13 Creative Basil Recipes, Because You Can Do Better Than Pesto

Basil has big dreams. Sure, it’ll happily come home for a romantic pasta dinner, for tomato soup and pizza night. But it wants you to know it can be so much more. If you just set it free from your standard Italian fare, it’ll mingle with your cocktails and brighten your berries. It’ll be the garnish on your drinks, the herb to your peaches. And in summer, it will never guide you wrong.

So this season, we’re opening our hearts to basil’s sweeter side. You can have your chocolate cakes and your berry crisps, your warm-weather pies and ice creams — because whatever you’re craving, you can bet it’s better with basil.

Image: How Sweet It Is

Kombucha

Strawberries and basil are the golden couple of summer — so put both to good use in Roasted Root’s kombucha recipe.

Image: The Roasted Root

Smash Hit

Feeling lazy? Take your grilled cheese to the next level with blackberries and basil. It’s the ultimate sweet-meet-savory snack, and you don’t even have to put on pants. Thanks, How Sweet It Is!

Image: How Sweet It Is

Genuine Leather

Remember those fruit roll-ups you loved as a kid? These are better. Head over to Willow Bird Baking for the recipe — and then whip up a batch to last you all summer.

Image: Willow Bird Baking

Nesting

Meringue nests are elegant as hell but a snap to make. My Baking Addiction tops hers with a basil-scented strawberry compote.

Image: My Baking Addiction

Gallant Galette

Strawberries, we love you. But it’s time for rhubarb to take the lead. London Bakes infuses basil into her rhubarb galette to create a deep, herb-filled flavor.

Image: London Bakes

Life Gives You Lemons

Yes, you should be putting basil in your lemonade. A sprinkle of herbs will balance out that sugary sweetness. Thanks, Five and Spice!

Image: Five and Spice

Minty Fresh

No berries here — your herbs are the star of the show. This ice cream from Savory Simple is clean and refreshing, the perfect end to a hearty summer meal.

Image: Savory Simple

Cup of Cake

You already love blueberries. And cheesecake. Basil marries the two in one decadent cupcake. Thanks, Bakerella!

Image: Bakerella

Pie Day

You had your apple and pumpkin pies in the winter — but nothing says summer like berries and basil. Adventures in Cooking throws it all together under a flaky cinnamon crust.

Image: Adventures in Cooking

Gimlet

You’ve been so good this summer. You ate your berries. You had your herbs. And now, you’re celebrating with a drink. Our friends at Crepes of Wrath muddle basil leaves at the bottom of their shaker to give their gimlet some extra spunk.

Image: Crepes of Wrath

Chocolate Stash

Basil in a chocolate cake? Heck yes. Eat the Love gives the classic flourless cake a savory spin.

Image: Eat the Love

How the Berry Crumbles

You can’t do summer desserts without an oat-y crumble that’s equal parts gooey fruit and crisp topping. How Sweet It Is has the perfect recipe, topped off with a hint of basil.

Image: How Sweet It Is

We All Scream

It just wouldn’t be right to have a berry crumble without ice cream. So — purely out of moral obligation — we’re whipping up Domestic Fits’ apricot ice cream, with a hint of basil to tie it all together.

Image: Domestic Fits