Finding A Basil Substitute? Top 8 Options You Must Know

Basil is a commonly used herb in cooking since it provides a light but unique aroma, making the overall impression of the dish tastier. Besides, basil does not cause allergies to lots of people.

That being said, this food is such a great herb for cooking. However, what if you plan to use basil in the next meal, but there is no basil left in the kitchen or the nearby market? Is there any other compatible basil substitute then?

Based on our experience, there are eight herbs that we find replaceable to basil. Keep reading to find out more information about them.

What Is Basil?

What Is Basil

First and foremost, we need to have more insights into basil. It is a culinary herb coming from the mint family, with a scientific name called Ocimum basilicum. The plant grows in the tropical climate of Africa and Southeast Asia.

There are many types of basil: Thai basil, Italian basil, holy basil, lemon basil, etc. Each type has its unique flavor and fragrance. In general, basil provides a light and comfortable scent of the herb. In terms of taste, the basil is sweet, peppery, and slightly bitter as well.

When touching the basil leaf, you will find it soft, rubbery, and fragile. It can be torn apart if you scrub it aggressively.

What about basil’s nutrition elements? Well, basil is the top choice of mommies since it contains many healthful nutrients such as Calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K.

Basil Substitutes – Top 8 Breakdown

Read on for an overview of the top best Basil alternatives and find out the best basil replacement!

1. Oregano

Let’s discover the first substitution for basil on the list – oregano. If you surf along with cooking forums, you may find out that oregano is the top-recommended herb.

Why is it the best compatible herb, then?

The oregano and basil are not much similar in comparison. In particular, oregano is much spicier than basil. In the Mediterranean countries of Italy, if a chef needs to add spiciness to the dish, they will choose oregano immediately – that’s a brief example for you to understand.

Besides, oregano is bitter and pungent. The herb, when being fresh, is earthy and minty, which is so great! Peppery, minty, herb aroma – it is a great seasoning in literally any dish if you follow the Italian flavor.

The good ratio to start is 1:1. You can use oregano with the same amount of basil.

2. Spinach Leaves

You are probably surprised when seeing this choice. Well, spinach and basil seem to have nothing in common, but in fact, they can replace each other in cooking!

Spinach is watery and healthful. Fresh spinach is edible and tastes quite bland. You can recognize that there is not much significant flavor from the food, except the juiciness. That being said, you can substitute basil with spinach leaves in pesto or stir-fries.

It is also an easy substitute for texture and color but has much milder flavors than fresh basil. It’s great to use for pesto recipes (when combined with garlic) or in stir-fries.

Your kids will surely love spinach more than basil if you use it in cooking. However, do you know how to measure spinach correctly? If not, add the small amount once by once first.

3. Thyme

Thyme is a versatile seasoning because you can use it as a substitute for many herbs; basil is no exception!

Putting thyme and basil on the scale, we find that they are quite similar. Both are peppery, sweet, and juicy, but the thyme is a bit sharper and more citrusy. Thyme also has a minty aroma, which basil lacks.

As mentioned above, thyme can work well with most herbs to use in any recipe or method of cooking. Yet, we think that casseroles, cheese, and spaghetti are the best combo with thyme.

With thyme, you may want to use a smaller amount than what you did with basil since the thyme’s taste is stronger.

4. Tarragon

Tarragon is a good alternative to basil. Why did we say so? Well, the tarragon’s special taste is its licorice flavor, which is also what you need from basil as well. So, why don’t you give tarragon a try.

From the first chew, tarragon provides a similar profile to basil: slightly sweet, slightly peppery with minty fragrance. Thus, you can use tarragon with the same amount as when you use basil.

Compared to basil, tarragon has a stronger minty smell and a licorice scent which basil cannot provide.

5. Mint

We believe that no one can neglect this option since the minty profile is the distinctive point of basil – and mint will, of course, have it. So, basil and mint are quite compatible to use interchangeably.

In particular, mint and basil are “brothers” from the same plant family. They share lots of similarities in taste and smell. Both herbs are peppery, juicy, and sweet with a mild minty fragrance that everyone loves. Mint is also a popular herb as well.

Nevertheless, please remember that you should only use mint for dressings, sauces, or cool recipes, like basil ice cream or cheesecake. The cold tone of mint may affect other raw ingredients like pork, chicken, or beef.

