15 Ways to Use up Fresh Basil

light lemon pesto pasta
Light Lemon Pesto Pasta. Photo: Baking Nana

Never let fresh basil go to waste again! When the amount of fresh basil your recipe calls for is less than the big bunch you bought, it's always a race against the clock to use up every leaf before it starts to go south — not to mention a heart-breaker when it does. Talk about throwing money away! So, we've gathered up some of our top-rated recipes with fresh basil to make sure that never happens to you again. From simple pesto recipes that you can freeze and save for later, to quick pastas and flavorful sides, there's a recipe here to use up as much — or as little — basil as you still have on your hands.

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Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

This easy side dish only takes 30 minutes to make. Renee Ridgeway says, "It's such an easy recipe to prepare, and the result is a restaurant-quality dish that your family and friends will be impressed with."

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Easy Pesto

Here's how to use up a lot of basil in a hurry! You ca freeze pesto in ice cube trays, or better yet, pour it into a resealable plastic bag and lay it flat so it freezes in a sheet — it's easy to break off what you need, and it defrosts super fast.

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Spinach Basil Pesto

Spinach Basil Pesto

If you like your pesto with some extra greens, this recipe that calls for baby spinach is right up your alley. As with any pesto, this is perfect for freezing to use as needed for pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and more.

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Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Perfect alongside a grilled cheese or toasted crusty French bread, this recipe is pure comfort in a bowl. It makes enough for four, and all you need is five ingredients and 45 minutes!

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Basil Shrimp

Take it outside — to the barbecue, that is — for this easy recipe that calls for a half cup of fresh basil. Shrimp marinate in a Dijon-garlic-basil-lemon mixture for an hour, then they just need a few minutes to grill them to perfection.

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Four Cheese Margherita Pizza

If you have just a few leaves of basil to use up, lay them atop this simple pizza for a bright pop of color and flavor. "This was amazing! We couldn't stop eating it," raves happygirlrae. And she had some tasty-sounding tweaks to the recipe: "I added marinated cooked chicken, and zesty Italian seasoning and an extra tablespoon of garlic to the tomato mixture."

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Tomato, Basil, and Feta Salad

No cooking needed! This recipe is full of fresh flavors and is perfect for warm weather days when you don't want to turn on the stove. Enough for four can be ready in about fifteen minutes.

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Eggplant Sandwiches

This sandwich recipe is something vegetarians can really sink their teeth into. Cook the eggplant under your oven's broiler as the recipe calls for, or follow the lead of other home cooks and grill on the barbeque for a smokey flavor. The basil's there to add that extra punch of summertime flavor.

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Tomato Basil Pasta

ROBINANNE2 has the right idea: "I made this when I had fresh basil and feta cheese in the fridge that had to be used up. It was excellent. I served with fresh homemade whole wheat bread for a light meal on a hot summer night."

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Mid-Summer Italian Bread Salad

Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, fresh thyme — and of course, fresh basil — come together with bite-size pieces of Italian bread to make this light, yet filling summer salad. You might want to make extra, it'll go fast!

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Basil Cream Sauce


This is another great recipe to either make for pasta dinner tonight, or freeze for later! "My family really enjoys this recipe," says ary ivo. "I serve it over chicken and tortellini. I also use almonds instead of pine nuts."

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Caprese on a Stick

cherry tomato, basil, and mozzarella balls on a toothpicks

This finger food version of a caprese salad is a great appetizer for a get-together of any size. Simply thread cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and fresh basil on toothpicks, then drizzle with olive oil. Done and done!

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Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich

Here's another caprese-esque recipe, and one that will definitely fill you up! Wonderful sandwich that's quick, easy, and delicious," says Jillian. And we really like her finishing touches: "I toasted the bread, salted the tomatoes and added a little cracked black pepper."

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Light Lemon Pesto Pasta

light lemon pesto pasta
Light Lemon Pesto Pasta. Baking Nana

Make a double batch of this flavorful pasta sauce with Pecorino-Romano, walnuts, and spinach — use half for a six-serving spaghetti dinner, and the second half can be used for a pizza sauce or sandwich spread.

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Fast Salmon with a Ginger Glaze

salmon with ginger glaze served with rice

This glaze with chile paste, fresh ginger, soy sauce and fresh basil is delicious on salmon, but this recipe's submitter says it's also great on swordfish, halibut, tuna, or any other firm, full-flavored fish.

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Fresh basil on paper
Carson Downing/Meredith
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