strawberry basil sorbet

one giant scoop

For many of us Memorial Day signifies the official start of Summer. And while our calendars tell us that Summer doesn’t really kick off for another few weeks, in my mind it has already arrived. Strawberries have arrived at the farmers’ market.

I look to strawberries to signal Summer’s approach, and as soon as they appear at the farm stand, I proclaim it to be summer and proceed with all kinds of strawberry shenanigans. Last year they were added to a blueberry pie (technically making it strawberry blueberry pie), were introduced to buttermilk granita, and folded into a dimply buttermilk cake. The year before, they played a leading role in a shortcake production.

strawberry basil sorbet

Most often, however, we eat our strawberries plain, gently cleaned with a wet towel, and often dipped in heavy cream. But I’m always tempted to make them into something that highlights their fragrance, their natural abundance of juice, their summer sweetness. It is impossible to bite into a ripe summer strawberry and not break into a smile.

slurry from above

It just so happens that oftentimes Memorial Day coincides with strawberries’ seasonal return? Hooray! It’s time for sundresses and flip-flops and lazy lemonades and grilling. Time to leave your house with sopping wet hair (it’ll cool you off on a sweltering day); time to get your picnic on; and time for sorbet – strawberry sorbet to be precise. Maybe even strawberry sorbet with a subtle hint of basil to brighten it up.

strawberry basil sorbet

Sorbets, compared to ice creams, are easy-peasy – with only the waiting time to slow you down. There are no temperamental egg-custards to deal with – just fruit, sugar, maybe a dash of vodka or liqueur, and your trusty, dependable ice cream machine. I think they go over easier too, especially on those days when the just the idea of a creamy dessert makes you sluggish.

my afternoon snack

And best of all – sorbet is a fantastic, lovely way to highlight strawberries at the peak of their season, bursting with the kind of summery sweetness nature allows only for a few (unfairly) short weeks. Maybe you can whip up a batch this holiday weekend, and start off your summer on a sweet note.

Strawberry Basil Sorbet

1 cup sugar
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons vodka


1. To make basil simple syrup, in a small pot over medium heat, combine 1 cup water, the sugar and basil leaves and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; steep 15 minutes, then strain the syrup into a clean container. Bring to room temperature or refrigerate until cold.

2. Puree the strawberries in the food processor until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vodka and 3/4 cups of the basil simple syrup and pulse to combine. Chill the mixture for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

3. Pour the chilled strawberry mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Spoon the sorbet into a container and freeze for 4 hours to firm up.

Makes about 1 pint.


  • Winnie

    Beautiful and delicious Olga! I cannot wait to have strawberries in my garden….should be another few weeks before they’re ready. Thank you so much for everything this weekend- including the bed and the friendship- I hope to see you again very soon :)

  • Kalyn

    Oh wow, does that ever sound good! My favorite way to eat strawberries is dipped into sour cream and them brown sugar. It’s something I learned to love when I worked in a French restaurant (*many* years ago!)

  • Radish

    Kalyn – mine too!! I actually mix a little heavy cream into my sour cream (for extra fat!) :) and it is heavenly!!

    Winnie – so jealous you have home-grown strawberries! And please don’t thank me – friends are SUPPOSED to be there for one another. Hugs to you. And yes, hope to see you soon!!

  • Molly

    We used to go strawberry picking near the farms by my parents’ house in Western Massachusetts. I had forgotten how terrific they were until last year when I went picking with a bunch of friends as a kind of retro day. The plan was to make them into all sorts of things: jams, pizzas, frozen confections, but they were so unbelievably delicious, we ended up just eating all of them from the boxes instead.

    Last year I made a peach-basil ice cream, but I love the idea of a dairy-free dessert.

  • jordan

    i’m weird and love strawberries dunked in a little good balsamic vinegar. it’s so wrong, but it’s way more right….

  • Dana

    I agree with Jordan, especially if you reduce that balsamic vinegar down into an almost syrup. this looks like a tasty sorbet too!

  • Radish

    Brian – it was indeed! Sadly, you can’t taste the vodka – but it’s there to keep the texture less like granita and more like sorbet.

  • Juanita

    Very refreshing blend of tastes. Perfect for that “sorbet for the palate” in between courses thing some shee-shee-poo-poo restaurants do.

  • Kristen Hess

    This looks so refreshing and delicious! Is there a way to make this without an ice cream maker? Just curious, never made a sorbet before! I bet a Lemon and Basil sorbet would be delicious too!

  • Radish

    Kristen – you need an ice cream maker to make sorbet (sadly, there’s no way around it), but they’re really inexpensive, and I bet you because it’s summer, a ton of places are having a great sale. If, however, you really don’t want to get an ice cream maker, just place everything in a baking dish and put in the freezer. Stir with a fork every 20 minutes for about 3 hours. You won’t get sorbet – you’ll get something more like granita – but it’s better than sweating :) right?

  • Rebecca

    This was absolutely delicious. I added a few spoonfuls of yogurt at the last minute and it made a great fro-yo. Such an easy recipe…thinking about using that extra basil simple syrup for some delicious mojitos. Thanks for sharing!

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