When adding a refreshing flavor to your recipe, basil or mint is our first choice. Even though many people know their difference, many think it is the same herb! Are they the same? No! Basil and mint are two different herbs and have considerable differences.
Both basil and mint leaves look so much alike but are extremely different in flavor. If you are new to cooking, these herbs can confuse you. Even though basil and mint belong to the same family, their flavor, nutrition, and health benefits differ.
Basil has a sweet and savory flavor with a hint of mint taste, whereas mint has a slightly bitter taste with a hint of a sweet undertone. The after-taste of mint is extremely refreshing and cooling. Basil is especially used in Asian cuisines, whereas mint is used worldwide.
You must have come across both of these herbs a lot of times. Even after being a constant addition to our cuisine, we only know a little about these herbs.
So while comparing these two, let’s get to know the similarities, differences, and much more about these herbs.
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Basil Vs. Mint | Difference Table
Peppermint extract, marjoram, or parsley can work well as mint substitutes.
|Basis Of Difference||Basil||Mint|
|Origin/ Native||South East Asia to Central Africa||Asia, Africa, and America|
|Available Forms||Fresh and Dried form||Fresh and Dried form|
|Taste||Sweet and savoury with a hint of peppermint||Bitter with a sweet undertone and gives a fresh after-taste|
|Leaves: Oval and round in the middle. |
Colour: The color will depend upon the variety we use. It usually comes in green and purple color
|Leaves: Oblong and has a lance-like shape.|
Color: Dark green, greyish green, blue, purple, and light yellow
|Texture||Smooth||Rough and hairy|
|Usage||Used as a main ingredient in Italian and Asian cooking||Used all across the world, especially in Mediterranean cooking.|
|Nutrition||Basil is a rich source of many antioxidants and minerals.||Mint leaves are highly nutritious and are a rich source of vitamin A|
|Substitutes||Cilantro, tarragon, and oregano can work well as basil substitutes.||Peppermint extract, marjoram, or parsley can work well as mint substitutes.|
What Is Basil?
Ocimum basilicum, commonly known as basil, is a herb belonging to the mint family. Due to its piquant aroma and vibrant flavor profile, it has been used as a culinary as well as a medicinal ingredient.
Whether dry, fresh, or crushed, just a pinch of basil is enough to make your dish more flavorful and aromatic. Like its flavor vibrancy, basil leaves’ color may vary from bright green to purple.
Even though most basil has a similar flavor profile, many kinds of basil are available to us. You might have seen the green aromatic basil leaves, but what about the purple variety? The given section gives you a brief about different basil varieties.
- Sweet Basil – Sweet basil is the most commonly available form of basil. If you have purchased basil from a supermarket, you must have bought this. Sweet basil, just as its name suggests, has a sweet flavor to it. It blends very well with most dishes and works excellently with tomatoes and pestos.
- Thai Basil – Thai basil has small leaves, and pointy leaf ends. It can be distinguished from other basil by its purple flowers and stems. Thai basil has a spicy taste with a hint of licorice. It has a distinguished flavor profile and will stand out when added to a dish. Thai basil works well in Vietnamese and Thai cuisines.
- Opal Basil – Opal basil has a dark purple color to it. Its flavor profile is mild when compared to the other basil varieties and works well in most dishes.
- Lemon Basil – Like its name, lemon basil has a citrusy note. Lemon basil is extremely flavorful and aromatic, owing to its taste and aroma. Some types of lemon basil, like Mrs. Burns’s lemon basil, are noticeable for their large leaves.
Basil has been widely used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. While most culinary practices prefer fresh basil, dry basil also works well! However, when compared to fresh basil, the flavor profile of dry basil will be a little mild.
What Is Mint?
Mint is an extremely flavorful herb and is commonly used in cooking. Mint is said to be a native of the Eastern Mediterranean and is a constant in many Mediterranean dishes. Mint can be used in both fresh and dried forms.
