Sara Bradley’s Strawberry Basil Pie with Black Pepper Whipped Cream

The Kentucky chef’s favorite childhood dessert plays up sweet spring strawberries

Photo: Courtesy of Freight House

Growing up in Paducah, Kentucky—once the self-proclaimed strawberry capital of the world—Sara Bradley was raised to treat the adored red fruit like royalty, whether eating them straight from the vine or working them into simple recipes. “My mom’s strawberry pie was my favorite, but I had to wait all year because it had to be made with fresh strawberries,” says Bradley, executive chef and owner the Paducah restaurant Freight House. “That is one of my earliest lessons in learning to cook.” You can make it as one large pie (as below) or break up into several mini tarts using store-bought or homemade tart shells. Either way, don’t skimp on the black pepper whipped cream.


  • Strawberry Basil Pie with Black Pepper Whipped Cream (Yield: 1 9-inch pie)

  • For the pie:

    • 1½ cups sugar

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • 4 tbsp. cornstarch

    • 12 basil leaves

    • 1½ cups water

    • 3½ tbsp. strawberry gelatin

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 2 or 3 drops red food coloring

    • 8 cups strawberries, quartered

    • 1 store-bought or pre-made 9-inch pie shell, pre-baked

  • For the black pepper whipped cream:

    • 1 cup heavy cream

    • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar

    • ½ tsp. cracked black pepper


  1. Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch, and basil leaves in a small pot over medium high heat. Add water and cook until thickened, boiling at least 1 minute.

  2. Remove from heat and stir in strawberry gelatin until it’s dissolved. Add vanilla and a few drops of red food coloring.

  3. Cool the filling, then fold in berries and spoon into pie shell. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

  4. For the whipped cream, add all ingredients to a mixer and whip on high speed until medium peaks have formed. Serve with pie.