6. Cilantro

It is such a big mistake to mention basil leaf substitute without cilantro, as cilantro is famous for its citrusy and minty flavor.

Cilantro, or coriander, is a perfect substitute for basil seasoning. In short, it is a combo of minty aroma, peppery, sweet, citrusy flavor. The texture of cilantro and basil are similar – fragile and rubbery leaves – so you can definitely use it in basil recipes.

Based on our experience, cilantro works best when used in sauces and dressings.

7. Celery Leaf

If other options still do not satisfy your demand, then maybe consider celery leaf instead.

For those who do not know, “What does celery taste like?” – Here is a short description: At the first chew, you will feel the spiciness slowly spreading in the mouth. The heat will rise, and you will find the stingy feeling at the tip of your tongue. The more you chew, the more bitter it becomes.

So, in our opinion, you can use celery leaves with the same amount as basil.

8. Italian Seasoning Blend

As we mentioned above, basil is super preferred in Italian cuisine. Thus, Italians came up with many ideas of combining the basil with herbs like mint, coriander, celery, etc., to enhance the aroma and the spicy level.

In case you don’t have any basil left and none of the above choices fulfill your demand, consider buying a package of Italian seasoning blends!

How To Choose A Substitute For Basil Leaves?

Oregano and spinach are the top 2 choices because they are affordable and easy to mix and match in various recipes. For example, cauliflower pizza with oregano (instead of basil) still tastes adorable.

Spinach leaf is compatible with fresh basil replacement. The spinach tastes juicier, milder, and fresher than basil.

Honestly, we can not choose the best replacement for basil since this herb is peppery, minty, sweet with a comforting, attractive smell, which you need to choose the replacement based on which elements from that list you want to have in your dish.

Fresh Basil Substitute

There are two types of basil used widely in culinary: fresh and dried basil.

After being dried, the herb will lose some of its taste, like the juiciness and the pepperiness – and it is the same case for basil. Based on our experience, the fresh basil provides the juiciness and freshness of herbs with a strong, comforting smell. However, the spicy taste is not so intense.

The dried basil, on the other hand, provides a more concentrated flavor than the fresh type. It is easily recognized that the dried basil is sharper, spicier, deeper, and more intense. Yet, the minty fragrance and juicy texture are reduced.

Here are some best fresh Thai basil alternatives to start with: oregano, thyme, and cilantro. Please add a pinch at a time to avoid overusing and destroy the overall taste.

Dried Basil Substitute

Dried basil is sharper and deeper than fresh basil, so if you find a dry basil substitute in cooking, you must choose the herbs with a stronger profile than fresh basil.

Mint and tarragon are two great choices to think about. They share a similar flavor to basil, but they have their unique “color,” adding a new and amazing flavor to the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Use Instead Of Basil In Pesto?

If there is no basil left in the kitchen, you can consider using parsley, cilantro (coriander), broccoli, mint, spinach leaves, or arugula instead. Even though they cannot replace the authentic taste of basil, they can still provide a similar tone.

What Is The Equivalent Of Dried Basil To Fresh Basil?

As mentioned above, dried basil is more minty and peppery than the fresh one. Suppose you prioritize the spicy and pungent flavor in the dish; it’s better to use the dried type.

In fact, the gap between these two forms is not very significant. You can use it interchangeably in most cases, with 1 tsp dried basil to fresh basil.

What Can I Use Instead Of Basil In Bruschetta?

The best combo has always been basil with tomatoes. In case there is no basil available, oregano or mint is acceptable as well!

Can I Use Regular Basil Instead Of Thai Basil?

Yes, you can! There are varieties of basil, and Thai basil is just one branch in the basil family. Most basil shares a similar taste so that you can use regular basil instead of Thai basil.


Spinach Leaves

We have dived deep into eight basil substitutes, then distinguished two types of basil in cooking. Each form has its unique taste, which you can consider before preparing to cook.

In our opinion, oregano is the best choice overall, as it complements the taste of other food and provides a good aroma as well! Still, the choice is up to your demands and recipe! In this list of substitutes for basil, which one will you opt for, then?

If you have read through this section, thank you so much! Wish you have the best choice for the next meal!

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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