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Delicious Basil Recipes to Try

Cooking with fresh herbs is an easy way to enhance the flavor of a dish. Whether you sprinkle chopped leaves on top to garnish, cook the herbs in a sauce, or blitz them into an herby dip, the options are plentiful. Basil stands out as a versatile and lovable herb, in part due to its association with comforting Italian dishes like margherita pizza and tomato pasta. If that’s the extent of your experimentation with the herb, it’s time you expanded your repertoire.

We’ve collected 24 ideas from Look recipe developers that incorporate basil. Whether you’re so inspired that you go out of your way to buy basil for a dish, or just use the leftover bunch in your fridge to whip up one of these tasty specialties, you’re sure to be satisfied. From assorted pizza and pasta dishes to pestos, salads, sandwiches, and unexpected twists, read on for the scoop on these delicious recipes.

1. Italian Sausage And Sweet Potato Pizza

Sausage and sweet potato pizza

For a simple and seriously tasty meal, try this Italian sausage and sweet potato pizza. Topped with tomato sauce, chunks of roasted sweet potato and fennel, and Italian sausage, this pizza packs flavor into every bite. Add fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan as the final garnishes to highlight this harmonious combination of ingredients. While the cooked ingredients offer a rich layer that sets this apart from your average pizza, fresh basil balances it out with an herbaceous kick that brings it to life.

Recipe: Italian Sausage And Sweet Potato Pizza

2. Bright And Fresh Pesto

Basil pesto with spoon

Everyone needs a pesto recipe in their back pocket, and this sauce is bright and fresh in all the right ways. It’s really as easy as adding all the ingredients to a blender or food processor. For this classic version, use garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, loads of basil, olive oil, salt, and capers. Blitz it until the consistency is to your liking, then use it to dress pasta or as a spread for a sandwich or green pizza.

Recipe: Bright And Fresh Pesto

3. Classic Basil Pesto Pasta

Fusilli pesto pasta in bowl

This delicious pasta dish incorporates Parmesan cheese into the pesto recipe for a remarkably tasty result. Add garlic, basil, pine nuts, and olive oil to a food processor, finishing it off with grated Parmesan for extra richness and texture. Boil your favorite pasta — fusilli is a great option for catching plenty of pesto in the nooks and crannies — then toss the cooked pasta with the fresh pesto. Garnish the bowl with extra basil and Parmesan to complete the look.

Recipe: Classic Basil Pesto Pasta

4. Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes

Miriam Hahn/Look

Add a salty tang to standard pesto by using sun-dried tomatoes. This recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Blend the ingredients in a food processor to make a smooth paste (or keep it a little chunky for extra texture). Pick your choice of pasta shape, remembering that more curves mean more places for pesto to hide, and boil it. Once ready, toss the cooked pasta with pesto and top your dish with a couple of sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves to finish.

Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

5. Tofu Pesto Pasta

Tofu pesto pasta in bowl

If you’re looking to load up on vegetarian protein, this tofu pesto pasta packs it in without compromising on flavor. Combine tofu, basil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, walnuts, lemon juice, pasta water, and seasonings in a food processor, and blend the ingredients to make a creamy sauce. Serve this nourishing tofu pesto with your favorite pasta shape for a hearty all-in-one meal. Top your bowl with tomatoes, pine nuts, and fresh basil leaves to make the flavors in the pesto pop.

Recipe: Tofu Pesto Pasta

6. Ligurian Pesto Pasta

Pesto vegetable pasta in dish

This Ligurian pesto pasta brings the taste of Italy to your home. As per traditional recipes, use a mortar and pestle to slowly grind the ingredients together. Start with garlic and pine nuts, then add basil leaves, salt, Parmigiano Reggiano, pecorino cheese, and olive oil. Boil cubed potatoes, green beans, and trofie, a classic Ligurian twisting pasta shape. When everything is ready, combine the potatoes, green beans, and pasta with the fresh basil pesto for a multi-layered sensation.

Recipe: Ligurian Pesto Pasta

7. Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted tomato soup with basil

Tomatoes and basil are a timeless pairing, and this roasted tomato soup features the duo prominently. Start by roasting baby plum tomatoes, onions, and garlic to bring out their sweet flavors. Then, blend the roasted vegetables with heavy cream, vegetable stock, and a bunch of basil leaves until smooth. Serve this rich soup with extra basil leaves for garnish and to add a fresh herbaceous kick. This soup is an excellent accompaniment for a grilled cheese sandwich, or add it to your meal prep routine and make a batch to enjoy throughout the week.

