Fresh Basil recipes

15 Ways to Use and Preserve Fresh Basil

If you propagated your basil from cuttings like I did this year, no doubt you have a boatload of basil to contend with. Here are some recipes that go beyond the norm and help that basil last throughout the year.

recipes for using or preserving fresh basilPesto

Usually the first thing people think of making with fresh basil is pesto. Make a big batch without the cheese and store in the freezer in small jars. Thaw just enough to use, add the cheese back in and it’s like you have fresh pesto all winter long.

walnut-pesto recipe

Walnut-Pesto Recipe from Kiss My Spatula


Besides storing as pesto, there are a few ways to preserve basil for the winter months.

  • Dry clean, trimmed basil by layering onto the shelves a food dehydrator. Leave lots of space between leaves and check often to ensure they don’t over dry. Store dried herbs in a sealed jar for up to a year.
  • Freeze chopped basil mixed with water in ice cube trays. Transfer frozen cubes to a freezer bag to store. Thaw a cube when needed for a recipe.

Fresh Basil recipes


Using fresh basil as a condiment is one of my favourite uses.

  • Make basil mayo by finely chopping a handful of basil and a teeny bit of garlic, then mixing it with 1/4 cup of mayonnaise.  This is beautiful on salmon burgers.
  • Make basil butter the same way as the mayo, but skip the garlic and replace the mayo with butter. Cook your morning eggs with basil butter and you’ll never want them another way again.
  • Make basil infused olive oil by blanching two handfuls of basil by dropping it into boiling water for 5 seconds, then immediately into ice water. Squeeze out water then add it and a cup of olive oil into a blender. Puree then strain until all that remains is a beautiful bright green oil. Perfect for drizzling over some grilled white fish.
  • Make basil vinegar by packing basil, peppercorns, and garlic into a jar topped with apple cider vinegar. Let infuse for 2 weeks before using as an ingredient in a fabulous vinaigrette.
  • Make Basil-Aioli Dipping Sauce by pulsing  basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and anchovy paste in a food processor, then folding into some mayo. I would love this with some panko crusted shrimp or even a steamed artichoke.
Basil Oil

Basil Oil by Lisa Barber



Fresh basil is always a welcome addition to salads.

  • Caprese salad is a perfect go to recipe when you have an abundance of  heirloom tomatoes. Slice and salt tomatoes, add some  fresh mozzarella and full size basil leaves, then drizzle with a great olive oil.
  • This Watermelon and Basil Salad looks interesting and since the instructions are simple enough it’s worth a try in my books.
  • I love the balance of this Cucumber, Tomato and Basil Salad.  Cool cucumbers and sweet basil translates to a very refreshing side dish.
  • Try a twist on the classic with this Basil Cesar Salad that makes a perfect lunch with the addition of hearty croutons.

tomato Basil on Olive Bread


Basil’s sweetness and mild anise flavour also make it a wonderful addition to desserts.

  • If you haven’t yet tried basil ice cream, what are you waiting for?! It’s delicious. It has the exact flavour you would expect: basily, sweet, creamy. Delightful. Top a small scoop with some dark chocolate sauce and you have your dinner guests licking their bowls (seriously, it happened).

How to Propagate Basil from Cuttings

So what other recipes do you use basil in?  Do you use it year-round or just in the summer months? I’d love to hear some shares if you love basil like I do.


About the Author : StephanieAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie

  1. Pamela Sweet
    Pamela SweetSeptember 6,12

    Dear Garden Therapy,
    I have never had a garden in Florida before ( I am originally from northeastern Wisconsin) and I had no idea basil would grow so well here in central Florida! Thank you for all your wonderful information about basil. Now it won’t go to waste.
    Yours in art,

  2. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti
    Pat @ Mille Fiori FavoritiSeptember 7,12

    Wonderful recipes and tip for fresh basil! I had a bumper crop of it this summer I pinned this post!

  3. dianne
    dianneSeptember 10,12

    We made about 40 jars of pesto on Saturday and still had basil left over. I take the leaves and spin them very dry and then stuff into a gallon freezer bag and flatten it out. Once it’s frozen you can just break off what you need for a recipe. Dianne

  4. penster47
    penster47May 2,13

    I live in the midwest and have never been able to keep Basil growing inside during the winter. I’ve been told it is very difficult to do. Maybe after all these tips I’ll just try to grow enough to put up for winter. Thanks!

  5. Andrea@personallyandrea
    Andrea@personallyandreaJune 30,14

    Hi Stephanie, yup our basil is doing amazing! I use some of it in a Caprese Pasta…sauteed cherry tomatoes with ground pepper and a big bunch of slivered basil over hot pasta then mix in buffalo mozzerella till it melts. Easy and delicious :) You have some great ideas I need to try.

  6. Catherine
    CatherineJuly 2,14

    The thing is, I actually had plans for today. However, I’m now inspired enough that I’ve cancelled a good portion of them and I’m going to start harvesting basil instead! LOVE the idea of the palate cleanser ice cream, also of the frozen pesto. It’s so expensive to buy that having a freezer load has to be a good idea…

  7. Ev
    EvJanuary 28,15

    My late summer garden overflows with both basil and tomatoes, so I use both to make a lovely tomato basil soup. My grownup kids say if you taste this soup, you’ll never eat Campbell’s again! Which reminds me, I have enough frozen tomatoes to make a batch of soup. Maybe this weekend….

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