Cherry-Basil Buttermilk Sherbet

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This sherbet is like summer in a bowl: light, refreshing, sweet and perfumed with the quintessential summer herb (which has a surprising affinity for cherries). It’s also ridiculously simple to make. It can get icy when frozen too hard, so eat it fresh from the ice cream maker or leave it on the counter to soften a bit if pulling it from the freezer. And here’s a little food trivia for you: Did you know that sherbet goes back to the Middle Eastern fruit-juice-and-water drink charbet? It has evolved into a dessert that’s lighter than ice cream — though in this case, low-fat buttermilk lends it a rich, tangy note.

Cherry-Basil Buttermilk Sherbet


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Yield: Serves 8

Cherry-Basil Buttermilk Sherbet


  1. 1/2 cup water
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 3 cups low-fat buttermilk
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup packed basil leaves, or several stems
  6. 2 cups cherries, pitted and chopped, juice reserved


Heat the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir for 2-3 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Pour in buttermilk, stir in vanilla extract and remove from heat. Crush basil leaves with your fingers and submerge in the buttermilk mixture. Let steep for 30 minutes while chilling in the refrigerator.

Strain out leaves and stir in cherry juice. Chill in an ice cream maker until set just beyond slushy. Add cherries and continue to churn until set. Scrape sherbet into a container and transfer to freezer.


Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus churning time in ice cream maker) Cook Time: 2-3 minutes

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