Basil Ice Cream


Summer is in full swing, and our basil plants are too. I’m out there every day, harvesting as much as I can use to keep the plants from going to seed.


Even better, the fresh milk from Windsor Dairy is especially beautiful right now — our weekly jars are now topped with an extra-thick layer of yellow cream that changes flavor each week as the cows get into different herbs and grasses.


Soon, I’ll be making a lot of fresh mozzarella for caprese salad. But while we wait impatiently for our 30(!) tomato plants to start producing, I’ve been using our abundant supply of basil and fresh milk to make ice cream.

Now you might only associate basil with savory dishes, and think that basil ice cream sounds gross. I get it. But I tried putting basil and peaches together in a jam (to be shared with you soon; it’s almost peach season too!) and I realized that basil works just as well with sweet flavors.


As with many of the things I learned to cook early on, this recipe (and also the aforementioned jam) is based on one from Gourmet. My battered yellow book has never led me astray, and so I took a chance on this ice cream, too. I’m so glad I did.heat_to_170_then_strain

When paired with sugar and milk, the clean, spicy flavor of basil reaches new heights. It tastes like anise with some chai spices mixed in, and it’s comforting and refreshing all at once. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup heavy cream, but I just use the top from a fresh jar of milk since it’s mostly cream, and add an extra yolk for good measure. Assuming you’re using homogenized milk, you’ll probably want to throw in some cream unless you’re going for more of an ice-milk texture (which is also delicious, just so you know.)

Basil Ice Cream

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours

Yield: about 3 cups

Basil Ice Cream

Basil is surprisingly good in desserts, with a spicy flavor that's a bit like anise. This ice cream is especially good with peaches.


  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk (Or 2 cups milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream for a creamier ice cream.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • salt
  • Special Equipment:
  • Ice cream maker
  • Blender (immersion, if you have it)
  • Candy (or instant read) thermometer


  1. Combine milk, basil and half of the sugar (1/4 cup) in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and bring just to a boil over low-medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) to finely chop basil, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk yolks with remaining sugar until pale, about 1 minute.
  4. Add milk mixture to yolks in a slow steady stream, beating until well combined.
  5. Pour mixture back into saucepan and insert candy thermometer now, if using. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches 175F and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  6. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours and up to 24.
  7. Freeze in an ice cream maker.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation