Bowls of Cherry Basil Sorbet garnished with fresh basil leaves and fresh cherries

Cherry Basil Sorbet

Basil adds an extra hint of summer in this easy and refreshing Cherry Basil Sorbet recipe. Think of it as your favorite childhood Italian ice, all grown up!

Bowls of Cherry Basil Sorbet garnished with fresh basil leaves and fresh cherries
Cherry Basil Sorbet

Basil adds an extra hint of summer in this easy and refreshing Cherry Basil Sorbet. Think of it as your favorite childhood Italian ice, all grown up!

Bowls of Cherry Basil Sorbet garnished with fresh basil leaves and fresh cherries

Everything comes full circle somehow. It doesn’t matter if it is fashion, food, or even life experiences. I’m starting to realize that despite 29 years, geography, and even historical placement, my daughter and I are more similar than I expected.

On her last day of school, I helped out in the classroom as they had their year end party. One of her sweet friends politely greeted me. And all I could do was stare at her dress. You see, I had one just like it, once upon a time…layers of ruffle, a gauze-like floral, pretty (but itchy) smocking, and adorable straps that tied on bony shoulders.

That was the age I devoured the adventures of Laura Ingalls, paperback after paperback, episode upon teary episode.  Those were the summers of Atari and pretend camp-outs with my cousins in their backyard. We would smuggle Styrofoam cups of steaming ramen into our makeshift tents (if that’s what you could call little tables covered with sheets), because that was camping food, of course. We would emerge from our hiding places into the hot sun to walk to the corner store for those yellow cups of Italian Ice. I would get cherry because each scrape of the wooden spoon would guarantee that my lips would be left with that bright stain. Like my lipstick? we would ask one another, giggling.

Fresh basil leaves in a glass bottle of simple syrup to make Cherry Basil Sorbet

Fresh cherries in a white ceramic box with basil leaves in the background to make Cherry Basil Sorbet

These days, I look forward to when my daughter and I re-read the Little House on the Prairie books before bed. She recently discovered re-runs of the show and when she comes home from camp, begs to watch an episode. Ataris are replaced by DSI’s, and backyard tents are always in demand.

Out here, there are no Italian ices at the local pizzeria. But there’s a frozen yogurt shop near every Starbucks. And moms like me who make homemade sorbet, Cherry Basil Sorbet, in this case.

A glass loaf pan of Cherry Basil Sorbet with an ice cream scoop

My cherry sorbet grew up, like its maker. Made with freshly pitted cherries, and a simple syrup infused with a hint of fresh basil, one icy spoonful brought me back to those sticky summers of not-so-long-ago. The past is not so distant, after all.

Bowls of Cherry Basil Sorbet garnished with fresh basil leaves and fresh cherries

Note: This post first appeared June 17, 2011. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated photographs and improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.

If you enjoyed this Cherry Basil Sorbet recipe and are looking for more ways to cool off this summer, check out these other frozen treats:

Mango Ginger Sorbet
Coconut Water Sorbet Floats
Peach Sorbet Mojito Float
Red White and Blue Berry Sorbet Floats
Sparkling Mango Sorbet Floats
Strawberry Cointreau Sorbet

Cherry Basil Sorbet

Basil adds an extra hint of summer in this refreshing sorbet. If you prefer a simpler version, by all means, omit the basil.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chilling Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 123kcal


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-3 leaves/sprigs fresh basil to taste
  • 12-16 oz cherries fresh or frozen and slightly thawed, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice


  • Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar dissolves, stirring periodically, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and drop in your basil, using more or less depending on how pronounced of a basil flavor you wish. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 1 hour. Remove and discard basil. You can use the basil simple syrup as soon as it is cool or store it in a tightly sealed glass jar until you are ready to use, up to several days in advance.
  • Place cherries, 1 cup of basil simple syrup, and lemon juice in a blender. Adjust sweetness as necessary with remaining simple syrup, depending on the sweetness of the cherries. Blend and strain. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. The sorbet mixture can be made up 24 hours in advance.
  • Put mixture into an ice cream maker and churn for 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to and store in an airtight container in the freezer to firm for at least 5 hours, ideally overnight.


This recipe makes approximately 1 quart.


Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 94mg | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 3.7mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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Recipe Rating

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  1. Deebi27

    Oh my, such yumminess! Cherry is my favorite flavor. Gonna check our cherry tree and if that won’t the grocery will! Basil is in the garden! Just need to get back home after vacation…Yippee!!!

  2. Traci | Vanilla And Bean

    Beautiful update Liren! I adore cherries and as a kid, Little House on the Prairie! I thought Laura was the bravest girl in the world :D . The color and texture of this sorbet is just gorgeous and I love the addition of basil to this sweet treat!

  3. María

    What a lovely recipe! Here in Portugal in this season we have cherries everywhere.

    Thanks for sharing this refreshing recipe, Have a wonderful day Liren :)

  4. Kim Bee

    I must try this one. I am such a sucker for ice creams and sorbets. Love anything cherry so this would make me swoon for sure.

