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12 Ways to Use Basil Leaves

Basil is a great herb to grow indoors or out, and the abundance of leaves often leaves us wondering what to do with them all.

By Cookist

Basil is a great herb to grow indoors or out, and the abundance of leaves often leaves us wondering what to do with them all. There’s much more to basil than tasting great with tomatoes or being turned into a pesto, and here’s 20 ways you can use up your extra basil leaves.

1. Classic Pesto


Pesto has to be one of the best-known basil-based recipes, and is great on pasta, pizza and salads, or with meat and fish. The classic pesto uses fresh basil, raw garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and extra-virgin olive oil.

2. Marinades and Dressings

Basil can be used in different marinades and dressings. A great salad dressing is to mix basil with lemon juice and honey, and a perfect marinade for chicken is a basil, balsamic vinegar and garlic marinade.

3. Oils and Vinegars


This is a great way to preserve the flavor of your fresh basil leaves, without the need for any fancy kitchen equipment. Basil oil can be used as a tasty drizzle over cooked vegetables, or as a dipping sauce for breads, while basil vinegar can be used in salad dressings and marinades.

4. Herb Butter

Herbal butters are a tasty addition to your fish, meat, veggies, pasta, potatoes and bread. Make your own flavored butter using up your extra chopped basil leaves.

5. Basil Salt

Basil salt is very easy to make, and adds a wonderful burst of flavor to your food.

6. Sauces and Soups


Tomato and basil are a classic pairing, which is why adding some fresh or dried basil to tomato-based pasta sauces is a great idea.

Basil is also great when added to soups. The obvious choice is tomato soup, but try adding basil to carrot, zucchini, pea, broccoli, vegetable or chicken soups.

7. Sandwiches and Salads

Caprese salad, made of tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil is the classic basil salad, but it also works well with other greens, and cucumber too. Try pairing basil with feta cheese, or making a summer salad with strawberry, cucumber and basil.

Use basil as a garnish for sandwiches too for a burst of flavor.

8. Pasta and Bread


If you make your own bread, try mixing basil into the dough before cooking it. For a quick and easy pasta sauce, mix garlic with basil in a light butter or olive oil base.

9. Desserts

Basil does lend its strong flavor to some desserts too, such as lemon basil yogurt cake, mint and basil syrup, strawberry basil shortcake, basil ice cream, basil lime sorbet, or strawberry galette.

10. Drinks


Cocktails get zing from the addition of a few torn basil leaves. Try adding to gin and tonic, vodka and soda, or even a mojito.

For a more complex flavor, try a strawberry and basil margarita, basil and lime vodka cooler, strawberry, rhubarb and basil Bellini, or cucumber and basil vodka.

If non-alcoholic is more your style, try making sweet basil lemonade, or cucumber, mint and basil soda. If you love smoothies, try a banana and basil shake.

11. General Cooking

You can add basil to all kinds of dishes, from scrambled eggs to curries and stir fries. All it takes is some experimenting to find the right taste combinations.

12. Bath Soak


Basil leaves or oil can be added to your bath with a cup or two of Epsom salts or Himalayan pink salt for a calming bath. The antiseptic properties will also help your skin remain soft and supple.

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