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How to Freeze Basil + Recipes to Use Frozen Basil

Freezing basil minimizes food waste and ensures you always have some on hand for soups, stews, sauces, and more! This post explains how to freeze basil 4 ways, plus you’ll get access to 10+ basil recipes. 

fresh basil leaves on a wooden cutting board

Why Should You Freeze Basil? 

Fresh basil is abundant in the summer months, but unfortunately this delicate herb doesn’t stay fresh for long once harvested. The solution? Freeze it! 

If you have a big basil harvest from your garden this year, freezing it is your best option. Basil leaves can be frozen a few different ways and their flavor isn’t impacted whatsoever once thawed. 

These methods for freezing basil leaves can be used year-round, not just in the summer months. 

Even I have trouble using up an entire packet of fresh basil from the grocery store, so I sometimes freeze just one or two portions of it at a time. It’s better than throwing away perfectly good basil! 

How to Freeze Basil 

Can you freeze fresh basil? Absolutely! You have a few options when it comes to freezing basil. 

Below are four of my favorite methods for freezing basil leaves. If you’re unsure how to freeze fresh basil, try one of the options below. 

You’ll find a free printable with instructions 4 ways to freeze fresh basil for your records at the bottom of this post.

1. Freezing Basil in Olive Oil

To a food processor, add roughly 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Puree until the basil leaves are chopped up to your liking (you can leave them slightly chunky, or puree them completely). 

Once pureed, dollop the oil-basil mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet(s). I like to use a large spoon or a tablespoon measure to do this. 

Place the baking sheet into the freezer, making sure not to tilt it. Freeze until the olive oil-basil mixture is solid, about 1 hour. 

Then, quickly transfer the frozen basil to a zip-top freezer bag. When ready to use, add straight to the recipe. 

2. Freezing Basil in Ice Cube Trays

Chop the basil, then press into an ice cube tray. Fill each well with water. Freeze the ice cubes until solid, then pop out of the tray and seal inside a zip-top bag. (You can also chiffonade your basil: How to Quickly Chiffonade Herbs)

When ready to use, place the frozen basil cubes in a bowl and let the ice melt. Drain the water from the bowl and proceed with the recipe as written. 

Tip: I recommend using silicone ice cube trays for this method, as they’re more flexible and make it easier to remove the frozen basil. 

3. Freezing Basil Leaves Whole 

To freeze basil leaves whole, you’ll first need to blanch them for 2 seconds in boiling water (I like to lower them into the pot and remove them using a metal sieve). 

photo by Allison of Some the Wiser

Then, plunge the blanched basil leaves into a bowl of ice water. Remove the basil from the bowl, gently pat dry using a clean kitchen towel, and store in a freezer-safe container. 

It’s best to freeze basil leaves in layers separated by parchment paper. This way, the frozen basil doesn’t form one giant clump. 

4. Freezing Basil in Pesto 

Did you know that basil can be turned into pesto and then frozen? Pesto is essentially a step up from freezing basil in olive oil, if you think about it. 

jar of fresh pesto on a marble counter top

Here are my go-to pesto recipes for using up fresh basil: 

  • Walnut Almond Pesto – this is a traditional basil pesto that uses walnuts and almonds instead of pine nuts.
  • Kale Pesto – this kale pesto recipe uses cilantro, but you can definitely substitute basil and make a basil kale pesto.
  • Vegan Basil Pesto – in this vegan basil pesto, you use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan to get that “cheesy” flavor.

I prefer freezing pesto in silicone ice cube trays or in small jars. This way, I can thaw out the exact amount of pesto I need for a recipe and no more. Pesto can be stirred into a dish from frozen, no need to thaw first! 

jar of fresh pesto on a marble counter top

How Long Is Frozen Basil Good For? 

Frozen basil will last up to 1 year in the fridge, noting that the leaves may turn black over time. 

In general, basil frozen in olive oil (either in plain oil or as a pesto) will remain greener for longer. Basil that’s frozen in water or by itself will turn black much quicker. 

How to Thaw Frozen Basil 

Because basil is such a delicate herb, it can be thawed in a matter of minutes. Simply remove the frozen basil from the freezer and place on your countertop. 

