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11 Recipes to Make the Most of Fresh Basil

May 26, 2024
Courtesy of What's Gaby Cooking

Fresh basil is a star among herbs, well-known and loved for its distinctive flavor and aroma. Along with its beautiful leaves and unique taste, fresh basil brings tons of health benefits as well. It’s loaded with vitamin K2, important for strengthening bones, and basil is also good for heart health, blood sugar control, immunity, and more.

Plus, though we all love its flavor in pesto, fresh basil boosts all kinds of dishes — salads, dips, soups, and even drinks. 

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You asked: How do I store fresh basil so it lasts?

It may seem counterintuitive, since most herbs need refrigeration, but basil does better at room temperature. If you have a package of fresh basil that’s mostly just the leaves, put them in a plastic bag (loosely) and keep at room temperature; make sure it’s away from the oven and stove. If you have a bunch with stems, put them in a jar or small vase with cool water, like a bouquet, and keep at room temp.

Here are 11 recipes to help you get the most from fresh basil.

1. Basil Whipped Goat Cheese

Whipped basil goat cheese dip

Courtesy of What’s Gaby Cooking

Here’s your go-to appetizer for every barbeque and party you attend all summer. Blend goat cheese, cream cheese, garlic, lemon, and basil in the food processor until it’s whipped and smooth, with appealing green flecks from the basil, and you’re good to go. Serve it with plenty of cut-up vegetables for dipping.

Try this recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking.

2. Raw Corn Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Basil, and Mint

Corn salad with basil

Courtesy of Alexandra Cooks

This salad just screams summer, with fresh corn, cherry tomatoes, basil, feta, and basil. A super-simple dressing of just olive oil and lime juice brings it all together. Enjoy it outside with grilled fish or chicken, or even a burger.

Try this recipe from Alexandra Cooks.

3. Grilled Basil Shrimp

Grilled basil shrimp

Courtesy of Happily Unprocessed

Make a simple marinade with butter, basil, garlic, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard, let the shrimp soak in it for 30 minutes while the grill heats up, and then sit down to the most succulent, flavorful meal. Grill some asparagus while you’re at it to make the meal complete.

Try this recipe from Happily Unprocessed.

Related: 8 Delicious Shrimp Kabobs to Cook on the Grill

4. Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle

Caprese skewers

Courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats

Caprese salad is a classic, and now that combo makes a great party dish when you move it onto skewers. Thread mini mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, and basil on toothpicks, drizzle on an easy balsamic reduction, and you’re good to go. We might sprinkle on some flaky sea salt, too.

Try this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.

5. Strawberry Basil Smoothie

Strawberry basil smoothie

Courtesy of Wit & Delight

If you need some smoothie inspo to wake up your cup, look no further. Strawberries and basil make a great combo in salads, and here they join forces in smoothie form. With yogurt, honey, and vanilla, it’s so easy. Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder, too, if you like.

Try this recipe from Wit & Delight.

6. Smashed Avocado, Tomato, and Basil Bruschetta

Smashed avocado bruschetta

Courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen

This recipe is meant to be for a party, but we’re adding it to our dinner rotation, too. It’s ready in 10 minutes, it’s full of healthy fats and fiber from the avocado, and it’s fresh and unfussy. Use whole grain or sourdough bread to boost the health benefits.

Try this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.

Related: 11 Healthy Avocado Recipes You Probably Never Thought Of

7. Homemade Basil Pesto


Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

No list of fresh basil recipes would be complete without pesto. This one is classic, with lots of basil, plus pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon, and olive oil. If pine nuts are hard to find (or too pricey), swap in almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.

Try this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

8. Pistou


Courtesy of A Couple Cooks

Pesto’s French cousin is pistou, made with just basil, garlic, and olive oil. Use it anywhere you would use pesto. Along with being delicious and healthy, this sauce is free of dairy and nuts, so it’s a great option for folks with allergies.

Try this recipe from A Couple Cooks.

9. Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato basil soup

Courtesy of Love and Lemons

For anyone who enjoys soup in warmer weather, this recipe is a must. Roast Roma tomatoes to concentrate their sweetness, then blend with onions, carrots, garlic, vegetable broth, and, of course, fresh basil. Spoon a little yogurt and pesto on top for a pretty and flavorful garnish.

Try this recipe from Love and Lemons.

10. Watermelon Basil Slush

Watermelon basil slush

Courtesy of Wee Little Vegans

Blend frozen watermelon with basil and get ready for the slushiest, frostiest glass of good-for-you hydration. Add a splash of lime juice and a pinch of salt to bump up the flavor even more. Or pour it into ice pop molds and freeze.

Try this recipe from Wee Little Vegans.

11. Sweet Peach Basil Galette

Peach basil galette

Courtesy of Gutsy Baker

A galette is a free-form tart, so you can have all the fruit-pie goodness without the fuss. The more rustic it looks, the better. This one has a grain- and gluten-free almond flour–based crust — plus, it’s dairy free, and easy to make vegan. Peaches are part of the rose family, and their enticing floral aroma matches beautifully with the unexpected hit of basil. 

Try this recipe from Gutsy Baker.

Read next: 5 Tasty Ways to Use Up Tarragon


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