Fresh basil is always best, but sometimes it’s just easier to use dried. We explore both so you get the most out of your herb.
Fresh basil is so good. It adds a punch of flavor, smells amazing and can add another dimension to dishes. And then there’s dried basil. It’s easy and available in every grocery store on the planet. In fact, you probably have it in your spice cabinet.
Each has its merits. But it’s not always interchangeable. Sometimes fresh is absolutely necessary, but other times dried will do.
When to Use Fresh vs. Dried Basil
Fresh basil adds to almost every recipe. It also has a more mellow flavor, so you can use more. But if you have to be picky about your supply of fresh basil, save it for salads, desserts, cocktails, and anything served with raw ingredients. For instance, a Caprese Salad with dried basil just wouldn’t work. At all.
If you’re cooking with basil, then dried will do. This will allow the basil flavor to combine with the other ingredients. Dried basil is delicious in sauces and as seasoning on chicken or other meats.
Converting Basil Amounts
Keep this conversion handy. When using fresh basil instead of dried in a recipe, use 1 and 1/2 more than what the recipe says. Likewise, cut dried basil by the same amount when substituting it for fresh, that is, 2/3 of what is called for.
This post originally appeared in June 2016 and was revised and republished in May 2021.