Recipes / Sips & Syrups

Lemon-Basil Syrup

Lemon-basil syrup

This refreshing syrup is one of my summer stand-bys.

There’s nothing more satisfying than coming in after a hot and heavy day in the garden, cranking the SodaStream, and filling an icy tall glass with lemon and basil-infused soda. (My guy prefers it with gin during our home happy hours.)

Whether you like it boozy or straight, you can flavor many different concoctions with this syrup — from lemon drops and gimlets to iced tea and lemonade, ice pops and ice cubes to smoothies and fruit salads.

I used a medley of basil from my garden, which made a nice, complex herbal infusion. You can experiment with different types of basil depending on the flavor you’re going for, whether it be sweet (Genovese or Mammoth) or spicy (Thai, Cinnamon, or Spicy Globe).

Lemon-Basil Syrup

Makes 4 cups


4 cups (or big handfuls) packed fresh basil
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
2 lemons, halved crosswise


No need to pick basil leaves individually. I use entire stems, including the flowers.

A medley of basil from the garden

In a medium pot, combine the basil, sugar and water. Squeeze the juice out of both lemon halves into the pot, and throw in the lemon rinds as well. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Squeeze juice out of lemon halves and add lemons to mixture

Remove the pot from heat and cover with a lid. Let the syrup stand at room temperature for about an hour until the flavors are well infused.

Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve, making sure to press on the basil and lemons with a spoon to really get all the juices out.

Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve

If you used purple basil in the infusion, your syrup will have a beautiful blush tint.

The syrup amount will fit perfectly into a quart-sized mason jar. Kept in the refrigerator, it should last up to two weeks.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Jude
    June 28, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Going to try this, I have made a blueberry shrub and a lemon verbena. This is next on my list.

    • Linda from Garden Betty
      June 30, 2020 at 7:21 am

      I think you’ll love this then if you’re into those types of flavors!

  • Megan from Texas
    May 30, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    I just made this (my first simple syrup) and you will forever live in a corner of my heart for introducing this delight into my life. I just had my first soda and literally did a happy dance in my kitchen. <3

    • Linda Ly
      June 7, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad you like it! 🙂

  • Hackneyed
    February 22, 2013 at 4:22 am

    I know it’s not exactly recent this post but I guess you’re still blogging. I’m making a basil infused tarte au citron and need to ‘extract’ the basill flavour somehow. Blending will give a too strong flavour I feel and wanted to use the lemon juice as a vehicle (to extract). Now here’s the crunch point – Boiling, or even heating the basil seems like a bad idea as it will alter the flavour somewhat and remove the freshness. I imagine. How did your infusion turn out? Did you try cold-infusion as well?


    • Linda Ly
      February 22, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      This lemon-basil syrup is delicious, and I make all my syrups this way. I don’t feel that heating the basil made it taste less fresh or taste like anything but basil – as long as you use the freshest basil you can find.

      Depending on your tart recipe, you can go with a basil simple syrup which will be quickest to make, or you can extract the basil in grain alcohol (or very high-proof vodka).

      • Hackneyed
        February 26, 2013 at 12:58 am

        Hey Linda, thanks for responding. I went with blending the basil leaves with the lemon before adding it to the mix (used a Thomas Keller recipe – lemon sabayon). Couldn’t taste the basil at all, and neither could my dinner guests. It did have some specks of green in it though..


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