Do you have an overabundance of fresh basil in the garden? Try making this easy basil sauce recipe! I’ll show you how to make and freeze basil sauce so you can have that fresh flavor on hand all winter long.
Basil isn’t a perennial in my gardening zone. But it doesn’t matter; I faithfully start my own from seed every spring so I can have fresh basil on hand during the summer months. And actually, I’ve spent the past few years trying to find the best way to preserve it for winter cooking in my kitchen.
Because basil is one of those herbs that I just can’t do without.
I tried drying basil leaves, but they lost their pungent flavor. Another time, I tried making basil salt. But it just didn’t carry enough basil flavor to satisfying me. I’ve tried preserving whole leaves in salt (it took waaaay too much salt!) and even tried freezing leaves in water.
It took me a while, but I finally discovered a wonderful way to preserve basil in my kitchen! This method is simple and tastes amazing when paired with tomato in sauce, homemade pizza or winter soups. It even tastes amazing spooned over baked potatoes!
So let me show you how to make and freeze basil sauce, so you can still have that fresh herb flavor in the dead of winter.
The Difference Between Basil Sauce and Pesto
You might be wondering what the difference is between basil sauce and pesto?
Let me tell you!
Pesto is made with fresh basil but it also contains oil, nuts, cheese and sometimes lemon juice as well. I think pesto is absolutely delicious! But there are times when I want something simpler, especially if I’m supposed to serve guests that are dairy or nut free.
That’s where basil sauce comes in. It has the basic ingredients of fresh basil, olive oil, garlic and salt. Really. That’s all!
You won’t have to buy special ingredients to make this easy basil sauce recipe. And that’s why I love it so much!
Best Basil Varieties for Making Sauce
You can use a wide variety of basil for making this sauce. Just make sure whatever you use is a culinary basil, not an ornamental. Some excellent options include:
- Greek Basil Varieties
- Holy Basil (Tusli)
- Purple Basil
- Sweet Basil
Most basil varieties are culinary, so don’t worry about it too much. My personal favorites are Sweet Basil and Genovese.
Ingredients for Making Basil Sauce
I quickly ran through ingredients above, but to make this easy basil sauce recipe, you’ll need the following:
- fresh basil (lots of it!)
- a quality olive oil (avocado oil is excellent as well)
- Himalayan salt
- fresh garlic cloves
Basil should be as fresh as possible. I like to harvest mine from the garden in the morning when they have full flavor and before the sun’s heat drives natural oils back down into the plant.
And if you have to buy basil from a local farmer? Keep the cut basil bouquets in water and refrigerate until you’re ready to make this easy basil sauce recipe.
Tools You’ll Need
To make and freeze basil sauce, you’ll need the following tools.
- A kitchen blender or food processor
- Kitchen scale
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoon
- seven 4 oz (125 ml) jars (get some HERE)
- 7 standard mouth lids & canning bands
In my kitchen, I have a strong Bosch blender that I use. But I hear a food processor gives you the same results. If using a food processor, you can probably puree this recipe in just 1 batch, whereas I usually have to run 2 batches through my blender to complete it.
Tips for Making Easy Basil Sauce
Making basil sauce really isn’t difficult. Just toss everything into the blender or food processor and puree until smooth. That’s how it should go. But in case you get hung up, let me give you a few pointers.
- Always add oil, salt and garlic to the blender or food processor first, because it’ll help get things moving.
- Pulse the blender or food processor to help break up all the basil and incorporate it with the olive oil before trying to puree.
- If you can’t seem to puree it, add a bit more oil for extra liquid and volume.
- Be sure to puree it for 20-30 seconds to make sure the fresh garlic is well incorporated.
How Long Will Basil Sauce Last in the Freezer?
This easy basil sauce recipe should last 8-12 months in the freezer, provided you follow my directions and top your jars off with a layer of olive oil. Be sure to tightly seal the lids as well.
To use it, just pull a jar from the freezer, let it thaw and add to your favorite recipe.
How to Use Frozen Basil Sauce
Basil sauce pairs beautifully with tomato. Whether it’s a homemade pasta sauce, pizza sauce or even a soup or stew with a tomato base, your homemade basil sauce will pair well with it.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also add it to white sauces, winter soups, spread it on toast or add it to a buttery, baked potato.
You might be wondering how much you should use? It really depends on your taste! Just adjust according to your preferences.
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Easy Basil Sauce with Garlic
- 200 gm fresh basil tips (about 10 cups unpacked)
- 12 garlic cloves
- 430 gm olive oil (about 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Harvest the top 2-3 inches of your basil plants in the morning, before the sun's heat drive oils back down into the plant
- Bring fresh basil indoors and rinse if you're worried about bugs or dirt
- Weigh out 200 gm (about 10 cups of loose basil leaves/stems)
- Set aside
- Peel 12 garlic cloves and set aside
- Pour 1 C of olive oil into your kitchen blender
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt
- Drop 6 garlic cloves into the oil
- Divide your fresh basil in half and place half in the blender
- Fasten blender lid into place and pulse to start breaking up basil and garlic cloves
- Once things have been broken up, puree for about 20-30 seconds or until you're happy with the consistency of your sauce
- Use a spatula to pour your sauce into 4 oz (125 ml) jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space at the top
- Carefully top your jars with olive oil, being sure to cover the sauce
- Tightly fasten a lid into place and label
- Repeat the process with the remaining half of the basil, measuring in 1 C olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 6 garlic cloves in your blender. Stuff basil on top of these ingredients and puree
- Finish filling jars, top with oil, lid, label and freeze for 8-12 months