When I add basil to a dish should I tear or cut basil leaves? Does it matter?

2 Answers 2


Tearing is for artistic effect

Some people will claim tearing does not damage the cell of the plant as much as cutting, a simple look under a basic microscope will show you otherwise. Not sure how this would affect basil in particular. What dish are you preparing?

If you want more basil flavour and smell, cut it more finely, or bruise it (back of knife or rolling pin) to release more oils just before serving

  • If you want a case study of tearing, this question may be of interest.
    – user10565
    Jun 12, 2012 at 13:50

If you choose to cut basil with a knife, gently rub olive oil all over it before you cut it, this will prevent the leaves from darkening , particularly if you are using it in a salad.

  • 1
    Great tip, you must really know your basil
    – dibs
    Jun 13, 2012 at 0:20

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