Chef Shelley McKenzie’s Strawberry Basil Syrup Recipe

The sweetest part of spring.

Shelley McKenzie knows a thing or two about sweets. The pastry chef regularly whips up some of Vancouver’s most droolworthy baked goods at Railtown Cafe. However, McKenzie is much more than a baker of croissants and knishes. For this week’s recipe, she delivers the perfect spring syrup—ideal for zhuzhing up everything from a glass of soda water to a gin and tonic. There’s no better way to take full advantage of the imminent strawberry surplus than by making a batch of this syrup.


Yield: 1 litre


375 grams granulated sugar

12 grams basil, leaves and stems

250 grams strawberries, fresh or frozen

15 millilitres lemon juice

450 millilitres water



Combine the sugar and the basil in a large mixing bowl. Using the end of a rolling pin, mash the basil into the sugar to release the oils and juices into the sugar. You will know you have smashed it enough when the sugar turns pale green.

Combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Line a fine sieve with double cheesecloth and strain the boiling liquid over the bowl with the sugar. Press the strawberries in the cheesecloth to extract as much juice as possible. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar.

Pour the liquid back into the pot and bring to boil. Boil the syrup for 2 minutes to ensure all the sugar is dissolved.

Pour the syrup into an airtight container and allow to cool before closing. Store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.