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”
I'm going to try this. I've dehydrated my basil in the past but this would be so much fresher tasting! Thanks!
Time for a trim!
Thanks that is helpful our basil is 2 ft tall
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Diana, you'll love using this basil in the winter!
Thanks, I have huge basil plants, they are more like bushes, and I hate to see it go to waste.
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.
Jessica, you're going to love this if you haven't done it before!
I have some basil plants in my garden, thanks for sharing on the storing.
Mark, glad it's useful for you!
Great tip. I'm drowning in basil this summer! Thank you! xoxom
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.
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.
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