Big Bowl of Basil

16 Recipes to Use and Preserve Fresh Basil

If you planted basil edible edges or propagated your basil from cuttings like I did this year, no doubt you have a boatload of basil to contend with. Having a ton of one specific crop can be overwhelming, but basil is such a versatile herb that can be integrated into so many different recipes that you will be grateful to have a lot of it once you learn what to do with it all. Here are some of my favorite recipes that go beyond the norm and help that basil last throughout the year.16 Recipes for Using or Preserving Basil


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


Besides making up big batches of pesto to freeze, there are a few other ways to preserve basil for the winter months.

  • Dry clean, trimmed basil by layering onto the shelves of 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. I like this because an ice cube makes it easy to thaw a small amount of basil at a time, so you can just thaw what you are going to use and leave the rest frozen.


Using fresh basil to spice up condiments is one of my favorite ways to eat it.

  • Make basil mayo by finely chopping a handful of basil and a teeny bit of garlic, then mix 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.
  • To make basil oil, blanch 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 the mixture into some mayo. I would love this with some panko-crusted shrimp or even a steamed artichoke.

Caprese Salad on a stick


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. You can layer it on a plate, spike it on a bamboo skewer, or pack it into a mason jar for a Caprese Salad To Go.
  • This Watermelon and Basil Salad looks interesting, and since the instructions are simple enough it’s worth a try in my books. Basil pairs well with melon and other sweet fruits.
  • I love the balance of this Cucumber, Tomato and Basil Salad.  Cool cucumbers and sweet basil translate 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

Sweet Basil

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

  • This basil pineapple spritzer has a completely unique flavor as the two ingredients come from completely different worlds! Tropical pineapple and Mediterranean basil are a surprisingly perfect pair.
  • If you haven’t yet tried basil ice cream, what are you waiting for?! It’s delicious. It has the exact flavor you would expect: basily, sweet, creamy. Delightful. Top a small scoop with some dark chocolate sauce and you will have your dinner guests licking their bowls (seriously, it happened).

Basil Ice Cream

About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  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
    [email protected]June 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….

    • M. Bowman
      M. BowmanJuly 7,16

      Would love the recipe

  8. Daniel Hopkins
    Daniel HopkinsMay 13,15

    There are several kinds of medicinal plants which provides good amount of medical benefits to us; especially during health problems. Basil is also a beneficial herb with thousands of benefits for us. Here this article provides certain ingredients on how to preserve basil without any harm or damage; in most of the cases we have found that people are using organic ingredients to preserve herbs and plants but here we have found some different point of view on how to preserve basil.

  9. Christine
    ChristineJune 7,15

    If you make basil-infused oil, how long before it goes bad?

    • Stephanie
      StephanieJune 7,15

      Christine, you can keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks.

    • Pam
      PamMay 1,17

      You’ll love it and use it so quickly and so will your family. When our kids were still at home we made it once a week and use it on so many different things. Great for cooking eggs, fish, chicken and especially lamb chops. Great on bread, polenta, pasta anything tomatoe .

  10. large garden pots
    large garden potsJune 26,15

    Hello, constantly i used to check weblog posts here
    in the early hours in the break of day, for the reason that i love to find out more and more.

  11. Mary Costa
    Mary CostaJuly 11,16

    The vinegar and basil butter are genius!! My herb bed is 95% thanks to last year’s basil plant….I’m very grateful for this post <3

  12. ca
    caJuly 13,16

    Over from Welcome Home Wed…. I grow my own basil now and was hoping I’d find a post like this, so I pinned it. Thanks.

  13. Laura
    LauraJuly 14,16

    What a wonderful , informative post.
    Thank you for joining us and sharing at Thoughts of Home.
    We are so glad you are here!

    White Spray Paint

  14. Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos
    Aly ~ Cooking In StilettosJuly 16,16

    What fabulous ideas to use summer basil – love it. I need to give that basil vinegar recipe a try! Thank you so much for sharing at the Delicious Dishes Recipe Party!

  15. Rose
    RoseJuly 6,17

    I tried the links to the pesto recipes. Jamie Oliver’s came up as a funny picture of burnt toast – page could not be found. The walnut Pesto also went to a page not found.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseSeptember 13,17

      Hi Rose, the links are all active now. They do keep changing though so please keep us updated. Thanks!

  16. Jenna Smith
    Jenna SmithJuly 23,17

    Fabulous recipes! Should be a great addition to what I prepare on a daily basis!

  17. Diane Dressler
    Diane DresslerSeptember 12,17

    The basil walnut pesto recipe does not have the basil listed. How much basil do you use?

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