In this study the effect of sterilisation by high pressure (HP) on the quality of basil was compared to conventional processing techniques. By means of freezing, or blanching followed by drying, microbial reduction of spores was maximal one-log. Pulsed HP-temperature treatment yielded a reduction of the natural occurring flora of more than 3 log CFU/g product. The essential oil content in basil consisted mainly of methylchavicol and linalool. HP sterilisation preserved these compounds in contrast to the equivalent conventional heat sterilisation process, which reduced the linalool and methylchavicol content to respectively 21 and 3% of the original amount. Drying and freezing also resulted in a significant reduction of the essential oil content.