OK - I can already guess what you are thinking; basil in a sorbet? Well, don't feel conservative, I felt the same a few days ago. We hosted a huge dinner tonight - 45 guests having 6 courses each. One of those courses was a palate cleansing sorbet between the entrée and main course. The chef I work with wanted a basil sorbet and I was a little nonplussed at his suggestion, I mean really - basil sorbet?

Hit the web if you feel like it and do a search for basil sorbet - I was surprised at the amount of hits I got. The problem was that none of the recipes were any good. Time was running short and I needed a recipe bad - so I went to work on my day off and spent hours mucking with the ice cream machine. This is what I got.

This basil sorbet is sublime - the herby flavour mingles delightfully with the sweet taste of sorbet, and the lime brings the whole into balance. Once served, the sorbet has an amazing sheen to the surface, due to the delicate balance of sugar, water and acid.

Any prejudices I had against basil sorbet have now disappeared. In fact, I have found it is fun to let people try and guess the flavour. Unless you let them know it is basil, most can't even guess. The 45 portions we sent out tonight, single scoop in martini glasses, scented the whole dining room. It was magic.

Here is how I did it


  • 400 ml sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 lime
  • Method

    Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan and set over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then stop stirring and simmer for 3 minutes.

    Remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool. Pick the leaves from the bunch of basil and wash well. If you have a salad spinner, dry them, if not just place the leaves on a kitchen towel and pat dry.

    Place the cooled syrup and basil leaves into a cocktail blender and pulse until the basil is completely pureed. Juice the lime and add to the basil mixture. Place into your ice cream machine and churn until just set. Remove the sorbet to the freezer and allow to set for at least 3 hours.

  • This quantity makes about 600 ml or 1 pint – roughly enough for 6 serves. If you need more, just double the quantities for all the ingredients exactly.
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