Moreover, mint extract is also used in cooking. Mints are extremely easy to grow; they can be grown in your garden and on your balcony, making them a plant available throughout the year. If you are a fan of its taste, you know you always need it!
The name “mint” has an interesting story to narrate. Mint comes from the Greek mythological character “mynthe,” a nymph. It is said that Persephone has cursed her into a plant after finding her affair with Pluto!
There are many types of mint available to us. We might have regular mint, but have you heard about chocolate mint? If not, the following section will be informative for you. In the coming section, we will discuss different mint varieties.
- Apple Mint – Apple mint has a rounded leaf structure. As its name suggests, apple mint has a slight green apple flavor. Apple mint can work well in most dishes, but if you make some jellies, add some apple mint to explore a new flavor.
- Banana Mint – Banana mints are characterized by their small green-colored leaves. It has a minty flavor to it with a hint of banana. It’s a low-growing plant and is often cultivated in kitchen bowls.
- Bowles Mint – Bowles mint has hairy leaves. They have a mild flavor profile and go well with most dishes that call for mint leaves. Bowles mint can grow up to 2 feet and is the largest growing mint variety.
- Chocolate Mint – Chocolate mint has a distinguished look, just like its name. It has dark green leaves with purplish or bronzy stems. It has a minty taste with a slight touch of chocolatey flavor. Chocolate mint is an excellent add-on to your favorite desserts and beverages.
- Ginger Mint – Ginger mint has a strong flavor profile. It has a taste of mint with a strong gingery taste. Its leaves have yellow veins in them, making them different from regular mint leaves.
- Grapefruit Mint – Grapefruit mints are low-growing mints. It has downy leaves with a strong citrus flavor.
- Kentucky Colonel – It is the mint type widely used for flavoring alcoholic beverages.
- Mountain Mint – Mountain mint doesn’t belong originally to the mint family. However, it has a flavor just like mint and is widely used for medicinal purposes.
- Orange Mint – Orange mint is also known as bergamot mint. It has a red-tinged leaf and citrusy flavor. It is widely used for flavoring poultry and fish dishes.
- Pineapple Mint – Pineapple mint has a cream and green-colored furry leaf. It has a sweet fruity taste and can be added to salads, desserts, and soups.
Mint is such herb that is widely available all around the world. Most people enjoy the flavor of mint. Apart from being a culinary ingredient, mint also has many health benefits.
Basil Vs. Mint | Similarities Between The Two
We all know that basil and mint are two different herbs, and they have different uses. But then, what makes the confusion between the two? Undoubtedly, it is their similarities. Both basil and mint have some common similarities making them good competitors for each other.
- Taste Best When Fresh – Whether it’s mint or basil, these herbs taste best when freshly cut from their plant. Freshly plucked basil and mint are extremely flavorful and aromatic, bringing so much flavor to your recipe.
- Easy To Grow – Mint and basil are extremely easy to grow at home. All you need is some soil and some time to water these plants. You can grow these plants at your home and thereby could save yourself from spending money buying them from a store.
- Versatility In Color & Flavor – Typically, we have only seen green basil and mint leaves. But that’s not the case. There are a lot of mint and basil varieties, and they come in different colors and flavors. We have briefly discussed this topic above!
Basil Vs. Mint | What Are The Differences Between The Two?
Even though basil and mint belong to the same Lamiaceae family, they have a distinctive difference between two. Their culinary uses are almost similar. However, there are some characteristic differences between the two!
The origin of basil is said to be somewhere between Central Asia and South East Africa. On the other hand, mint has a Mediterranean origin. This is the first point of difference between the two.
2. Taste And Aroma
Basil has a sweet taste to it with a hint of mint taste. It has a very refreshing fragrance to it. The taste and aroma of basil can be varied depending on the variety we use. It is available in both fresh and dried form.
On the other hand, Mint has a bitter taste and a strong refreshing after-taste. It is an extremely aromatic herb and is widely available in dried and fresh forms. The flavor profile of mint, like basil, can change depending on the variety.
