How To Dry Basil In The Microwave

This year, my garden has had to cope with wildly swinging conditions that started with a chilly spring, then segued to a brutal heat wave, and onto a stretch of hot and steamy, and now bone dry earth and chilly nights. One plant that has thrived despite (or because of?) the fluctuations has been basil. I’ve snipped and snipped, and it keeps on coming.


I’ve already harvested enough to freeze for use in winter’s soups and stews. (Directions on this blog post.) But, the plants keep growing back, and the leaves are as tender, fragrant and delicious as ever. However, this late in the season, If I leave this patch for a few days, the basil will bolt, flower and turn bitter.  It’s time to store more away for future use. This time, I’ll dry it in the microwave.

First, I cut back the plants so that a third remain, which leaves me plenty of fresh basil for late-summer cooking!


Next, I put the harvested basil in a big bowl of cool water, and swish it around to loosen attached dirt. I lift out the basil, put fresh water in the bowl and rinse again. I do this as many times as it takes to remove every bit of grit. I’m careful to handle the basil gently because any bruising or creasing of the leaves turns the basil black and unusable.

Once the basil is clean, I pick off the leaves and discard the stems (into the compost it goes, the chickens love it!) I spin dry the leaves in a salad spinner. Next, I put the basil, in a single layer, on a paper towel on the microwave platter. Don’t crowd the leaves!



Cover with another paper towel and place in the microwave. The basil takes less than two minutes on high to dry. Microwaves vary. Mine is 1200 watts, and the basil took exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds to become perfectly brittle. The first time you do this, start with one minute, and then continue to microwave in 15 second increments until the leaves crumble in between your fingers.


The aroma was heavenly! Realtors say that the smell of fresh baked cookies helps to sell houses and they have a trick of baking off a batch before open houses. I think they should dry basil in the microwave instead.

I had enough basil to dry five batches in the microwave. I filled this jar.


Now I’ll be able to put a little bit of summer into my winter meals.


  1. Thanks for the tips!! Fresh basil is divine but have never attempted drying it…can’t wait.

  2. Such a wonderful bit of Summer-in-a-jar!
    I often dry mine in the airing cupboard. May try the microwave way, as rather quicker! Thanks, Terry!

    • It’s too humid here to hang the basil to dry, and any dry areas (the attic) are too dusty. The microwave is so much better than hanging it up and hoping that the conditions will be right.

  3. I used to dry my sweet marjoram in my old gas stove, using nothing but the pilot light. Then I got a (lovely) new gas stove without pilots. I will try your method on my marjoram!

    • Let me know how that works. I’m sure there will be differences just because of moisture content and thickness of the leaves.

  4. Thanks for the tip, Terry. I tried drying last year’s pathetic little crop of basil in my food dehydrator. It took forever, and the results were underwhelming. I am definitely going to try your microwave method with what’s left of this year’s yield when I get home tonight.
    Off topic, I see that Betsy has gone broody again this past week. Is she sitting on Twiggy’s eggs after she lays them?
    Are any of your other Little Barn girls laying yet?

    • Yes, Betsy is broody and claims Twiggy’s egg. The other girls are ready to lay. I have found one rubbery egg, but no one is laying regularly yet. Soon!

      • How funny. I have read that leghorns rarely go broody. I guess Betsy didn’t get that memo. :-)
        I’ll bet that rubbery egg was a practice egg from one of your Ameraucanas – I’ve seen both of them checking out the nest box recently.

  5. You can also freeze basil if you chop it up with a little oil. It doesn’t turn black if you add oil.
    I use my food processor to make enough for a batch of pesto, and store it in freezer bags.
    I mix in the oil and minced garlic, as well.
    In the dead of winter, all you have to do is thaw out your basil mix, add cheese and nuts and enjoy!

    I freeze my minced garlic as well, with a little oil added. I use my little mini muffin pan to make little 1 teaspoon garlic discs, flash freeze, then wrap the discs in wax paper before storing in freezer bags. They thaw in minutes and I always have garlic ready to add to any dish.

  6. Terry,
    Basil is my favorite herb. We plant it everywhere on the property. Now, thanks to you, I can have my own in winter. This is off subject: I got your Jasper cards today. Love, love, love them. I know someone is very down and I know this card will make her smile. As a matter of fact, would love to have a collection on Little Pond Farm note cards for sending for all emotions, or just to say hi. Anyway you could sell more notecards of various members of Little Pond? I’m especially interested in ones that are comical (like Jasper) or just so sweet, like Mr. Grumpy and his bride.

  7. Off topic: wanted to let you know I saw Beatrix checking out the nest boxes this morning. Can’t wait to see what color eggs she lays! Hope it’s a beautiful blue.

  8. Hi Terry, I clean and dry my basil the same way you do but then I freeze them in wax paper twists. When stored in the freezer door shelves, they don’t get crushed. I really like throwing them in on top of soups and sauces this way. Mine never turns black. P.S. Also very excited about colorful eggs!!! Happy day.

  9. Owly in the hot seat now. Hope she gives you a blue or pink egg. Wonder if they practice before they actually lay?