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The 5 Best Substitutes for Basil in Cooking

Have you ever wondered how to use basil in your cooking? Basil is a widely used aromatic herb, often associated with Italian and some Asian cuisines.

It’s the perfect addition to dishes like pizza, stews, and soups, adding a refreshing yet distinct flavor.

But sometimes, getting access to fresh basil can be hard.

Do not fear.

There are plenty of great substitutes for basil if you are with limited options.

Learn about how to cook with and use basil and the top five best substitutes for basil here so you never have to miss out on those delicious flavors.

What’s Basil?

Basil is an herb that has been traditionally used in Italian cooking for centuries.

Its strong, unique aroma and flavor make it one of the most recognizable spices in the kitchen.

Basil’s taste can be described as a mix of clove and anise, with a fragrant, slightly sweet smell that enhances any dish.

Its leaves are dark-green and have a smooth texture to them.

Basil is most commonly used to add flavor to sauces, pesto, salads, dressings, and even desserts like ice cream.

You can also dry or freeze basil for later use in recipes.

Any cook looking for tasty cuisine should consider adding basil to their recipes for an unforgettable flavor.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Basil in Cooking

If you’re looking for a substitute for basil in cooking, you have several options.

Here are the five best substitutes for basil that can give your dish similar flavors and aromas.

1 – Oregano

Oregano is a fragrant and flavorful herb that is popular in Mediterranean cuisine.

It is one of the most versatile herbs to cook with, adding an earthy flavor to vegetables, soups, and pizzas.

Oregano has a slightly bitter taste towards the end, with a hint of pepper and mint.

Its texture resembles thyme more than basil, but it will still add that certain zest to foods, making them even more delicious.

If you don’t have basil on hand but need something similar in flavor, oregano can be used as a great substitute thanks to its strong flavor profile.

Try some today, and your dishes are sure to blast with delightfully bold flavors.

2 – Parsley

Parsley is an herb often used in culinary preparations to add flavor and texture as well as a vibrant green pop of color.

Its flavor has been described as slightly bitter and minty, with notes of black pepper and citrus.

As an herb, it has a crunchy texture that adds depth to dishes.

Parsley is frequently used in dishes in place of alternative herbs like basil due to the similarities they share in terms of taste and desired outcome.

When substituting parsley for basil, remember to use two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, or one teaspoon of dried parsley for each teaspoon of fresh basil leaves called for in a recipe.

3 – Mint

Mint is a herbaceous plant often found in gardens but also in almost any grocery store.

It has a distinct, refreshing aroma and its dark green leaves have toothed edges.

It has a sharp taste that is somewhat sweet with a hint of spiciness.

When eaten fresh, it has a cooling and calming effect on the palate.

Mint can be used as an excellent substitute for basil; in fact, most recipes using basil can potentially use mint instead – such as pesto sauce or salads with a light vinaigrette dressing.

Crushing or finely chopping up mint leaves prior to adding them to your dishes will help you best experience its fresh flavor and fragrance.

4 – Thyme

Thyme is a versatile and fragrant herb that has been used throughout the ages for many different purposes.

With a strong, earthy flavor profile, this herb has countless culinary applications.

It is also believed to aid in digestion and have antimicrobial properties.

When used in cooking, it offers an aromatic and slightly lemony taste with a woody texture that can soften after being cooked or even dried.

When substituting basil for thyme, add an extra teaspoon of thyme, as it tends to be less pungent than basil.

Furthermore, when using thyme as a substitute, it is best to cook or dry it first as this will heighten its flavor without bittering the dish like fresh thyme sometimes can.

5 – Cilantro

Cilantro is a fresh and flavorful herb with a lemony and slightly smoky flavor.

It has delicate leaves that can be added to foods both before and after cooking, giving them an interesting and aromatic taste.

Cilantro has the texture of parsley but with a kick that you won’t find among many other herbs.

In recipes where basil would normally be used, cilantro can often make a delicious alternative.

When substituting basil for cilantro, try using half or two-thirds of the amount written in the recipe, as it has a bolder flavor than basil.

Cilantro is also great when paired with other aromatics like garlic and onion to create full flavors for stews and pasta dishes.


In conclusion, when you don’t have basil on hand, there are plenty of other herbs that can be used as substitutes to complement your dish.

Oregano, parsley, mint, thyme, and cilantro – all with their own unique flavor profiles – can be mixed and matched depending on the type of food you’re making.

Each one brings something special to the table, so experiment with these herbs and find out which ones your taste buds love best.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Basil in Cooking

The 5 Best Substitutes for Basil in Cooking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

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