How to Store Fresh Basil

Fresh basil adds a delightful spark of freshness to all it touches. Here's how to get the most from this flavor powerhouse.

No matter the time of year, fresh basil is easy to keep stocked thanks to its ability to grow indoors (in a sunny spot, of course), outdoors, and its availability at the grocery store. If you have a large haul from the herb garden, it's important to know how to store basil. Read on for some easy ways to store basil in order to keep it fresh. For longer-term basil storage, use one of our methods for preserving it (yes, you can freeze basil, too!). We'll also give you tips on the different types of basil to know which is best for your favorite Caprese salad, Margherita pizza, pasta, and more.

covering herbs with plastic
Kritsada Panichgul

How to Store Basil

Before storing basil, it's important to choose fresh herbs that are at their prime for the longer-lasting results. Look for basil that has evenly colored, fresh-looking leaves with no brown spots or signs of wilting. From there, follow these steps to properly store basil:

  1. Cut ½-inch from the bottom of the stems and stand the sprigs upright in a glass jar.
  2. Fill the jar with enough cold water to cover the stems by 1 inch.
  3. Loosely cover the leaves with a plastic bag.
  4. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Classic Basil Pesto
Blaine Moats

How to Freeze Basil

While it's not recommended to simply toss basil leaves into a bag and freeze, you can still enjoy basil's fresh flavor via the freezer. Turn the basil into pesto or chimichurri and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, keep the cubes in a freezer bag or container to add a burst of basil flavor to soups and sauces.

basil types in glass vase
Kim Cornelison

Types of Basil

Basil is available in an array of flavors. Here are some popular varieties:

  • Thai basil: Also called anise basil, this small-leaf variety boasts a strong licorice flavor.
  • Genovese basil: This type of sweet basil has a vibrant clove flavor and crinkled, curled leaves.
  • Purple basil: Pungent and licorice-like, this basil possesses glossy, burgundy leaves.
  • Lemon basil: This specialty basil has a savory lemon flavor and is characterized by its flat, narrow leaves.
  • Cinnamon basil: With its strong cinnamon scent, this basil is easily distinguished from other basil varieties.

Looking for more delicious ways to utilize the fresh basil you have stocked? Change up taco night by making basil guacamole or salsa. Make homemade lemonade more flavorful with a few leaves. Add brightness to a grain and veggie salad. Really, you can't go wrong when it comes to this herb.

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