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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, what a timely udpate as my basil is overflowing and I hate to lose even a leaf! Thanks so much!

  2. Janelle, would have loved to been able to meet you at BlogHer. I think the the plastic containers will make the basil last a bit longer in the freezer, but ziploc bags would work too. You could use the ice cube trays, then pop the basil cubes into zip-loc bags.

  3. Cool: how about ziploc, do you think that works?

    I haven’t frozen just basil, but adore freezing pesto in ice cube trays:))). I wrote a post about it and you will laugh, get emails all the time about the cool red ice cube tray (in my photo). I bought it at ikea a few years back:).

    I hope you are well, I SO wished I could have made the BlogHer conference this year, but family reunion prevailed.



  4. Kalyn: This is such helpful information. I just learned how to keep basil in my kitchen from Ross Parson’s book “How to Pick a Peach” — don’t refrigerate, just put in a glass with water on your kitchen counter — and now your post on saving it for winter cooking. Terrific! My basil is growing abundantly in pots on my back porch and I didn’t know what to do with it all. This is very instructive. I’m not surprised that it is one of your most popular posts but thanks for re-posting. Janice

  5. Thank you for your advice. Bute in India we get only dried Basil leaves. But i will keep this in mind.

  6. This is brilliant kalyn. I was wondering how you would do it without them going dark. I will definitely try this.

  7. Comments before this one are from June 2006 to July 2008, when I updated this post with better photos and more complete instructions.

  8. Audrey, I don’t think I’ve tried doing it that way (I just make the pesto and freeze that.) I think it will work, but the basil will be a bit more wet, so you’ll probably need less oil. I’d thaw it in the fridge first. Let me know how it turns out, love to try it.

  9. I just followed your recipe for frozen basil. Once I collect a bunch, can I use my frozen basil to make pesto?

  10. I freeze dill, parsley, mint… my mother used to freeze them but I did not know that you can freeze basil, I must try it as it is one of my favourite herbs as well. I have always basil plant on my window 🙂

    Enjoy your weekend, Margot

  11. Lora, sounds like a good system. I’ve been thinking about buying some ice cube trays just for this reason, thanks for the reminder!

  12. I’ve been using this same method for freezing Basil, but, instead of putting the Basil/Olive oil into small plastic containers, I put it into ice cube trays. ( I have several trays that I use strictly for freezing herbs, as well as some for freezing juice from my Meyers lemon tree). Once frozen, I put the cubes into freezer zip-lock bags and store in the freezer. One cube equals, approximately, one tablespoon of fresh chopped basil. When I need Basil over the winter months I just take out a cube, let it thaw and I’m good to go!

  13. Hi Holly,
    Basil is an annual, which means it only lives for a certain length of time. Theoretically you could plant new seeds and grow it inside in the winter, but I doubt you could really get enough sun to do it successfully in Utah. Don’t be afraid to cut your basil way back during the summer though. I trim mine 4-5 times each summer and freeze each crop.

  14. I”m in Utah and I wondered if it is possible to haul my basil pot inside for the winter, have you tried that or do basil plants have a specified life span? Can’t wait to go try freezing some basil now. I planted about 8 or 10 basil plants in a large pot and they are going crazy and they get bushier every time I pluck out the flower heads. Thanks for the great information! HOlly

  15. Anonymous, do the basil leaves turn dark when you freeze them this way? I’m usually using them in something where I don’t mind the oil, bit I might try your method too. Thanks for letting us know.

  16. I take basil leaves off the stems and arrange on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer—then I pack the frozen leaves into zip lock bags, date and place back into the freezer. The basil retains its fresh taste in recipes with no added oil.

  17. Kalyn, I just froze some basil last week but I simply washed, dried and froze the leaves in zip-lock bags (as per an Italian lady’s suggestion) but I do see the colour change.

    I will likely cull some more basil and I’ll try your method as well as I like the preserving the the vibrant green of the basil.


  18. I have grown basil and tomatoes for years to make my own marinara sauce. I have successfully frozen both. For the basil I chop it up and put it into ice cube trays and add water. Freeze solid and put into zip freezer bags. Then it can be thawed or just popped into the sauce.

  19. Just Great! I’m new to growing herbs and have several basil ready to start harvesting and was looking for a way to freeze them when I ran upon your site. Thanks
    don in Texas

  20. OK, I never thought frozen pesto would be anything like fresh. Well, I just thawed some to have with goat cheese and roasted red peppers. It was FABULOUS! It really CAN be frozen. Your method of freezing with olive oil is perfect! IF I wanted to “brighten” up my pesto a bit I would stick it back in my food processor and add a bit more lime juice (I love the brightness of lime juice in pesto) and that’s it. Thank you for offering this information, which I was about to dispute on a cooking forum. I was smart enough to google it first!!!!!! 🙂