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Here’s how to dry basil using a quick and easy method! It’s great for if you’ve got loads of fresh garden basil and want to preserve it.

How to dry basil

Got loads of summer basil and not sure what to do with it? Here’s a quick tutorial on how to dry basil! It takes only a few minutes of time and makes dried basil that rivals any store bought version. The fast method uses a microwave: it’s much quicker than oven methods, which take hours to dry out the basil on low temperature. Here’s exactly how to do it: and a few caveats before we start.

The best way to preserve basil? Freeze it as pesto.

OK, let’s talk about preserving basil for moment. You think you want to dry basil. But the absolute best of the best way to keep all that basil flavor? Make pesto. Pesto keeps all that peppery flavor of this leafy herb and it freezes beautifully. Dried basil…well, it lacks a lot of flavor. (See more below.) Here’s how to preserve basil as pesto:

  1. Make the pesto! You can make it with many different types of nuts, and even vegan. Try one of the following: Best Basil Pesto, Cashew Pesto, Vegan Pesto, Vegan Cashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto.
  2. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays. This is the easiest way to portion it out!
  3. Remove frozen pesto and place in sealable container. Then you can use it in lots of recipes, like these Best Recipes with Pesto.

Another great way to preserve basil and keep that flavor? Make bright green Basil Oil.

Fresh basil

Why to dry basil

So you still want to dry basil? Keep this in mind: Dried basil is pretty flavorless. It’s sad to lose all that great basil flavor when you dry it out. Like we said, pesto is a much better way to preserve that great flavor.

On the other hand, this dried basil works just like the dried basil you’d find at the store! You can use it in any recipe that calls for dried basil, like Italian Seasoning or on Everything Basil Pizza or Grilled Zucchini. So, it’s not a bad idea!

How to dry basil

This dried basil method uses a microwave. Essentially, you’ll dry it out by cooking it in quick bursts. Here are a few tips about the basic method:

  • Microwave on High in three bursts: Place the basil leaves on a plate between two paper towels. Cook for 45 seconds, then 30 seconds, then 30 seconds again. The basil leaves should look shriveled and be mostly dry.
  • All microwaves are different, so do a few more 10 second bursts as necessary to dry it out.
  • The basil crisps even more as it cools! Allow it to come to room temperature before crumbling with your fingers.
How to dry basil

More basil recipes

If you think you’d rather eat basil in recipes instead, it’s an even better way to enjoy the beauty of this herb! Here are some of our favorite basil recipes to try:

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How to dry basil

How to Dry Basil

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: Varies


Here’s how to dry basil using a quick and easy method! It’s great for if you’ve got loads of fresh garden basil and want to preserve it. Tip: The best way to preserve basil? Make pesto and freeze it.


  • 1 bunch fresh basil


  1. Wash and dry the basil leaves. Remove them from the stem. Place as many as fit on a single layer between paper towels on a plate.
  2. Microwave on High for 45 seconds.
  3. Remove the plate, spread out the leaves in a single layer. Microwave again for another 30 seconds. 
  4. Microwave again on high for one more 30 second interval. At this point the leaves should be shriveled and mostly dry. If at any point before this the leaves are mostly dry, remove them from the microwave and stop cooking. If they are not yet dried, continue to cook at 10 second intervals until they are. 
  5. Cool completely to allow to become perfectly crisp: the leaves will crisp more as they cool. Then crumble it with your fingers to use in recipes.
  • Category: Spices
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: Herbs
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: How to dry basil

Resources for growing & storing basil

Looking for more about basil? Here are our top resources for growing and storing it:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Hello I was reading your article about how to dry basil to keep the color and it works rather well but I had another question other kinds of herbs and would this process work the same it did for the basil to keep the color. For example like Dill, mints & holy basil -Tulsi or, rosemary, thyme, parsley&lavender to name few

  2. I somehow grew some unbelievable basil. Because I wanted to save some, I was fortunate to find your site with the recipe for drying! It turned out so incredibly amazing with super easy instructions- thank you so very much!!!

  3. Using the microwave directions and it caught FIRE, so you might want to put a warning or better directions!

    1. We’re sorry to hear this — we haven’t had this happen or had feedback about this before! There’s a lot of variation in microwaves, so we added a note to the recipe to state that if your leaves are shriveled and dry at any point before the end of the cook time, stop cooking them. Did you try this with only a small amount of basil leaves? That could also contribute to it: the plate should have an entire single layer of leaves.

    1. We’ve never had this happen and sorry to hear this! We did some research and in rare cases basil can pick up iron from the soil and spark. Here’s an article about the science behind it: Was this basil from the store or a garden? When in the timing did the basil spark? You can also dry the basil in the oven: place on baking sheets and dry at 200 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, checking every 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.

  4. Worked great! I used a thin drying kitchen towel. I layed that on my microwave turntable ( used 1/2 of it) and put a small layer of washed basil on it. I then, folded the other half of that towel over it ( so it’s covered up). I made sure the turntable was able to turn. I used 45 seconds, then another 45 seconds, and another 45 seconds. I pulled the towel out and emptied the leaves on a cookie sheet and started drying more basil with the towel. I could crunch my basil on the cookie sheet and put it in a ziplock. I had about 6 batches but this was faster than hours in the oven. Thanks!

    1. Was gonna say you aren’t very descriptive about what kind of towel and I would imagine a paper towel may catch fire in a microwave if it is not holding something that has moisture. Glad I read the reviews. 3 stars for unclear instructions.

  5. In your basil drying instructions (in the first section) you say to “Microwave on High in three bursts: Place the basil leaves on a plate between two towels.” I think you should add “paper” towels. When I read it I thought you meant kitchen towels!