July 25, 2012

Basil Infused Oil

I don’t always time things right when it comes to grocery shopping. I’ll plan on making a simple Caprese salad but I might only pick up tomatoes & mozzarella and totally space on the basil. Other times I might have remembered the basil but totally forgot the mozzarella & tomato situation.  When that’s the case, I take the basil that might soon spoil and turn it into something else like pesto or better yet- BASIL INFUSED OIL.

So when I have a surplus of tomatoes & mozzarella and no basil….I’m all set.

Sometimes I have all three and the addition of basil infused olive oil elevates a simple Caprese into something…STELLAR.

And we’re off!

It all starts with really good Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Fresh Basil. I used to grow basil at our old house and hope that by next summer we’ll have our gardening situation figured out.

Most recipes call for whirring olive oil & basil in the food processor. This technique will produce a much greener looking oil.  I felt like using my mezzaluna this day. I wanted to feel like I did some work. I wanted to actually smell the basil and get my hands dirty.  Like I always say…chopping is therapy.

Chop the basil and mix it with the oil. Put it in a saucepan and put it over medium high heat.

Take it off the heat after it simmers ever so slightly,  let the basil steep.

And then strain it right into a jar.

And what we have is  basil infused olive oil.

It’s perfect on a Caprese salad and exceptional on an arugula & avocado salad.

It tastes green and super summery.

I imagine that it’s fantastic if you add it to a grilled sandwich, drizzle it on popcorn, eggs and pasta or maybe we should dunk a baguette in some?

WAIT! Imagine it on this already herby ricotta bruschetta. Oh lordy.

Basil Infused Oil

yields 2 cups

  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Chop basil finely. Place basil & oil into a small sauce pan and heat over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let basil & oil steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain mixture into a jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

  • Blog is the New Black

    Love love love! So simple… can’t wait to make this!

  • Saar Dockx

    Oh god! This looks delicious. I’m a huuge fan of basil. We always have some in our garden or even in a little pot on our kitchen counter. It smells so nice! I’m definitely trying this oil! My boyfriend would really like it too I think! 😀 also I wanted to say, I’m always amazed by your photography; The photos on this blog are beautiful.

  • IdaBaker

    I’m just in the process of getting into homemade flavored oils, vinegars, and extracts. Your recipe adds a new idea in my ever growing list.


    • Tracy

      I’m all about homemade! What vinegar flavors did you make? This excites me.

  • Katie

    Yum! I can also recommend basil oil on toast, served as soldiers with a boiled egg. It’s become my favourite breakfast!

  • Paula

    you know what? I think that when I`ll make this basil infised oil I`ll have huuuge desire to drink it because of its awesome flavour 😀
    crazy but so true 🙂

  • Nicole @ The Dirty Oven

    YES!! This looks so good and I love the font!

  • Maci

    I’ve always wanted to make infused oil… I am so making this with basil from the garden!! Thanks!! 🙂

  • ileana

    I’m on my third basil plant and hoping this one will make it. I’m not done with Caprese salads this summer! One question – do you pack down the basil leaves when measuring the 1 1/2 cups or is it looser than that?

  • Ashley

    Infused oils are amazing. Those are such pretty basil leaves. My basil plant looks pathetic right now!

  • Megan

    Hell to the yeah! And now I just want avocados for lunch.

  • Diane

    I am all about the infusing lately (I have a jar of limoncello happening in the pantry right now)! This sounds amazeballs. Maybe drizzled over the tomato cobbler on Joy’s blog today? Yes please.


    anything that can be done with the basil after?
    can you still use it in some salad?
    Or can you leave it in the oil? or is going to spoil?

    • Tracy

      The basil gets pretty bitter after being stewed in the oil. Try it to see if you like it. Maybe it would be good mixed into a pesto or added to a soup. If you leave it in the oil, it will discolor.

  • Jane M

    You had me at FRESH BASIL. **sigh**

  • Kayla

    I love infused oils… so much flavor going on in there!

  • Kelly Runs on Cake

    I was JUST thinking about this the other day! I bought basil olive oil a few weeks ago, and a few days after that I made blueberry vodka. I started thinking….could I make basil olive oil in a similar way? My basil plant is enormous and I can’t use it fast enough.

    I did some googling and the consensus seemed that a) you could do it, in a similar way to infusing vodka, but b) it’s likely to get germy/moldy/gross so just don’t do it unless you’a a professional. Nowhere I found even mentioned this method! I’m pumped!

    • Tracy

      And this method doesn’t take a long time! You basically have basil infused oil within an hour.

  • Lisa-Marie

    Yum. I have leftover basil. And some decent olive oil. Oh, I am going to make this and use it for dipping foccacia.

    Thank you!

  • Ali

    Done! Well, it’s steeping right now but it’s almost done. I’ve been looking for the perfect hostess gift and this is it! Thanks Tracy Shutterbean.

  • Eileen

    Sounds like a simple & perfect idea! I think I may try this with other tender herbs too–tarragon anyone?

