What To Do With All This Basil? Fresh Basil Recipes Part 2

by Pamela

fresh basil recipes, what to do with basil, basil recipes, basil syrup recipe, basil sauce recipe

Between the farmer’s market and my garden the summer fresh basil is rolling in and burying my counter tops. I’ve been using it in all kinds of the usual dishes like caprese salad and pesto but also in things like basil olive oil and basil olive oil ice cream. I thought it might be time to add a few new fresh basil recipes to the repertoire though. The thing I like most about both of these recipes is that 1 – they’re really easy to make. 2 – They use a lot of basil. 3 – Each of these recipes can be used in several different ways, which means you can make up a big batch and save yourself a lot of time when trying to figure out what to make for dinner or how to make your usual recipes not so usual. Enjoy!

Last year I wrote a little post about “What to do with all this fresh basil” and was pleasantly surprised to find out I wasn’t the only one being inundated by this prolific summer herb. It seems that this is a fairly common phenomenon across the country. So, I thought I would share some more basil recipes with you…you lovers of basil or you prisoners of the mighty basil. Whichever camp you’re in, I think you’ll really like these recipes.

What to do with basilOf course you know I’m a big proponent of putting basil into cocktails, especially in the summertime. A favorite basil cocktail recipe of mine is the basil gin smash because it’s so easy and refreshing. And gin is a perfect pairing for basil since it already has an herbal flavor to it. But I realize that sometimes you don’t want to mix up an alcoholic libation. Especially if it’s the middle of the day and you actually need to get something done with your day.

This basil syrup recipe is definitely a multi-tasker. Of course you can use it as a simple syrup in some of your favorite cocktail recipes to give them a hint of that basil goodness, but you can also use it to give your standard lemonade recipe a bit of a pick me up. Adding different flavors to lemonade is quite popular these days, but this basil syrup gives just a slight hint of herbal flavor to the drink as opposed to over powering it (like some lemonade recipes are doing).

Basil Syrup Recipe

The other thing that this basil syrup recipe is good for is elevating a simple dessert. Grill up slices of pound cake (yes, I said grill slices of cake – trust me…you’ll love it) and drizzle them with some of the basil syrup and serve with a slice of pineapple. Or you can slice up some angel food cake, add some berries and top with a spoonful of basil syrup. Or skip the cake all together and spoon the syrup over a bowl of berries and serve. How easy is that?

Of course you can slip a few leaves of fresh basil into a bowl of salad greens or tuck some the leaves into a sandwich, but how about turning a whole bunch of fresh basil into a big bowl of basil dip/sauce/spread? I’m not too sure what to actually call this recipe because I’ve used it all of these different ways. Sure, you could stir a bunch of basil pesto into some mayo or yogurt to make these same things, but wouldn’t it taste better, and be easier, if you just threw all the ingredients into the blender and created all of these different things in one easy step?

For now, I’ll just call this a basil sauce recipe and let you call it whatever you like. My favorite use for it is adding a dollop of it to big fat BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich). It’s sweet and herbal flavors pair really well with the salty smoky bacon and of course, basil and tomatoes play really well together so this makes a sandwich taste even better. (That’s a picture of it at the top of this post.)

Because this basil sauce recipe isn’t super thick (in fact, it’s a bit on the thinner side) you can pour it into a bowl, surround it with cut up vegetables, and serve it as a dip or spoon it over top of a salad for a flavorful alternative to ranch dressing. And it also makes a great addition to pasta or potato salad,  but I think my favorite use for this fresh basil recipe is smearing it on a sandwich.

So if you’re still asking yourself “What am I going to do with all this fresh basil?” I hope that these recipes, along with the other basil recipes on the site, will inspire you as well as help you become unburied from your piles of basil.

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People and food…they’re not really so different.

People and food...they're not really so different.


