Learn how to dry basil in a food dehydrator, oven, microwave, or by air-drying. Drying basil is such a simple way to preserve this delicious pantry staple!
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Dried basil is an incredibly versatile herb for home cooks. From homemade pizza sauce to freezer spaghetti sauce or Instant Pot Tortellini Soup, basil packs so much flavor into lots of fantastic dishes. Drying your own basil is both easy and affordable, and I’ll show you how.
Looking for more dehydrating recipes? Check out these tutorials on dehydrating onions, dehydrating garlic, dehydrating apples, dehydrating oregano, dehydrating tomatoes, drying pears, and how to make tomato powder. And if you have extra basil hanging around, make some homemade pesto, and then check out this post on how to freeze pesto.
How to Dehydrate Basil
Start by rinsing basil in a bowl of clean water. Shake off excess water and place the basil on a clean towel. Allow it to air dry until completely dry. You can also blot it dry with a clean dry towel. Water left on the leaves can create black spots in the dehydrator.
Spread basil leaves on dehydrator trays without letting them touch or overlap. Use multiple trays for large batches. We’re going to dry the basil at 95 F, rotating the trays every few hours. This is the dehydrator I have had for years and I love it.
Drying time will depend on how much basil you’re drying and how many trays. It will likely take between 20 and 24 hours (yes, that long!). The basil is ready when it is dry to the touch and has the consistency of dried leaves.
Can You Air Dry Fresh Basil?
Yes. Gather multiple stems of basil and secure with twine/string. Place the basil upside down in a small paper bag with multiple small slits cut in it.
Tie another piece of twine/string around the top of the bag where the stems are, and hang in a cool dry place for 4-20 days. One of my readers also uses this hanging herb drying rack and has great results.
Drying time will depend on how much basil you are drying and humidity levels in the drying location.
Drying Basil in the Oven
Place clean dry basil leaves on baking drying racks set inside baking sheets. Don’t let the leaves overlap or touch. Place in the oven at the lowest temperature possible (usually 140-170 degrees F) and prop open the door with the handle of a wooden spoon. This allows condensation to escape instead of just settling back onto the basil.
Bake for 3-5 hours. Check every 45 minutes, rotating trays and making sure leaves are not touching.
How to Dry Basil in the Microwave
Yes, you can technically dry basil in the microwave but the results are pretty underwhelming. It essentially zaps most of the flavor out of the basil leaves and you may end up needing to use a higher volume to flavor food.
Place clean dry basil between two thin towels (like a tea towel or a cloth napkin). Microwave on high for 50 seconds, wait 15 seconds and then cook in two more bursts of 20 seconds with a pause between them.
Watch the microwave closely for signs of leaves burning or the towels getting too hot. Honestly, it’s not my favorite method and I wouldn’t repeat it.
Pro Tips/Recipe Notes
- Avoid the temptation to increase the heat on the dehydrator or oven to speed up the process. Low and slow wins in the race on this one.
- The basil is ready when the leaves crumble to your touch. It should feel and sound like dried leaves.
- Store whole or grind in a food processor, mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder used just for spices.
- Store in an air-tight container like a mason jar.
How to Dry Basil
- 1 bunch basil
How to Dehydrate Basil
- Rinse basil in a bowl of clean water.
- Shake off excess water and place the basil on a clean towel. Allow it to air dry until completely dry.
- Remove dry basil leaves and spread them on dehydrator trays without letting them touch or overlap. Use multiple trays for large batches.
- Dry basil at 95F, rotating the trays every few hours.
- The basil is ready when it is dry to the touch and has the consistency of dried leaves (~20-24 hours).
- Allow leaves to fully cool before crushing or storing whole in an air-tight container.
How to Dry Basil in the Oven
- Place clean dry basil leaves on baking drying racks set inside baking sheets. Don't let the leaves overlap or touch.
- Place in the oven at the lowest temperature possible (usually 140-170 degrees F) and prop open the door with the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Bake for 3-5 hours. Check every 45 minutes, rotating trays and making sure leaves are not touching.