Hibiscus & Tulsi Herbal Sorbet

How to Make Herbal Homemade Ice Cream & Sorbet

The first time I brought home an ice cream maker from the secondhand shop, I was hooked. Each batch of homemade ice cream we churned was a breeze to create, and by making our own frozen treats, we were in charge of the quality of ingredients and the type and amount of sweetener used.

Homemade frozen treats invite experimentation, and welcome unusual ingredients like fresh or dried herbs, more commonly found in tea blends. In the homemade ice cream recipes that follow, we’ve played around with familiar herbal friends like chamomile, lavender, and hibiscus. Try the recipes as written, or mix it up and invent new creations using the herbs you have on hand in your garden or pantry!

The only special equipment we recommend is an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, check your local secondhand store before buying new. Without an ice cream machine, you can still create a modified version of the sorbet recipe below using the simple “granita” instructions that follow.

homemade ice cream

Hibiscus & Tulsi Herbal Sorbet

This dairy- and egg-free frozen treat is rich, creamy, and exploding with flavor! When I first created this recipe, my kids kept orbiting the ice cream maker, spoons in hand, snitching tastes even before it was fully churned. It’s that good. And it couldn’t be easier to make. The base is simply a strong, sweetened herbal tea or infusion. Strain, chill, churn, and enjoy!

Besides the hibiscus and tulsi (also known as holy basil) recipe below, you can experiment with other flavor combinations, like hibiscus and rose or lemon balm. If desired, serve topped with a handful of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries.

What you’ll need…

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/4 cup dried tulsi/holy basil or 3/4 cup fresh, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Begin by placing a quart-sized storage container in your freezer to pre-chill.
  2. Combine the water and herbs in a medium cooking pot.
  3. Bring to a simmer, stir, and cover. Remove from heat and steep for 1 hour.
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, squeezing as much goodness as you can from the herbs. (Any color that transfers to your skin from the hibiscus is temporary and will wash off with soap and water.) Compost the solids.
  5. Stir the honey into the still-warm infusion, whisking gently until fully dissolved.
  6. Add the lemon juice and transfer the liquid to a quart-sized mason jar.
  7. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (at least 2 hours or overnight).
  8. Churn in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions (or follow the ice cream maker-free instructions below).
  9. Transfer to your pre-chilled container, return to the freezer, and allow to set for 4 hours or overnight.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: 1 quart

Granita Variation

No ice cream maker? No problem. Transfer your chilled, sweetened infusion to a shallow storage container. Place in the freezer and, using a fork or a metal whisk, stir well every 30 to 40 minutes until frozen (approximately 4 hours). The more often you scrape or stir, the smaller the ice grains and the smoother the texture.

homemade ice cream

Chamomile & Lavender Ice Cream

Rich, decadent, herb-infused ice cream is a treat like none other. We took our favorite basic homemade ice cream recipe, then slowly infused it with a couple of our most appreciated herbs. The result is sublime. Dairy free? Replace the heavy cream and whole milk with full-fat canned coconut milk. The results are equally delicious!

Note: The optional gelatin in this recipe gives the finished ice cream an amazingly smooth texture, and helps it to stay scoopably-soft in the freezer. If you choose to omit it, allow your ice cream to soften at room temperature for 30 minutes or more before serving.

What you’ll need…

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons grass-fed gelatin powder (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  1. Begin by placing a quart-sized storage container in your freezer to pre-chill.
  2. Combine the cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
  3. Warm over medium heat until piping hot, but still below a boil (approximately 200° F).
  4. If using, sprinkle the gelatin powder over the surface of the hot cream, and whisk well to combine.
  5. Add the lemon zest, lavender, and chamomile flowers, and whisk again.
  6. Cover, remove from heat, and steep for 30 minutes.
  7. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, or a colander lined with a thin piece of cotton cloth. Squeeze the herbs to extract as much infused cream as you can, then compost the solids.
  8. Whisk the honey into the still-warm cream until thoroughly combined.
  9. Transfer to a quart-sized mason jar.
  10. Refrigerate until well chilled (a minimum of 4 hours or overnight).
  11. If gelatin was used, when it’s time to churn your ice cream, transfer your mixture to a bowl and whisk until smooth.
  12. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  13. Transfer to your pre-chilled container, return to the freezer, and allow to set for 3 hours or overnight.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: 1 quart

9 comments
  1. Hi! I was wondering which Holy Basil is used for the above recipe? Krishna, Rama or Vana ?

    • Hi Rachel. I used Rama in the batches that I’ve made so far, but experiment with the variety that you enjoy most!

  2. These recipes look amazing and I can’t wait to try them! I would like to point out for accuracy’s sake that when a recipe calls for honey it is most definitely not vegan.

    • Whoops. Of course! Thank you for that correction, Cassandra.

  3. Hi. I like the sound of the chamomile and lavender ice cream but I’m allergic to lavender. Do I use the same amount of chamomile when omitting the lavender or do I need to make any tweaks to the recipe? Thanks! Laurie

    • Using the same amount of chamomile as stated without the lavender will yield a delightful ice cream. Or you could tweak it if you wanted to by adding another favorite herb in place of the lavender that pairs well with chamomile–cardamom or cinnamon for example.

  4. Oh!! You make me miss my ice cream machine so much (it’s been at a friend’s since we are on the road!), but I think that this is what I miss the most after my dehydrator…

    • Come on over, Catherine! You know we’re happy to share. ;-) Do you have a small freezer on the bus? You could use the granita method, which can also be done on a smaller scale in a zip bag if you don’t have the space for a storage container. Just an idea!

  5. Bought an ice cream maker at a thrift store to make these. It was worth it! The Chamomile Lavender ice cream is so good! I love how satisfying it is after a few bites. I can’t wait to try other flavors this summer!

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