Can You Use Dried Basil for Pesto? Here’s How To Do It

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If you are unable to obtain fresh basil, which is a common ingredient in many pesto recipes, it can be challenging to make this delicious dish. However, there are times when fresh basil may not be easily accessible. In such a situation, what can you do? Would you consider making pesto without basil? Fortunately, you can dry and preserve basil for future use in making this dish.

Can you use dried basil for pesto? 

Dried basil has mostly the same flavors and taste as fresh basil. If you don’t have fresh basil for pesto, you can use dried basil instead. The dried basil gives you concentrated flavors, but be aware that the end result will be darker in color and slightly more bitter than what you’re used to.

If dried basil leaves have more flavors than fresh ones, does that mean that you’d have to add less dried basil to the recipe to get the same flavor? Read more to find the answer to this question and learn how to replace fresh basil with dried basil in pesto.

Dried Basil for Pesto

Depending on how you dry basil leaves, you might be able to get more flavors, aromas, and taste in the leaves. If you dry it slowly in a ventilated place, you’ll have the same flavors if not more. Since the dried leaves shrink, you might end up with more flavors in a teaspoon of basil than in the same amount of fresh ones.

However, if you use the microwave to dry the leaves, you lose a lot of the distinguishing basil flavors in the process. This can impact the pesto recipe you make in terms of taste.

Can I Substitute Dried Basil for Fresh Basil in Pesto?

The short answer is yes. When dried basil is stored correctly, it can replace fresh basil in pesto, but as they age, the dried leaves lose a lot of these flavors. So make sure to use the dried leaves within one year of the storage date to get the most out of them. 

Is Dried Basil as Good as Fresh Basil?

If you dry basil leaves yourself in a well-ventilated place without exposing them to direct sunlight, you’ll get more concentrated flavors and tastes than the fresh leaves might give you. If you try to fast-track the process by drying the leaves in the microwave or in the sun, most of the flavors willbe lost. 

Fresh Basil Leaves to Dried Conversion

Assuming that basil was dried the right way and that it has concentrated flavors in it, then you’ll need to account for that when following the measurements in the recipe. If the recipe requires 1 tablespoon of fresh basil leaves, convert that into 1 teaspoon of dried basil leaves and so on. Using too many dried basil leaves can impact the pesto recipe.

Dried Basil Pesto Recipe

Since we’re talking about dried basil in pesto, this is the time and place to talk about a dried basil pesto recipe. Even though most of the pesto recipes online will almost always use fresh basil, this recipe strictly uses dried basil and will taste just as good as any recipe that uses fresh basil.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup raw unsalted cashews or pine nuts
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 medium garlic clove

The process is simple. After you peel the garlic, shred the Parmesan cheese, and squeeze the lemon, add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor, and blend them well.

Slowly add the olive oil to the ingredients while they’re being processed. When you have a thick greenish paste, empty the pesto into a sealed container, and store it in the fridge. It will remain fresh for up to a week. If you want to keep it fresh for longer than a week, put it in the freezer.

Dried Basil Pesto Without Nuts

Pine nuts are the best nuts to add to pesto, but you can easily replace Pine nuts with walnuts or cashews. If you don’t like nuts in pesto at all, you can use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

They have the same oil content and come with a wide variety of flavors that differ from those of nuts. You can even skip the nuts altogether and still wind up with a delicious pesto.

Spinach Pesto With Dried Basil

Spinach pesto is another variation of the original pesto. The only problem is that the spinach turns a little bitter when you add extra virgin oil. However, if you use dried basil in the right amounts, the pesto dish loses some of that bitterness and gets a rich flavor. I recommend avoiding extra virgin oil when making spinach pesto.

Dried Basil Leaves Benefits

Dried basil leaves have many benefits that fresh leaves don’t have. Here are some of those benefits:

  • Dried basil leaves have a long shelf life. You can store them for years and still use them. Fresh basil leaves shrivel and wilt quickly before they rot.
  • Dried basil has more concentrated flavors and tastes than the fresh leaves. Usually, you’ll use fewer dried leaves than fresh basil.
  • Dried leaves have health benefits and are good for a sore throat, respiratory system, and nose infections. Dried basil tea helps with such conditions too.

Storing Dried Basil

How you store dried basil can impact not just the flavors but also its shelf life. After crushing the dried leaves, store them in a glass container with an airtight lid. (I personally recommend this set of jars for functionality and visual appeal.)

Then keep the container in a dark, dry, and well-ventilated place. When using some of the dried basil, replace the lid of the container quickly to avoid humidity getting into the container.

Additional Ways To Use Dried Basil

You can use dried basil in pasta, pizza, salsa, salads, soups, sauces, and marinades.

Dried Basil Substitute

If you don’t have either dried or fresh basil, you can substitute the herb with oregano or thyme, though you can expect a totally different flavor profile.

Related Questions:

Can You Use Dried Basil for Bruschetta?

You can use dried basil instead of fresh basil or oregano in bruschetta with the same effect.

Can You Use Dried Basil for Caprese Salad?

Dried basil is a good substitute for fresh basil in Caprese salad.

Conclusion

Dried basil has more concentrated flavors and tastes than fresh basil leaves. Use dried basil in pesto, salads, pasta sauces, and even as herbal tea to treat nose infections and respiratory system conditions.