Fresh minty-herbal basil hits its stride come late spring and keeps growing strong all summer long. While we can't get enough of classic preparations like pesto, there are so many more ways to make the most of it. From light salads to crisp fritters, refreshing juleps, and beyond, we've got 22 ways to transform your bunch of basil into something unforgettable.
Ragù Napoletano (Neapolitan-Style Italian Meat Sauce With Pork, Beef, and Sausage)
Ragù Napoletano is a meaty stew with big chunks of beef, pork, and sausages simmered until fall-apart tender in a rich tomato sauce flavored with wine, onions, garlic, basil, and plenty of good Southern Italian olive oil. It's the perfect dish for a lazy Sunday with family or friends at home.
Zucchini Latkes With Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Basil
Zucchini makes a great latke base, and shredding it in a food processor ensures a hearty, consistent size and shape. Chopped basil and lemon zest help that light, grassy quality shine, while pine nuts and Parmesan cheese give it a pesto-inspired twist.
Fingerling Potato Salad With Aioli, Pesto, Fried Shallots, and Pecorino
This fingerling potato salad with aioli, basil pesto, fried shallots, and Pecorino-Romano is full of contrasts that come together into one amazing side dish. Adding extra oil to the pesto results in a saucier texture, great for coating the potatoes.
Watermelon, Lychee, Feta, and Basil Salad With Spicy Lemongrass Vinaigrette
Sweet, juicy watermelon, tangy feta, and just a hint of herbs in a light vinaigrette is a can't-miss summertime salad. For a slightly more demure-yet-exotic take on this quick salad, combine the watermelon with intensely sweet and syrupy lychees. Add a nice savory vinaigrette with a hint of heat, a touch of lemongrass, and a drop or two of soy sauce for a perfectly balanced ode to summertime.
Juicy Turkey Burgers With Sautéed Tomatoes, Basil, and Ricotta
These quick and tender turkey burgers are packed with flavor, including a topping of pan-sautéed tomatoes, melted shallots, ricotta cheese, and fresh basil. They're a delicious 30-minute meal inspired by the flavors of Italian meatballs.
Pizza With Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, and Mozzarella
Fresh basil is a staple of Italian cooking, and what better way to eat it than on top of a homemade pizza? The cherry tomatoes intensify in flavor and sweetness during their brief stay in a hot oven, while the basil singes from the high heat, its aroma filling the air as you eat.
Pork Chops With Fresh Peaches and Basil
Pork and peaches are a classic summer combination, and fresh basil takes it to new level. The whole thing's finished off with the hot, thick pan drippings—perfect for pouring over the peaches and chops as a finishing touch, infusing them with flavor and lightly wilting the raw spinach served beneath.
Braised Eggplant With Garlic and Basil
Like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Taiwan shares a penchant for basil. Savory, spicy, slightly sweet, and profoundly refreshing, this eggplant combination is satisfying enough to elevate it from a mere side dish to an easy vegetarian main course.
Grilled Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed With Basil- and Parmesan-Mayo
For a simple appetizer or side, just grill cremini mushroom caps until tender and stuff them with a flavored mayo. The mayo adds a creamy texture, and this version—seasoned with basil, Parmesan, and garlic—is herbal, with a pleasant salty bite.
Mediterranean Chopped Salad With Tomatoes, Peppers, Feta, and Basil
Fresh basil and ripe cherry tomatoes are half of a delicious, 30-minute seasonal Mediterranean salad. Salt your vegetables in advance to draw out the liquid and prevent your salad from getting watery.
Skillet Pesto Pasta With Shrimp and Pine Nuts
Pesto is one of those bold, flavor-packed additions that tastes like summer. Making your own is easy and far superior than the store-bought varieties. The bright, summery sauce is great for swirling into steamy noodles with tomatoes and shrimp and topping with toasted pine nuts for crunch.
Stir-Fried Snap Peas and Mushrooms With Fish Sauce and Basil
This stir-fry is quick, delicious, nutritious, and has only nine ingredients! Snap peas are sweet, crunchy, and get a hint of smoky char from the wok, and mushrooms add savory flavor and tender texture. Finish with a simple sauce of fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice, add a handful of chopped basil, and you're good to go.
Marinated Mozzarella, Cherry Tomato, and Basil Salad
Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil are a classic combination, but sometimes the dish can fall on the bland side. Here, cherry-sized mozzarella balls are marinated in extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil, salt and pepper, and then tossed with sweet cherry tomatoes and golden balsamic vinegar. Nothing bland about that.
Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad With Cucumbers, Red Peppers, and Basil (Vegan)
A little spicy, a little sweet, and a little salty, these chewy Chinese noodles with cucumbers, peppers, and scallions are coated in a chunky peanut sauce. The result is a tasty, filling meal that's tailor-made for summer. Consider it more a vegetable salad with a few noodles added in for textural contrast, with a handful of fresh basil to round out the flavors.
Basil Cornmeal Sandwich Cookies With Apricot Filling
Basil is wonderfully diverse, and tastes just as good in sweet applications as savory. These cornmeal cookies incorporate fresh basil for a bright, faintly anisey flavor. Sandwiching the cookies over apricot jam is a natural way to highlight the basil's sweetness.
Basil Cranberry Julep
This variation on the Derby-day classic incorporates cranberry and basil for a refreshing, slightly savory combination. The traditional sugar is swapped out for agave nectar while smoky mezcal serves as the base. Bring this one to your nose and the scent is all fresh basil, a nice introduction to the flavor combination of tart, fruity cranberry and subtle smoke.
Asian Pear, Basil, and Lemon Juice
Asian pear lends a delicate floral sweetness to this light and refreshing juice, while the lemon and basil add a pop of brightness. Juice the ingredients in the order listed to maximize yield, since finishing with a very juicy ingredient like celery helps to flush more stubborn ingredients like basil through the juicer.
Kale Pineapple Basil Smash
Muddled fresh basil, fresh pineapple juice, kale juice, and rye whiskey come together in this delicious sweet-tart, herbaceous green smash. If you've got a juicer, some fresh summer produce, and whiskey, then this is the drink to make.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Bellini With Basil
Tart rhubarb and sweet, red strawberries get a boost from fresh basil. This pale pink brunch cocktail is sweet and a little tart: a cooling summer porch sipper.
Basil Lime Cooler
Basil and lime have strong, clean flavors, and make a delicious pair in this simple cocktail. After infusing a simple syrup with basil, the syrup is paired with lime juice, vodka, and a splash of seltzer water. It's a light and easy cocktail for an afternoon in the sun.
Don't go for the store-bought stuff—homemade lemonade is so much better. Basil adds a fresh herbal quality and honey adds warmth to this sweet and tart classic summer drink.
Cucumber and Basil Slush
The light flavor of cucumber feels instantly refreshing, while the basil and lime bring a little energy to the drink. The addition of vodka gives this icy cocktail just enough kick to keep you on your toes without knocking you out. The result is a cool—both in temperature and flavor—cocktail that will make even the hottest days bearable.