Recipe | Meyer Lemon & Basil Sorbet

By Kiersten | Last Updated: January 11, 2018

Meyer Lemon and Basil Sorbet

Meyer Lemon and Basil Sorbet
As a consumer, my weakness is novelty. Instead of growing red tomatoes, I grow purple ones; instead of listening to No Doubt in junior high, I was obsessed with Pavement. I’ve always been slightly contrarian by nature and I think my appreciation for all things new and different stems from that.

When it comes to citrus fruit, this time of year is pretty good for novelty. I’m not much of a citrus eater the rest of the year, but winter is different. There’s Satsumas and Minneolas and Blood Oranges and they’re all readily available and affordable. And unlike regular oranges and tangerines, I like these kinds of citrus. When I saw Meyer lemons at the grocery store, I knew I wanted to try making a sorbet with them. Their deep yellow rind was so bright and cheerful and it made the regular lemons a few bins away look so boring and blah.

Basil and Meyer Lemons
The darker rind comes from the fact that Meyer lemons originated by crossing lemons with oranges. Although the appeal of Meyer lemons is that they’re sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, I’ve found that they’re still a little too sour for my tastes. So yes, there’s lots of sugar in this recipe. Not only is it needed to balance the tartness of the lemon juice, but also keep in mind that freezing anything will dull the flavor; the sweetness of the sorbet mixture is toned down once it’s frozen.

Meyer Lemon and Basil Sorbet Ingredients
If you’re put off by the inclusion of basil in this recipe, don’t be–the basil is infused into the simple syrup, so it only imparts a little hint of flavor. On the other hand, if you’d like to intensify the basilyness (it’s a word if I say it is!), try adding Thai basil instead or simply cut the basil leaves into ribbons before immersing them in the syrup and don’t strain the syrup before combining it with the lemon juice.

The sad thing about this Meyer Lemon & Basil Sorbet is that it’s totally perfect for summer, but you have to make it when Meyer lemons are in season, in the middle of winter. But really, you should buy them while you can–they are tasty.


Meyer Lemon & Basil Sorbet

Meyer Lemon and Basil Sorbet (Single)

A sweet and tart basil-infused Meyer lemon sorbet. Substitute regular lemons if Meyer lemons are not available.

  • Prep Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6


  • 2 c. water
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. basil leaves, packed
  • 1 c. fresh Meyer lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
  • 2 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest


  1. Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, continuing to whisk, until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add basil leaves to syrup and cool to room temperature. Once mixture has cooked, transfer to a large bowl and cover. Place syrup in refrigerator and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Strain syrup through sieve to remove basil; squeeze out remaining liquid from basil leaves and discard. Whisk lemon juice and zest into basil syrup.
  4. Add lemon-basil mixture to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once sorbet is solid, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies.

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I just learned about that whole sorbet-as-palate-cleanser thing a few months ago. I was at a restaurant and they served strawberry sorbet and I was all, “Huh? But I didn’t order strawberry sorbet! Why are we having dessert already? I AM CONFUSED.” You can’t take me anywhere, right?

This post both warms and breaks my heart. Warms because I LOVE Meyer lemons and have been considering getting an ice cream maker but worried we’d just … well … eat ice cream all the time! And that’s not good for our waistlines. But your sorbet sounds lovely! Now the heart-breaking part — we used to live in SoCal and had a GIGANTIC mature Meyer lemon tree that produced literally hundreds of lemons. I considered digging it up when we moved to North Carolina but, alas, it was about 9 feet tall. 🙂 I still miss it every day.

Oh, get the ice cream maker! I wanted one for about a year before I took the plunge and I love it. Homemade ice cream tastes a million times better than anything you can buy and in addition to ice cream, you can make healthier treats like sorbets. If you use fruit that’s sweet to start with, you can get away with using much less sugar.

I’m so sorry about your Meyer lemon tree–my heart would be broken too! Can you convince the new owners to send you a box or two of lemons each winter? 😉 (BTW, we relocated to NC too, from Wisconsin.)

I am definitely doing this! I always end up with leftover lemons and limes when a recipe calls for zest or juice & my husband just eats them straight so they don’t go to waste (ha!), so now I’ll freeze them instead. 🙂

Speaking of novelty, that turquoise plate is adorable! I’ve always wanted to try Meyer lemons but none of the 3 supermarkets in my neighborhood has them. I might have to venture out to Whole Foods. Lemon and basil together sounds really refreshing.

Thank you! It was on clearance for $1.99 or something obscene like that from Crate & Barrel. So obviously, there was no question, I had to buy it.

There were two grocery stores here that had Meyer lemons (including Whole Foods) and they don’t seem to be stocking them anymore. So either they sold out or the season is already over!

Seriously – you didn’t listen to No Doubt? I don’t know if we can be friends anymore!

Anyways, I guess I’ll forgive you only if you send me some of this. I love anything (especially ice creams and sorbets) with basil!

I was totally the girl who would like bands and then the minute they got popular, I would hate them. I was such a joy.

I love anything with basil too! Have you tried holy basil? I’m growing that this year–I’ve only had it in a pesto we used to buy at the farmers market in Madison and it is strooooong!

Made this today with Meyer lemons a friend gave me, had never heard of them before. I happen to have a fresh basil plant in my kitchen and the result was fantastic! Thank you for the refreshing treat!

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