Wondering how to store basil and keep it from wilting or turning black too quickly? I have you covered with the BEST, No-Fail Hack!

basil in a large glass with water sitting on a table

Fresh basil is among the widely used herbs in Mediterranean cooking, and almost everyone I know enjoys its aromatic, sweet, and somewhat minty flavor. It can be the one ingredient to add a pop of fresh flavor and color to your meal!

I use basil all summer long in things like panzanella, tomato basil soup, and grilled pizza!

We all know fresh basil is tricky to keep alive past a couple of days without the leaves wilting and turning dark on you. One of my go-to ways to quickly use and preserve fresh basil is homemade pesto! A jar of my pesto will last a good week in my fridge, and I make good use of it in pasta, pesto chicken, or to spread over a perfectly baked chilean sea bass.

Another one of my go-to hacks for how to keep basil fresh is to simply treat it like I do a flower bouquet by storing my trimmed basil in a jar or glass of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag. Works like a charm! (I use a similar method to store other fresh herbs.) I shared my hack earlier on Instagram, and so many people had questions, so I thought I would write out exactly how I store basil and keep it for a good 1 to 2 weeks on my kitchen counter.

How to Store Fresh Basil:

Time needed: 5 minutes

In these next easy steps, I’ll show you how to store fresh basil properly so it will last for up to 2 weeks! You’ll need a glass jar half way filled with water, a pair of scissors, and a recycled shopping bag. Follow these simple steps for the best way to store your fresh basil leaves:

  1. Trim the Basil Stems

    Grab a pair of scissors and snip a little bit off the end of the stems at a 45-degree angle just as you would a flower bouquet.

  2. Put the Basil in a Jar or Glass Vase with Water

    Fill a jar, a vase, or a glass half-way or so with water and put the basil bouquet (trimmed-stems down) in the water. Make sure no leaves are in the water or they will turn dark and slimy.

  3. Cover with a Plastic Bag

    Cover the leaves and the entire jar of basil loosely with a plastic bag.

  4. Store Basil Jar at Room Temperature

    Leave the covered jar of basil on your kitchen counter. I don’t recommend storing basil in the fridge as the leaves can easily turn dark, even if covered.

  5. Trim the Stems and Replace the Water Occasionally

    Don’t abandon your basil bouquet! Change the water every few days and give the stems a fresh little trim.

How long will fresh basil last after picking?

If you follow my method above and store fresh basil properly in a jar of water covered loosely with a plastic bag, it should last fresh for 1 to 2 weeks.

Can you freeze basil?

Yes! If you have way too much basil and you want to keep it for longer, freezing it is a great option. It will last in the freezer for months and you can use it year-round! There are many ways to freeze basil, and some involve cubes of chopped basil preserved in extra virgin olive oil, but here’s the very basic method for how to freeze basil leaves:

  • Blanch the basil. Throw the basil leaves in boiling water for 10 seconds, then quickly pull them out and put them a bowl of iced water. This will help preserve the bright green color (I always blanch my basil when I make pesto for the same reason!)
  • Wring out all the water. You can put the blanched basil in a salad spinner and give it a few spins, but I also like to wrap it in paper towels and give it a good squeeze to wring out all the water.
  • Freeze. First, pull the blanched leaves apart and arrange them on a cookie sheet, then freeze for 12 hours or so, then transfer the frozen leaves to freezer-safe bag (do this very quickly or the leaves will thaw). Close tightly and return to the freezer.

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I’m Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I’m all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you’re here…
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  1. Jackie says:

    I’m on week 2 of fresh basil! Thank you so much for this great storage direction! 🙂 I’m so happy to have it not wilt on me instantly! I keep my house around 70 f and the vase storage with plastic wrap around it worked like a charm!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Glad you found the post helpful, Jackie!

  2. Chantel says:

    Looking forward to your recipes and tips

  3. Mentari says:

    What is the temperature of your kitchen if storing basil? Mine might be pretty hot and humid as I live in tropical island. Can it still work? Thanks!

    1. Suzy says:

      Hmmm! That is a good question. My kitchen is usually around 72 degrees F. Not sure how well it would do on the counter in a hot/humid environment. Remember, though, freezing it is also a great option!

  4. Rach says:

    I’m curious, why a plastic bag to cover the leaves?

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Rach. It helps to retain moisture.

    2. Tracey says:

      Idk. But I dry my leaved then I moisten a paper towel and fold up and lay the leaved on top and place in a ziploc bag. Mine are still fresh after 2 weeks

  5. Andree Wackelin says:

    How do you preserve pesto in olive oil
    Thank you

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Andree! We have a Basil Pesto recipe post on the blog. You can find some suggestions for preserving/storing pesto there. Hope that helps!

  6. wilhelmina says:

    This is such a great trick and it works like a charm!

  7. Dixie says:

    Can these methods be used on all the herbs your recipes call for; like dill, parsley, cilantro? I made one of your delicious salads and tomato salsa and want to use the rest of the herbs for other recipes. I had to toss the cilantro out.

    Btw, I research your recipes now before makes out my grocery list…
    …and by rinsing and soaking the white rice before cooking it, didn’t raise my sugar the morning after eating it. Thank you for that tip.

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Dixie. Yes, the same method can be used, but I typically store those in the fridge. So glad you found the tip about rinsing/soaking the rice helpful :).

  8. KJ says:

    A few things…

    I don’t make pesto, I make basil with olive oil and put them in ice cube trays and freeze them for the winter months.

    I just bought a cloche and they are great to put over anything and look a lot better than a plastic bag. You can try Amazon or try a google search for vase. Also I saw some at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago. I went to one of the vase distributors because I wanted a wide base and a tall cloche.

    My neighbor told me to cut the tip of the stem lengthwise so it is split the bottom 1/2 inch or so, this allows cut flowers and basil to drink more water.

    I have weck jars which I put a few small clippings of basil in with a small bit of water. Lasts all week.

    1. Suzy says:

      Thanks for sharing, KJ!

  9. maryanne says:

    This is super helpful! I love basil and eat it all summer long, but am never quite sure about the best way to extend the shelf life. Thanks so much!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    My basil plants have gone crazy this year so I loved this hack! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Suzy says:

      Glad you found the post helpful, Elizabeth!

  11. Heather Johnson says:

    thanks so much! i’m just about to pick a bunch and didn’t know what to do with it!

  12. Carrie Robinson says:

    Now this is a clever idea! I have put basil clippings in water before to grow roots so I could replant it, but I had no idea you could store it like this. 🙂

  13. Beth says:

    This is post is perfect for us. We grow our own basil and I’ve been looking for ways to store it. So glad I came across this post, so helpful and informative! Thank you!

  14. Kate says:

    Great tips here! I usually just store basil in a plastic bag…yikes! Not anymore :).

    1. cheryl gaston says:

      I freeze small quatities of my pesto…no problem. Then I can have it any time I want as long as it lasts. I do the same with caranelized onions, freezing them in small bunches.

      1. Suzy says:

        Thanks for sharing, Cheryl!