Making pesto but finding yourself with no basil leaves can be dreadful. But fear no more as we got the solution (too many)! Today we are going to learn the 23 best substitutes for basil.
From the mint family, basil is a green herb with a great aroma and a subtle peppery flavor. Adding basil to any dish gives a great taste and a smooth texture to any dish. You can cook it or use basil as a garnishing ingredient.
Basil goes best with pesto and is often used in salads.
Some of the best basil substitutes are oregano, spinach, thyme, carrot tops, spinach and fennel.
Without any further delay, let’s jump into all the possible substitutes for basil so that you can continue cooking your dish with zero hurdles.
23 Best Basil Substitutes To Try!
Oregano is one of the closest substitutes for basil. They both resemble each other in terms of texture and flavor. One can use oregano in any dish that calls for basil.
Like basil, oregano has a strong flavor, so add as required. Oregano is best for dishes like casseroles, pizzas, and pasta sauces as it gives an Italian flavor. The only downside of oregano is that it is not as sweet as basil.
Adding oregano will definitely give depth to your dish. You can use oregano instead of basil in a 1:1 ratio.
Don’t worry about making pesto, but out of basil, spinach will save your day. Spinach is another excellent substitute for basil. It has the same color and texture as basil.
Spinach may not be able to give as strong a flavor as basil, but it does the work if you can work with a mild flavor. Combine spinach with garlic, and you will have a great pesto.
Freshly chopped spinach will work great in dishes that call for fresh basil. Simply use spinach in place of basil in a ratio of 1:1.
Mint can be a little overwhelming in some dishes that have basil as an ingredient. However, mint can work well in many recipes despite its given bitterness.
A pinch of mint in place of basil will do your work. Mint will go best with sauces and dessert recipes. You can even garnish your dish before serving. Using peppermint is the best way to have a hint of basil in the dish.
Like the same minty notes like basil, mint leaves are best to use when fresh and green. Use a pinch of mint leaves and adjust the flavor accordingly.
With a hint of mint, pepper, and lemon, cilantro can be an excellent substitute for basil, unique in Asian recipes. With solid flavors and vibrant green color, cilantro goes best with sauces and curries.
Some people are not so familiar with cilantro’s flavor of cilantro, but if you put it in a suitable dish, it will do its magic. You can use it as a garnishing ingredient. A little tip is to add cilantro to remove it from the dish after serving.
Use cilantro in the same ratio as basil, i.e., 1:1.
5. Italian seasoning
No basil in the kitchen? Why don’t you go with the Italian seasoning, as it already has dried basil? Smart move, isn’t it?
Italian seasoning has many other ingredients besides basil, so it will definitely upgrade the dish’s flavors. Just ensure that if the recipe calls for any other herbs already in the Italian seasoning, measure the quantity and then use the same.
You can add ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning for one teaspoon of dried basil. If using in place of fresh basil, be a little cautious as fresh basil is a little Midler when compared to dried basil.
Tarragon’s flavor is a little peppery and cannot mimic the exact flavors of basil. You can still use tarragon as it has similar flavors to basil.
It has more of a peppery flavor, but a pinch of tarragon in place of basil will go well. Use it in chicken and fish dishes or any french dishes. Make sure to use thin slices of tarragon to mimic a similar flavor as basil.
To not overwhelm the dish’s flavor, start with ½ teaspoon instead of 1 teaspoon and then adjust the flavor.
Thyme is an excellent alternative to basil and can be used in most dishes where basil is required. With an earthy flavor like basil, thyme also has a lemony taste.
Thyme has a licorice flavor, and using fresh ones will enhance the taste. It would help if you were careful with the quantity of thyme, as it may give unwanted flavor to the dish.
Use ½ the amount of thyme instead of 1 fresh or fried basil and give your dish a nice aromatic flavor.
8. Celery leaves
Celery leaves are often dumped as we don’t know how to utilize them, but now you will know how.
