purple basil plant

How to Dry Basil Leaves: Easy Steps for Fresh Herbs

Drying basil leaves at home is a simple and rewarding process that ensures you have fresh-tasting herbs all year round. This is a great option if you happen to grow basil in your garden to preserve what you grew. The best way to dry basil leaves is by air drying, oven drying, using a dehydrator, using the microwave, or using an air fryer. Each method has advantages and can be chosen based on how much time you have available and what equipment you have on hand.

This post is all about how to dry basil leaves.

A Brief Overview of Basil

Basil is a versatile herb used in many dishes and there are different types of basil. Each of these types of basil have their own distinct taste, making them each unique. Drying basil is a great way to preserve their flavors. Below is a list of examples of the different types of basil you can choose from.

Types of Basil

Sweet Basil is the most common type. It’s great for pesto and Italian dishes.

Thai Basil has a spicy, anise-like flavor. You’ll often find it in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine.

Lemon Basil gives a citrusy twist to dishes. It’s perfect for fish and poultry.

Holy Basil is often used in teas and traditional medicine. It has a peppery flavor.

Knowing the type of basil you have helps you use it best in your cooking. Each type might dry differently, so take that into account.

Benefits of Drying Basil

Drying basil has many benefits. It extends the herb’s shelf life, so you can enjoy basil flavors year-round.

Dried basil is also more potent. You need less of it compared to fresh basil.

It’s cost-effective. Dried basil saves you from buying fresh herbs frequently.

Drying basil yourself ensures quality and no added chemicals.

A jar of dried basil is very convenient. No last-minute trips to the store when a recipe calls for basil.

You keep the vibrant taste alive, preserving the essence of the herb for your culinary needs.

Preparing the Basil Leaves for Drying

When preparing basil leaves for drying, you’ll need to focus on harvesting, cleaning, and sorting the leaves carefully. Each step ensures that your dried basil retains its flavor and quality.


Harvesting basil leaves should begin when the plant has plenty of healthy green leaves. Use sharp scissors or garden shears to cut the basil. Snip the stems about ¼ inch above a leaf node, where new growth will sprout.

Morning is an ideal time to harvest because the leaves are freshest and most flavorful. Avoid picking leaves that are wet or have yellow spots, as these can affect the drying process.


Once harvested, place the basil leaves in a bowl of cool water. Gently swish them around to remove any dirt or insects. After cleaning, lay the leaves on a clean towel and pat them dry.

Using a salad spinner can also help remove excess water. It’s crucial the leaves are completely dry before moving to the next step to prevent mold growth during drying.


Sort the basil leaves by size and quality. Larger leaves generally take longer to dry than smaller ones, so grouping them together can help in monitoring the drying process. Discard any damaged or discolored leaves to ensure only the best basil is dried.

Spread the leaves out in a single layer on a clean surface like a tray or baking sheet. Be sure they are not overlapping to allow even air circulation. This will help each leaf dry properly and maintain its best flavor.

Drying Basil Methods

Drying basil leaves can be done in several ways depending on your preferences and available tools. Each method preserves the flavor and aroma of the basil in a unique manner. It’s important to use a very low setting when you’re drying any type of herb. This is so the flavor is preserved, and also so you don’t wind up burning them. Herbs are pretty delicate when it comes to drying.

How to Air-Dry Basil

Air-drying is a classic and simple method that requires minimal supplies. Start by gathering the basil leaves into small bunches. Use a rubber band, string, or twist tie to secure the stems together.

Hang the bunches upside down in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight to preserve the green color. The basil leaves will take about one to two weeks to fully dry. Once dry, the leaves should crumble easily.

How to Dry Basil in Oven

Oven-drying is faster but requires more attention. Preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature, around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the basil leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure the leaves don’t overlap too much. Put the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven. It will take about 20 minutes to dry the basil, but keep an eye on it to prevent burning. Once done, let the basil dry in the oven overnight for fully crisp leaves.

