In the height of summer, your garden may be flush with basil – perhaps more than you can enjoy fresh! So, what do you do with it all? One of our favorite ways to preserve basil is to keep the freezer stocked with our infamous “besto pesto”. Yet while pesto is excellent with many meals, it admittedly isn’t the most versatile thing in the world, and does require a few other ingredients to prepare. That said, one of the most simple and easy ways to preserve fresh basil is to dehydrate it. Like most things, homegrown or homemade dry basil puts store-bought dried basil to absolute shame!
This article will show you how to dry basil two ways: either using a food dehydrator or in the oven. It is a very straightforward process, but I definitely have some tips to share on how to create the most fresh-tasting and long-lasting dry basil possible. In the end, you’ll be left with crispy, flavorful dried basil that can store in your pantry for well over a year. Come fall and winter, you’ll be stoked to dig into your stash of homemade dry basil to use in soups, stews, sauces, marinades, and more!
If you need any help in the basil growing department, be sure to take a peek at our guide: “How to Grow Bushy Basil to Harvest All Summer Long”. In it, I walk you through everything you need to know to grow, prune, harvest, and care for basil – be it from seed or nursery seedlings. Even if you aren’t growing your own, I highly suggest snagging a big beautiful bunch of basil at your local farmer’s market while it’s in season to dry it up!
Ready to get drying?
Is it best to dry basil in a dehydrator or the oven?
Either way will get the job done! However, depending on how low of a heat setting your oven offers, it is easier to accidentally burn the basil in the oven – so keep a close eye on it during the process. No matter the temperature, the leaves will inevitably turn slightly more brown in the oven than when drying basil in a dehydrator.
When we dry basil and other fresh herbs, we prefer to do it as “low and slow” as possible. When food is exposed to heat over 115°F, some of its beneficial enzymes, nutrients, and essential oils are destroyed. This is an especially important consideration when drying medicinal herbs and flowers. Some of the delicate flavor and aroma also dissipates. That said, the dehydrator method may take a few more hours (up to a full day) longer than the oven method.
HOW TO DRY BASIL
Now, let’s go through the easy process of drying basil, step-by-step!
1) Collect your basil
It is best to harvest basil right before you want to dry it, not giving it the chance to go limp on you. Also, basil will be more sweet and least bitter before it goes to flower in your garden – though we don’t let flowering basil go to waste, and totally still use it! If you are not able to process the basil immediately after harvesting, simply store the cut stems in a glass of water on the counter as you would a bouquet of cut flowers. Fresh basil can stay perky like this for many days!
If you need tips on when and how to harvest basil, check out our basil growing guide. It includes a couple of pruning and harvest demonstration videos too!
2) De-stem and rinse
You can do this in whatever order works easiest for you. Separate the basil leaves from the stems, keeping only the tender leafy part. It is easiest to simply pinch or pluck the leaves off. Toss the stems (and any flowers) in your compost. Rinse the basil leaves with cool water to remove any dirt or insects that came in from the garden.
3) Remove excess water
It is best to remove as much water from the leaves as possible before adding them to the dehydrator or oven, but you don’t need to go crazy here. A little leftover moisture won’t hurt. Either shake out the washed basil leaves in a strainer or lightly pat them dry with a clean lint-free towel. You could even toss them in a salad spinner if you have one!
4) Spread it out
If you plan to dry basil in the oven, preheat it to the lowest temperature setting now (usually 175 to 200°F for most ovens). Next, spread the basil leaves out in an even layer on your dehydrator trays or baking sheet, depending on which method you’re using. Do not overlap the leaves! We want them in a nice single layer to promote excellent air flow and drying.
5) Dry the Basil
Tuck the tray(s) of basil into the oven or dehydrator. We set our Excalibur dehydrator to the “herbs” setting, around 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The time it takes to dry basil depends on your individual machine or oven (and the amount of basil), so this next part is more of a sensory experience than a steadfast rule. On average, it will take a couple of hours in the oven, and a little longer in a dehydrator.
