Creamy Basil Ice Cream – just like in Italy

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This creamy Basil Ice Cream takes me straight back to Italy! There’s something magical about the combination of cream, basil and this hint of lemon that will make you fall in love with this unusual ice cream flavor!

Easy Basil Ice Cream Recipe from Italy

Disclaimer: A note about affiliate links in this post: some of these links will take you to Amazon where I may receive a small percentage of sales, at no extra cost to you. 


I’m back from Italy – with a super special basil gelato recipe!

Hey, guys! So it’s been a bit quiet on the blog, which has a lot to do with us just having returned from an epic 2-month Europe trip! As you can imagine, there were quite a lot of bills to pay, doctor’s appointments to finally make, loose ends to tie up….We pretty much spent 2 weeks just puttering around.

With reality hitting that hard, we like to once in a while just take a minute and think back to the wonderful things we’ve seen …and most of all, the stuff we have eaten.

The one dish that I fell for the hardest, was actually a gelato flavor, that I have never had before. We spent about a week in the beautiful coastal villages of Cinque Terre, in Liguria and it was in the little magical village of Corniglia, where we discovered the delicacy that is Basil Ice Cream!


Basil and lemon – the winning flavor combination for the most refreshing ice cream ever!

Basil is kind of a big thing in Liguria, where it finds perfect growing conditions! Yes, you guessed it -, this is also the province where the famous Pesto Genovese comes from! Another thing you’ll see a lot of are lemon trees! At a little gelato stand, we fell in love with the specialità della casa, the Basil Ice Cream with Lemon! I made a mental note to try and reproduce this delightfully unusual ice cream as soon as we get home.

Italian Basil Ice Cream Recipe with Lemon Zest

Rub the grated lemon zest into the sugar for extra lemon aroma!

I found a really great looking recipe for basil ice cream in one of my go-to book when it comes to ice cream: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebowitz! I cannot recommend this book enough! I did make some changes to the recipe though, like rubbing the lemon zest right into the sugar instead of just adding the zest to the ice cream base. I find the lemon flavor spreads more evenly that way.

Best Basil Ice Cream Recipe from Italy

Easy to make and soooo delicious! Try my Creamy Basil Gelato this summer!

Cream, Basil, Lemon…I tell you, this Basil Ice Cream is a MUST TRY! The slight hint of lemon you get right in the end is just perfect. It somehow brightens the basil ice cream without dominating the flavor profile.

The recipe for this creamy Basil Ice Cream is quite easy and you only need about a handful of ingredients! Note that this ice cream recipe uses egg yolks to get the perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture.

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A note about affiliate links in this post: some of these links will take you to Amazon where I may receive a small percentage of sales, at no extra cost to you. 

5 from 7 votes

Creamy Basil Ice Cream | Italian Gelato Recipe

This creamy Basil Ice Cream takes me straight back to Italy! There's something magical about the combination of cream, basil and this hint of lemon! You will love this unusual ice cream flavor!

Course Dessert, icecream
Cuisine europe, france, italy
Keyword basil, creamy, dessert, easy, gelato, icecream, Italian, lemon
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 portions
Calories 300 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson


  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 25 to 30 g basil leaves
  • 500 ml cream
  • 250 ml full fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 large egg yolks


  1. Measure out the sugar. Zest lemon directly into the sugar and rub everything together for about a minute or so, until the sugar gets fragrant. 

  2. Use a food processor to grind the basil leaves with the lemon sugar and one cup of the heavy cream, until the leaves are ground as fine as possible. Be careful not to whip the cream already. Feel free to pre-grind the basil with a bit of the milk from the recipe before adding the cream. Pour half of the mixture through a strainer into a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream.

  3. Heat the other half of the basil lemon puree 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.

  4. 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. Cool custard over an ice bath while stirring.

  5. 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.

Like my recipe for Lemon- Kissed Basil Ice Cream? Pin it!

Lemon Basil Ice Cream Recipe

creamy basil ice cream with lemon

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  1. Hmmm das klingt ja abgefahren lecker <3
    Danke für die Inspiration!
    Gruß scrapkat

  2. Liebe Kiki, das sieht ja so lecker aus, allein schon die Farbe ist ein Traum. Ich liebe Basilikum sehr und habe auch schon damit süss gebacken, es passt wunderbar. Hab vielen Dank für deinen Beitrag , liebe Grüsse Birgit

  3. 2 months Europe trip sounds really good! It is a perfect time to forget about cooking and explore all the new flavors from European cuisine) Love your recipe and definitely will try it!

    • Hi Veronika! Oh, it was the best and I came home with tons of inspiration! I am happy you like the recipe and I’m sure you are going to love it!Cheers, Kiki

  4. Basil icecream sounds divine! I love interesting flavors like this, in an old favorite dessert. so refreshing, so yummy!!

    • You and I both! I love to be surprised by all those new summer creations ice cream parlors come up with every year! Thanks so much for stopping by!Cheers, Kiki

  5. I have never tried basil ice cream. In fact, I have never tried basil in a sweet dish. What an interesting recipe, and I can totally see why this is eaten in Italy….one place I would visit!!

  6. Ohhh, I love basil! Family doesn’t so much, but that means that this could just be all mine! Yum, yum!

  7. Love this..I love homemade icecream but have never tried herbs in icecream.. I love the colour it looks amazing

  8. I must try this recipe. It is the most interesting recipe I have seen in a while. Love those flavors and cannot wait to try it. I bet it is so refreshing.

  9. Wow this ice cream looks delightful the basil ? makes it really inetetesting i wish I could try it now yummy

  10. This is really unique ice cream. I have seen recipes with strawberries and basil but with lemon basil is first time. Love this need to try it.

  11. Glaube das könnte auch mein Lieblingseis werden! Habe schon einige Eisrezepte ausprobiert, aber bis jetzt war es leider immer ziemlich hart….bin mal gespannt.
    Lg Dagmar

    • Du, das freut mich! Ich bin mir sicher, dass dir das Eis super schmeckt und ich war wirklich total überrascht von der Cremigkeit! Ich wünsch dir gutes Gelingen! Vlg Kiki

  12. Pingback: Bester selbstgemachter Limoncello - so einfach geht der italienische Zitronenlikör

  13. Das hört sich lecker an. Kann man das auch mit Basilikum-Sirup herstellen, anstelle frischem Basilikum?

  14. Vielen Dank für dieses Rezept. Cremig, Luftig, Pfeffrig nach Basilikum und nicht zu süß.
    Ich habe in einem Wasserbad erhitzt so ist das Risiko geringer das es gerinnt. Hast du vielleicht noch ein Rezept für eine “Beilage”? Nur Erdbeeren finde ich zu so einem super Eis fast zu langweilig

  15. Hi, you only mention 1 lemon in your recipe, but adding zest in 2 plaves (with sugar at start and then at end over finished custard)…is that actually 2 lemons then? And dont you use the juice of the lemon anywhere? Ive made it and it tastes wonderful but wondering if adding some juice will add more zing? I will have to wait for it to finish churning to finalise the verdict! Very excited though, smells and looks amqzing! Thank you!

    • Hi there! You did it perfectly! The lemon zest of 1 lemon is rubbed into the sugar. I updated the recipe once I found out about that technique and forgot to delete the method I was using before. And no juice – that’s right! You could add some next time if you want it zingier – let me know how it goes! Have a great weekend and thanks for letting me know about the lemon-thing!

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