How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil
Frozen basil is a wonderful thing to have in the freezer and this post shares all about How to Freeze Fresh Basil, something I’ve been doing for years!
When I wrote a quick little post about How to Freeze Fresh Basil years ago for Weekend Herb Blogging, I didn’t realize it would turn into one of the most popular posts ever on Kalyn’s Kitchen! I’m still growing and freezing fresh basil every summer and if you have garden basil, this post will help you freeze it to use all winter in soup, stew, and pasta sauce. Check out all the ideas for using frozen basil after the photos, and then get freezing some basil for winter!
(How to Freeze Fresh Basil was updated with better photos and more information, July 2008. If you don’t have enough basil to freeze, here’s How to Preserve Fresh Basil on the Countertop.)
If you’re a gardener who’s growing basil, here are my step-by-step instructions on how you can freeze your basil to use all through the winter. I do this several times each summer, whenever I have some basil that needs to be harvested. Here’s how my basil looked before I trimmed the plants and pulled off the big leaves.
Here’s my basil after I trimmed it. Basil will actually produce more leaves if it’s vigorously trimmed a few times each year, since everywhere you cut the stem it produces two new stems. Just be sure to keep a few leaves on each stem (remember high school botany, that’s where the plant gets food.)
I pinch off all the basil leaves, discard the stems, and wash the leaves very well in a salad spinner. Spin them as dry as you possibly can. If you don’t have a salad spinner, just wash your basil leaves in the sink and dry them well with paper towels.
Put a few of handfuls of basil into the food processor, using the steel blade. The food processor bowl should be full, but not tightly packed.
I pulse the food processor with one hand and drizzle olive oil into the feed tube with the other hand, just pulsing until the basil is coarsely chopped. You should make sure that all the basil is coated with oil too, which keeps it from going dark in the freezer. I use about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for each batch in the food processor when I’m making coarsely chopped basil like this to use for pasta sauce, soup, or stew during the winter. When I’m making basil puree to add to basil vinaigrette I use more oil and chop the basil much more finely.
I have two sizes of these little plastic containers with tight lids that I use to freeze the basil. It doesn’t matter what size container you use, but a good trick is to measure the containers before you first use them. That way, when you pull one out of the freezer for a recipe, you’ll know how much it is.
Another way of freezing the chopped basil is in a quart-size plastic bag, smashing the basil down flat and pressing all the air out of the bag. This is easy to fit into a crowded freezer, and when it’s time to use some basil you can just break off a piece and put the rest back into the freezer.
Kalyn’s Favorite Ideas for Using Frozen Basil:
Basil Vinaigrette for Drizzling on Tomatoes
Paleo Italian Beef Stew with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Basil
White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Roasted Tomato-Basil Dressing
Garbanzo Bean Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil
Roasted Tomato Soup with Ground Beef, Sausage, Garbanzos, Macaroni, and Basil
Italian Sausage, Tomato, and Macaroni Soup with Basil
Chunky Pasta Sauce with Sausage, Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil
White Bean Soup with Roasted Turkey Italian Sausage, Zucchini, and Basil
Roasted Italian Sausage Soup with Garbanzos, Lentils, and Roasted Tomatoes
Roasted Tomato, Italian Sausage, and Basil Sauce for Pasta
Leftover Roast Beef Italian Stew
Summer Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Herbs
Other Ideas for Freezing Fresh Herbs and Vegetables:
My Favorite Tips for Freezing Garden Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs, and Vegetables
How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme
More about Freezing Fresh Herbs: Freezing Thai Basil, Sage, Tarragon, and Mint