  • Lori

    This looks so good and best of all–easy! It’s making me wondering if dill infused oil would work the same way.

  • Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi)

    This is awesome. I love infusing oils with all types of herbs. Have you ever done this with vinegar? NOM.

  • Kasey

    I’m just like you – terrible at getting everything I need in one place, at one time. This basil oil sounds awesome…Perfect salad addition!

  • heather @ chiknpastry

    great idea! I had some leftover basil the other day, and i made a basil simple syrup for cocktails. it was really gross :(. i think steeped the basil for waaaaaay tooooo looooong.

  • Michelle

    LOVE. Making this today with the surplus of basil I have from my garden. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Ashley

    Making this!! Thank you for being so brilliant!

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  • Leah

    Brilliant! My basil plant is out of control lately and everytime I pick a ton, two days later it’s full again! I can’t eat it fast enough.
    Can’t wait to try this!!

  • Ash

    Its funny how much I forget about infusing oils! making very very soon!

  • Jenny

    Just made it Tracy! This should be called “Awesome Sauce”.. Gonna slather it on some olive bread and make capresse sammies for a bbq tonight. You and your recipes ROCK!

  • Ine

    Whoa! Tracy, this is great! I just made some Mint, Lavendar and Lemon Infused Water and I’m itching to try something similar with oil!! Definitely going to try this recipe out!

  • Dixie

    This is awesome and so easy! I love making herb infused oils!

  • Julie @SavvyEats

    Ohhhhh my goodness. I’ve had herb-infused oils and vinegars on my “to make” list for summer, but didn’t think about putting it on popcorn. I MUST do this ASAP!

    Is there any concern about creating off-flavors from heating the olive oil, or does it heat gently enough that it isn’t an issue?

  • Sean

    So you’ll post to Punk Domestics, yes?

  • Kate

    My friend just dropped off a HUGE bag of basil from his garden. I’m so going to make this!

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  • Nicole

    Thanks very much for the fabulous suggestion. This is delicious. So good with so many uses, but my fave is dipping chunks of bread into the basil goodness!

  • Pamela

    Sounds yummy! I love basil. I think I’ll make it this weekend. What about adding some fresh basil leaves to the oil once it’s done? I think it might look pretty and would remind me (or a recipient) that it’s basil oil. Would there be any problems storing the oil with the leaves? Also, how long do you think it can be stored/used?

  • Ariel

    Does this need to be refrigerated, or can it sit on the counter?

    • ANDY

      Why would you recommend this? Don’t you know that storing fresh herbs in oil for long periods of time unrefrigerated can lead to botulism? You should do your research before answering.

      FLAVORED OILS – UC Davis
      “Infused oils and oil-based mixtures of garlic, herbs or dried tomatoes can pose a health hazard if not kept refrigerated. There have been a number of cases of botulism poisoning traced to commercially and home prepared mixtures of garlic-in-oil that were not refrigerated. Refrigeration is necessary because all other conditions that favor the growth of C. botulinum are met: low acid environment with pH higher that 4.6, anaerobic conditions (oil), food and moisture source (garlic), not boiled before eating. Vegetables and herbs in oil. Less has been documented on the dangers of storing whole chilies, fleshy vegetables or herbs in oil, but they, too, are best made fresh with leftovers stored in the refrigerator for use within three weeks. Vegetables have a high water activity level which further encourages the growth of C. botulinum bacteria in an anaerobic environment. Even when dried, there is still the potential for risk, unless the vegetable has been acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower. Dried tomatoes in oil are less of a safety concern than other mixtures in oil because the pH of tomatoes is generally 4.6 or lower. In addition, by drying the tomatoes, conditions become even less favorable to growth of C. botulinum due to a decrease in water activity. Dried herbs in oil also are less of a safety concern because of their low water activity. However, to insure safety it is recommended that all tomato in oil and herb in oil products be stored at refrigerator temperatures.”

      • Tracy

        Thanks for the information. My intention was never to poison people. It’s a good way of using basil. I changed the recipe instructions accordingly.

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  • Jilly

    I grow basil out on the patio every summer. It just needs lot of sun and frequent watering – think of Italy. Now a new great idea for using up the last of it. Thanks for the inspiration – will try this on the weekend. What would happen if you threw a little minced garlic into the infusion? Would that work?

  • Jess

    This is great I made it today and added to the basil 3 garlic gloves chopped in big chunks, as I love my basil with some garlic and it turned out very yummy and super tasty. The garlic doesn’t over power the flavour either 🙂

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  • Anna

    This looks lovely! And what a gorgeous gift for friends! How long will it keep for roughly?

  • Mike

    We all love herbs infused oils. While it is totally save to do this “a la minute”, I strongly advise against storing this oil. Botulism is a real danger when making infused oils with fresh herbs. Heating the oil will not (I repeat: it will NOT) kill the spores. You can’t smell or taste the bacteria. This is by no means save. Please, don’t do it! At the very least, don’t invite any guests. In addition to that, heating is not what you want to do with extra virgnine olive oil.

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