Allow the basil to dry until it is totally crispy and crumbles easily. This is key for good long term storage! It shouldn’t bend or have any obvious moisture left, and will sound nice and crunchy too – like dry leaves rustling. Fully dry basil will fade to a light olive green color and shrink significantly in size.
Processing & Storing Dry Basil
Here is one of my little “secrets” to maintaining maximum freshness and flavor in your home-dried basil. Whole dry basil leaves retain aromatic oils better than crushed leaves over time. More aromatic oils equals more flavor! That is one reason (of many) that store-bought spices tend to be so bland. Therefore, I suggest to process only a small portion of your dried basil at a time and store the rest as whole leaves – especially if you dried a large amount. If it is summer and you don’t intend to use it until winter, keep the leaves whole until then. On the other hand, if you dried only a small handful and plan to use it within a month or so, feel free to crumble it all now for storage.
To process whole dry basil leaves into a flaky ground seasoning, simply crush up the leaves into your desired consistency. You can add the whole leaves to a dry mixing bowl and crumble them up with clean hands. Some folks put them in a ziplock bag and then smash the heck out of it. A food processor or good old-fashioned mortar and pestle will also do the trick. No matter what tool you use, ensure it is 100% dry as to not accidentally re-introduce moisture to your dry basil!
Store dry basil in a glass container with an air-tight lid*. Keep it in your pantry or another relatively cool, dry, and dark location. Add a date and label if needed! Homemade dry basil should stay crunchy and delicious for well over a year, though the intensity of flavor and aroma will degrade with time. We always keep one small spice jar of crushed dry basil ready on hand, and stash the leftover whole leaves away for later.
*Note: Using an air tight lid is essential for good long-term storage, particularly if you live in humid place. Folks who live in really humid climates could also add food-grade silica desiccant packs to the jars to absorb moisture. I find that using a lid with a silicone gasket does the job, along with not opening the jar often.
Ways to Use Dry Basil
You probably don’t need much advice here, right? Add dry basil to all your favorite soups, sauces, stews, marinades, salad dressing recipes, quiche, casserole, roasted veggies, and more. We like to sprinkle dried basil into the dough of our homemade sourdough bread, sourdough crackers, or sourdough pizza crust. They are especially divine with some homegrown onion powder or garlic powder!
Every summer, we also make and preserve a very simple and delicious roasted tomato sauce – and intentionally omit herbs from the base sauce to keep it as versatile as possible. Adding dry basil and other herbs later is a simple way to elevate that sauce to a marinara.
Basil has numerous health-promoting properties. It is a powerful antioxidant, fights inflammation, promotes good digestion, and can help manage blood sugar levels – to name just a few! Therefore, dry basil is a welcome addition to homemade loose-leaf tea, tinctures, or other medicinal plant concoctions.
How to substitute dry basil for fresh basil
How much dry basil should I use instead of fresh basil (or vice versa)? To substitute dry basil for fresh basil in a recipe, use only one-third dry of the called-for amount fresh. For example, if the recipe says to use one tablespoon of fresh basil, use only one teaspoon of dry. On the flip side, use three times the amount of fresh basil instead of dry basil.
This is a general rule of thumb when swapping out any type of dry herbs for fresh herbs. When herbs are dehydrated and the moisture content is removed, it makes them much more concentrated. Dry herbs are condensed in volume as well as flavor, essential oils and aromatics.
And that is how you create, store and use dry basil!
I hope you enjoyed this easy tutorial, and hopefully learned something new. Please feel free to ask questions or simply say hi in the comments below, and spread the love by sharing this article. Thank you for reading, and happy dehydrating!
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- (freeze or can)
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How to Dry (Dehydrate) Basil in a Dehydrator or Oven
Learn how to dry basil two ways: either using a food dehydrator or in the oven. It is easy! Follow these processing and storage tips to create the most fresh-tasting and long-lasting dry basil possible. In the end, you’ll be left with crispy, flavorful dried basil that can store in your pantry for well over a year.
