Drying your freshly grown basil is easy peasy. All you need is a pot of fresh basil and some time. Then you’ll enjoy this herb all year.
Summer’s growing season is here, and growing basil is super easy (for most people, anyhow. My thumbs are a bit black but I’m trying!). There’s absolutely every reason to dry your own herbs this year. Learn how to turn your fresh basil into dried basil and store it for freshness.
Why Should I Dry Fresh Basil?
If you have a bunch of basil, either from your own garden or extra that you purchased at the store, there’s no need to let it go to waste! You can dry basil leaves at home with some easy methods.
In addition to eliminating waste, it’s also cost-effective to dry your own herbs. You also get great flavor that you’ll be excited to add to all sorts of recipes.
Air Drying Basil
Your first option is to air dry your fresh basil leaves. All you need is basil (of course), some string, and two eye hooks. I bet you already have these in your house.
Cut your basil and wash it. Let it soak for a few minutes and swish it around. After you pat it dry, look at your basil. Toss the leaves with holes or any that look weird.
Now, gather your basil in even bunches, with the cut ends of the stems at the top. Tie the string around the top of the bunches. Make sure you tie them very tight because the basil will shrink as it dries. Make a loop with the string at the top so you can hang it up.
Choose a space in a cool, dry place and hang your basil. Hang your eye hooks and string. You can use a paper clip to hang up your basil bunches. Just thread it onto your loop of string.
Limp basil is gross. You need a month to dry your basil. You’ll know the basil is ready when it’s dried and crisp when you break it. If it’s limp, hang it back up. Once it’s ready, store in an airtight container.
Oven Drying Basil
Don’t want to wait four weeks? Use your oven. You’ll need parchment paper and a cookie sheet.
Clip and clean your herbs as before. Dry in a salad spinner or in between two clean kitchen towels. Cut the basil into 1/4-inch sections. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your basil on it in a single layer.
Preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature, often around 170°F. Place the cookie sheet on the top rack and cook for 2-4 hours. Check it every twenty minutes or so once it’s been in for an hour and a half, depends on the moisture content of the basil. You’ll know it’s ready when you can crumble it.
Now, of course, you could also use a food dehydrator, but most households don’t have one. Some of the newer air fryers do have dehydrator settings so you can always see if yours has that option. Typically, you want the lowest setting, around 95°F, and it will take at least 12 hours.
Storing Dried Basil
You can chop or cut the basil when it’s dried. Store in an air-tight container, I usually just use a zip-top bag but you can also use spice jars for storage.
Here’s a tip: Store your basil leaves whole. Crumble them right before cooking for best flavor.
Do yourself a favor. Take an extra 10 seconds to label and date your freshly dried herbs. I’ll be honest, I never do this for my herbs. And I always regret it after I find a forgotten bag of some kind of herb buried in the abyss that is my spice drawer.
If you store your herbs in a cool, dry place, you can keep those suckers for years. Although it’s recommended to keep dried herbs for just one year for best taste.
Using Dried Basil
There’s so many recipes where you can use your beautifully dried basil! Season tomato sauces for pasta or pizza, use in soups, marinades, and more.
Let me know in the comments which method you used to dry basil and how you are planning to use it!
This post originally appeared in June 2016 and was revised and republished in May 2021.