Basil (yes, Basil) Ice Cream

I’m gonna get right to it. This is delicious. 10 yrs ago my wine mentor and dear friend took me to a Cuban place for lunch and he knew that the chef there had an off-the-menu basil ice cream. I can taste it as if it were yesterday. Well, I finally snapped. I worked up a 2-step process to infuse the rich sweetness of fresh basil into heavy cream and I swear it’s a dead match. Most people that have tasted this have been blown away (much like my family). Only a few are tripped up by the juxtaposition of an herb normally found prominent in tomato bisques and Caprese salads being joyfully infused into a frozen dessert. Me personally – I have a hard time keeping myself from binging on the stuff.

Basil Ice Cream

1.5 C. heavy cream

1.5 C. whole milk

2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

3 eggs

1C. sugar

3 drops green food coloring (for the next batch I will try one of many natural food colorings. Stay tuned for the update)


In a medium saucepan gently scald milk and cream mixture over med-high heat (scald=just barely simmering). Toss half of the basil leaves into cream. Give the milk mixture a quick stir, cover pot and set aside off heat for ~15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix sugar and eggs with an electric mixer using a whisk attachment until pale yellow and smooth.

Pour or ladle a small amount of cream mixture into the egg mixture. Quickly whisk by hand to incorporate and temper the hot cream into the egg mixture. Pour all of the egg mixture into the cream mixture along with the rest of the basil leaves and whisk to incorporate.

Place saucepan back onto low heat and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until mixture is slightly thicker.


Pour through strainer into a sealable container, add 3 drops of green food coloring and stir.

Refrigerate mix for 4 hours.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions.


If using a small home unit, make sure not to over-churn or ice cream will end up with a chalky mouthfeel. 15-18 minutes is fine. It will look more like a thick milkshake than soft-serve. Pour into your favorite container(s) and into the freezer they go. I tailored the quantities to fix the mixture into exactly two pint-sized containers.

Let set in freezer for several hours until firmly set.


If you want to seriously up the ante, throw some toasted pine nuts on top. Yes, yes, it’s obvious I could put toasted pine nuts on anything… but this actually makes serious culinary sense. Who wants to guess why?

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