Prep Time5 hrs 20 mins
Drying Time (varies)3 hrs
Keyword: Dehydrated basil, Dried basil, Preserving basil
Food Dehydrator, or Oven(Video) Basil, home dried.
Glass air-tight container for storage
- Fresh basil leaves
Remove basil leaves from the stem portion, and discard (compost) the stems. Wash the leaves in cool water.
Remove excess moisture. Either shake the leaves around in a strainer, lightly pat them dry with a clean lint-free towel, or toss them in a salad spinner.
If you’re going to dry basil in the oven, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature setting now (usually 175-200F for most ovens).
Next, spread the basil leaves out in an even single layer on your dehydrator trays or baking sheets, depending on which method you’re using. Do not overlap the leaves!
Dry the baking sheets of basil in the oven for about 2 hours, checking more frequently towards the end to ensure they do not burn. Or, place the trays of basil in your dehydrator. We set our dehydrator to the “herbs” setting, about 100 to 105 degrees F.
The time it takes to dry basil depends on your individual machine or oven (and the amount of basil), so this is more of a sensory experience than a steadfast rule. On average, it will take a couple of hours in the oven, and up to a day in a dehydrator. Allow the basil to dry until it is totally crispy and crumbles easily. This is key for good long term storage! It shouldn’t bend or have any obvious moisture left, will turn olive green, and sound nice and crunchy too.
Whole dry basil leaves retain aromatic oils and flavor better than crushed leaves over time. Therefore, I suggest to crush only a small portion of your dried basil at a time and store the rest as whole leaves – especially if you dried a large amount.See AlsoHow Much Does A Pickup Truck Weigh? | Garage RadarThe Best Places to Buy Outdoor Furniture to Revamp Your PatioLeaving These 13 Things at Your Front Door Could Keep You SafeBest King Size Mattress (2022): Our Top Recommendations - Mornings.co.uk(Video) How to Dehydrate Lemon Basil | New Addition to the Homestead | VLOG
Crush dry basil leaves using clean dry hands, a ziplock bag, food processor, or mortar and pestle.
Store dried basil in a glass container with an air-tight lid in a dark, cool, dry location. It should remain very flavorful and crisp for over a year stored in the pantry. Enjoy!
Preheat the dehydrator to the “herbs” setting if it has one. If not, put it on the lowest setting, which should be about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This method will take about 12–24 hours depending on the moisture content in the basil. Dehydrate the basil until the leaves become crisp and crumble easily.What is the best way to preserve fresh basil? ›
Go ahead and remove the leaves from the stems. Wash and dry the leaves, using either a paper towel or a salad spinner. Wrap the basil leaves in a dry paper towel and place inside a plastic bag. Seal and store for one to two weeks.How long does it take basil to dry in a dehydrator? ›
Dry the Basil:
If you are using a dehydrator set your temp on a low setting around 120 or even 115 if you can. You can turn it on. Depending on your dehydrator this can take anywhere from 4-10 hours of dehydration to work so keep an eye on the leaves every hour or so to see where they are.
- Wash the entire basil plant well by running under cool water. ...
- Preheat oven to the lowest setting (usually 170-180 degrees F).
- Remove basil leaves from the stem. ...
- Bake for 1 hour or longer (up to 4 hours) – until the basil is crispy and dry. ...
- Remove the leaves from the oven.
Is your garden overflowing with basil? You can dry it or freeze it, but freezing retains the fresh taste better. Before you start, wash basil in cold water and dry; a salad spinner works well for this step.How does Rachael Ray Store fresh basil? ›
Basil. Rachael stores basil in a cup of water at room temperature with a bag over the top. If you put in the fridge, she warns, it will turn black and spoil very quickly.Can you vacuum seal fresh basil? ›
Vacuum sealing is one of the best ways to store your tender leafy herbs. Leafy greens like basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint and parsley are best blanched before sealing. This helps the herbs retain most of their flavor when you vacuum seal them.Can I store fresh basil in a Mason jar? ›
Find a large canning jar and place a few inches of water inside. Make sure the jar is large enough that the basil stems won't be squished or packed inside. Place the basil stems inside the jar, cut side down. Screw on the lid of the jar, which helps to keep the basil fresh.Why is my basil turning brown in dehydrator? ›
Why did my basil turn brown? This happens with dehydrating at times, even at a low temperature. While air drying is always best to retain color and fragrance, dehydrating can be so much faster.Is it better to air dry or dehydrate herbs? ›
Air-drying works best for low-moisture herbs like marjoram, oregano, rosemary and dill. Herbs like basil, chives and mint contain more moisture and it's best to dry them in a dehydrator or oven. An herb's flavor is most pronounced just before the plant begins to flower.
