15 Best Basil Recipes

Got fresh basil? Here are the best basil recipes for using that peppery herb, from pesto to drinks to pizza.

Basil recipes

Fresh green leaves of peppery basil are one of our favorite things about summer! There’s nothing that evokes the carefree days of summer more (except, maybe peaches!). Adding fresh basil brings an herbaceous hint to any recipe that’s irresistible. Basil is can be used in both traditional and unique ways: from classic Margherita Pizza and Basil Pesto to interesting spins like Peach Crisp with Basil or Basil Strawberry Popsicles. Here are some of our very favorite basil recipes: and a little on how to grow this popular herb!

And now, our top basil recipes!

How to grow basil

A few tips on how to grow basil at home! Growing your own basil is much cheaper and easier than buying it from the store. Here are a few tips:

  • You can plant it in pots on a sunny ledge! You don’t even need a garden! Though it’s perfect for a raised bed garden.
  • Start from “starts”. We recommend buying a start plant at your local farmers market or garden store. Then plant it in a pot with plenty of drainage (or your garden).
  • Make sure to prune regularly. Regularly remove branches back to the first set of 2 leaves. Pruning the plant makes it grow large and bushy!

For more on how to grow basil, see our posts How to Grow Basil and How to Harvest Basil.

How to store fresh basil

Here’s another tip on fresh basil: how to store it! Storing fresh cut basil inside can be difficult, because cut basil wilts within a few hours. Alex and I have a found a great way to store branches of cut basil.

  • Find a large ball jar and add a bit of water in the bottom: then place the basil stems in cut side down and cover with a lid.
  • Store in the refrigerator and it will last for 4 to 5 days, instead of just hours on the counter!

You can also dry basil! Go to How to Dry Basil.

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Basil pesto

Best Basil Pesto Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.56 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 heaping cup (18 tablespoons) 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s the best basil pesto recipe, made the classic Italian way with basil, pine nuts, lemon and Parmesan!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted pine nuts (or substitute cashews or walnuts)*
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional as needed

Instructions

  1. In a small dry skillet, toast the nuts over medium high heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the nuts to a bowl and allow them to cool slightly. (This step is optional, but brings out a more robust flavor in the nuts.)
  2. In food processor**, combine the nuts, cheese, and peeled garlic. Process until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds.
  3. Add the basil, lemon juice and kosher salt. Turn on the food processor and gradually pour in the olive oil. Once combined, turn off the food processor. Blend in a bit more olive oil if desired, to achieve a looser texture. Stores for about 1 week in the refrigerator and several months frozen.

Notes

*Pine nuts are traditional, but can be expensive. We’ve tested both cashews and walnuts and they have great flavor. Since we often have these stocked in our pantry, we use these variations more often than pine nuts. 

**You also can do the same method using a mortar and pestle, adding the basil leaves gradually and crushing them against the sides of the mortar.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Basil Recipes, Basil Pesto

Looking for more basil recipes?

Looking for a few more ideas? Here are a few more basil recipes:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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