How to Dry Basil In A Dehydrator

by | Aug 23, 2019

There are so many great ways to use basil —in pesto, julienned over a finished dish, and layered into fresh spring rolls—but one thing I have to do EVERY summer is stock up on dried basil. Today I’m sharing how to dry basil to preserve the most freshness and flavor. I only need about one mason jar per year to keep us going until we can grow fresh basil again, so I usually fill the dehydrator up completely and make that mason jar for the pantry. If I have a lot of extra basil, I’ll dehydrate even more for holiday gifts.

Get my classic basil pesto recipe HERE.

How to Dry Basil- why should you do it?

First of all, cups and cups of fresh basil can be reduced down to a single mason jar of dried basil. It’s great for storage.

Second, I keep all my dehydrated basil as whole leaves. This keeps the flavors from being released until you crush it when you are ready to use it. The stuff you buy in grocery stores is already crushed, so it looses potency very quickly. Dehydrating your own basil is such a great way to preserve the MOST flavor for long term storage.

Lastly, there are certain times that dried spices are better for cooking. For example, when I make meatballs or spice rubs it’s better to use dried herbs for flavor impact and distribution.

basil leaves in a salad spinner

As I’ve perfected my process for how to dry basil over the years, I’ve really enjoyed using a salad spinner. It’s important to wash all your herbs before drying, so a tool like a salad spinner helps to remove excess water.

Why use a dehydrator to dry basil?

While you can absolutely air dry basil, I like to use my dehydrator for a few different reasons. First, sometimes the weather is not great for drying homegrown herbs. Especially if you live in a humid environment, it can be difficult to achieve the proper level of dryness for storage. Second, using a dehydrator is fast and uniform. Because the dehydrator can run overnight, the process is much quicker and has less variables to consider in terms of drying conditions. Lastly, using a dehydrator (for anything really) helps us to avoid flies and bugs and dust. I say this for my tomatoes or dried fruits too. It’s just much easier to dry homegrown produce using my dehydrator to avoid bugs, critters, etc. getting into my food. But again, there are air drying racks that you can purchase that can help you to avoid that particular issue. 

How to dry basil in a dehydrator

Pick your basil.

Pull your basil leaves off (don’t dehdryate the stems) and put them in a colander or salad spinner to be washed.

If using a salad spinner, spin dry. If using a colander, let drain and dry as much as possible.

Lay your basil out onto the dehydrator trays. Try and leave some space in between leaves.

Most tutorials say to set the dehydrator on the lowest setting, but I have found that this takes way too long because of the moisture content of basil. Also, before I had a dehydrator, I used to dry my basil on screens outside on summer days that were at least 105 Degrees F. Therefore, I dry my basil on the 115 degree F setting.

Dehydrate until completely dry. I mean, they should be so crispy it feels like you’ll break them if you touch them. You don’t want any moisture left for storage. This can take anywhere from 1-3 days.

Related: Basil made my list of 10 Heat Loving Vegetables and Flowers to Grow From Seed

basil leaves spread out on dehydrator trays

Here are my prepared basil leaves spread out on dehydrator trays for drying.

How to Store & Use Your Dried Basil

Transfer your dried basil (keep the leaves whole!) to an airtight container. I use a mason jar.

Keep your containers in a dark, dry cabinet or pantry. I never store my dried herbs where they can be exposed to light.

To use your dried basil, simply grab a couple leaves and rub them between your hands over your dish for all that delicious freshness to be released. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle or herb grinder to crush your leaves.  See video below↓

Now that you’ve learned how to dry basil, you might be wondering about other ways to use your homegrown basil? Check out my Classic Basil Pesto recipe for a basic recipe that is also freezer-friendly!

Did you know that basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed. I highly recommend trying basil from seed one Summer. It’s much more budget-friendly too. For tips on growing more garden fresh herbs, don’t forget to subscribe and download your FREE herb growing guide. As always, I’d love to hear from you. If you found this post helpful, leave a comment below, share with a friend, or save it on Pinterest for later!

Meet Randi

Urban gardening is my jam. I’m Randi, California girl who obsessively gardens to grow food and flowers around my urban home. Seasonal, simple living is what inspires me~ I hope it will inspire you too. Join me in crafting a life and home connected to the garden Read More>>>>

For Growers & Gardeners from High Mowing Organic Seeds