Basil Substitutes: A Handy Guide

  • By: Ann Williams
  • Time to read: 9 min.

basil substitute

There are times when you might find yourself out of basil while preparing a recipe. Don’t worry! There are several excellent basil substitutes that can help you achieve a similar taste and aroma in your dishes.

When it comes to cooking, basil is a popular herb known for its distinct aroma and flavor.


What Is A Substitute For Basil?

If you need a basil substitute, consider these alternatives:

  1. Oregano: With its robust and slightly peppery flavor, oregano can be a great substitute for basil. It pairs well with tomato-based dishes and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.
  2. Thyme: Thyme offers a slightly earthy and lemony flavor, making it a versatile replacement for basil. It complements a variety of dishes, from soups to roasted vegetables.
  3. Parsley: For a milder option, parsley can be used in place of basil. While it won’t replicate the exact taste, it adds a fresh and vibrant element to your dishes.
  4. Cilantro (Coriander leaves): Cilantro has a unique citrusy and herbal flavor that can work as an interesting basil substitute, especially in Asian, Mexican, or Middle Eastern dishes.
  5. Mint: Mint can add a refreshing and slightly sweet flavor, making it a suitable substitute for basil in certain recipes. It’s particularly great in salads and desserts.
  6. Herb Blends: In some cases, using a blend of different herbs like thyme, oregano, and parsley can create a balanced flavor profile similar to basil.

Basil Substitutes in Action

Let’s say you’re making a classic Caprese salad, and you realize you’re out of fresh basil. In this scenario, you could opt for a combination of oregano and parsley to mimic the aromatic and fresh elements that basil brings to the dish.

See also – Herb and Spice Substitutes



Substitute For Basil

What is the closest replacement for basil?

Oregano is often considered the closest replacement for basil due to its robust flavor and aromatic qualities. It pairs well with tomato-based dishes and is a staple in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.


What is a substitute for 1 cup of fresh basil?

When a recipe calls for a significant amount of fresh basil, you can substitute it with a combination of other herbs like oregano, thyme, and parsley to achieve a balanced flavor. Use a similar amount.


Can you use parsley instead of basil?

Yes, parsley can be used as a substitute for basil, but keep in mind that parsley has a milder flavor profile. It can add a fresh and vibrant element to your dishes.


Can I substitute rosemary for basil?

While rosemary and basil have distinct flavors, you can substitute rosemary for basil in certain recipes if the earthy and piney notes of rosemary complement the dish.


Can I use coriander instead of basil?

Coriander, also known as cilantro, has a unique citrusy and herbal flavor. It can be used as a substitute for basil, especially in dishes with Asian, Mexican, or Middle Eastern influences.


What’s the difference between parsley and basil?

Parsley and basil differ in flavor and aroma. Parsley has a milder taste with a hint of earthiness, while basil offers a sweet and slightly peppery flavor with a distinct aroma.


What herb belongs to the same family as basil?

Basil belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae), and other herbs like mint, oregano, rosemary, and thyme are its relatives within the same family.


How do you substitute sage for basil?

Sage has a strong flavor, so if substituting it for basil, use a smaller amount to avoid overpowering the dish. Consider the flavor profile of your recipe before making the substitution.


What is the equivalent of 1/4 cup fresh basil?

Roughly, 1/4 cup of fresh basil is equivalent to about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves.


Does basil burn body fat?

To lose body weight or body fat, you have to be in a calorie deficit or another way to put it is in a negative energy balance.

These two articles are helpful to learn about weight loss fundamentals that work:

What Is Energy Balance In Weight Loss?

CICO For Weight Loss


What’s the difference between bay leaves and basil?

Bay leaves have a completely different flavor profile compared to basil. Bay leaves offer a subtle, earthy, and slightly floral flavor, while basil is more aromatic and peppery.


Is dried basil as good as fresh?

Dried basil has a more concentrated flavor compared to fresh basil. While it can be a suitable substitute, the fresh version offers a more vibrant and aromatic experience.


Can I substitute basil for thyme?

While basil and thyme have different flavor profiles, they can sometimes be substituted for each other depending on the dish. Thyme has earthy and lemony notes, which can work well as a replacement for basil.


What’s the difference between basil and oregano?

Basil has a sweet and slightly peppery flavor with a distinct aroma, while oregano offers a robust and slightly tangy taste. Oregano is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes.


Is basil or oregano close to parsley?

Between basil and oregano, basil is closer to parsley in terms of flavor due to its milder and fresher taste compared to the stronger notes of oregano.


What is a substitute for a tablespoon of fresh basil?

If you need to substitute a tablespoon of fresh basil, you can use about half a tablespoon of dried basil. Adjust the quantity based on your taste preferences.


What’s the difference between rosemary and basil?

Rosemary has a distinct piney and earthy flavor with a hint of citrus, while basil offers a sweeter and more peppery taste with its characteristic aroma.


Does basil taste like parsley?

No, basil and parsley have different flavor profiles. Basil has a sweet and slightly peppery taste, while parsley is milder with earthy undertones.


Why is basil called the King of herbs?

Basil is often referred to as the “King of herbs” due to its widespread use, aromatic qualities, and versatility in various cuisines.


What is basil’s generic name?

