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

Freezing basil is one of the easiest ways to preserve fresh basil leaves when you have more than you can use. I tend to freeze basil in summer when my garden grows abundantly.

I’ll show you how to freeze basil two ways: freezing whole basil leaves and freezing it in ice cube trays with olive oil. Keep in mind that if you don’t blanch basil leaves, the basil may turn a dark greenish-brown when frozen. Don’t worry, though. It’s still safe to use!

Frozen basil is best to use in soups or sauces because it won’t retain it’s crisp texture once defrosted.

cubes of frozen basil

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 any way. If it’s already washed, you don’t have to worry about remembering to wash it later, and can rest assured that everything in your freezer is ready to go whenever you need to use it!

Make sure that you 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. It could cause ice crystals once the basil is frozen.

fresh basil leaves

How to freeze whole basil leaves

loading plastic bag with basil leaves

There are a few different ways you can freeze whole basil leaves. Each has its pros and cons. My favorite is the easiest method – washing and drying the basil leaves, putting them straight in a freezer-safe bag, then freezing them. However, if you do this the leaves are more likely to stick together when frozen.

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 grab some from the freezer and pop it in beef panang or chop it up for Thai basil fried rice. 

It’s important to make sure you thoroughly 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. 

If you prefer that the leaves don’t stick together you can:

  • Wash and dry the whole basil leaves.
  • Spread the leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Place the sheet in the freezer and wait until the basil is frozen through. This takes about five to eight hours. (But like I said, I typically skip this step.)
  • Transfer the basil to a freezer-safe bag and store.

Another option is to blanch whole basil leaves before you freeze them. This helps them retain their color once frozen. It is the most time-intensive, so if slightly brown (but edible) frozen basil doesn’t bother you, this is an unnecessary step.

To blanch your basil:

  • Prepare a pot of boiling water and a bowl full of ice water.
  • Place the basil leaves in a heat-safe strainer.
  • Dip them in the boiling water for 3 seconds (you don’t want to overdo it and cause them to go limp.)
  • Immediately dunk the leaves in the ice bath until cooled. This takes about a minute.
  • Dry the leaves thoroughly then freeze or flash freeze as described above.
frozen basil leaves

How to freeze basil in ice cube trays with olive 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. 

blended basil in oil

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 much 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

All you have to do is:

  • Wash the basil leaves thoroughly.
  • Add them to a food processor with your choice of oil and process until the leaves are finely minced and form a paste (see the photo above). I prefer olive oil for the taste. You just need enough oil for the leaves to be saturated. When in doubt, add the oil gradually until you reach your desired texture. One to two tablespoons of oil to one cup of basil is a good starting point.
  • Evenly distribute the paste into an ice cube mold and top the cubes off with a little bit more oil to cover the leaves – this prevents them from changing color and getting frostbitten. I suggest measuring the paste into one or two tablespoon increments so you can easily transfer the right amount to your recipes later.
  • Freeze them overnight and then transfer the cubes into an airtight Ziploc bag. 

How long does frozen basil last?

Frozen basil, whether whole leaves or ice cubes, will last about six months in the freezer. Make sure to label your bag with the date you froze your basil so you can keep track of how old it is.

How to use frozen basil

When you’re ready to use the basil, you can add it to your recipe directly from the freezer. It’s best for soups and sauces, but can also be mixed into vegetable dishes including zucchini noodles, sautéed asparagus, and squash.

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 Ziploc 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 Ziploc container.
    cubes of frozen basil