Basil and mint can be easily distinguished based on their appearance. Basil has smooth oval-shaped leaves with a curl-down appearance. A normal basil plant can grow up to 4 inches.
The color of basil leaves can be anything between green and purple. The color of the leaves becomes darker when added to dishes. It comes in both fresh and dried forms. Basils are flowering plants. It produces a purple flower that comes from its green stem.
Oregano leaves have oblong-shaped leaves to them with sharp ends. The leaves aren’t smooth like the basil. Some mint leaves can be a little hairy and have a rough texture to them.
The leaf color of mint can be very vibrant. It can be green, blue, or light yellow, depending upon the variety you use.
4. Culinary Usage
Basil, due to its huge popularity, has become an important culinary ingredient in many cuisines across the world. But basil has been a staple in many cuisines like Asian, Italian, and Thai cuisines for a very long time.
It can be used in fresh as well as dried form. Basil works well in pesto, sauces, and pasta dishes and pairs well with dishes that use tomato as one of their main ingredients. Basil does not just provide flavor but also makes your dish aromatic.
Mint is a favorite herb for many people who love a refreshing flavor in their cuisines. Mints can be sued in anything from salads to beverages.
It has a slightly bitter taste to it. However, the bitter taste of mint doesn’t affect the overall taste of the food.
Both basil and mint have a very comprehensive flavor profile. Let’s analyze the nutritional content present in both herbs. When compared to basil, mint has high nutritional values. The calorie content of mint is also low when compared to that of basil.
Many Asian and Mediterranean dishes call for basil as one of their ingredients. But if you are out of basil or just want to do a swap, cilantro, tarragon, and oregano can work well as basil substitutes.
While using any of these as a basil substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio. That is, if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of basil leaves, substitute it with 1 tablespoon of either cilantro, tarragon, or oregano.
Mint can be easily replaced by peppermint extract, marjoram, or parsley. Fresh marjoram, parsley, and peppermint extract bring in a similar minty fresh flavor as that of mint leaves in all cuisines.
However, if you could find the dried version of basil or mint to substitute these dishes, that would be the best. Even though substitutes are easily available for these herbs, no herb can replace basil and mint’s flavor profile.
7. Growth Requirements
Basil is a tropical plant. It grows in hot climates, where it gets adequate water and sunlight. Regular watering is essential as the plant is water sensitive and requires 4 to 6 hours of daily sunlight.
Mint can just grow anywhere. Mint, just like basil, requires regular water and thrives well in moist soil. However, direct sunlight is not required for the growth of the mint plant. It can be cultivated in your garden as well as in your kitchen.
8. Life Span
Basil, regardless of being such a useful plant, doesn’t have a long life span. Some kinds of basil last for a period of two years. But the most available form of basil, like the sweet one, will only last less than a year.
Mint, on the other hand, has a longer life span when compared to that basil. If mint plants are looked after properly, a plant will stay up to 5 to 10 years. It’s more like a creeper plant and is here to stay!
9. Health Benefits
Even if you don’t know much about basil and mint, you must have heard what your elders say about their health benefits. More than a culinary ingredient, basil and mint are known for their health benefits.
Basil leaves, as we have read, are rich in antioxidants. Many kinds of diseases, like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, result from oxidative stress. To an extent, antioxidants help to resist all these diseases.
Basil leaves are also good for our skin. Basil leaves are said to have properties that help to relieve your skin from the signs of aging.
Mint, just like basil, has many antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Mint contains a compound called rosmarinic acid. This compound can help to calm down certain allergic reactions like asthma.
Mint is also an aromatic herb. Its intense smell helps to relieve you from certain symptoms of fever like congested nose and headache.
Can We Use Basil As A Mint Substitute And Vice Versa?
As we discussed above, basil and mint belong to the same mint family. Even though they have a unique taste as their own, both have a slightly minty flavor with a hint of pepper, making them an ideal substitute for each other.