If you are out of basil but have some celery leaves, use it directly in your dish. You can use celery leaves in making pesto as well. It gives the dish a nice green color, and the flavor is not so different.
Chop the celery leaves and add them to sauces, pasta, pesto, or anything you like. Use the celery leaves as a substitute for basil in a ratio of 1:1.
9. Olive oil- basil scented
If you only want to add the aromatic flavor of the basil and don’t mind the missing texture, go for olive oil with a basil scent or flavor.
Olive oil with basil scented can be a great substitute and mimic the authentic flavors of basil. If you can locate this in your nearby store, grab it without a thought.
Please note that the flavor of the olive oil with a basil scent will not be as strong as fresh basil. So start with tiny oil drops and then increase them to your desired taste.
You can use the oil for cooking, and your dish will have a pleasant basil aroma. As per The Nibble, basil-infused olive oil is the best seller in the U.S.
Another green leafy vegetable that possesses a great flavor is kale. Kale has the full potential to be a substitute for basil. It will give a bold green color, especially in sauces like pesto. You will be amazed by the decent flavors of kale in the recipe.
You can use kale to make pesto or quesadilla instead of basil in the recipe.
Use 1 cup of kale instead of fresh basil; you may always use the same in every future recipe.
Lovage is another option instead of basil, as it tastes similar to celery (an excellent substitute for basil).
It has a zingy and savory flavor at the same time and can be used as a garnishing ingredient. If you are making pesto, lovage can be a great option.
You can use lovage in a green salad or sprinkle it over chicken dishes. Making salsa, then go for lovage without any doubt. Use it in the same ratio as basil, and you are ready.
Nettles are a bit challenging to find as they grow in woods, but if you can access nettles, try them in place of basil once.
I am sure you will love the unique taste of your dish, and it will also fulfill the requirement of basil flavor.
Again, use nettles in pesto or anything that calls for basil, and you will be surprised by the outcome. However, you have to be very careful while using nettles as they are wild and can sting your skin.
Fennel has an anise flavor and can be used in place of basil without any doubt. Combine fennel with spinach and give your dish a new makeover.
As basil has an earthy flavor, fennel also has the same aroma. You might not be able to find the same notes, but they will definitely give a bold flavor to your dish.
Chop the fennel and add to pesto, sauces, salsa, or curries. You can also top your dishes with fennel.
Use a little bit of fennel, maybe ¼ teaspoon, instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried basil.
With a lemony spinach flavor, sorrel is a suitable replacement for basil. Sorrel is known for its sharp flavor, so it is advised to use it in a measured quantity.
You can use sorrel like any other herb. Chop it and then add it to the dish or use it as a garnishing ingredient. Like many other substitutes, sorrel can be easily used to make pesto when you are out of basil.
Go with ¼ teaspoon of sorrel instead of 1 tablespoon of dried basil.
Arugula goes well if you want to sprinkle it over the salad instead of basil. It has a peppery flavor that gives the salads a great twist.
The taste of arugula is similar to basil, and one may not find much difference in the dish. Many combine basil with arugula to enhance the flavors of the pesto.
One can make pasta or many such Italian dishes with arugula.
Use it in the same ratio as basil, and you will not be disappointed.
If you want something solid yet sweet, like basil, then marjoram is your thing. With a strong flavor and sweet note, marjoram can be used in salads, sauces, or as seasoning instead of basil.
As dried herbs have more robust notes, a little bit of marjoram will do your work well. You can use fresh or dried marjoram in marinades for chicken or fish and increase the dish’s intensity.
Go for ½ tablespoon instead of 1 tablespoon of dried basil and adjust the quantity accordingly.
17. Lemon balm
Lemon balm is another excellent herb from the mint family. Adding lemon balm instead of basil is a great idea if you want to add some flavors to your dish, especially fish.
Add flavors to your soups, sauces, and vinegar. Adding lemon balm to the recipe can also give a lemony touch to your sugary cookies.
Go for the same ratio as basil, and you will love the lemony flavor of the green herb.
