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How To Not Burn Basil on Pizza?

How To Not Burn Basil on Pizza?

“They should be placed on the pizza in the last minutes of baking or just before serving,” answers Thrive Cuisine concerning Basil. I agree with this.

What Happens if You Put Fresh Basil on Uncooked Pizza?

Several sources indicate that basil loses its flavor if you put it in your food too soon. If you want to put fresh basil on pizza, you’re going to have to wait until the pizza is almost done.

Some chefs even say that you should wait until after you’ve cooked your pizza. However, most say to wait until the last moment, kind of like when you add barbeque sauce to chicken legs right when you’re done boiling them.

When Should You Put Your Basil Topping on a Pizza?

Pizza with basil and tomato.

I decided when it comes to basil I need to do one of two things. I either need to wait until about a minute or two before the pizza is done and then put the basil on. After that, I’d shut off the oven and let the cheese melt with the basil until the oven cools.

One Problem With This Method

If you put fresh herbs on a pizza without allowing them to marinate, that flavor won’t distribute as well as you hoped. Therefore, I came up with my own hybrid method based on other pizza topping experiences. I have to give you some background first, or this might not make sense. 

The Importance of Precise Timing

When it comes to adding fresh vegetables or herbs to a pizza, I must use my best judgment. I especially need to make wise decisions when putting any fresh plant topping on frozen pizza, which takes a few minutes to thaw before it begins to cook.

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Concerning the timing of adding fresh, plant-based toppings, I learned my lesson with tomatoes and spinach, not basil. In the case of tomatoes and spinach, I learned I had to drain the juice out of the tomato and cook the spinach to extract the water from it. Otherwise, my crust would feel drenched by the time my pizza is done.

Basil doesn’t have that problem, per se. However, you could end up overcooking it. If this happens, it could end up either tasting like nothing or like the last stages of fruit before it begins to rot. Otherwise, it might have a bitter taste, like when you cook tea leaves for too long.

My Alternative (Hybrid) Method

vegetable pizza in parchment paper.

I’ve studied a few different theories about when to put basil on pizza to prevent it from undercooking or overcooking. I decided to do what I normally would do with spinach. I would cook the fresh basil leaves about halfway. Then, I might consider adding some of the juices that may have been extracted during the cooking process onto the pizza.

Another method, which isn’t mine, might work too. I saw a discussion on a community user cooking forum. One member responded, saying to soak the basil before adding it to the pizza. This lines up with what I say about finding a way to get the basil to infuse with the rest of the pizza.

However, I think it depends on if you’re cooking the entire pie from scratch or if you’re trying to improve the quality of a frozen one.  

Cooked Frozen vs. Uncooked Fresh Pizza

I’ve at times let frozen pizzas thaw. In this case, I would go ahead and put the basil on maybe after a few minutes. After all, the ingredients in that convenience pie are already cooked. On the other hand, I would probably wait quite a bit longer to add the basil or partially cook it if the pizza is made from scratch.

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If making the crust from scratch or using ready-made uncooked dough, by the way, I would let that crust cook first and then start adding the fresh toppings to it that would take the longest. In this case, I would indeed save the basil for last.

When Putting Fresh Basil In Sauce

Pizza sauce with basil.

Many factors affect when you would add the basil to the sauce. One recipe suggests sautéing the basil with the onion and garlic before adding the canned tomato-based products.

If you decide to use fresh tomatoes, you will need to cook them until they become a mushy consistency but not overdone before simmering the sauce with the basil for another hour or two.

When Putting Fresh Basil Under The Cheese

Cheesy pizza with dried basil.

Rebecca of Practical Kitchen says, “One tip I’ve heard, though it’s not my preference, is to put the fresh basil down under the cheese and other toppings if you want to put it down before baking.”

I don’t think that I would want to put my basil under the cheese. It doesn’t solve much other than not drying it out. Either way, it might not have that full flavor and instead might resemble overcooked broccoli, green beans or pot roast vegetables. The basil just won’t cook right or taste right if not added at the precise time. Different rules apply to dried basil, however.

When Adding Dried Basil

When adding dried basil, you will usually need to add more than you would the fresh basil leaves to make up for the loss of flavor in the dehydrated spice. However, you would have a harder time ruining the dried herb than the fresh variant. You usually can add it in at any time throughout the cooking process.

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What Kind of Basil Is Better on Pizza?

Fresh and dried basil on table.

Fresh basil is the way to go if you have patience to deal with the delicacy of it. If not, just use extra dried basil. Incidentally, there’s about 30 varieties of this herb, and I can’t imagine every one of them tasting good on pizza. 

What Types of Basil Go on Pizza?

Sweet,Napoletano, Genovese and Italian Large Leaf seem to be used most often. However, there’s nothing wrong with experiencing a little to create your signature sauce.