Basil Pots de Crème · GF (6 servings)

The first basil leaves of the season and the last of spring’s strawberries cohabit the farmer’s market for the briefest window, well suited but ill fated lovers whose time together is all too brief. And if you live in some part of the country where they linger together for a while longer, don’t rub it in.

Most strawberry-basil recipes favor strawberry, as if basil only deserves a supporting role. But give it a chance to take the lead, accessorized by strawberries, and you’ll never reverse their roles again.

basil pots de creme with strawberry chantilly and granola

These basil pots de crème don’t contain a drop of food coloring. Grinding the basil and sugar in a food processor releases a crazy-intense all natural color (and flavor!) from the leaves, which get strained out before the custard goes into the oven.

Once cool, serve with strawberry chantilly, a spoonful of strawberry reduction and a sprinkling of granola for crunch.

three basil pots de creme

Basil Pots de Crème

16 oz cream
8 oz whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved
7 oz sugar
1 1/2 ounces clean basil leaves
8 oz egg yolks, from about 10 eggs
1/4 tsp kosher salt

In a medium pot, combine the milk, cream and vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then shut off the heat. Cover and steep for one hour.

While the vanilla steeps, take a moment to prepare a water bath. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. You’ll also need a baking pan with tall sides (like a 9” x 13” brownie pan), a sieve and a piece of foil ready for later.

Next, grind the sugar and basil leaves together in the bowl of a food processor for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar has turned solid green and no traces of basil leaves remain. Put the egg yolks into a medium bowl, then whisk in the basil sugar, reserved vanilla seeds and salt. Since the sugar is wet and lumpy, it will take some vigorous whisking to fully incorporate.

When the steep time is up, preheat the oven to 300° and return the milk/cream to a simmer. Remove the vanilla pod (scraping out all of the wonderful vanilla goo inside) and carefully ladle some of the hot cream into into the eggs.

Repeat with another ladle-ful or two, until the egg mixture has warmed and become more fluid. Now whisk the warm egg mixture into the pot of milk/cream.

Turn the heat to medium low and cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula; don’t forget to scrape around the corners too. Keep stirring and cooking until the mixture becomes quite hot to the touch (about 140°).

Pour the mixture through the sieve into a medium bowl (since you will keep cooking the custard in the oven, it’s okay to reuse the bowl that contained the eggs). Portion the strained custard evenly between the ramekins and place them in the baking pan. Fill about 3/4 full with the prepared hot water. Cover the whole thing over with foil and carefully transfer to the preheated oven.

Bake for between 30-45 minutes, or until the custards have a gentle set. To test, jiggle a ramekin. There should not be any liquidy movement in the center. Keep baking until the custards are set through. It’s possible a few custards may finish cooking earlier than others (if one was slightly under-filled, for example), so don’t hesitate to remove them on a case-by-case basis.

Remove the custards from the oven and allow them to cool for about an hour. Then cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours, or until thoroughly chilled through.

These custards have a terrific shelf life and will keep, covered and refrigerated, for a week.

Serve with strawberry chantilly and a sprinkling of your favorite granola (I’ll post my recipe this weekend).


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Any questions?

May 09, 2012 ·  9:24 AM

The colour on these is absolutely incredible. I’ve had lots of strawberry desserts with a tiny amount of basil, but never with basil as the star of the show so can’t wait to try these out!

 · thelittleloaf ·

May 09, 2012 · 11:02 AM

Can’t wait to try these, thanks for a very interesting twist on a springtime favourite. I have only one question though – why do you need to pre-cook the custard? I often make other kind of custards, with very similar ingredients, and put the pots straight in a bain marie into the oven. They always set perfectly in 40 minutes at 360F. Thanks again!

 · marcella-not-hazan ·

May 09, 2012 · 11:04 AM

Wow – I adore a pot de creme, but I’ve never had a basil version. Very intriguing!

 · Kiri W. ·

May 09, 2012 ·  1:57 PM

Wow. This is a very unique recipe, but I love the flavors. I’ll have to try this once I get my basil growing!

 · Emily @ She Makes and Bakes ·

May 09, 2012 ·  2:17 PM

Delicious little bowls informing all our senses that spring has arrived! I’m charmed!

 · Deb ·

May 09, 2012 ·  8:08 PM

Interesting idea. I am very curious to try this. Thanks for posting.

 · egb ·

May 09, 2012 ·  8:15 PM

@thelittleloaf, please, please do! I’d love to know how you like it.

@marcella, cooking it first on the stove shaves the bake time down considerably; these would take closer to an hour without it.

@Kiri, I’ve been on a bit of a pots de creme roll lately. Love ‘em!

@Emily, ooh, using basil from your own garden would make it twice as satisfying.

@Deb, aw, you’re too sweet! I love Sarah’s photography here, so bright and cheery.

