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Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil

This post will tell you How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil, and frozen basil is a wonderful thing to have in the freezer! Freezing fresh basil to use all year long is something I’ve been doing for years. Check out Cooking Tips for more ideas like this one.

Click here to PIN How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen 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: Trim Your Basil Regularly!

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: Wash the Basil Leaves and Dry Them Well!

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: Chop the Basil in a Food Processor!

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: Add Olive Oil While You Chop the Basil!

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: Several Options for Containers for the Freezer!

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 Tips 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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    161 Comments on “How to Freeze Fresh Basil and Ideas for Using Frozen Basil”

  1. Kalyn,
    Thanks for the tip…last year I left alot of basil on the plants because I didn’t know what to do. I plan to freeze it with a little water in ice cube trays. I will send a yummy email in the middle of winter when I add it to my marinara sauce 🙂


  2. Adele, I apologize, sometimes when comments come when I’m at school I totally miss them. I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t work with tarragon too.

  3. Anonymous, no problem. I try to defrost the basin in the fridge if I can, but you can do it in the microwave. I use it in soups, stews, pesto, and mixed into Italian dressing to make “basil vinaigrette” which is good drizzled over fish, vegetables, and of course, tomatoes.

  4. I am sorry, I posted the message twice, I am new to blogging!

  5. After researching how to freeze basil for some time I can finally relax, your instruction with the pictures is perfectly helpful, thank you!

    Can you give some tips on defrosting & using frozen basil?

  6. This is so helpful,I love that yu included pictures, thank you.

    Can you give some tips on what is the best way to defrost & use frozen basil?

    • I was wondering the same thing! I planted basil this year too, and it's time to trim, so I'll freeze of course, but not sure of the best way to defrost/thaw?

    • Sorry I missed these previous comments. I defrost in the fridge over night. For ideas for recipes using the frozen basil, enter "frozen basil" into the search bar on the blog and you'll get recipes where I've mentioned using it. I use a lot of mine for basil vinaigrette, and it's also great in pasta sauce.

  7. Great ideas; very helpful. Do you think this process would work for my other favorite herb “tarragon”?

  8. I’ve been freezing basil for years. Last year, I tried making basil pesto and freezing individual cubes in ice cube trays, then into freezer bags when frozen. These cube-size portions are great to add flavor to recipes or when my grandsons ask for bowties and “green sauce.” This year, I line the trays first with saran wrap, freeze, then lift the whole sheet of saran wrap out–so much easier to remove the frozen cubes. Hope this is helpful to someone.

  9. Luv2cook, lucky you!

    Senait, if you have a really sunny south facing window you could try it, but basil needs a lot of sun. I haven’t tried growing it inside.

  10. Hi. Wow, I’m new to this whole blogging thing, so please excuse me if I am writing in the wrong area. I was reading these great tips on freezing basil and I love it! I am wondering if anyone can give me tips on growing basil indoors. Can this be done? I live in San Francisco, and I don’t have a garden, but I love herbs.

  11. Great post, Kalyn. One of my friends planted a couple of basil plants but they don’t use basil. So they invited me to come to their house to pick some. I went and got a WHOLE bunch. Their plants were upto 3ft high. Now, I know how I save it to use it all year long :).

    Thanks, again.

  12. Jennifer, it will sound crazy, but at the end of the season I just cut off the branches of rosemary and thyme and put them in the freezer in a ziploc bag. Then when I need some I just take a branch and pull the leaves off. They come off really easily when they’re frozen.

  13. So helpful, Kalyn, thanks! I too have often frozen pesto, but sometimes in winter I’d love to have just the basil. Do you use the same method with rosemary and thyme, coating the leaves in olive oil?

  14. Virginie, try it. It’s great for so many dishes.

    Nerissa, thanks for the tip about lemongrass. I haven’t ever grown it, but I’ve been thinking about trying. But even when I buy it at the store, I usually don’t use it all.

  15. This is wonderful info. In a place where I rarely if ever see basil It’s good to know how I can keep the taste of summer in the freezer without resorting to turning it all into pesto.

    Cooking Diva tells me that you can freeze lemon grass too.

  16. What a great idea ! Thank you for it. My basil always burns when I try to freeze it. I’ll follow your wise advice now.

  17. Gattina, I missed you. Don’t hesitate to trim your basil and it will fill out the plant even more.

  18. Christa, glad to help you learn how to preserve your garden stuff. I grate the ginger while it’s still frozen with a microplane grater. It works very well.

    Alice, thanks for the tips.

    Shauna, welcome.

    Ruth, try again with the basil. It’s not that termperamental except you should put it where it gets maximum sun if you can.

    EJM, glad to hear that your husband was pleased. I LOVE the idea of whole pine nuts.

  19. Kalyn,
    great tips on trimming and freezing, I’ll do so before its season finished!

  20. Ruth, you really must try growing basil! You should definitely grow enough to be able to garnish things at least. Our garden is almost entirely in shade and still the basil does grow.

    We make pesto from those humungous bunches of basil that are available at the vegetable stores in early September….

    -Elizabeth, in Toronto

    P.S. Many of the garden centers sell basil in the “vegetable” section rather than the “herb” section. Ruth, you should be able to get 6 plants for about $1.00 in the vegetable area rather than 1 spindly plant for $2.00 (or more) in the herb area. (I know the garden center that is on Christie just north of Bloor has a deal like that…)