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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!

Click here to PIN this tip and the recipe ideas for using basil!

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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.)

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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.)

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil [found on KalynsKitchen.com]

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157 comments on “How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil”

  1. I have basil, opal basil, thai basil, lemon basil, spicy basil and dwarf basil. Should I freeze them individually according to their type or mix and match? Can I just freeze the basil and make pesto later of should I make pesto now and freeze? Thanks Lori

  2. I personally wouldn't mix the different types of basil, I'd freeze them separately. I would make pesto first and then freeze. I'm not sure how the frozen basil would work for making pesto later.

  3. Thanks Kalyn, for the great pesto freezing tips, etc. I'm going to go and pick some Basil from my garden and get ready to freeze it.

  4. Great tip. I'm drowning in basil this summer! Thank you! xoxom

  5. Mark, glad it's useful for you!

  6. I have some basil plants in my garden, thanks for sharing on the storing.

  7. Jessica, you're going to love this if you haven't done it before!

  8. Just to clarify, this way of freezing basil is not Basil Pesto, which is an Italian type sauce made from pureed basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. This is chopped basil coated with olive oil, which keeps the basil from going brown when it's frozen.

  9. Thanks, I have huge basil plants, they are more like bushes, and I hate to see it go to waste.
    Diana

  10. Diana, you'll love using this basil in the winter!

  11. I have been making pesto for the freezer for quite a few years. Last week I went to puree the basil and my cuininart was broken….hummmm Late in the eve I decided to dry well and put in the freezer. I have borrowed a cuininart and plan to make pesto this eve. None of the leaves are black at this time.
    Am I best to just leave the leaves until I need them….or can I puree now.
    Thank you

  12. Carrie, I honestly don't know, but if it was me I would probably puree them with olive oil and then re-freeze. You could leave a few of the ones you have now frozen and see what happens. (And do report back if you experiment, would love to know what happens.)

  13. Kalyn…….I've been growing Greek Columnar Basil. It's quite hearty and does not flower.The leaves, however, are a good deal smaller than Sweet Italian Basil. I'd like to freeze the leaves, but do I handle the preservation the same way?
    Thanks for your advice.

  14. Have never seen this type of basil before but I googled it and I'm fascinated. It looks like the leaves are similar although a little smaller, so I can't think of any reason you wouldn't handle it the same way for freezing.

  15. It's the end of the growing season and we just harvested a giant basil bush! The first batch of leaves yielded about 2 cups once processed, and I'm freezing in mini muffin cups but will transfer to permanent containers once frozen. In all the years we've grown herbs, this was the easiest and fastest method for preserving we've ever tried.

  16. So glad it worked for you. I love having this basil for soup and stew in the winter, and tomorrow I'm going to trim my plants and do my second batch of the year.

  17. I have to say Thank you so much for this post. I realized it is a few years old, however I received an email that my farmers market received a mis-shipment of 10,000 pounds of basil! And the best part, they are giving it away free, first come first serve. I will be going to get some free basil tomorrow and process and freeze it!

  18. Thanks that is helpful our basil is 2 ft tall

  19. I'm going to try this. I've dehydrated my basil in the past but this would be so much fresher tasting! Thanks!

  20. And years after your post, it is STILL helping folks! I cut back all my basil today – the plants were HUGE. Then I went through what I had cut and took off the good leaves. All last winter, I had to buy basil weekly for my cooking, and I am determined to not do that again. So your description of how to freeze basil is very helpful. Thanks! Now I have to do the same with my rosemary, thyme, cilantro, parsley, and dill.

  21. Cheryl, I use this all winter long in pasta sauce, soup, and stews.

    Carol, so glad it's helpful for you.

  22. I either process basil with oil or with water and then spread it out on a cookie sheet. Place it in the freezer then when it's frozen I break it up like brittle and keep it frozen for soups and sauces or add other stuff to make pesto. I do this with Kale and Lamb's Quarter and Chard also. A good way to sneak in nutrients with my husband who turns his nose up at chard and kale unless it's saturated with oil and served with potatoes!

  23. I hadn't thought of trying it with water; thanks for sharing that.

  24. Thank you, this was very helpful and I'm looking forward to having this basil in winter! I put my mixture into small plastic snack bags, doubled.

  25. Glad it was helpful and thick plastic bags should work just fine.

  26. by adding the olive oil, isn't this like pesto? i made a bunch of pesto with my basil last year and froze it.

  27. Pesto has garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese besides the basil and it's much more finely pureed. This basil is barely chopped.

  28. I press my pesto flat in a freezer bag and freeze it that way. I make the layer thing enough that it's easy just to break off what I need. I love the idea of having a more neutral option since I've been wanting to try using basil in some sweeter dishes.

  29. I have heard about people freezing pesto like that and just breaking off as much as they need. I think that would work find for this basil too. Hope you enjoy it!

