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A Herb’s Tale: What Does Basil Taste Like?

Ever wonder what pesto sauce is made of? Basil.

This culinary herb might be most familiar in Italian dishes but is a popular ingredient used in cuisines globally.

Basil is a part of the mint family and has many variations.

Considering this, expect variance in the taste of this herb.

And this leads to the question- what does basil taste like? Or does basil taste different based on the type?

This post will discuss basil, different species, taste variances, and other crucial aspects.

So, let’s dive in without further ado.

What is Basil?

Basil is a culinary herb belonging to the Lamiaceae family and is scientifically known as Ocimum Basilicum.

It’s a native of Southeast Asia and Central Africa.

In India, it’s considered a “holy herb” by Ayurvedic sages because of its healing properties.

Reportedly more than sixty variants of basil are available worldwide.

However, not all are edible or used as culinary herbs.

The most popular ones used in cuisines are:

  • Greek basil.
  • Thai basil .
  • Cinnamon basil.
  • Lettuce basil .
  • Sweet basil.

Not only basil is used for cooking, it’s also used to make essential oils.

In a way, we may describe basil as a multipurpose herb.

What makes basil a popular ingredient is mainly its distinct flavor and aroma.

The addition of this ingredient in a dish enhances the taste overall.

What Does Basil Taste Like?

Now that we have discussed what basil is let’s look into its taste profile.

The taste of this herb may vary depending on how you cook it.

But what exactly does it taste like on its own? Generally, it’s known for its intense flavor and quite peppery.

The taste profile may vary depending on the basil type.

Fresh basil leaves have a strong scent, like clove, while dried basil is closely similar to oregano when it comes to aroma.

Check below some of the common basil types and their taste profile:

  • Regular/ Sweet basil: It’s the most popular one among different types of basil, primarily used in pasta, sauce, pizza, and salads. It has a savory and sweet taste with mint and pepper undertones. Or, you may slightly get a hint of anise flavor which is also quite aromatic.
  • Lemon basil: Lemon basil has a citrusy and acidic flavor. It’s used in fish dishes and salads. Some people add lemon basil to their tea, giving it a refreshing flavor.
  • Thai basil: It is popular in Asian dishes, especially in Thai cuisines. Compared to regular basil, the anise flavor is strong in this one and quite aromatic too. There may be better choices than Thai basil for Italian cuisine. .
  • Holy basil: Compared to other basil types, holy basil has a spicy and bitter taste. This basil works best in Indian cuisines. .
  • Greek basil: This basil shares a similar taste profile with sweet basil. You may use them interchangeably as they taste almost the same. .
  • Cinnamon basil: Cinnamon basil is found mainly in Asian cuisines. It has a spicy cinnamon flavor making it an ideal ingredient in tea and other drinks. Because of its aromatic nature, it’s used as a potpourri and emits a spicy fragrance.

How to Cook and Serve Basil?

Basil may not be the predominant ingredient in most recipes.

It’s mainly added at the end for garnishing or as an enhancement.

Despite being the last ingredient, it still plays a crucial role in determining the overall taste.

Perhaps saving the best for the last.

Based on the basil types, incorporate accordingly for a better outcome.

For instance, if you’re making a pizza or pasta, sweet or Greek basil would be best suited instead of holy basil.

Pesto sauce is one recipe where basil is the predominant one.

Here fresh basil leaves are blended with other ingredients to form a paste.

This fragrant herb also works well in cocktails and desserts.

Undoubtedly, basil is an excellent culinary herb with multiple health benefits.

However, it comes with precautionary measures.

It’s unsuitable for those with low blood pressure if consumed without limits.

Excess consumption may further lower blood pressure.

We advise having it in moderation.

Chewing basil leaves is also not advisable as it may harm your teeth because of the mercury in them.

So, avoid having the leaves alone excessively.


As we end the article, we hope it was helpful and answered your question about basil and its taste profile.

Basil is a heavily flavored herb that brings life to a dish.

Since it has a variety of species, determining the taste profile of this culinary herb gets challenging.

In general, it’s aromatic, savory, and slightly sweet.

Since there are multiple variants, use it accordingly for a better outcome.

Not all species of basil taste the same, and some might not be suitable for a specific dish or cuisine.

What Does Basil Taste Like? Does It Taste Good?

Andrew Gray
Interested in knowing what basil tastes like and if it's pleasing to the palate? Let's delve into its flavor profile and whether it's considered tasty.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Food Taste
Servings 1 Serving



  • Depending on the ingredients used, the cooking method, and the type of dish, the taste of the food can vary greatly.
  • Make sure to select a recipe that will elevate the food’s original flavor, and enjoy experimenting with different recipes!
Keyword What Does Basil Taste Like
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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