On average, it will take a couple of hours in the oven, and up to a day in a dehydrator. Allow the basil to dry until it is totally crispy and crumbles easily. This is key for good long term storage! It shouldn't bend or have any obvious moisture left, will turn olive green, and sound nice and crunchy too.What is the fastest way to dry basil in the oven? ›
Spread the basil leaves in a single, even layer on your baking sheet, making sure that they don't overlap. This restricts air flow, so you want to make sure it's all in a single layer. I had to dry my basil at 175°F for about 2.5 hours for it to be fully dry and crumbly.Can basil be put in the oven? ›
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. If your oven's lowest temperature is 175 or 180, that's fine. Place basil leaves on a baking sheet, making sure the leaves don't overlap. Depending on the amount of basil you have, you might need a few baking sheets.How do you preserve basil for the winter? ›
Wash the leaves and dry them with a paper towel. Then gather them in bunches and wrap the stems with a twist tie. Hang them upside down for a week or two and then break the leaves off the stems into an airtight container and you will have dried basil for the winter. Basil lasts this way for about a year.Is it better to freeze basil in water or oil? ›
Chop and Freeze
Use a food processor to coarsely chop washed basil leaves. Add a drizzle of olive oil and pulse to lightly coat the leaves with oil; this will keep the basil from turning black in the freezer.
A fresh bunch of basil that has been sold cut from the plant shouldn't be stored on the counter. It should be placed immediately in the fridge, or dried and stored in a jar. Don't forget your shopping list. Keep it in the cloud!Can fresh basil be frozen without blanching? ›
You can flat freeze basil without blanching. However, if your goal is to preserve garden fresh green basil then you should take the extra step to blanch. Fresh basil has enzymes on it that will decompose fresh plants. These enzymes will survive in the freezer and your basil will darken.How do you use basil on your face? ›
Boil some water with dried basil leaves and refrigerate it. You can then massage this gentle tea on your skin and rinse it off. This will refresh your skin and make it glow. Use fresh basil leaves as a thick paste and apply it on your face and neck.Why should you not refrigerate fresh basil? ›
Although certain herbs, such as parsley and cilantro or coriander, can be stored this way in the fridge, basil does better at room temperature. Refrigeration can turn the leaves black.Is basil still good after bolts? ›
All parts of the basil plant are edible, including the flowers, leaves and stems. Moreover, all parts of the plant remain edible even after the basil plant flowers. Once the basil flowers, the taste typically becomes more bitter.
Wrap a paper towel around the basil and place it in an airtight container or a ziplock plastic bag. Store it in the vegetable crisper alongside other salad greens. Basil should last about two weeks when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.How do you preserve basil indoors? ›
- Lightly moisten fresh potting mix and pack firmly into 4-6" pots. ...
- Place in a warm window with a southern exposure. ...
- Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet. ...
- A month after planting, you can enjoy the aroma of basil by running your hands over the small leaves.
How long does basil oil keep? It's best to use infused oil the same day, and can be stored in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days, although the color may change.How long will vacuum sealed basil last? ›
"After sealing, I place them in the refrigerator." Using a sealer, like Nesco White Food Vacuum Sealer ($45), allows you to remove air from storage bags, which eliminates freezer burn, spoilage, and waste. The vacuum method keeps your herbs fresh for up to a year.How do you preserve fresh basil in the microwave? ›
Microwave on High in three bursts: Place the basil leaves on a plate between two 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.How do you preserve fresh basil without drying it out? ›
Preserved in oil-
Use a food processor to puree the basil leaves with olive oil. Use 1 tablespoon of olive oil per 1 cup of basil. Freeze the pureed basil in an ice cube tray, after frozen remove cubes and then store in a large resealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container.
