Bountiful Basil? 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Use It Up

If you’ve got a garden overflowing with prolific basil, or just feel like picking up a few bunches at the market, here are some recipes to help you use it all up (so none of that deliciousness goes to waste)!
ways to use basil in cooking 1

If you’ve got a garden overflowing with prolific basil, or just feel like picking up a few bunches at the market, here are some recipes to help you use it all up (so none of that deliciousness goes to waste)!

1. Pesto

Perhaps the most common use of abounding basil is pesto. There are so many ways to make a delicious basil pesto.

Here are a few recipes:
This quick classic pesto comes together in a matter of minutes.

Try this recipe if you’re looking for a dairy free recipe .

If you’re looking for a nut free pesto, look no further. 

You can serve pesto on pasta, atop crusty bread, on pizza, in salads, on shrimp, chicken, fish, steak…the possibilities are endless.

most common use of abounding basil is pesto

2. Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is a summer favorite that can help you use up garden basil and tomatoes! 

Caprese salad typically contains tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a balsamic drizzle. 

Here’s a classic version of Caprese salad.

This kabob version of Caprese salad couldn’t be any cuter.

And here is a recipe that swaps the tomatoes for something sweeter– check out this strawberry Caprese pasta salad.

Caprese salad typically contains tomatoes sliced mozzarella fresh basil olive oil salt pepper and a balsamic drizzle

3. Pizza

Besides spreading some homemade pesto on as your pizza’s sauce, here are some other pizza recipes to use up your fresh basil.

Classic Margherita pizza– you can’t go wrong with this one.

“Grilled Everything” pizza– this recipe is loaded with grilled toppings and fresh basil. 

Fresh Herb Pizza uses up loads of garden herbs.

margharita pizza in oklahoma

4. Refreshing Summer Drinks

Here are some summer sips that can help you use up your basil:

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Iced Tea Sparkler

Blueberry Basil Lemonade (this one’s sweetened with honey instead of sugar)

Watermelon and Basil summer drink with a hint of lemon and lime

5. Save It! 

When basil is bountiful, and you don’t want it to go to waste, another great way to make it last year-round is to store it– either by freezing or drying.

freezing basil in an ice cube container or tupperware

Freezing Whole Leaves of Basil

  • remove the basil leaves from the stem, then blanch them in boiling water for two seconds
  • transfer the basil leaves to an ice bath
  • dry the leaves off completely and serve in a freezer-safe container, making sure you separate any layers of leaves with parchment paper (wax paper will work, as well).

Freezing Pureed Basil

This is a really beautiful way to preserve your fresh basil for use later in sauces, pestos, soups, salads, marinades, and more. 

To do this you will:

  • remove the basil leaves from their stems
  • wash and dry the basil
  • measure 1 Tablespoon of olive oil per 1 Cup of basil
  • puree this together in a food processor or blender
  • pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze until solid
  • transfer these cubes to a freezer-safe container 

Here’s a little more information on this method, which can also be used for other fresh herbs!

Drying Basil

If you’d like to dry some of your fresh basil, you can do so using your oven/dehydrator, or by hanging the basil to dry.

To use your oven/dehydrator:

  • remove the basil leaves from the stem
  • wash and dry basil
  • set your oven or dehydrator to the lowest temperature
  • if using the oven, line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • place the basil leaves in a single layer
  • bake or dehydrate until crumbly (2-4 hours in the oven)
  • remove the basil from the oven/dehydrator and allow to cool
  • once cool, crumble the basil and store in an airtight container

To hang to dry:

  • wash and dry your basil bunches
  • cut stems around 6” long
  • bind stems together in a bunch (or bunches) using twine or string, making your knot tight (as the basil will shrink while it dries)
  • leave some extra string hanging free
  • using a clothespin or paperclip, hang your basil bunch(es) along a line of string/twine/yarn in a dry spot out of the direct sun (inside your house)
  • Once the basil is nice and dry and crunchy (this will probably take close to four weeks), you may take the bundles down and crumble them. Then store them in an airtight container.


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