Dehydrator Method

Using a dehydrator is an efficient way to dry basil if you have the appliance. Preheat your food dehydrator to between 95-115ºF (35-46ºC). Spread the basil leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.

Dry the leaves for about 2-4 hours. The exact time depends on the humidity and the model of your dehydrator. Check regularly to ensure the leaves are dry and brittle. This method locks in the flavors well.

How to Dry Basil Leaves in the Microwave

The microwave technique is the quickest method. Lay the basil leaves in a single layer between two paper towels on a microwave-safe plate.

Microwave on high for about 30 seconds. Check the leaves and continue microwaving in 10-second intervals until the leaves are dry and crumbly. This method is convenient, though it may slightly alter the flavor and aroma of the basil.

How to Dry Basil in an Air Fryer

Arrange the basil leaves in a single layer in the air fryer. As a note of caution, the leaves may move around in the air fryer since they’re very lightweight. Set the fryer on the lowest temperature possible and heat the leaves for 3 to 7 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t wind up burning.

To determine their readiness, check to see if they easily crumble.

Storing Dried Basil

Choosing the right containers and maintaining ideal storage conditions are key for keeping dried basil flavorful and fresh. Proper storage helps preserve the aromatic oils in basil, which contribute to its taste and aroma.

Choosing Containers

When selecting containers for dried basil, opt for airtight options like glass jars or vacuum-sealed bags. Glass jars are especially good because they don’t absorb flavors or odors, ensuring your basil remains pure.

Key points to remember:

  • Airtight: Keeps moisture out and preserves flavor.
  • Opaque or Dark: Blocks light that can degrade the basil.
  • Size Matters: Smaller containers reduce air exposure whenever you open them.

Avoid plastic containers, as they can impart unwanted flavors and odors. If you use them, make sure they are food-grade and designed for long-term storage.

Ideal Storage Conditions

To keep dried basil fresh, store it in a cool, dark place. A temperature range of 60-70°F is ideal. Too much heat can cause the basil to lose its flavor and potency. Light exposure can degrade its oils, making the leaves less aromatic over time.

Important factors:

  • Cool Temperature: Aim for cooler settings, like a pantry.
  • Dry Environment: Humidity can rehydrate the basil, leading to mold.
  • No Direct Sunlight: Light reduces the oil content, making basil less flavorful.

Keep your basil away from the stovetop or oven where temperatures can fluctuate. A dedicated spice drawer or cabinet away from heat sources works best. This ensures your dried basil remains usable for months, maintaining its best quality.

Using Dried Basil

It’s great during the wintertime when you have really aromatic basil tucked away in your cabinet, waiting to be used. The scent is just so heavenly. The issue with store bought herbs is that the scent and flavor has already dwindled, depending on how it has been since they were preserved.

Culinary Uses

You can use dried basil in a wide range of recipes. It’s great for seasoning pasta sauces, soups, and stews. When using dried basil in your cooking, remember to crumble the leaves between your fingers to release the flavors.

Dried basil enhances the taste of tomato-based dishes like pizza and marinara sauce. It’s also perfect for sprinkling on roasted vegetables or using in herb blends like Italian seasoning. Try adding it to homemade salad dressings and marinades for an extra burst of flavor.

For best results, add dried basil earlier in the cooking process. This allows the herb’s flavors to infuse with the other ingredients. Typically, 1 teaspoon of dried basil equals 1 tablespoon of fresh basil.

Other Purposes

Besides cooking, dried basil has several other uses around the home. You can create homemade potpourri by mixing dried basil with other herbs and flowers. This can freshen up your living space with a pleasant aroma.

Dried basil is also useful in craft projects like making sachets to place in drawers or closets. These sachets help keep linens smelling fresh. Additionally, you can use dried basil as a natural insect repellent.

Simply place small bowls of dried basil in areas where you want to deter pests. Finally, you can incorporate dried basil into DIY beauty products like scrubs and facial masks for a refreshing herbal touch.

This post was all about how to dry basil leaves.

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