Basil Ice Cream (Low Carb)


This post isn’t just about recipe, it’s also a plea for help. Send me your ideas for using up huge amounts of basil, please! We are drowning in the fragrant stuff. I planted a few seeds in an Earthbox on our patio in June, and its been growing like gangbusters. Even making several large batches of pesto has hardly put a dent in it. Every time we cut it, it grows back bigger and fuller than it was before. We simply can’t keep up! I’ve given fistfuls of basil away to friends and family, I’ve had fresh tomatoes with basil almost every night for dinner, I’ve made spicy beef and basil stir fry. I need more ideas, so please, send me your basil recipes.

This ice cream recipe was obviously born of the need to use up some basil. Sadly, it only used a measly three tablespoons! I can’t remember when I first came across a recipe for basil ice cream but I found the idea intriguing. Like most people, I think of basil as something that complements savoury dishes. I am not sure I would have attempted it in a sweet dish if we didn’t have so much. Fresh basil is usually a precious commodity in our house, bought at the grocery store with a specific recipe in mind and any leftovers are made into my husband’s wonderful pesto. But our abundance of basil got me thinking about using it in different ways.

I’ve also been meaning to make some low carb ice cream. For those of us with blood sugar issues, there aren’t a lot of storebought options. The sugar-free varieties often have as many carbs as regular ice cream, and even the truly low carb versions have a lot of fillers that don’t really need to be there. It’s quite surprising, given that making ice cream low carb isn’t particularly hard. More cream and less milk cuts out a lot of the carbs in one fell swoop and makes for a richer tasting dessert. So it wasn’t a huge cognitive leap to make some low carb basil ice cream. I wasn’t sure my kids would go for it, but I was willing to give it a try.


The Results: Basil ice cream is really quite lovely, I must say. The basil flavour is subtle but unmistakeable. I find that as I take a bite, I keep expecting it to be savoury and I’m a little surprised when it’s sweet instead, but it’s delicious. It’s also quite refreshing, and not overpoweringly sweet like some traditional flavours of ice cream (and I say that as one who loves the cloyingly sweet chocolates and caramels of traditional ice cream!). I am a fan, and will be making this again. I might also experiment with other herb-infused ice creams. Any suggestions???

As with most homemade ice creams, the leftovers harden significantly when kept in the freezer. Let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.

Basil Ice Creamadapted from

2 cups half and half (or 1 cup half and half, 1 cup whole milk)
3 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
pinch salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
20 drops stevia extract

In a medium saucepan, bring half and half, basil, erythritol and salt to a gentle boil. Let steep for 30 minutes.

Transfer cream basil mixture to a blender and blend until basil is finely ground. You may want to cover the lid of your blender with a tea towel, as it tends to spill over when you turn the blender on.

Beat egg yolks in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thick and golden, about one minute. Add cream basil mixture in a stream and beat until combined. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture steams but does not boil. It should register 175F on an instant-read thermometer and be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Set bowl into a larger bowl of ice water and let cool 10 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly in refrigerator, at least three hours.

Stir in cream and stevia and churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. When it resembles soft serve ice cream, transfer to an airtight container, cover surface with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Serves 6. 12.5g total carbs per serving. 4.6g of carbs if you subtract erythritol.

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  1. abcsandgardenpeas says

    Interesting! I have tons of basil myself, and never would have thought of this. I was envisioning weeks and weeks of meatballs…

    I really need to take a cue from your low-carb recipes. I need to get back to the way I was eating when I had GD. Why is it that I ate (almost) perfectly when my baby was growing, but I don't feel like I'm important enough on my own? Hmmm…..

  2. Mary says

    Your ice cream sounds quite lovely. Have you tried flavoring olive or vegetable oil with basil? I must tell you how much I enjoy your blog. This was my first visit but it won't be my last. I love your recipes and the food you feature. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  3. The Urban Baker says

    Carolyn, this looks fantastic! I love the smell of basil! What I would do with tons of basil. Make Pesto. Freeze it in ice cream cube trays. Once frozen, put in baggies. Keep some for yourself, wrap some up ( with a cute bow) and give to your neighbors. They will love you even more than they already do!

  4. Sprinkled with Flour says

    This looks delicious. I love using herbs in ice cream, I just made a rosemary ice cream that was really good. Have you tried making basil infused butter? Melt your butter and basil in a saucepan and let steep. Then let the butter harden again. You've got basil butter! Great to spread on bread, or use to sautee vegetables.

  5. Carolyn says

    Love the ideas, everyone. I will definitely do some infused oil and some butter, and pesto cubes are a smart way to use it too.
    And for all of you…definitely try the basil ice cream! Whether you do it wih real sugar or go low carb, it's really a nice, unexpected flavour!

  6. Sophie says

    Hello Carolyn!!

    Your basil ice cream looks fabulous & I so much love your presentation too!

    MMMMMMMMMMM,…lovely food!

  7. Stella says

    Hey Carolyn, I love basil ice cream. I used to work at a restaurant that made an organic vanilla basil ice cream-it was wonderful. Yours sounds extra delicious too!
    Hey, I need to look at your post below as the photo made me want to eat it (smile), but first I have a sunflower seed pesto post on my blog. An inexpensive (pine nut free), delicious pesto of sorts that is great on pasta, meats, etc. It's good…

  8. Healthy Mamma says

    Oh I love my fellow bloggers for such amazing ideas like this! I am dusting off my Old Fashioned Ice Cream maker right now!
    As mentioned already, I usually make a lot of pesto and put it on sandwhiches and wraps instead of mayo or over fish and bake it (super yummy recipe on my blog for that one!) I never thought of freezing it, bravo to Urban Baker!
    I also julieene and put it in my Thai food, basil goes excellent w Thai food & peanut sauce!

  9. Healthy Mamma says

    Oh, no one mentioned my #1 favorite thing to make w basil, Bruschetta! Fresh, warm tomatoes, whole, soft mozzerella, basil and I sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top. Drizzle w balsamic vinegar and EVOO!

  10. she's cookin' says

    Low carb ice cream – I'm in! I've been seeing so many delicious ice cream photos that I asked for an ice cream maker for my birthday. Guess what – I got one, so tomorrow we're breaking it in!

  11. Carolyn says

    Gwen, love the idea of the bruschetta, sounds to die for!
    Priscilla, have fun with the IC maker. I think you'll love it. It's fun to mess around and try out flavour combinations.

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