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.
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:
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:
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.