What Can You Use As a Basil Substitute? Including Not Herb

what can you use as a basil substitute

Basil is a member of the mint family. It is one of the most widely recognized herbs all around the world. It is green in color, and the dried version is olive green. It is aromatic and flavorful, sweet and peppery in taste. Basil has many kinds, but the most popular varieties are Sweet Basil, Thai basil, Genovese Basil, Lemon Basil, and Lime Basil.

Substitutes For Basil (Fresh and Dried)

Basil is a unique herb. The best substitute for basil would be other forms of it. But chances are most people don’t have multiple varieties of basil in their pantries at all times. Today, I shall inform you of available substitutes of basil that are fresh and dried in your kitchen pantry.

Basil Substitutes at a glance:

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Marjoram
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Celery leaves or ground celery
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary

1. Mint

Mint is an obvious choice as a substitute because basil belongs to the Mint family. Its cool minty flavor matches that of basil in recipes very well. However, Mint cannot replace fresh basil that well because Mint is way more intense. It often contrasts and opposes other flavors in cooked dishes.

2. Thyme

Thyme is a cousin of basil, so it’s not a surprise that it is on this list. Thyme is sharper than basil, so you need to use it in moderation. Both fresh and dried thyme are good alternatives. However, dried thyme is more intense than fresh thyme. 

3. Oregano

Oregano is yet another obvious choice for an alternative. Even though it won’t taste the same as basil, it will provide complimentary flavors to any dish that requires basil. There’s a good reason for that. Oregano and basil are herbs that are prominent in Italian cuisine. Not only Italian but also cuisines throughout the entire world.

fresh oregano on a wooden table
Image credit: Dionisvera, Shutterstock

4. Parsley

Parsley is one of those herbs that can be added to any dish with herbs. It can boost and enhance the flavor of any recipe it is added to for the better. Both fresh and dried parsley are good options, but fresh parsley is the best in terms of flavor.

5. Marjoram

Marjoram can easily replace basil, and both of them are quite interchangeable. You can easily replace it with basil at a 1:1 ratio because of its strong and sweet flavor, especially in meat-based dishes.

6. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning is a quick fix for recipes requiring Basil because Basil is one of those Italian herbs and a major component of Italian seasoning. You should keep in mind that Italian seasoning is a combination of various herbs, so you should use less amount of other herbs in your recipe that are already in Italian seasoning.

Related Article: How To Dry Basil Leaves

7. Sage

Although Sage may not be the best alternative for basil, it can still be used. It has a strong flavor and a different texture from that of basil. Use sage to replace basil in dishes that are meat-based or saucy.

8. Dill

Dill is on this list because of its earthy-sweet flavor that resembles basil. You can use it in its fresh and dried forms; fresh dill is stronger than dried dill. Use dill in recipes containing meat and liquid-like soups, stews, curries, etc.

9. Celery Leaves or Ground Celery

Celery may be different from basil. But it can still replace basil because of its sweet and delicate aroma. Any dish that requires long cooking times and sauces can use celery. While it may not replace basil completely, it will make basil’s absence less noticeable.

10. Tarragon

Terragon is a herb that has fantastic anise and licorice flavor. It can be used at a 1:1 ratio to replace both fresh and dried basil. You will either love or hate it, so before using this as an alternative, try it out if you haven’t yet, since it is not that popular.

11. Rosemary

Okay, rosemary has nothing in common with basil. But that being said, it can replace basil in meat-based dishes and sauces and stews. It has a wonderful peppery and earthy aroma with notes of citrus. We all know rosemary and meat are best friends, but they can complement fish and vegetables! You can use both fresh and dried rosemary.

top view of a fresh green rosemary kept indoor
Image credit: Topotishka, Shutterstock

Using Basil in Cooking

Basil is a delicate herb. While dried basil can be directly used, fresh basil needs to be washed, rinsed, and dried before usage. You can use almost all parts of the basil plant in your cooking. The leaves can be used whole or chopped. The stems can also be used, but only the thin and soft ones, as the larger and harder ones tend to be bitter. Dried basil should ideally be used at the start of cooking so that it gets a chance to hydrate itself and infuse its flavors.

On the other hand, fresh basil should be used at the very end of cooking because the essential oils of basil are very volatile. Cooking them too much may cause them to wash away and dissipate slowly. So it’s always best to add it at the end of the cooking process to stay fresh and vibrant.

Substitutes For Basil That Are Not Herbs

1. Spinach

Spinach can replace basil in pizzas, pasta, etc. Even though spinach isn’t a herb, it still has a wonderful herb-like taste and is widely used in dishes that also use basil. You can use spinach to fulfill that role for anything that requires you to add basil at the end for a fresh twist.

2. Arugula

This is probably a very niche case, but if any dish needs fresh basil in its raw form, you can use arugula. It has a spicy, peppery, and sharp taste like basil, and it can be used in combination with spinach.

3. Basil-flavored Oils

Any basil-flavored oil can be added at the end of a dish or drizzled over a dish that requires basil to add its flavor to the dish.

basil oil with basil kept side by side
Image credit: SiNeeKan, Shutterstock

Ending Words

Basil is one of those quintessential herbs that can make or break or dish. So if by any chance you ever find yourself in a situation where you would need to replace it, I hope the information I provided here will prove itself to be helpful. If you have some tasty recipes up your sleeves, don’t hesitate to share them with me!

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