How to Freeze Fresh Basil
This post will show you How to Freeze Fresh Basil, and frozen basil is a wonderful thing to have in the freezer when basil is out of season! I’ve been freezing basil for years, so I’ll also give you some recipe suggestions that can work with frozen basil.
PIN this post to try freezing some basil later!
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!
Step One: Trim your basil plants often!
If you’re a gardener who’s growing basil, trimming your basil plants regularly will let you freeze 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.)
Step Two: Wash the basil leaves and dry them well!
I pinch off all the basil leaves, discard the stems, and wash the leaves very well in a salad spinner (affiliate link). 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.
Step Three: Chop the basil leaves in a food processor!
Put a few of handfuls of basil into the Food Processor (affiliate link), using the steel blade. The food processor bowl should be full, but not tightly packed. (I haven’t tried chopping up the basil by hand, but I’m sure it can work if you don’t have a food processor.)
Step Four: Add olive oil while you chop the basil!
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, 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.
Step Five: Put the chopped basil in containers for the freezer!
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. Some people like to freeze the chopped basil in ice-cube trays, then pop them out and seal with the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer (affiliate link).
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.
Recipes that work well with frozen basil:
Italian Beef Stew with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Basil
White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, and Basil
Ratatouille Stew with Italian Sausage
Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer
Cannellini Bean and Sausage Stew
More suggestions for using basil:
If you don’t have enough basil to freeze, here’s How to Preserve Fresh Basil on the Countertop. Something I make with basil every summer is Basil Pesto with Lemon. You can also make French Pistou Sauce from Julia Child if you want a dairy-free sauce with basil. (Pesto and Pistou also freeze well.) There’s a great collection of recipes using basil in my post on Cooking with Fresh Basil. Check out Cooking Tips for more cooking tip posts like this one.
More tips for freezing 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 Sage, Tarragon, and Mint
This post showing How to Freeze Fresh Basil was updated with better photos and more information, July 2008. It was last updated with more information in 2022.
163 Comments on “How to Freeze Fresh Basil”
Hi. why can’t you freeze basil like spinach?
I haven’t frozen spinach, but when I tried freezing basil without the oil it would turn dark in the freezer.
Thanks for your suggestions, on how to freeze fresh Basil. I did some but added Rosemary and it’s in the refrigerator in a mason jar
That’s a fun variation!
Loved your tips on freezing basil. Can other herbs be processed and frozen. I have a ton of sage.
Glad it’s useful for you. I have frozen sage using a slightly different method. You can read about it in this post on freezing sage, tarragon, and mint.
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!
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?
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
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!
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.
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.
How about if do not have a food procesor,is it ok to use a blender? or even chop it with a knife?
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…