Long, deep window box style pots are great for basil, as the roots have adequate room to spread out along the elongated bottom surface of the pot, as compared to a circular pot. Look for window boxes that are 8″ to 12″ tall, and 5″ to 7″ wide.What temperature do you store basil? ›
The recommended optimum storage temperature is 32° – 40°F. Keep them covered, they are susceptible to wilting when allowed to dehydrate.Can I put basil with roots in water? ›
It's easy to root basil cuttings in water or potting mix. Expect the cuttings to root in two to four weeks.How do you dry basil without it turning brown? ›
To dry basil so it doesn't turn brown, use the lowest temperature setting on your dehydrator, and ensure you never overcook it in the microwave or oven.
I would not recommend consuming basil that has turned brown/black, especially if it is "slimy" to the touch. Even though a few brown spots are probably safe, it will be bitter and, well, slimy. Throw it away - and consider using some of the storage methods discussed in the link above.How do you dry herbs without turning brown? ›
Simply expose the leaves, flowers or seeds to warm, dry air. Leave the herbs in a well ventilated area until the moisture evaporates. Sun drying is not recommended because the herbs can lose flavor and color.What herbs should not be dried? ›
Delicate, leafy herbs like parsley, tarragon, and chives are always superior when fresh, and should typically be avoided when dried since they don't add much flavor to a dish.Where is the best place to air dry herbs? ›
A good place to hang herbs to dry is in an attic, kitchen or any location that is warm and there is air circulation. The herbs can also be placed on a layer of paper towels on a tray to dry. It will usually take 5-10 days to air-dry. This works well for drying leaves such as bay, mint and sage leaves.Do dried herbs need to be air tight? ›
Store in Airtight Containers
Oxygen will degrade herbs over time, so storing your dried herbs in airtight containers is best. Glass jars or metal tins with screw top lids work well, as do jars with clamp on lips (Fido style). Avoid using plastic if possible, as it may leach chemicals into your herbs.
Do You Wash Basil Before Drying? Yes! Simply fill a sink with cool water and gently swish stems around to clean them. Lay them out, single layer, on a towel or hang to dry.Is dried basil as good as fresh? ›
Herbs like dill, parsley, and basil lose or change flavor when dried. Parsley, when dried, loses all of the fresh flavor that makes it worthwhile as an herb. Dehydrated basil, on the other hand, tastes more like mint than fresh basil -- a flavor that won't complement your pasta dish very well.How do I use my oven as a dehydrator? ›
Use Your Oven
It's remarkably easy to dehydrate fruits and veggies in the oven. Just turn it to the lowest setting, cut your fruit and veg into ¼ inch slices, and put them in the oven on a lined sheet pan for as long as they need, usually 6 to 8 hours.
To dry basil in a food dehydrator, scatter prepared basil leaves on dehydrator trays. Position them so that they're close together but not overlapping. This allows for free air flow. Set dehydrator to lowest heat setting (some dehydrators have an “herb” setting).
Cut about ¼-inch above where leaves are coming off the main stem. Don't take off more than a third of the height at once, and snip from different parts of the plant to encourage branching all the way around. As your basil keeps sending out new growth, continue to prune it the same way.
