Basil ice cream

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This is the David Lebovitz recipe (with variations and comments noted).

  • 1 cup (25 g) packed basil leaves.
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 lemon (for zest)

Grind the basil, sugar, and 1 cup of the cream until the leaves are as fine as possible. The best way to do this is most likely to grind the leaves with some of the cream and possibly the sugar (which may help grind the leaves) until finely ground, then add the rest of the liquid and sugar. If you add all the liquid at once in the food processor, you may accidentally make basil whipped cream (which is delicious!). Don't worry if you do this; you're going to mix it with liquid again anyway, and so it will re-liquify.

Pour half the basil mixture in a large bowl and add the remaining cup of cream.

Pour the other half into a saucepan with the milk and salt. Warm the mixture over medium heat until steaming.

Whisk the yolks, then temper with the milk mixture. Add the tempered eggs to the saucepan over medium heat, and mix thoroughly until the mixture is thickened.

Strain the milk mixture into the cream mixture, then zest the lemon into the custard. Cool.

Now make ice cream!


I originally made this on August 8, 2010 to complement a corn ice cream. I accidentally made basil whipped cream in the first step, which tasted delicious, and would have made a great complement to the corn ice cream. (It's also much easier to make.)

I used at least double the amount of basil specified, which is typically necessary for most recipes. It was probably overkill this time. I liked it, but it was definitely herby. Will try with less basil next time.

The ice cream has bits of basil leaves in it. I would strain these out next time, although it may temper the basil flavor.

Overall, this ice cream is a bit sweet. Would be good accompanied with something that balances out the sweetness.