Pondering what to do with the rest of that bunch of basil that’s been languishing in the fridge? You’ll be as grateful as we are for this basil oil. With just 3 ingredients and 15 minutes of effort, you can salvage the basil and put it to lovely use as a versatile godsend of a condiment for drizzling over fish, chicken, steaks, pasta, crostini, cheese…we could go on. Any left? Mop it up with bread.Angie Zoobkoff

A silver spoon resting in a drizzle of basil oil on a white surface.

Basil Oil

4.67 / 3 votes
This basil oil, made simply from basil, oil, and salt, is what to do with that half bunch of basil languishing in the fridge. Instead it becomes perfect for dipping, dunking, and drizzling. Here’s how to make it.
David Leite
Servings16 servings | 1 cup
Calories60 kcal
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • Fresh basil
  • Good quality olive oil, chilled
  • Sea salt


  • Bring a large pot of water over high heat to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water.
  • Pack the basil leaves into measuring cups, discarding the stems and any bruised leaves.
  • Measure out half the amount of oil as basil in a separate measuring cup. (So if you had 1 cup basil leaves you would use 1/2 cup oil.) Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt for each cup of basil leaves.
  • Dump the basil in the boiling water and quickly blanch the leaves just until wilted, 6 to 8 seconds. Dump the basil into a strainer, transfer to the ice water, and gently stir until cold.
  • Strain the basil again and gently squeeze or blot it completely dry with paper towels to remove any excess water.
  • In a blender, combine the basil, oil, and salt and blitz until smooth. Let sit for 30 minutes and then pour through a strainer lined with cheesecloth, pressing with a spatula or the back of a spoon to obtain as much oil as possible.
  • Pour into a clean jar and cover. Use at once or refrigerate for up to a week, returning the oil to room temperature before using.

Adapted From

Cast-Iron Cooking for Two

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Serving: 1 tablespoonCalories: 60 kcalCarbohydrates: 0.04 gProtein: 0.05 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gSodium: 0.2 mgPotassium: 4 mgFiber: 0.02 gSugar: 0.004 gVitamin A: 79 IUVitamin C: 0.3 mgCalcium: 3 mgIron: 0.1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Joanna Pruess. Photo © 2019 Noah Fecks. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This basil oil is a great way to put all that basil in your garden to good use! This oil tastes fantastic and has a beautiful rich emerald green with a wonderful flavor.

I used 1 1/2 cups basil, 3/4 cup oil, and 3/8 teaspoon salt. I could have used a teensy bit less salt but otherwise it was delicious!

This is a seriously easy way to wow people at the dinner table! I drizzled it over fresh mushroom risotto and it was magical.

What an easy and delicious way to preserve extra basil. It’s genius. So much so I’m going to try it with other herbs next time I end up with more than I need. The oil was quick to come together and I think having the oil chilled helped it emulsify and produce a richly flavored oil.

Mine had a really lovely vivid green colour, much better than came through on the photo. I spooned a little over some fresh tomato and mozzarella and plan to drizzle some over an autumn panzanella with roasted squash and toasted pumpkin seeds. I plan to douse it liberally on salads and pasta for as long as it lasts. I think it will work really well with a panzanella or caprese salad.

The recipe was easy to follow. I’m not sure blotting dry with paper towel is really effective. I gently squeezed the water out, and the paper towel didn’t really do anything better than a good firm but gentle squeeze could do. It also means less waste!

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Can you use oils other than olive oil like coconut, almond, etc? Also is it compulsory to add salt?

    1. You could, Nupur, although, of course, you’ll need to take into account your personal taste and whether you feel the flavor of the oil may play nicely or fight with the basil. And the salt brings out the flavors of the basil, but of course, if you prefer to keep low-sodium, you could omit it, just know that the flavors will be somewhat muted.

  2. 4 stars
    This is a great way to salvage that basil In your fridge – you know, that beautiful basil you bought with the very best of intentions before life got in the way of your Mighty Basil Plans.
    Takes just minutes to come together (plus sitting time) and very fresh basil flavor.
    I’m not sure I agree with the “too salty” comment, but I suspect that’s because there is great variation in how tightly packed the basil is and therefore how much you are using (?)
    I drizzled it on my eggs this morning but am thinking it would be delightful on some lamb chops.

    1. Exactly, Janet. Never again let any basil go to waste or end up on the compost heap…and cool photo.

  3. 5 stars
    What the heck is this post? We`re in the middle of winter, last I checked basil does not grow in the snow! WOW!

    1. Hey, low and slow! You have to understand we have a worldwide readership. So there are people in warmer climates who are growing basil as I write. And I just made this oil last week, and I live in the frigid Northeast!

    2. It’s 20 below right now, but no matter! This recipe is too much work. Just take a tbs. or so of dried Basil and soak it in a cup olive oil on VERY low heat for 1/2 to 1 hour! Ditch the water…you can do this with “fresh” Basil from the grocery store which retails at an exorbitant price.

      I make many different oils this way. This is to die for on some of those Winter Tomatoes we get up here. Gotta make do and be grateful you know how!

      Flavored olive oil drizzles rule! You can finish and enhance any dish this way.

      1. Thanks, Andi. While your method absolutely works, it will never give that fresh basil flavor. You need to use fresh leaves!