  30. Kalyn, I just discovered your blog with the heading that it was updated in June 2008. What a great find for me. Basil has become my very favorite herb and you are my very favorite blogger for having such fantastic tips for all of us. Bless you for giving us a method to save all of that fantastic taste for winter use. Have a great fall and winter, Margaret

  31. Margaret so happy that I have helped you keep your basil to use in the winter!

  32. Thanks for this awesome idea. I searched out on ways to have a "fresher" way to store my basil in the winter after reading that it is one of several herbs that isn't flavor worthy when dried. Not sure if I agree with that but at least it lead me to your site. I followed your directions and them made 1/4 cup dollops onto a waxed-papered cookie sheet, put them in the freezer overnight, and then transferred the dollops into a freezer bag. Perfect! Thanks again!

  33. And here it is…what I didn't see before, when I sent a comment on the basil chicken breasts!

    Awesome, this answers my "how" question!

    Thank you for the wonderful recipes and for having such a fun and interesting blog. I've been lurking for years now and just had to come out of the woodwork to tell you how amazing this blog is. I'm always recommending it to people!

  34. Thanks, and you can also freeze the pesto. Some sources say leave the cheese out but I've frozen pesto with cheese and haven't notice any problem with it.

  35. Can you use a blender to chop the basil? I don't have a food processor.

    • You might be able to get it to work in a blender, but I am a bit worried that it will chop the basil more finely than you'd want. If you did it that way, I would only buzz for a second or two, then stir, repeating until it's all chopped. You could also chop the basil by hand and then mix with olive oil in a bowl.

  36. Hi Kalyn, I just came across your site. I have rosemary and thyme plants that are overgrown and have a lot of thick stems. . I want to get new growth. What would be the best method of harvesting and preserving.
    Maria

  37. Maria, at the end of the post above there is a link to a post on how to freeze rosemary and thyme. I trim my herbs way back in the spring every year.

  38. I just discovered your website searching for ways to harvest and store my abundant basil. I also want to harvest my lemon balm. Is it time? How to trim and harvest the herb,so it continues growing? Excellent work/site! Quite amazing, will let my friends know about it! Jana

  39. Glad you like the site, Jana. I'm afraid I haven't ever grown lemon balm so I can't give much advice about it. I would try google though; I bet someone has written about it.

  40. Best way I've found with freezing basil is clean the leaves, leave them out to dry off on towels. Once that is done, roll them into foot long logs about 1" thick, and freeze them on a cookie sheet… Once frozen, transfer them to a zip lock bag, and every time you need 'fresh' basil, cut some off with your kitchen scissors…

  41. How about if do not have a food procesor,is it ok to use a blender? or even chop it with a knife?

  42. I haven't done it with a blender, and truthfully I worry that it will chop the basil too finely. If you don't have a food processor, I'd probably just chop up the basil with a knife and mix with olive oil in a bowl.

  43. So obviously when you puree the herbs, you end up with a smaller volume vs. measuring fresh herbs. When using your frozen herbs (following a recipe), do you use the same measurement as called for in the recipe? i.e., if the recipe calls for 1 T of fresh basil, do you use 1 T of your frozen basil, or do you convert as one would when using dried herbs in place of fresh?

    • Good question; this is not something I've ever worried about because I really like basil so when a recipe calls for it, I always use a lot. But if you were making something where the basil really needs to be measured, I would use slightly less of this than you would chopped fresh basil. Not nearly as much of a difference as in dry to fresh basil though.

  44. I'm going to try freezing a lot of basil this year thanks to this post. This should work for chives also don't you think? I haven't found that chives taste very good after they're dried and they're up there with basil for me. Love them in everything.

    • Hope you enjoy the frozen basil. I am not sure about chives; freezing does soften the texture and I haven't used chives much in cooked dishes. But I do love the frozen basil mixed into salad dressing so maybe chives will work the same way. I'd love to hear how it works!

  45. I love all these tips, I have found I can successfully freeze parsley by just placing it straight into a plastic bag and pushing out the air, doesn't go black. I also have found I can use the more tender basil stems as well as the leaves, Yvonne Bew Zealand

  46. I love making fresh pesto, what I do is freeze it in ice cube trays, then when frozen I pop them out and place them in zip lock bags. Each cube is about 2 Tablespoons. It's quick and easy with out any waste !!

    • Yes, I absolutely do that too, and have a recipe for it, but this is just a method to freeze the basil for other uses. You can never have too much basil, right?

  47. Could you freeze fresh pesto in the same way? I love to make pesto from my basil plant but have never thought of freezing

    • Yes! You can absolutely freeze pesto. You will see things on the web saying to freeze it without the cheese, but I never do that and mine freezes just fine. I love to freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then pop out the cubes and put them in Ziploc bags. Then when I need a little pesto I just take out a few cubes!

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