

Our barrel herb garden that we planted this spring has flourished, particularly the boxwood basil that I bought on impulse from the nursery. The small plant with dainty leaves that I started with has expanded to an almost obnoxious bush. It may look different but it’s just as aromatic as regular basil.

Once the boxwood basil is blended together with sugar and cream, thickened with egg yolks, and brightened with a pinch of lemon zest, you can’t tell any difference. For those of us that love basil (and I’m assuming that’s pretty much everybody), this is a wonderfully refreshing alternative to more traditional ice cream flavors like chocolate and vanilla.

And since it uses a seasonal ingredient that you might have growing in your back yard, or could easily find at your local farmer’s market, it just screams summer to me. When the leaves have fallen from the trees and snow covers the ground, it will be dishes like this that I’ll think of and long for.

So in honor of Steve, and summer, I leave you with the recipe and hope that you don’t take anything for granted— warm weather, the fresh bounty of the season, and most of all, the ones you love.

You might enjoy other ice creams with unusual flavors:
Avocado Ice Cream by Two Peas and their Pod
Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream by Brown Eyed Baker
Candied Bacon Ice Cream by David Lebovitz
Honey Sage Ice Cream by The Cilantropist

Basic Ice Cream
From The Perfect Scoop
Makes about 1 quart
Print this recipe

1 cup packed basil leaves
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1 lemon

Use a food processor to grind the basil leaves with the sugar and one cup of the heavy cream, until the leaves are ground as fine as possible. Pour half of the mixture through a strainer into a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream.

Heat the other half of the basil mixture in a saucepan along with the whole milk and salt over medium heat. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. When the basil mixture is steaming, slowly pour into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Return the mixture back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about five minutes. Pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl with the cream mixture. Zest the lemon directly into the custard, then cool over an ice bath while stirring.

Chill completely, then freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let harden in the freezer for a few hours before serving.

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25 Responses to Basil Ice Cream

  1. Chelsea says:

    Yum!! That is a whole lot of basil, I am jealous! I love basil this looks great. I don't know how exactly, but I bet it would be good to pair it with something savory in a meal…

  2. Becky at VintageMixer says:

    Can't wait to try it!! The basil gelato at Vinto was definitely worth trying to make at home!

  3. BreAna {Sugar and Spice and All Things Iced} says:

    I haven't tried basil in ice cream yet, but I have a ton of basil in my garden! I'l definitely have to give this a shot!

  4. Flavia says:

    What a lovely post Annalise. I love the idea of making ice cream with basil. Your pictures are wonderful, as always. Hope things ate going well for you. {hugs}

  5. Jennifurla says:

    This is so cool, what a neat flavor…I wish I had the barrel of basil!

  6. Priya says:

    Flavourful icecream,quite new for me..

  7. Kelley says:

    I love the picture of the basil bush as much as I love this recipe. That is without a doubt the daintiest basil I've ever seen! Steve DID love the gelato, didn't he?

  8. Erika Beth, the Messy Chef says:

    What a lovely idea for a flavor of ice cream! I'm sure it would go great with a sugar cookie!

  9. Bev Weidner says:

    Oh my freak. Seriously, this is divine. I'm dying.

  10. Sarah B. @ Lemon Fire Brigade says:


    My mouth is watering.

    I love the light tinge of green that the basil brings in. So subtle and beautiful. Great post and wonderful idea there from your hubby 🙂 I wonder if mine would like it…oh man, I'm DYING for this. Basil is the BEST herb. YUM.

  11. myfudo says:

    Fabulous! never thought that basil could blend as a delightful twist on this mouth watering ice cream.

  12. Tres Delicious says:

    I need to try this. looks delicious. Basil ice cream for dessert!!!

  13. Kalyn says:

    Wow. I am just imagining how incredible this must taste. My boxwood basil is flourishing too; need to use it!

  14. Stephane Rose says:

    Never thought to mix basil and ice cream. I have to give this a go! Beautiful pictures btw.

  15. Kelsey says:

    Perfect. This looks absolutely delicious, and your boxwood basil plant looks fantastic! Congrats on three soul-filled years of love.


  16. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says:

    Love this!! Hope you are doing well!

  17. Maria says:

    That gelato was quite tasty! Glad you recreated it! I will have to try it-our basil is going crazy this year!

  18. We Are Not Martha says:

    That basil is beautiful!! I have a regular plant that is growing SO well, I need to re-plant it into a bigger pot. Yay! This ice cream looks perfect- I could eat basil in everything!


  19. Connie the Cookie Monster says:

    definitely one the of weirdest ice cream flavours i have heard!

  20. Mary says:

    This sounds unusual and delicious. Your photos are wonderful as well. This is my first visit to your blog so I decided to browse through some of your earlier entries while I was here. I'm so glad I did that.I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day.Blessings…Mary

  21. Victor says:

    I heard of strawberry and tarragon ice cream. Basil, that's a first.

  22. Amy J. and Tiffanie A. says:

    I freaking love basil and ice cream!!! Put them together viola! I would have been odded out by this recipe but a few weeks ago your going to DIE but I had bacon ice cream! It was good for the first bite but after that not worth it! I think yours sounds and looks awesome!

    We just started following your blog!!


  23. With Style and Grace says:

    This sounds [and looks] amazing!

  24. Derek says:

    I am dying to try this. Yum.

  25. mike says:

    Basil ice cream is very good! I didnt use this recipe, but ive done it with shortcake and rosé wine macerated strawberries and mint whip cream. Im pairing ot now with an heirloom cherry tomato jam. Just some accomaniment ideas to share, enjoy!

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