18. Dried sage
Another excellent Italian herb is sage, with its aromatic and earthy flavor. Dried sage can be used instead of basil; With a woody aroma, dried sage is a slight citrus as well.
However, it is not a great option as sage is known for losing its flavor and aroma after some time.
You can go for it if you are out of basil but have some dried sage. Use only ½ of dried sage instead of basil to avoid unwanted flavors.
19. Herbs De Provence
Don’t be overwhelmed with such a fancy name because Herbs De Provence is nothing but a mix of french seasoning.
The seasoning includes tarragon (mostly) with thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf.
You can use this spice blend with fish or poultry dishes. As Herbs De Provence has basil and tarragon, an excellent substitute for basil, you will never go wrong with this.
Use a 1:1 ratio and be mindful of the other ingredients (skip adding any additional herb if the seasoning already has).
20. Poultry seasoning
Poultry seasoning may sound out of the lots, but it is a great blend of herbs like sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg.
The mixture of these herbs is great for mimicking the flavor and texture of the basil. You can purchase a mixture of herbs or even prepare the same at home.
You can sprinkle it over the dish or marinate the chicken or fish with butter and poultry seasoning. Use ½ teaspoon of poultry seasoning instead of basil, and then adjust the quantity as you desire.
And love grows where my rosemary grows is true even in the case of the rosemary herb. If you are looking for an aromatic substitute for basil, then rosemary is your answer.
You can even use one sprig of rosemary instead of a tablespoon of basil.
People claim that using rosemary gives their dishes another turn in flavors (which is obviously likable). If you are ok with the bold flavors of rosemary, use ½ tablespoon of rosemary instead of a tablespoon of basil.
If you are not ready to risk with other herbs, go for parsley. Parsley has a milder flavor than other herbs and resembles basil in color, taste, and texture.
Parsley may not be able to substitute basil entirely, but it will surely give a savory flavor to your dish. It is widely used in many recipes.
You can use parsley in fresh or dried form. Add it to soups, salads, and sauces in the same ratio as basil. You could also use a little extra to have better taste and flavor.
23. Carrot tops
Please don’t give me that blank stare as I ask you to use carrot tops in place of basil. Please don’t throw it away but save it for emergencies like this.
Trust me, they both have almost the same flavor and texture, and it never hurts anyone to use the parts of the vegetables that are mostly thrown away.
Carrot tops are also rich in vitamin c, vitamin k, and potassium. You can also use them instead of other herbs, such as parsley. Simply chop the carrot tops and add them to salads or sauces.
Short Recap Of The Best Substitutes For Basil
Below is a short recap of the best substitute options for basil.
Best Basil Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor –
- Italian Seasoning
Best Basil Substitutes That Are Easily Available-
- Celery Leaves
Basil Substitutes Should Be Least Considered-
- Dried Sage
How To Use Basil Substitutes In A Recipe?
23 Basil Substitutes That You Should Try!
- Italian Seasoning
- Celery Leaves
- Olive Oil-Basil Scented
- Lemon Balm
- Dried Sage
- Herbs De Provence
- Poultry Seasoning
- Carrot Tops
- Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
- Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
- Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Basil is a great herb and adds terrific flavors to so many dishes. If we have to substitute basil with something else, we have several choices, but it is important to note that any herb will not precisely mimic the flavors and texture of basil.
The best thing you could do is add small amounts of herbs and then adjust the flavors. If you use any substitutes, comment down your experience for others to know.
We will be back with more such practical and fun conversions. Until then, make some pesto!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use regular basil instead of Thai basil?
Yes, you can use regular basil instead of Thai basil. Thai basil is generally stronger in flavor than regular sweet basil, so you can increase the quantity accordingly.
What Can I Substitute for Basil in Pesto?
Several other herbs can be used in place of basil while making pesto. You can use arugula, spinach, lovage, and sorrel, adding great flavors to pesto.
What are the other similar herbs like basil?
The herbs very close to basil are oregano, rosemary, thyme, and mint.