When in need, you can use basil as a mint substitute. Basil brings in a similar refreshing fragrance and slight menthol taste to your dish. However, basil lacks the after-taste that mint brings to a recipe.
Mint can also work well as a basil substitute in most recipes. Mint has a more pronounced flavor than that of basil. Therefore when using mint as a basil substitute, only add less than what is asked in the recipe.
Can Basil And Mint Be Used Together?
Both basil and mint are extremely flavorful and aromatic. Even if you use any of these, its taste gets noted in the dish. That calls for the question, of whether these could be used together in any dishes.
Your doubt is on point! Many dishes use basil and mint together to brighten up the flavor and aroma of their dishes. Some dishes require either basil or mint. But there are also dishes which require both! Given below are some of them!
- Basil Mint Pesto – if you are tired of eating your regular pesto, try basil mint pesto. They are easy to make and can go well with sandwiches, as a spread, and even in pasta. Mix basil, mint, walnut, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Blend it all, and your basil mint pesto is ready to serve.
- Basil Mint Dressing – If you are someone who loves to explore new flavors in your salad bowl, try basil mint dressing. These require minimum ingredients and can pair well with fruits as well as vegetable salad bowls.
- Basil Mint Ice cream – If you are ready to go a little wild, don’t think twice before trying this basil mint ice cream. It’s sweet and creamy and brings in a perfectly refreshing taste. Basil mint ice cream is a real people-pleaser. For this recipe, blend basil and mint with some water and make ice cubes from it. While making ice creams use these cubes instead of regular ice!
- Basil Mint Lime Juice – If you thrive in a tropical climate, like the basil. Not just the plant, but you also need some refreshing drinks. If you are making a yummy glass of lime soda, just add some basil-mint mixture to this drink, and your basil-mint lime juice is ready! It adds a perfect addition of minty flavor and piquant aroma to your already delish drink!
Top Dishes To Make With Basil
If you just have basil at hand, here are some dishes you can try hands-on!
When you think of basil dishes, pesto automatically comes to your mind, and I can’t blame you for that. Basil pesto is one of the tastiest condiments to mix with all our dishes. Whether it’s a bread loaf or your pasta, a basil pesto goes well with both.
2. Basil Pizza
If you are obsessed with the taste of basil, just like me, you must try basil pizza. For making this recipe, use the basil pesto as a pizza base and top it with your favorite toppings. As a final touch, just spread some fresh basil leaves before serving them.
3. Basil Tomato Sauce
Winter evenings call for a warm bowl of soup. Basil tomato soup are one of the best and easiest soups we can have at home.
But if you need it specially, try adding some white basil and sautéing the vegetable. Basil will bring a minty taste and robust aroma to your otherwise regular tomato sauce.
4. Caprese Salad
Sometimes when the right ingredients are mixed in the right proportion, you don’t need too much to bring the perfect flavor, and that’s the case with Caprese salad.
Caprese salad is the fine definition of Italian cuisine, and to make this salad, you will only need ripe, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, salt, and pepper. Mix all of these together and enjoy!
5. Spaghetti Basil
Just as its name suggests, basil act as one of the main ingredients in this recipe. Just cook some garlic and tomatoes in butter. Add some basil and cook it for five minutes; add spaghetti and adjust its salt. Your spaghetti basil is ready to serve.
Top Dishes To Make With Mint
Now that we have seen dishes that could be made with basil let’s see some of the dishes that use mint as one of their main ingredients.
1. Mint Pesto
While making your regular pesto, add some mint leaves to the blender. Mint pesto is extremely delicious, with a light menthol flavor and refreshing fragrance.
You can add it to your sauces, dip it, and drizzle it all over your favorite food. If you have some mint pesto left, you can safely freeze it for the next day.
2. Mint Lassi
Mint in itself is extremely refreshing. Not just its taste but also its flavor is very fresh. Thus if you have some mint at hand, try this extremely easy mint lassi drink.
