Growing basil has countless benefits, but its prolific growth can be overwhelming in the first year. Thankfully, drying basil is a simple process that can preserve any excess herb that you aren’t able to use fresh! Read on to learn how to dry basil in the oven!
Benefits of Basil
Basil is an amazing plant to have in your herb garden! It is an easy herb to grow and it has some pretty neat health benefits.
Basil has antiviral and antibacterial properties… It is known to treat certain stomach issues and internal parasites… It is an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, a pain reducer, an immune booster, AND it helps to fight anxiety and stress.
Basil is also an amazing companion plant. It is best grown next to tomatoes in your vegetable garden to repel tomato hornworms and improve the flavor of your tomatoes.
How to Dry Basil in the Oven
There are several different methods to drying basil: air drying, using a food dehydrator, sun-drying, etc.
The best method that I have found to dehydrate basil is the oven drying method. This method only takes one hour to complete (minus the rinse/dry time which is required for all drying methods).
Follow the 7 simple steps in this drying process for dehydrated basil that can last for years!
Step 1: Harvest Basil Leaves
Use scissors to harvest the leaves off of your basil plant. Only cut the leaves where you see new leaf nodes growing in. This way your plant will continue to grow.
Start from the top when harvesting basil leaves. Cut at the base of the stem right next to the new leaf nodes. You will need to remove the stem before dehydrating the basil.
Don’t leave the leaf stem on the plant. If you do, you will have a bunch of random stems taking up valuable nutrients from the still growing leaves.
It does add an extra step (removing the stem before dehydrating), but it makes for a healthier basil plant. This also helps the new leaf nodes to grow and creates a bushier plant.
Step 2: Rinse Basil Thoroughly
Place your fresh basil leaves in a colander and rinse them thoroughly with cool water. Do this to remove all the soil and pests that may be on the leaves before drying them.
If the stems or flowers are still attached, remove them during this step. They can be tossed into your kitchen compost pail to avoid waste.
Step 3: Dry Basil Leaves Overnight
Place the rinsed basil leaves on a clean towel (a kitchen towel or a flour sack towel work great) to dry at room temperature overnight.
If you have a salad spinner, you can use it to remove excess water before laying the leaves out on a towel.
Make sure that the basil is completely dry before moving on to the next step. If any water is left on the leaves, they will cook in the oven instead of dehydrating.
Step 4: Place Basil Leaves on a Cookie Sheet
Arrange the dried basil leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. You can line the sheet with parchment paper if you like, but that isn’t required.
Make sure that the leaves aren’t overlapping. They need good air circulation on the baking tray to dehydrate properly.
Step 5: “Bake” at 170 degrees F for 1 hour
Pop the cookie sheet full of clean basil leaves into the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes to an hour.
Some ovens don’t have a setting this low. If your lowest setting is 180 or 200 degrees, just set it to the lowest possible temperature and leave the oven door open a bit and keep an eye out to be sure the basil doesn’t burn.
Step 6: Crumble Dried Basil Leaves
After the basil leaves cool down, it is time to crunch them up! Put the dehydrated basil leaves into a bowl and crumble them up with your fingers. They should be dry enough to crumble upon touch.
If you have a mortar and pestle, you can use that instead of your fingers.
Step 7: Store in an Airtight Container
Store your dried basil in an airtight container. A glass jar works great for storing dried herbs, but you can also use a sealed plastic bag.
*Note: If you use a bag for storage, the dried basil will likely not last as long as dried basil kept in a small jar.
Glass spice jars are my favorite containers to store dried basil in. I save the jars that I buy from my local grocery store, then fill them up with my own herbs as needed!
When stored properly (keeping moisture and air out as much as possible), dried basil can be kept for 2+ years!
Now you have delicious dehydrated basil straight from the garden!
How to Use Dried Basil
Once you have your finished dehydrated basil, it can be used in countless ways!
Dried basil can be used as a seasoning in just about any dish. It is also a great medicinal herb.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use dried basil:
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Homemade Pizza Sauce
- Herbal Infused Oils
- Add to Homemade Chicken Feed
- Home remedies for stomach issues, head colds, internal parasites, and more
- Homemade Hot Basil Tea
- Homemade Cleaners with Basil
- Basil Essential Oil
- Use as a Meat Seasoning
- Homemade Marinades
- Sprinkle on top of a yummy Summer Salad
- Sprinkle on fresh Tomato Slices
- Top Lasagna and Other Pasta Dishes
- Add to other sauces, soups, stews, roasted veggies, etc
How to Substitute Dry Basil for Fresh Basil
Dried basil can be used in place of fresh basil in most recipes. When using dry basil in a recipe that calls for fresh basil, use one-third the amount called for.
One tablespoon of fresh basil = One teaspoon of dried basil
This ratio can be used for practically any herb that you use for cooking.
Just remember One TBSP fresh herbs = One tsp dried herbs or a 3:1 ratio.