The cold tolerance of basil begins to suffer when the mercury drops into the 40's (F.) but really affects the plant at 32 degrees F.Can you dry basil in an air fryer? ›
Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees F, using the air fryer setting. Remove the leaves from the stems. Then place a spoon (or fork) or trivet on top of the herbs, which will help keep them down during the air frying. Air Fry for 3 to 6 minutes, or until the leaves are completely dried.What do you do with end of season basil? ›
Final Harvest: At the end of the season (before the first frost), cut the stems to the ground and pick off all the leaves. Add the stems to the compost pile, and bring the leaves indoors for an afternoon of cooking and preserving.Is it better to freeze or dry basil? ›
Is your garden overflowing with basil? You can dry it or freeze it, but freezing retains the fresh taste better. Before you start, wash basil in cold water and dry; a salad spinner works well for this step. To freeze your basil, pull leaves from stems.How do you store basil for a long time? ›
- Trim the Basil Stems. ...
- Put the Basil in a Jar or Glass Vase with Water. ...
- Cover with a Plastic Bag. ...
- Store Basil Jar at Room Temperature. ...
- Trim the Stems and Replace the Water Occasionally.
- Wash basil. It does help to allow to air dry a bit.
- Place on dehydrator trays. ...
- Dry at 95F/35C for up to 48 hours. ...
- Allow samples to cool before testing - basil is done when it is easily breakable in your hand.
- Store in an airtight container for about a year.
Foods can be dried in the sun, in an oven or in a food dehydrator by using the right combination of warm temperatures, low humidity and air current. The optimum temperature for drying food is 140 °F. If higher temperatures are used, the food will cook instead of drying.What temp is best for basil? ›
It prefers temperatures between 50°F–80°F. Basil is very sensitive to frost, so it's recommended to harvest your Basil beforehand, as the cold temperatures will kill your plants. Avoid placing your plant near air conditioning vents, doors, and drafty areas.How do I dry basil in my Air Fryer dehydrator? ›
- Wash the fresh herbs and pat dry.
- Place the clean herbs in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray. ...
- Air fry at 350°F for 3-4 minutes or until visibly dry and the plant material crumbles easily in your hands.
On average, it will take a couple of hours in the oven, and up to a day in a dehydrator. Allow the basil to dry until it is totally crispy and crumbles easily. This is key for good long term storage! It shouldn't bend or have any obvious moisture left, will turn olive green, and sound nice and crunchy too.
Less Tender Herbs — The more sturdy herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, summer savory and parsley are the easiest to dry without a dehydrator. Tie them into small bundles and hang them to air dry.Is a dehydrator better than an oven? ›
If you are drying food in the oven then you cannot use the oven for however long it takes to dehydrate the food, which could be between 6 – 8 hours. A dehydrator will sit on the countertop and dehydrate food in less time, use less energy and doesn't require much supervision at all.Where is the best place to put a dehydrator? ›
High indoor humidity, air conditioning or breezes may alter the time needed to dehydrate foods. Ideally, find a dry, warm place away from air vents and windows to set up your dehydrator.Does a dehydrator use a lot of electricity? ›
How Much Electricity Does a Food Dehydrator Use? Every food air-dryer will use a different amount of electricity so check with the manufacturer's specifications. Most large dehydrators use about one kWh per hour or less.Do you pinch basil from the top or bottom? ›
Harvesting Larger Amounts: Harvest the leaves from the top down, cutting back up to a third of the total plant height. Be sure to cut or pinch right above a leaf pair rather than leaving a stub. In a few weeks, your basil plants will be ready to harvest again.When should I set basil out? ›
Plant basil 2 weeks after the last spring frost. This flavorful herb is perfect for raised garden beds, containers, and in-ground gardens. Space basil according to label recommendations, usually 12 to 18 inches apart. Grow in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.Will basil come back every year? ›
Basil Plants Do Not Come Back Every Year
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an annual herb in the culinary herb garden. New seeds, plants, or cuttings need to be planted each spring. Basil plants grow from seeds in the spring, produce basil leaves in the summer, and eventually flower and grow seeds as fall approaches.
- Wash the parsley and cilantro thoroughly.
- Spin dry using a salad spinner.
- Lay the herbs out on a sheet pan lined with paper towel. ...
- Load your dehydrator shelves with the herbs. ...
- Set your dehydrator to 95 degrees and the time for 18 hours.
- Allow the herbs to dry. ...
- When the herbs are dried, remove to a platter.