All you need to prepare this is some mint, curd, and sugar. Blend it all in a jar and enjoy! If you need some more flavor, add some cumin seeds to it. This drink is not just delicious but also very healthy!
3. Mint Panna Cotta
Panna cotta is a famous Italian dessert. They are easy to make and are very delectable. But have you tried the mint version of it yet?
If not, it’s high time to add some mint as the last ingredient in your freshly made panna cotta. The sweet, creamy flavor of panna cotta just gets brighter with adding some mint leaves.
4. Mint Rice
If you love to include some rice in your meal, mint rice is a must-try food. This mint rice is made by mixing mint paste, lemon, and cumin into your already-cooked rice.
This is not just flavorful but also helps you to solve many gut-related issues. Thus next time you feel a little sick, make yourself a bowl of mint rice!
5. Grilled Mint Chicken
If you love chicken and mint, then grilled mint chicken has the potential to be your forever favorite dish! For making this recipe, marinate your chicken with your spice mix and add some mint leaves along with it! Grill them to perfection, and your juicy, tender, aromatic grilled mint chicken is ready to serve.
Basil Vs. Mint | Which Is Healthier?
Without much doubt, basil can be regarded as much healthier than mint. Even though both herbs are high in nutritional value, basil has less carbohydrate content as well as a low-calorie value.
Both mint and basil are great sources of calcium, iron, and potassium. While basil has a high amount of vitamin k, mint has a high content of dietary fibers in it.
Basil Vs. Mint | Which Is Tastier?
That is a tough question to answer. Basil and mint have been widely used for culinary purposes. However, basil is more used in Mediterranean cooking. It has a sweet flavor and therapeutic aroma to it. It has a much more pleasant taste than mint.
Mint, on the other hand, has a slightly bitter taste to it. Even though its after-taste is very refreshing, many people don’t like mint in their food. Thus, we can say that basil is much tastier than mint.
Moreover, mint has a very strong flavor profile. If you are new to cooking, it could be a little difficult to manage this dish in your cooking. Basil, on the other hand, has a composed flavor profile and is easy to use in recipes.
Basil Vs. Mint | Which Is More Versatile?
As we have already seen, basil goes well with a lot of dishes. It has a sweet flavor with a slight minty undertone. The flavor of basil isn’t overpowering. It comes in different varieties, and people across the globe have loved it for ages.
Therefore we can say that basil is more versatile than that mint.
Basil Vs. Mint | Which Is Better?
Without much doubt, we can say that basil is better than mint. Basil has a very mild yet profound flavor profile, which is likable to most people. It also has a higher nutritional content in it than mint leaves.
Thus if you are confused about whether to choose mint or basil for your next cooking experiment, go for basil. That being said, mint leaves also go well with a lot of recipes.
Finally, we have reached the end of this article. It was a long discussion about mint and basil. While comparing mint and basil, we get to know a lot of new information about mint and basil.
We learned about its origin and taste and have also looked at the recipes which use mint and basil as their primary ingredients. When it comes to flavor, both mint and basil have a distinguished flavor of their own.
While basil is a little sweet, mint is a little bitter with a refreshing after-taste. Along with their flavor profile, both of these herbs are extremely healthy and have many health benefits to them. Both these have been used as medicinal herbs for a very long time.
Learning all about the herbs, we can safely say that basil is a much better herb than mint. It has a pleasant taste and much more nutritional content than mint. Saying this, we cannot miss the unique flavor and health benefits of mint leaves as well.
Now that we are binding off this article, I hope you are clear about your query! Also, if you have either leftover mint or basil at home, make sure to try any of the recipes given above. See you with another interesting article.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use mint instead of basil?
Yes. Mint can be used as a basil substitute and vice versa.
Is basil a form of mint?
Basil isn’t a form of mint. However, both basil and mint belongs to the same Lamiaceae family.
Does basil taste like mint?
Basil has a mild minty taste to it. However, it doesn’t exactly taste like mint.
What herb is closest to mint?
Peppermint extract, marjoram, or parsley can work well as mint substitutes.