@egb, you are oh so welcome.


May 10, 2012 · 12:17 PM

These are stunning! I love the idea of featuring the basil. I have a healthy basil plant in the garden, and strawberries are just coming into farmer’s markets around here, so I can’t wait to give this a try!

 · The Cozy Herbivore ·

May 10, 2012 ·  5:12 PM

@Cozy Herbivore, I hope the stars align and you can get both in your kitchen at the same time to try this out! Let me know if you do.


May 10, 2012 ·  5:31 PM

I adore strawberries with a bit of basil…so why not the other way around? Beautiful pots de creme~

 · Liz ·

May 10, 2012 ·  5:43 PM

This looks good! I made a basil panna cotta that was so weird tasting on its own, but awesome once paired with a strawberry gelee.

 · Vicki @ WITK ·

May 11, 2012 ·  5:17 PM

So THAT’S how you get it to be so bright green!

I’ve been filling up pages of my notepad coming up with ideas for a strawberry-balsamic-basil plated dessert (and a twist on caprese when tomatoes come into season – mozzerella infused gelato maybe w/sweet roasted tomato sorbet? ) but I couldn’t for the life of me think of a good way to get that lovely color into whatever element I chose to put it in. Do you think this technique would work for ice cream as well? Thank you as always for the awesome tip.

And I hope things have settled down a bit for you down there!


- Eve

 · Eve ·

May 12, 2012 · 12:31 PM

@Liz, thank you!

@Vicki, something about strawberry really makes basil pop, that’s for sure. Although sometimes basil can take on a funky taste if steeped too long, which is why I like straining out the leaves before baking.

@Eve, it’s a great technique for ice cream too. Ice cream is a bit eggier and because of the air that gets churned in, the color lightens up a bunch. But I’ve got a recipe for basil ice cream as a variation on my vanilla bean ice cream. I love your savory dessert ideas, I’m dead set on making a pesto sundae, basil ice cream, balsamic drizzle, Parmesan crisp, candied pine nuts….Mmmmm, basil.


May 12, 2012 ·  6:18 PM

I know you said don’t rub it in but… both strawberries and basil will be around longer in my neck of the woods. Haven’t made pots de creme in a while. Your post is a perfect excuse, they’re beautiful!

 · Lynn ·

May 13, 2012 · 11:41 AM

@Lynn, I just said goodbye to strawberries. Called the farmer on Wednesday to order more for the weekend and he told me that they were gone for the season. Enjoy the time you two have left, every moment is precious.


May 14, 2012 · 12:25 AM

I also got super excited when fresh spring basil started coming in a couple of weeks back and put together a basil/strawberry/coconut dessert! And the best part – the restaurant I work at is named “Stella”!

 · Beck · 

May 14, 2012 · 10:28 AM

@Beck, ha! That’s awesome. Coconut and basil sound like a great combo, really fun.


May 19, 2012 ·  7:44 PM

sweets + herbs are one of my favorite things ever! i have to try this. i keep tossing around the idea of an arugula ice cream with apricot + pistachio… is that taking it too far? and I love your blog name. It reminds me of the Care Bears

 · Beth {local milk} ·

May 20, 2012 · 12:37 AM

@Beth, I am so pro-arugula it’s not even funny. I’d support that! I seriously wish I was crafty enough to make a custom BraveTart Care Bear, lol.


May 22, 2012 ·  1:16 AM

These sound fantastic, I love mixing herbs with sweet dishes. It can completely take the dish in a whole other direction!

 · Gerry @ Foodness Gracious ·

May 22, 2012 · 10:50 PM

@Gerry, it’s so true what an unexpected twist it can bring. I think it’ll be right up your alley!


Jun 30, 2013 ·  2:20 PM


Quick question: How large are your ramekins? I made this last night, doubling the recipe to get 12 pots, and ended up with 12 pots +12 ounces extra custard. I am using 4 ounce ramekins. Did I go horribly awry somewhere?


 · Silia · 

Jul 02, 2013 ·  7:06 AM

Hi Silia! Aw, I’m sorry you wound up surprised with extras! The ramekins in the picture are actually small bowls, around an 8 ounce capacity, so there’s probably about 5 ounces of custard in each. I’ll rework the recipe to include specific ounce yield, thanks for bringing it up.


Jul 13, 2013 ·  6:21 PM

Thanks for the reply! It makes sense…. I went back and eyed your photos and those bowls look like some CB2 or C & B bowls that I have with that capacity. They turned out lovely and everybody totally adored them. I am going to try them with some lemon verbena at some point. Trying the macaroon recipe tomorrow!! Thanks again!!

 · silia · 

Jul 16, 2013 ·  9:55 PM

haha, Silia, they’re C&B!! Good eye!! Hope they turn out just as nice with lemon verbena, keep me posted!


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