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Soup

8. 5-Ingredient Basil Citrus Granita

Citrus granita in glass

Basil can and should be a part of your dessert lineup, as basil citrus granita proves. This frosty treat is easy to make as long as you have a few hours to spare while it freezes. Make a lemon, lime, and basil syrup, then freeze it in a shallow pan. To achieve a granita texture, use a fork to scrape it a couple of times an hour until it’s solid. Then, scrape it again with a fork before serving to create a crushed-ice consistency.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Basil Citrus Granita

9. Chopped Caprese Salad

Caprese salad in bowl

When you’re in the mood for a refreshing dish that’s ready in a jiffy, this chopped Caprese salad is an easy fix. Halve some grape tomatoes and slice fresh basil leaves into thin strips, then add mozzarella balls. Toss the ingredients with a simple dressing made by combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Serve it as a light lunch in the summer, or pair it with a grilled meat main for a savory side that stands out.

Recipe: Chopped Caprese Salad

10. Fresh And Fragrant Thai Basil Beef Rolls

Beef and basil rolls

While you may be accustomed to only using regular basil, it comes in several varieties, including Thai basil. Boasting a bold licorice note and spiced flavor, it pairs well with meat, as evidenced by these fresh and fragrant Thai basil beef rolls. Load rice paper rolls with a savory ground beef mixture seasoned with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, Chinese five spice, shallots, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, lime juice, and Thai basil. Roll the meat up with scallions, cilantro, lettuce, and avocado for a filling main or refreshing appetizer.

Recipe: Fresh And Fragrant Thai Basil Beef Rolls

11. Baked Feta Pasta

Baked feta macaroni in dish

For an easy, fuss-free, and cheesy dinner, whip up this baked feta pasta. Combine cherry tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil in a baking dish, then add a block of feta in the center. Bake at high heat until the tomato skins explode and the cheese melts. Toss cooked pasta and fresh basil leaves with the melted cheese and juicy tomatoes, then serve this up with extra basil to garnish. We challenge anyone to find an easier and tastier pasta sauce.

Recipe: Baked Feta Pasta

12. Tuscan Pappa Al Pomodoro

Tuscan tomato dish with basil

Tomato soup is as traditional as it gets, but this Tuscan pappa al pomodoro transforms your standard recipe into a delectably chunky dish that hits the spot. Sauté onion and garlic in a pan, then add white wine to simmer. Toss in chunks of stale bread to toast, then pour chicken stock over the top and simmer again. Crush canned San Marzano tomatoes and add them into the mixture before continuing to simmer it to infuse flavor. Finish by garnishing this delicious soup with fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper, and Parmesan.

RECOMMENDED:  Soak Strawberries in Prosecco for a Cocktail Garnish

Recipe: Tuscan Pappa Al Pomodoro

13. Special Italian Sunday Sauce

Spaghetti bowl with basil

Sharing a special Sunday meal with loved ones is a great way to relax before the start of a new week. But there’s no need to make it complicated — this simple Italian pasta sauce features fresh ingredients and classic pairings for a comforting feast. Sauté grated carrots and diced onions, then add a can of crushed tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer the sauce and add fresh basil before tossing it with your pasta — spaghetti is our go-to choice.

Recipe: Special Italian Sunday Sauce

14. Grilled Pesto Mozzarella Sandwich

Grilled pesto and mozzarella sandwich

This tasty grilled sandwich features a savory basil pesto with thickly sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella. Make a quick batch of pesto by combining basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Once the mixture reaches a smooth consistency, use it to coat one side of the bread and spread butter over the other. Toast the sandwiches in a hot cast-iron pan until the bread is golden brown and the cheese melts and becomes gooey.

Recipe: Grilled Pesto Mozzarella Sandwich

15. Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

Caprese salad in bowl

Kristen Carli/Look

This simple five-minute Caprese salad showcases just a few ingredients with minimal effort. Chop cherry tomatoes in half and thinly slice a bunch of fresh basil leaves. Add the tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella balls to a bowl, then drizzle balsamic vinegar on top and toss. Enjoy the herbaceous notes of fresh basil complemented by the sweet and juicy tomatoes, creamy cheese, and tangy balsamic. This salad is a great addition to a picnic or potluck spread.

Recipe: Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

16. Fresh Tomato And Mozzarella Salad

Salad with tomatoes and basil

Susan Olayinka/Look

If you love the timeless combination of tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic, this tri-color salad is a winner. Instead of tossing all the ingredients together, fan them out on a plate for the full effect. This recipe calls for vine-ripened tomatoes for a sweet taste that matches the basil and cheese. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the top for a rich and sweet touch, then season the salad simply with salt and pepper. Serve this gorgeous dish as part of a main course or solo as an appetizer; don’t forget crusty bread to soak up the juices!

