5 Easy Ways to Use Fresh Basil from Your Garden

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​I’m going to share with you 5 easy ways to use fresh basil from your garden. 

We’ve had some really hot days and my basil is growing like crazy.

photo of basil and a few flowers in a vase on my kitchen cabinet

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What is Basil?

Basil is an herb that in my 5b zone is an annual. It’s from the Lamiaceae family, a member of the Mint family. Basil Plants are tender and don’t like cold weather. I don’t plant mine until it’s consistently 60 degrees at night. 

Once it starts warming up basil is a prolific herb. It’s used in culinary cuisines worldwide.

It has a bit of a licorice flavor and smells to it that I just love. It is a very versatile herb.

A simple way to keep your basil growing strong you want to keep pinching the top of the plant so it gets fuller. You also want to prolong growth by pinching off any seed head (flower) at the top.

Varieties of Basil

As you can see there are so many different types of basil. The three that I grow in my garden are Genovese Basil, Purple Ruffle Basil, and Lemon Basil. Now that I know there are so many different varieties, next year I’m going to have to add some more types to my herb garden.

  • Lettuce Leaf Basil 
  • Dark Opal Basil 
  • Lemon Basil 
  • Licorice Basil 
  • Cinnamon Basil 
  • French Basil 
  • American Basil 
  • Egyptian Basil 
  • Bush Basil 
  • Thai Basil 
  • Red Basil 
  • Genovese Basil 
  • Magical Michael Basil 
  • Holy Basil 
  • Nufar Basil 
  • Purple Ruffles Basil 
  • Red Rubin Basil 
  • Siam Queen Basil
  • Spicy Globe Basil 
  • Sweet Dani Basil 
  • Amethyst Improved Basil 
  • Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil 
  • Pistou Basil 
  • Lime Basil 
  • Superbo Basil 
  • Queenette Basil 
  • Napoletano Basil 
  • Serata Basil 
  • Blue Spice Basil 
  • Osmin Purple Basil 
  • Fino Verde Basil 
  • Marseille Basil 
  • Minette Basil 
  • Queen Of Sheba Basil 
  • Greek Basil

Basil is one of my favorite fresh herbs and it is used very prevalently in Italian dishes.

Some of my Favorite Ways to Use Basil

Pesto Sauce

I’m going to focus on pesto sauce because it is such a great way to use lots of basil and it’s easy. Give it a try and it will quickly become one of your favorite basil recipes. 

Homemade pesto is made in a food processor or blender. My pesto recipe consists of pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice. 

  1. French Bread Toast with Pesto Sauce – Sliced Avocado and Everything but A Bagel Seasoning
photo of toast with pesto sauce, sliced avocado and everything but a bagel seasoning on top.

2. Pesto Pasta Sauce – You can put pesto on any type of pasta. I especially like ravioli or tortellini because they are available in so many different flavors and each flavor changes the essence of the dish.

photo of ravioli on a plate with pesto sauce over it.
Ravioli with Pesto Sauce

3. Pesto Pizza – Replace tomato pizza sauce with pesto and with anything else you like. I personally like tomato slices, garlic, and crazy enough, green olives. I also top it with some whole sweet basil leaves (after I cook it) for a from-the-garden fresh flavor.

4. Pesto Salad Dressing – Mix your favorite vinegar and oil with some pesto. My favorite is red wine vinegar, avocado oil, and pesto.

Pesto Sauce

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: 30 minute meal, Basil, pine nuts
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 1496kcal


  • Food Processor
  • Large Measuring Cup
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Lemon Juicer


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese fresh
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • Place basil and pine nuts in food processors, pulse until course
    basil and pine nuts
  • Add garlic and cheese, pulse some more, scraping down the sides with spatula
    basil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese
  • Slowly pour in the olive oil while the food processor is running, until well blended and smooth; scraping down the sides with a spatula. Add fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and pulse for a few more seconds.
    Well blended pesto

5. Vintage Home Designs – My friend Michele at Vintage Home Designs has some similar ideas for pesto sauce but she uses walnuts. You can find her recipes HERE.

Best Pesto Tip

  • You can freeze pesto sauce. I freeze it in ice cube trays and when it’s solid I take them out of the tray and put them in a freezer bag.
  • You only have to take out what you need and thaw and use

Other Basil Tips

  • I also freeze my basil in olive oil in ice cube trays. I then have that fresh basil taste to throw into your recipes that call for basil that your cooking in the fall and winter. It’s the best way to add fresh flavor to a recipe in the winter months. 
  • The easiest way to make your dishes look fancy is to top them with a few fresh leaves of basil.
  • Another tip is that basil does not like to be refrigerated. It will turn black in a very short period of time. Always keep it at room temperature
  • Hang fresh basil upside down in a cool dry place (I do it in my pantry) and let it dry for homemade dried basil. 

If you don’t have homegrown basil available to you, the good news is that you can always get it from your local grocery store.

I hope you enjoy these great ways to use fresh basil this summer.

Peace and Love,

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This week on my podcast I have a conversation with my dear friend Leslie Dempsey. She shares her love of travel, her kids, and the ways that she supports and gives back to her community. 


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    1. I have so much basil! I need even more ideas. Today I’m making Caprese salad with my basil and tomatoes.