Basil frozen in oil will take 10 to 15 minutes to thaw completely (depending on how large your dollops are), and frozen whole basil leaves will thaw in a couple of minutes. 

Do You Have to Thaw Frozen Basil? 

Nope, not always! You can add frozen basil (in any form) straight to soups, sauces, and stews. No need to thaw first! 

Ways to Use Frozen Basil 

Basil is one of my favorite summertime ingredients to cook with. Below are some of my family’s favorite basil recipes. These recipes all work well with frozen basil and come together easily!

fresh basil on a wooden cutting board on a table

More How to Freeze Tutorials:

Now that you know everything there is to know about freezing basil, here are some more helpful freezer. tutorials:

Freezing raspberries is a wonderful way to enjoy summer’s harvest year-round! This guide explains How to Freeze Raspberries, plus it answers the most commonly asked questions about thawing frozen raspberries and using them in recipes.

Here’s How to Freeze Kale 4 different ways, depending on how you want to use it!

It’s handy to have frozen spinach on hand for smoothies, soups, and more. Here’s How to Freeze Spinach 4 Ways, plus the many ways it can be used.

No matter what season it is, you need to know How to Freeze Cookie Dough. Spoiler: it’s super easy to do!

Did you know that smoothies can easily be prepped in advance and frozen. So easy and delicious! Check out How to Make Freezer Smoothies.

Frozen grapes make for great snacks on hot days, and they can be thrown into smoothies. Here’s How to Freeze Grapes the easy way!

Next time you make a batch pancakes or waffles, make some extra and follow this quick and easy tutorial for How to Freeze Pancakes and Waffles. I’ve also given instructions on how to reheat them!

Who doesn’t love a good kitchen tip? Looking for more kitchen tutorials? Check out the entire Kitchen Tips and Tricks archive for lots of great ideas!

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fresh basil on a wooden cutting board

How to Freeze Basil

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Freezing Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Freezing basil minimizes food waste and ensures you always have some on hand for soups, stews, sauces, and more! This post explains how to freeze basil 4 ways, plus you’ll get access to 10+ basil recipes. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
  • Water (Optional)

Instructions

Freezing basil in olive oil:

  1. To a food processor, add roughly 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Puree until the basil leaves are chopped up to your liking (you can leave them slightly chunky, or puree them completely).
  3. Once pureed, dollop the oil-basil mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet(s). I like to use a large spoon or a tablespoon measure to do this.
  4. Place the baking sheet into the freezer, making sure not to tilt it. Freeze until the olive oil-basil mixture is solid, about 1 hour.
  5. Then, quickly transfer the frozen basil to a zip-top freezer bag. When ready to use, add straight to the recipe.

Freezing basil in ice cube trays:

  1. Chop the basil, then press into an ice cube tray. Fill each well with water.
  2. Freeze the ice cubes until solid, then pop out of the tray and seal inside a zip-top bag.
  3. When ready to use, place the frozen basil cubes in a bowl and let the ice melt.
  4. Drain the water from the bowl and proceed with the recipe as written.

Freezing basil leaves whole:

  1. To freeze basil leaves whole, you’ll first need to blanch them for 2 seconds in boiling water (I like to lower them into the pot and remove them using a metal sieve).
  2. Then, plunge the blanched basil leaves into a bowl of ice water.
  3. Remove the basil from the bowl, gently pat dry using a clean kitchen towel, and store in a freezer-safe container. It’s best to freeze basil leaves in layers separated by parchment paper. This way, the frozen basil doesn’t form one giant clump.

Notes

How Long Is Frozen Basil Good For? 

Frozen basil will last up to 1 year in the fridge, noting that the leaves may turn black over time. 

In general, basil frozen in olive oil (either in plain oil or as a pesto) will remain greener for longer. Basil that’s frozen in water or by itself will turn black much quicker. 

How to Thaw Frozen Basil 

Because basil is such a delicate herb, it can be thawed in a matter of minutes. Simply remove the frozen basil from the freezer and place on your countertop. 

Basil frozen in oil will take 10 to 15 minutes to thaw completely (depending on how large your dollops are), and frozen whole basil leaves will thaw in a couple of minutes. 

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Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 25Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy. This provided information is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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