Basil’s generic name is “Ocimum basilicum.”


Does basil taste like sage?

Basil and sage have distinct flavors. Basil is sweet and slightly peppery, while sage has a more robust, earthy, and savory taste.


How many teaspoons is 4 basil leaves?

The number of teaspoons that 4 basil leaves would be equivalent to can vary based on the size of the leaves. On average, 4 medium-sized basil leaves might amount to about 2 teaspoons when chopped.


How much is 4 sprigs of basil?

The quantity of leaves on a basil sprig can vary, but approximately 4 sprigs of basil might yield around 1/4 cup of chopped leaves.


How much dried basil equals a cup of fresh?

Roughly, 1 teaspoon of dried basil can be used as a substitute for 1 tablespoon of fresh basil. So, for 1 cup of fresh basil, you would need about 3 teaspoons of dried basil.


Which is stronger, fresh, or dried basil?

Dried basil is stronger in flavor compared to fresh basil because the drying process concentrates the herb’s aromatic compounds.


Does basil lose its flavor when dried?

Drying basil can lead to some loss of its fresh, vibrant flavor, but the dried version still retains a strong aromatic quality.


Does fresh basil make a difference?

Yes, fresh basil contributes a vibrant aroma and a more nuanced flavor compared to dried basil. Its presence can elevate the overall taste of your dishes.


Is basil a spice or seasoning?

Basil is considered an herb rather than a spice or seasoning. Herbs are typically derived from the leaves of plants, while spices come from other parts such as seeds, roots, or bark.

See also – A List of Herbs and Spices for Cooking


Do you put oregano or basil in pasta?

Both oregano and basil can be used in pasta dishes, but basil is more commonly associated with pasta sauces due to its sweet and aromatic qualities.


What is the substitute for 2 tbsp of fresh herbs?

When substituting 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs, consider using 1 tablespoon of dried herbs, as dried herbs are more concentrated.


How much dried basil equals 2 teaspoons fresh?

Roughly, 1 teaspoon of dried basil can be used as a substitute for 2 teaspoons of fresh basil.


Are basil leaves the same as mint leaves?

No, basil leaves and mint leaves are not the same. They belong to different plant families and have distinct flavors and aromas.


Do thyme and basil go together?

Thyme and basil can complement each other in certain dishes, especially if you want to create a more complex and layered flavor profile.


What is the Japanese herb like basil?

Shiso, also known as Perilla, is a Japanese herb that shares some similarities with basil in terms of its aromatic qualities and appearance.


Are there two types of basil?

There are many different varieties of basil, each with its own unique flavor profile. Two popular types are sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora).


What are the side effects of basil leaves?

Basil is generally safe for consumption, but some people may experience allergic reactions.


What can be substituted for dried basil?

Fresh basil leaves can be a great substitute for dried basil, offering a more vibrant flavor and aroma to your dishes.


Can you replace basil with parsley?

Yes, you can replace basil with parsley as a milder alternative, especially if you’re looking to add a fresh element to your dishes.


What is a good substitute for basil in dressing?

For dressings, you can substitute basil with herbs like tarragon, oregano, or even mint, depending on the flavor profile you want to achieve.


What are 2 sprigs of basil?

Two sprigs of basil typically refer to two stems with leaves attached. The quantity of leaves on each sprig can vary.


How do you cut basil?

To cut basil, stack the leaves, roll them tightly, and then slice crosswise into thin ribbons. This technique is called chiffonade. (Including sage, spinach, lettuce, mint.)


Is basil better cooked or raw?

Basil is often used raw to preserve its aromatic qualities. Adding it towards the end of cooking in dishes like pasta or soups retains its fresh flavor.


What kind of basil is best for cooking?

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is the most commonly used basil for cooking due to its versatile flavor and widespread availability.


What is the most common basil for cooking?

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is the most common basil variety used for cooking due to its balanced flavor and wide culinary applications.


Is it better to chop or tear basil?

Both chopping and tearing basil can work depending on the dish. Tearing can release more of the herb’s aromatic oils, while chopping creates a neater appearance.


Is it better to chop basil or leave it whole?

Whether to chop or leave basil leaves whole depends on the dish. Chopped basil can distribute flavor more evenly, while whole leaves can add a visual appeal.


Do you refrigerate fresh basil?

Yes, it’s recommended to refrigerate fresh basil to extend its shelf life. Store it in the refrigerator, preferably wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag.


Do you use just leaves of basil?

Yes, the leaves of basil are the most commonly used part for culinary purposes. They contain the herb’s distinct flavor and aroma.

While basil leaves are the most commonly used part, some recipes might call for the use of tender stems as well. However, larger and tougher stems are typically discarded.


Do you eat whole basil leaves?

Yes, whole basil leaves are edible and often used as a garnish in various dishes.


Is basil good for your stomach?

Basil has been traditionally used for its potential digestive benefits, including easing stomach discomfort and promoting healthy digestion.



Basil alternatives

While basil undeniably has its own special place in the culinary world, there are various basil substitutes that can come to the rescue when you’re in a pinch.

Whether you choose to experiment with oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro, mint, or herb blends, each alternative brings its own unique touch to your recipes.

Next time you run out of basil, don’t hesitate to explore these substitutes and elevate your dishes with delightful flavors.


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