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Shaved Watermelon Ice With Honey-Basil Syrup

Spoon Drizzling Honey-Basil Syrup over Shaved Watermelon Ice

This shaved watermelon ice with honey-basil syrup recipe will quickly become a summer staple.  It’s a satisfying sweet summer treat that is healthy and refreshing.  Delight summer guests with this light dessert that feels a little extravagant and decadent, yet is fun and easy to prepare ahead of time.

One-Ingredient Shaved Watermelon Ice Base

Summer brings us a variety of produce that is at its peak freshness and flavor.  Watermelon is a classic summertime treat that is at its very best right now.  All the ingredients in this recipe are available in the garden or at the local farmers market.  Nothing better than fresh-grown and picked!  

There is only one ingredient for the base of this recipe and that is a ripe, juicy watermelon.  A seedless variety works best for this application.  If you happen to have grown or purchased one with seeds, not to worry – just remove them.  In fact, I purchased a watermelon labeled “seedless” when photographing this post and it turned out to be loaded with seeds.  It just adds a little extra time to remove them.

Whole Watermelon on Wooden Cutting Board
Halved Watermelon on Wooden Cutting Board

4-Ingredient Honey-Basil Syrup

Along with fresh produce, there are a variety of fresh herbs to choose from during the summer months.  I chose basil and mint to compliment my honey syrup.  There are also different types of honey to explore at the farmers market.  Each will add a different flavor profile.

And this is where the fun comes in!  Mix it up with whatever herbs, spices and honey that appeal to you.  You can’t do this wrong.  Try a google search on what herbs compliment watermelon and experiment.  You might find this herb and spice pairing link helpful to if you’d like to play around a bit with flavor.  I’m not opposed to adding a little hint of citrus or even a little heat to the syrup mix.

Fresh Basil Leaves

Healthy and Refreshing

When the weather is hot, heavy meals and desserts can weigh us down.  Shaved watermelon ice drizzled with honey-basil syrup is the perfect dessert pairing for light summer dining.  It’s chilly and fresh – and the sweetness is derived from the watermelon and honey.  All natural, nothing artificial.

You can prepare this recipe ahead of time and store it in the freezer.  The presentation is lovely; especially when enhanced with edible flowers and greenery.  Its the perfect special touch and end note for a summer meal.

Outdoor Tablesetting

Prepping Shaved Watermelon Ice

Rinse and dry outer shell of the watermelon. 

Halve it and remove the rind.  You can do this by cutting large slices or quartering.

Try to remove pieces of flesh that are large enough to later divide into rectangles.

Closeup of Fresh Watermelon Chunks

Cut the watermelon into long rectangles (think Lincoln Logs).  This shape works well for grating after they are frozen.

Lay the rectangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer.  Once solid, you can transfer them to a freezer bag for storage until you are ready to shave them.

Watermelon logs on Parchment-Lined Baking Sheet

Prepping Honey-Basil Syrup


  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large basil leaf
  • 3 or 4 mint leaves
  • wedge of fresh lime

Using a mortar and pestle, bruise the basil and mint leaves to release some of their oils and fragrance.  Set aside.

Hand Bruising Basil and Mint with Mortar and Pestle

Pour honey into a sauce pan.  Set heat on low.  (You will not want this mixture to boil).  Cut a fresh lime wedge and squeeze it onto the honey in the saucepan. 

Honey Bottle Squeezing into Saucepan
Hand Squeezing Lime Wedge into saucepan of Honey

Add in the bruised basil and mint leaves.  Stir the mixture until the honey has a water-like consistency.  You may see a few tiny bubbles and the mixture will become fragrant.  Do not let the liquid come to a boil or the honey-basil syrup will harden up when it cools.

Saucepan and Spatula with Basil Lime Mint and Honey

Pour the syrup through a sieve to catch the herbs and reserve the aromatic honey in a mason jar.

Set aside and cap after cooled.  If you are not using it right away, you can store it in the fridge.  If it is too thick when you are ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature.

Mortar Pestle and Mason Jar with Strained Honey Basil Syrup
Sieve with Honey Basil Lime and Mint Syrup
Mortar and Pestle with Mason Jar of Honey-Basil Syrup

Grating Frozen Watermelon

Putting this together is fun and simple.  You only need a hand grater to shave the frozen watermelon into a granular ice.  It is helpful if the plate or bowl you are going to grate into has been set in the freezer to chill as well.  You will want the shaved watermelon to stay frozen rather than melting and re-freezing in a clump.  

You will have ample time to shave the frozen watermelon rectangles if you remove them one or two at a time, grate them, and put the shaved ice back in the freezer.  If you have serving cups already lined up in the freezer, just fill them as you go and keep them in the freezer until you are ready to serve your guests.

Hand Grating Frozen Watermelon Cubes

Serving with Honey-Basil Syrup

When you are ready to serve guests shaved watermelon ice with honey-basil syrup, remove the serving dishes from the freezer.  Using a teaspoon, drizzle a small amount of the syrup over the shaved ice.  I garnished mine with borage flowers and additional fresh mint leaves.  Nasturtium flowers or fresh berries would look nice as well.   If you have syrup left over, it is also delicious drizzles on buttered toast or scones.  

Enjoy this easy refreshing summer treat!  Let me know if you experiment with other herb and spice combos – or if you have success with other melons like honeydew or cantaloupe!

Spoon Drizzling Honey Syrup over Shaved Watermelon

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