How to Freeze Basil (Whole Leaves or Ice Cube Trays)

If you’ve ever had an abundance of basil in your fridge or from your garden, but you don’t want to waste it–fear not! You can easily freeze fresh basil to use for future recipes. I’ll show you some of the best ways to save your basil: freezing whole basil leaves, or freezing them in ice cube trays with olive oil.

cubes of frozen basil

Can you freeze fresh basil?

fresh basil leaves

In a word, yes! Freezing basil is one of the easiest ways to preserve fresh basil leaves when you have too much to use at once, just like freezing garlic. From freezing whole leaves to making infused oil and basil ice cubes, there are so many ways to keep basil in your freezer for future recipes.

Should you wash basil before you freeze it?

Yes, washing before freezing is the best time to do it. Especially if you’re blending the basil into ice cubes, or chopping the basil up in anyway, this is your only chance to wash it.

The only thing to take note of is to dry the basil completely before freezing it. You don’t want to add unnecessary water to your bag of basil or to your basil cubes. Plus if they’re already washed you don’t have to worry about remembering if they are washed or not, and know mentally that everything in your freezer is ready to go whenever you need to use it!

The best way to freeze basil

frozen basil leaves

There are various ways to freeze basil, but my favorite is freezing whole basil leaves. Freezing whole basil leaves is a great option if you want to keep the green color, but don’t want the hassle of blanching basil leaves.

I like to use this process with whole Thai basil as well as Italian basil since we always buy an excess. Whenever we need basil for a recipe, we can just take them to the freezer and plop them in beef panang or chop them up for Thai basil fried rice.  

How to freeze whole basil leaves

loading plastic bag with basil leaves

This freeze without blanching method is obviously the easiest because it doesn’t involve any tools and is completely mess-free. All you have to do is wash and fully dry the basil before putting them into an airtight container, like a Ziplock bag, and place them into the freezer. 

It’s important to make sure you freeze dry basil leaves because you don’t want excess moisture in the bag, this can cause the basil to develop wet spots. Basil typically darkens if it’s too wet, so if you want to keep the bright green coloring, dry your basil before freezing. 

How to freeze basil in ice cube trays with olive oil

blended basil in oil

One of my favorite ways to save basil is by making basil ice cubes. I know that sounds somewhat odd, but it will seriously add some flavor to your next saute dish. 

I like to grow an abundance of fresh herbs in my garden to eat with fresh pasta or pesto, but sometimes there’s just too many to eat before they go bad. This is a good method for preserving fresh basil leaves and infusing them in oil. 

cubes of frozen basil

To learn how to freeze fresh basil from the garden, all you have to do is wash the basil leaves thoroughly and combine them into a food processor with your choice of oil. I prefer olive oil for the taste. Then, process them until they are finely minced. 

Evenly distribute them into an ice cube mold and top them off with a little bit more oil to cover the leaves–this prevents them from changing color and getting frostbitten. Freeze them overnight and then transfer the cubes into an airtight Ziplock bag. 

How to use frozen basil

Now that you’ve saved your basil from going bad, how do you use it? You can use frozen basil leaves in many recipes that call for fresh basil, like Thai basil fried rice. I like to use oil-infused basil ice cubes in dishes like pesto.

frozen basil cubes closeup
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How to Freeze Basil

Learn how to save fresh basil in the freezer for your next recipes in two different and easy ways.
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American, Asian, French, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword freezing basil, oil infused basil, pesto
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 cup


  • Ziplock bags
  • food processor
  • ice cube trays


Whole basil

  • 1 c fresh basil leaves
  • water for washing

Basil ice cubes

  • 1 c fresh basil leaves
  • water for washing
  • 4 tbsp olive oil add more if necessary


Whole basil

  • Remove the basil leaves from the stems and wash them thoroughly.
    washed basil leaves
  • Dry them with a towel or in a salad spinner until they are bone dry.
    drying out basil leaves
  • Place them carefully in a Ziplock bag, preferably in an even layer.
    loading plastic bag with basil leaves
  • Place them in the freezer until you need to use them.
    frozen basil leaves

Basil ice cubes

  • Remove the basil leaves from the stems and wash them thoroughly. Dry them with a towel and then add them into a food processor.
    basil leaves in food processor
  • Add the olive oil and pulse until the basil is finely minced.
    blended basil in oil
  • Add the olive oil and pulse until the basil is finely minced.
  • Scoop the basil oil into ice cube trays evenly.
    adding basil and oil into ice cube tray
  • Add a little more oil in each cube to cover the basil.
  • Place in the freezer overnight, then pop out the cubes and put them all in a Ziplock container.
    cubes of frozen basil