Basil Oil

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This recipe gives the basic method for making a flavored oil from any herb. Because herbs vary in intensity from season to season (they tend to be mild in the spring and stronger in the fall), it’s not possible to give you a recipe that will always have the perfect level of flavor. My solution is to make a concentrated essence, and then dilute it with olive oil until I get the strength I like. I don’t use extra-virgin olive oil for these infusions because I want the herb taste to be more pronounced than the olive taste. You’ll need a blender; a food processor does not grind the herbs fine enough. Herb oils are superb for drizzling on soups, sliced tomatoes, grilled meats and fish, or steamed vegetables. Don’t try to cook with them, as heat kills their aroma. They are a condiment to add to a dish at the last minute.

NotesThe oil passes through the filter faster if it’s filtered while still hot, so set up your filter before you start the recipe. You’ll need a flat-bottomed paper filter, like those used for some drip coffee machines. Cone-shaped filters tend to get clogged.



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian


Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Textureherby

Type of DishCondiments


  • 4 cups firmly packed basil, parsley, cilantro or tarragon leaves to
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup firmly packed rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, or lemon verbena leaves
  • 2 cups olive oil


  1. Puree the herbs and oil in a blender until completely smooth. Put the mixture in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over moderate heat. Simmer for 45 seconds, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Don’t press on the mixture, but you can tap the sieve against your hand to get the oil to drip through faster.

  2. Immediately strain the oil again through a flat-bottomed paper filter. If the filter clogs, you may need to change the filter partway through. It’s okay to pick the filter up and squeeze it gently to force the oil out faster, but be careful not to break the filter.

  3. Sometimes a little dark liquid comes through the filter first. Don’t worry; it’s only water. It will settle to the bottom because it is heavier than the oil. Let the filtered oil settle for a few hours, then pour off the clear oil, leaving the dark liquid behind. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place. It will stay lively for at least 1 month.


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