Recipe: Fresh Tomato And Mozzarella Salad

17. Roasted Caprese Sandwich

Roasted Caprese sandwich on board

Jaime Shelbert/Look

A Caprese salad can be the foundation for so many recipes, including sandwiches. This roasted Caprese sandwich features deliciously juicy cherry tomatoes roasted with garlic. Toast halved baguettes for an extra crunchy bite, and spread roasted garlic across the surface. Scoop the bursting tomatoes over the bread along with burrata cheese. Garnish the top with a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar and loads of fresh basil leaves for an herbaceous note.

Recipe: Roasted Caprese Sandwich

18. Sheet Pan Sicilian Pizza

Sicilian pizza squares on plates

Miriam Hahn/Look

Prepare a yeasted pizza dough and spread it out on a baking sheet to make a large rectangular surface. Spread tomato sauce all across the top and sprinkle as much mozzarella cheese as you like to cover. Bake this Sicilian-style pizza in a hot oven, then let it cool before cutting it into squares and garnishing it with thinly sliced basil leaves. You’ll get a dazzling colorful topping, as well as a delightfully herbal kick in every cheesy bite. Who needs a side salad when you’ve got basil?

Recipe: Sheet Pan Sicilian Pizza

19. Homemade Margherita Pizza

Margherita pizza on plate

Miriam Hahn/Look

Speed up your homemade margherita pizza by purchasing pre-made pizza dough — or by batch-preparing pizza dough regularly so you’ve always got a ball in the freezer. Mash whole canned tomatoes in a bowl and use the juicy mixture as your pizza sauce. Cut fresh mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and scatter them across the sauce. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Combine fresh basil, chives, and oregano with olive oil for drizzling, and sprinkle the top with extra basil.

Recipe: Homemade Margherita Pizza

20. Chili-Garlic Pan-Fried Fish

Pan-fried fish with lemon

Jennine Rye/Look

Prepare this easy pan-fried fish dish with just a few basic ingredients. Coat sardines or other small fish in a seasoned flour mixture, then pan-fry the fillets with chili and garlic until golden and crispy. Serve the crunchy fish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped basil and parsley. This delicious recipe uses basil in a unique pairing that brings an herbal element to this pan-fried dish. Enjoy it as an appetizer or as part of a seafood spread. 

Recipe: Chili-Garlic Pan-Fried Fish

21. Best Grilled Swordfish

Lemon and herb grilled swordfish

Stephanie Rapone/Look

This tangy grilled swordfish recipe features vibrant flavors in every bite. Marinate the fish in a mixture of lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. Grill the marinated steaks until they are nicely charred and flaky, then serve them with a vinaigrette made by combining fresh basil, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt. This herbaceous dressing is a delicious match for the meaty swordfish steaks, and we guarantee you’ll also want to drizzle it over roasted potatoes or mop it up with a crusty piece of bread.

Recipe: Best Grilled Swordfish

22. Pesto Pork Chops

Pesto pork chops with basil

Susan Olayinka/Look

This savory recipe features pesto as a rich marinade for pork chops. Combine the basil-based pesto with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and marinate the meat briefly to infuse flavor. Pan-fry the pork chops until they’re nicely browned and cooked through, then serve them with more pesto, fresh basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese. If you’ve never paired pork chops with basil, we guarantee this full-on rendition will convert you. With such flavorful meat, all you need on the side are mashed potatoes or rice to complete the meal.

Recipe: Pesto Pork Chops

23. Pesto-Marinated Pork Chops

Pesto pork chops with tomatoes

Jennine Rye/Look

Prep a quick and chunky pesto sauce with toasted pine nuts, basil, parsley, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Coat the pork chops with pesto and marinate the meat so that it absorbs loads of flavor. Fry the marinated pork chops in a pan until golden, then finish them off in the oven along with a tray of roasted cherry tomatoes and asparagus. This tasty combination features the classic flavor duo of tomatoes and basil, with a hearty umami boost from the pork chops.

Recipe: Pesto-Marinated Pork Chops

24. Grilled Watermelon Salad

Grilled basil and watermelon salad

Stephanie Rapone/Look

Fresh basil is a surprisingly great pairing with fruit, as evidenced by this grilled watermelon salad. Grill watermelon wedges until the surface is nicely charred, then chop the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Assemble your salad by combining spinach leaves and grilled watermelon cubes on a plate. Top the ingredients with sliced red onion, fresh chopped basil, and mint leaves, then crumble Mexican cotija cheese over the top. Finish it off with a glorious drizzle of balsamic reduction, made by reducing balsamic vinegar until it’s thick and syrupy.

Recipe: Grilled Watermelon Salad

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Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

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