  5. norma

    I guess we all owned one of those dresses. Lovely story and I must say the addition of basil is quite intersting….

  6. Jenn

    This looks so refreshing, and what a perfect combination! I’ve never put basil and cherry together but see them marrying so well. Love your “grown up” Italian ice :)

  7. renee@sweetsugarbean

    I LOVE the “Little House” series too – I stayed up many a night reading into the wee hours when I was a kid. Your sorbet looks amazing – basil and cherries, what a perfect combo!

  8. Roxana GreenGirl

    what a sweet post Liren. my daughter is too young for Little house on the Prairie, I’m looking forward to read to her soon.
    The sorbet sounds great, love the addition of basil. What a delicious combo.
    Thanks for sharing and Happy Birthday!

    • Liren

      Thanks for the birthday greetings, Roxana! One day, your little girl will be ready for Little House, and you’ll find that it’s also a wonderful way to explore life’s lessons – lots of teaching moments in that book :)

  9. A Canadian Foodie

    You must have been reading my mind, Liren! I actually had your sorbet opened for half a day trying to read it – the recipe sounded so good. And I think it would be tasty! I love making unusual flavours of cold treats!
    I left a note for you on my site regarding the importance of school gardens:
    Wonderful to hear from you! It is so important. You have young children, and believe me, they will eat what they grow just like my students eat what they cook. They turn their noses up at suggestions, or at some of the ingredients they see going into a recipe, and the agreement is “one small taste”. Ninety-nine percent of the time they not only like it, they love it! It is the same with “their garden”. When they plant it, they eat it with all the magic and wonder and awe we all used to possess….

    • Liren

      Hi Valerie! Yes, you’re so right – I do find that in general the more involved the children are in all aspects of cooking, the more they feel ownership, even if it’s not a food they want to try :) I must get a garden growing soon!

  10. Monet

    What a great post…I, too, grew up loving Little House on the Prairie, and I can’t wait to read it to my own daughter one day. And this sorbet? Stunning! Thank you for sharing such yummy photos and this tasty recipe. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Liren

      Hi Monet, happy weekend to you, too! What little girl doesn’t love Little House? I was so happy she loved it as much as our generation.

  11. Jen @Tiny Urban Kitchen

    Oh Liren – I love this post and the memories it brings back! I totally remember loving certain dresses and enjoying sweet, colorful desserts as a child too. :) I love the idea of fresh cherry sorbet!

    • Liren

      Hi Jen, thanks! I know – as I was eating this sorbet, I realized all those ices we grew up on were probably just all chemicals, sadly. This is just so much better!

  12. Hopey

    I very much want to make this and the basil is a fine addition! What a sweet story, too. My mom used to tell me she got the lipstick effect from beets when she was little. :)

    • Liren

      I love it! So cute how little girls know where to find natural forms of make up :)


    What a fantastic combination – love it! Must try this, as I have too many cherries just now and am fed up with jam. Basil plant just sitting there so why didn’t I think? Love your creativity.
    I can just imagine that feeling, seeing your daughter’s friend with that dress. Funny déjà-vous…

  14. The Cilantropist

    Liren reading this post brought a smile to my face, I love remembering days of childhood and I LOVED little house on the prairie! <3 I used to read it with my dad, so bringing up that memory is especially perfect for this weekend. Beautiful recipe.

    • Liren

      Aw, what a sweet, sweet dad! Not many men I know have read Little House – that is such a precious memory, Amanda!

  15. Winnie

    I love this Liren! I am going to add this recipe to the spring recipe round-up I posted on my blog earlier today ;)

    • Liren

      Thanks Winnie! Such an amazing round-up of recipes, I appreciate it!

  16. Gina

    I love that you added the basil, you are trying to drive me back to the cherry fields aren’t you. Luckily we have a few more weeks of them, can’t wait to try this now that I have an ice cream maker. What a sweet story, I loved working in the classroom. Hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.

    • Liren

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too, Gina! If you return to the cherry fields, have fun; we loved the cherries you brought to the brunch at Jeans!

  17. Georgie

    I love when food is laced with memories and shared through family generations. I especially love that you’re creating a recipe and it’s a keepsake for your daughter, she will cherish all of these forever. Great read, photo’s and supper yummy recipe.

  18. Jean

    Liren, it seems we both had sorbet in mind this week. I had trouble photographing mine and didn’t wait long enough until it set properly in the freezer but yours looks perfect. I like the flavor combo here. Very season-appropriate with a dash of sophistication. :-)

  19. merry jennifer

    Gorgeous photos, Liren. I love the combination of flavors you went for with this sorbet – basil and cherry are two of my favorites.

    I loved reading Little House on the Prairie when I was growing up. After reading your post, I think I really need to introduce my daughter to it.

  20. EA-The Spicy RD

    Beautiful sorbet, and I’m sure it tastes delicious too! I grew up reading the Little House on the Prarie books too. Good memories!

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