Recipe: Basil Lemonade

Summary: Makes Approximately 3/4 Cup


Basil Simple Syrup Recipe

  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 3/4 Cup (Packed) Basil Leaves

Basil Lemonade Recipe

  • 2 Ounces Basil Simple Syrup
  • 2 Ounces Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 4 – 6 Ounces Cold Water
  • Basil Leaf for Garnish


For Basil Simple Syrup

  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium high heat, and stir, until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Strain out basil leaves.
  5. Pour into a covered container and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For Basil Lemonade

  1. Pour basil simple syrup and lemon juice into a tall glass.
  2. Fill with Ice.
  3. Top off with water.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of basil.


Instead of still water, you could use sparkling water to make the lemonade a bit fancier.

Of course you could also add a shot of vodka or rum if you wanted to turn this into a cocktail recipe. You may want to add only about half of the water if you do this.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan

Diet tags: Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 1

Culinary tradition: USA (General)



Recipe: Basil Sauce Recipe

Summary: Makes 3 Cups


  • 1 1/2 Cups Plain Non-Fat Yogurt (or full fat, your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Large Roasted Red Pepper
  • Leaves from 4 Large Stalks of Basil
  • 1 Small Handful of Parsley (thin stems ok)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  1. Add all ingredients, except salt and pepper, to a blender or the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Blitz until well pureed.
  3. Stir in salt and pepper and taste. If you would like to add more of any ingredient, do so now and puree.
  4. Serve as you like.
  5. This will keep, in the refrigerator, for at least a week.

Quick notes

You can use jarred roasted red peppers or roast your own. To do that, cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds and stem. Place on baking sheet cut side down and under a 400 degree (Farenheit) broiler for 5-7 minutes, until skin is blackened (keep an eye on the pepper because it can go from not done to well done very quickly). Remove from the oven and place into a brown paper back. Scrunch the bag closed and let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove the pepper from the bag and peel off skin.


You can play with this recipe a lot and change up the flavors by adjusting the amounts of the different ingredients. You could also use mayonnaise in place of the yogurt, if you like.

Preparation time: 7 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet tags: Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 1

Culinary tradition: USA (General)


Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


Hank Love August 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

What a great site. I have been wondering what I could do with all my fresh basile. This year I went over board in my garden, and everyday I look at my fifteen plants!!! They are gorgeous!!! I will definitely make the syrup. I am looking forward to making my Pesto to. Thanks for all the info!!

Pamela August 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Hi Hank,

15 plants?!!!???? You must be drowning in the stuff. LOL Don’t forget that you can also chop it up (puree with some olive oil) and put it into ice cube trays and freeze it. Put the frozen cubes into a zip top freezer bag and have pre-portioned basil for your recipes in the middle of winter. I think you’ll have plenty of leaves to do this with. 🙂 ENJOY!!!

Jill~a SaucyCook July 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Thank God I cook better than I garden. My basil plants do not runneth over! That said, I think I can garner enough of the lovely green leaves to make this simple syrup and I’m thinking some kind of wonderful libation….hmmmm….Happy Hump Day/Fourth of July! Oh, and I almost forgot to apologize: it was me who drooled all over your delicious sandwich!

Pamela July 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Ha! I’ve got dead basil plants in my garden, but I just keep buying more. It’s kind of like my shoe obsession (only less expensive). So some plants are great and some are dead. But then I hit the farmer’s market and get all googly eyed and buy some more. That’s why I’m inundated with it (it’s a sickness I tell ya). The syrup is fantastic. I’m pouring it on everything…even things I can’t write on this blog. 😉 Maybe I should bottle the stuff. LOL Oh, as for the drool…I wondered where that came from. Have a happy 4th! 🙂

Belinda @zomppa July 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

An abundance of basil is always a great problem to have – and seems you definitely know what to do with it!

Pamela July 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

There are definitely worse problems to have. 😉 And when push comes to shove I stick sprigs of basil in small jars (instead of flowers) and it makes the room smell really nice. Makes you hungry…but it smells good.

Cookin' Canuck July 2, 2012 at 11:52 am

That basil lemonade is so pretty! And that sauce…when I wasn’t eating it by the spoonful, I would be tempted to spread it on every wrap sandwich, piece of fish and grilled chicken breast that crossed my plate.

Pamela July 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

Dara, that’s pretty much what’s going on around here right now. 😉

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