How To Dry Basil

Have you ever found your basil going bad too quickly? Maybe the container of basil in your fridge is starting to wilt, or the bunch in your kitchen drawer has turned limp and sad. You may want to dry those basil leaves so that they don’t go to waste, and there are many different ways you can do it. Keep reading to learn how to dry basil leaves with no fuss.


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Why To Dry Basil?

Drying basil is a great way to save money on fresh herbs and make sure you have them for later use if you live in a climate where fresh herbs only last for a short amount of time. Drying also prevents spoilage from exposure since dried herbs will keep much longer than their fresh counterparts.

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How To Dry Basil Leaves – Step-By-Step Guide

There are easy steps to dry basil at home.

Step 1. Select Fresh Basil

As a basil lover, you know that fresh basil is best, so you have to make sure that the leaves you are purchasing are still alive and green, not wilted or dried out at all. Ensure they are not decaying on the plant and do not give off an odor, as this can indicate that they may be past their prime. 

Step 2. Inspect The Basil Leaves For Damage Or Fading

Look at the leaves closely to see any signs of damage such as sunburn or browning, which could indicate the basil has been exposed to too much heat, moisture, or air for too long. If this is the case, it is best to get a new bunch of basil. 

Step 3. Remove Any Stems Or Large Leaves

The stems are tough and not tasty, but you can still use them in your recipes as long as you remove them first. Cut off any large leaves that will take longer to dry out so that you can fit more into your air dryer or dehydrator

Step 4. Chop The Basil Leaves

You want really small basil pieces so they will dry faster, especially if you are using an oven or homemade solar device to dry your herbs instead of a commercial dehydrator with a warm and steady airflow. 

Step 5. Air-Dry Or Use A Dehydrator

Air drying takes a few days to two weeks, depending on the air temperature and humidity and how long you let it sit out before taking it in, but it is a very low-cost and natural way to dry your herbs.

You can also use an oven or solar drying system. Set the temperature between 110-140 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be right for drying basil leaves without burning them. 

How To Dry Basil – Table

Oven170-180 F2-4 hoursVery good results
MicrowaveHigh1-2 minutesPoor results – colorless and flavorless
DehydratorAs low as possible6-24 hoursGreat results
Air Drying RackAs high as possible1+ weekVery good results

How To Dry Basil In The Oven

Follow these steps to dry your basil leaves in the oven:

  • Preheat The Oven To 150-170 Degrees Fahrenheit – This could take 5-15 minutes depending on how warm your house is. 
  • Place The Basil Leaves In A Single Layer On A Baking Sheet – Use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place it in the oven for a few hours (depending on humidity). Check them often throughout the process and turn them over if some are drying faster than others. 
  • Dry The Basil Leaves In The Oven For 1-5 Hours – Check on your basil leaves frequently and turn them over once or twice if needed. You will know when the basil is dry when it is brittle and breaks easily into the individual leaves rather than the stem hanging off the middle. 
  • Remove The Basil From The Oven And Cool It Down – Remove your basil from the oven by either gently prying it out with a fork or using something to remove it, like a spoon. Your dried basil should be brittle but not burnt and has lost all of its moisture content, so you can store it in a jar for later use. 

How To Dry Basil In Air Fryer

You can also use an air fryer to dry your basil leaves. Follow these steps:

  • Add The Leaves In A Single Layer To The Air Fryer – Add the basil leaves in a single layer to the air fryer basket, making sure they do not overlap or touch each other or the sides of the basket so that they can dry evenly. 
  • Turn The Air Fryer Up To High For 5-10 Minutes – Turn your air fryer on to high for 5-10 minutes to allow for plenty of warm air circulation around the herb leaves inside. This will ensure that moisture evaporates from them quickly and efficiently and hot air hits all sides of the leaves equally to dry out evenly. 
  • Remove The Basil From The Air Fryer And Cool It Down – When the air fryer is off, remove the herb leaves and let them cool down before placing them in your jar for storage. You can also just leave them on a paper towel to dry if you prefer. As with oven-dried basil, you want to check on your herbs frequently and turn them over if necessary to ensure they are drying out evenly and will be ready when you need them again.

How To Dry Basil Leaves Without Oven

You can also dry basil leaves without an oven or air fryer using a dehydrator. Very low-cost dehydrators are available at most home improvement stores and only cost around $40-$60, so you can try one out and see if it works for you.

How To Dry Basil In Microwave

You can also use a microwave to dry your basil leaves. Follow these steps:

  • Place The Whole Basil Leaves In A Microwave-Safe Bowl – Place the bowl in the microwave, making sure the bowl is microwave-safe and is deep enough that the herbs do not touch or overlap each other in any way. You want them to be able to dry evenly in a single layer. 
  • Set The Timer For 2 Minutes – And then determine if they are dry or not by turning them over and checking on them periodically. You do not want to dry them out too much, so they crumble, but you want them to be brittle enough that they break off into individual leaves.
  • Repeat Step #2 If Necessary – If they are not dry enough after two minutes, repeat this process if you have time and want a better result. It is important to take your time drying your herbs properly not to be ruined by being over-dried or burned. 
  • Remove The Basil From The Microwave And Cool It Down When Dry – Remove the basil from the microwave and let it cool down before placing it in a jar with a lid for storage. You may need to store it in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture and prevent it from rotting.

How To Dry Basil Naturally

You can dry basil naturally in your garden. To do this, tie the basil into a bunch and hang it to dry in a warm place with plenty of airflows. It takes a few weeks or longer, but if you plant it in your garden every year, you will have plenty to use in the future.

The Bottom Line

There are some very low-cost ways to dry basil leaves, and unless you live in a warm, tropical climate without much humidity, you will need to use one of these methods to dry your herbs. The oven is the most common way because it is convenient natural and keeps the herbs from direct sunlight.

If you do not have a dehydrator or air fryer at your disposal, you can still use an oven or solar device known as solar dryers or solar food dryers. These are simple and can be made from recycled materials like cardboard boxes with screening material to maximize airflow and keep insects.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Dry And Store Fresh Basil?

Sometimes, when you buy fresh basil from the grocery store, you may not want to use all of it at once. In order to maintain its freshness and save for future cooking and/or gardening purposes, you need to dry the basil leaves. To do it perfectly, you need to take a clean cutting board or tray and lay out your fresh basil leaves in a single layer. Put them in an oven or microwave on low or medium heat until they’re dried out (you can also use an air fryer). This process will take about 15-30 minutes, depending on your settings.

Is It Better To Dry Or Freeze Basil?

The choice to dry basil or freeze basil is a personal preference. Basil can be dried or frozen without losing any of its nutritional benefits. If you decide to freeze basil, make sure it’s completely dry before freezing for best results.

Do You Wash Basil Before Drying?

If you want to follow a traditional approach, you’ll need to wash the basil leaves before drying them. How many times in the past have you gone out and bought fresh herbs only to find they don’t last long because of how much dirt is left on their leaves? Washing the basil will help remove the plant’s natural oils, making it easier for them to dry quickly and efficiently.

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