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10 Best Summer Recipes Starring Basil, the King of Herbs

Summer heat is worth it when it rewards us with a bountiful harvest of fragrant basil. Now's the time to make as many basil-packed recipes as you can before the season ends. We'll share quick tips for cooking with fresh basil and 10 favorite basil recipes for your summer basil bucket list.

Related: Browse our entire crop of basil recipes.

Quick Tips: How to Cook With Basil

1. There are many varieties of basil, and each one has its own unique flavor. The most common are:

  • Sweet basil (also known as Genovese basil) used in Italian and Mediterranean recipes.
  • Thai basil, whose anise-flavored leaves are used in Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese recipes.
  • Purple basil, whose clove-flavored leaves are used in Asian and Mediterranean recipes.

2. Use only the leaves of the plant; the thick stems taste bitter.

3. If you're pinching out the blossoms of your basil plant, use them in a salad or as a garnish instead of throwing them away.

4. The flavor of fresh basil will diminish as it cooks; use dried basil if you're making a long-simmering sauce.

5. To convert measurements between fresh and dried basil: 1 tablespoon fresh basil = 1 teaspoon dried basil.

6. Should you tear or cut basil leaves? Some say tearing the basil releases more flavor, and others claim cutting the basil into find shreds releases more flavor. Either way, the leaves will oxidize and turn dark along the exposed edges.

10 Best Summer Recipes Made With Basil

1. Insalata Caprese II

Let's start this basil-fest with a classic summertime recipe that lets the unique flavor and bright color of fresh basil shine through. Whole basil leaves are layered between slices of summer-ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, with a drizzle of the best olive oil you can spring for. So simple, so incredibly delicious.

Insalata Caprese II

Photo by Spunky Buddy

Browse more recipes for caprese salad.
For an extra-indulgent spin on caprese, try this peach, basil, and burrata appetizer.

2. Tomato, Basil, and Feta Salad

If you're lucky enough to have homegrown or seasonal heirloom tomatoes, feel free to use them instead of the roma (plum) tomatoes called for in this recipe.

Tomato, Basil, and Feta Salad

Photo by CookinBug

3. Proper Pesto

Chef John swears that crushing the ingredients by hand releases flavors you just can't get by any other method. If you love pesto, take a look at this video and see what you think.

8 Quick And Easy Dinners Loaded With Pesto
11 Fresh Takes on Traditional Homemade Pesto

4. Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

Spicy Thai basil contributes to the refreshing flavor of these popular no-cook spring rolls. Watch the video to see how to roll them up.

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

5. Zippy Summer Shrimp

A handful of fresh basil elevates the flavor of this super-quick and easy shrimp dish.

Zippy Summer Shrimp

Photo by Dianne

6. Summer Corn Salad

Lisa Scott Provost says, "A very summery flavor! We use less onion, and use a sweet variety -- and the longer it refrigerates, the better it tastes."

Summer Corn Salad

Photo by Molly

7. Zavioli with Spinach and Ricotta

Thin strips of zucchini are stuffed with spinach, basil, and ricotta for a fresh and summery (and low-carb) take on traditional ravioli.

8. Pasta al Mediterraneo

Try this fresh spin on tuna pasta salad. Instead of the usual mayo holding everything together, you'll use olive oil and lemon juice drizzled over tuna, pasta, olives, pine nuts, basil, and feta cheese. Katiec17 says, "I don't often make the same recipe twice but I would definitely make this one again!"

Pasta al Mediterraneo

Photo by Dianne

9. Pasta Pomodoro

Another summer classic to make when your market is overflowing with vine-ripened tomatoes and bright green basil. Ready in only 30 minutes, this quick and satifying pasta dish is a perfect weeknight go-to.

Pasta Pomodoro

Photo by MidwestMom

10. Balsamic Bruschetta

First things first: It's pronounced brew-SKET-uh. Moving on, it's a favorite summertime appetizer that uses all the fresh tomatoes and basil you can spoon onto toasted bread. For a little extra zest, rub the toasted bread very lightly with the cut edge of a garlic clove. I said lightly.


Photo by Meredith

Did You Know?

Yes, basil really is known as the king of herbs. Its name comes from the Greek "basileus," which translates as "royal" or "king."

More to explore: Browse our entire collection of summer recipes.

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Find me as foodelicious on Allrecipes and vanny.gee on Instagram (but only if you don't mind cat pics and cocktails).