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Cooking Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Thai Basil

Oops, your Thai basil supply hit zero right before the big cook-off? No stress.

We’ve got your back with the ultimate cheat sheet. Finding a substitute can be tricky; Thai basil’s got that unique minty, licorice kick, after all.

Yet, believe it or not, some pretty common herbs hanging out in your kitchen can step up to the plate.

We’re here to spill the beans on how to save that stir-fry or curry without a last-minute grocery run.

With a bit of creativity and our handy guide, you’ll keep that authentic Thai flavor alive. Ready to dive in?

The 4 Best Substitutes for Thai Basil in Cooking

If you’re looking for a substitute for Thai basil in your cooking, you may be surprised to learn that there are several options.

Here are the four best substitutes for Thai basil:

1 – Sweet Basil

Sweet basil is a unique herb native to India but widely admired around the world.

With its beautiful, glossy, dark green leaves and bright aroma, it is no wonder that it is sought after in many dishes.

The fresh taste with hints of licorice will pique the taste buds and enhance any dish.

Sweet basil has a soft texture that can be used as an ideal herb for marinades, pestos, and sauces.

It can spice up salads or pasta dishes easily and make them more enticing.

If you are looking to replace Thai basil in recipes, sweet basil will make a great substitute to keep the flavor profile of traditional Thai dishes intact.

2 – Lemon Basil

Lemon basil is an herb from the mint family that has tangy citrus notes.

It’s relatively easy to cultivate and can be used as a useful substitute for Thai basil when looking for an exotic flavor for an Asian-inspired dish.

The small, pointed leaves of lemon basil have a strong citrus aroma and thrive in sunny spots.

Although its fragrant taste may remind some people of lemongrass, it is milder and can easily adapt to any recipe by adding a bright and subtle licorice sweetness.

Lemon basil is mostly used raw, but it can be added to stews or cooked dishes as well – either fresh or dried – to enhance its flavor with zesty notes of lemons.

3 – Holy Basil

Holy basil is an aromatic herb native to India and Southeast Asia.

Its flavor profile is complex, having both spicy and sharp notes that are a favorite across cuisines from Indian to Thai.

Holy basil has an intense aroma, with the leaves being particularly fragrant.

The texture of holy basil is similar to that of other basils–soft and slightly fuzzy–but with a hint of peppery bite due to its active compounds.

To add it to your dishes, try swapping it in as a substitute for all or part of the Thai basil in your recipes; it’ll provide a more pungent flavor than regular sweet basil but won’t overwhelm the dish like Thai basil can.

4 – Cinnamon Basil

Cinnamon basil is a hybrid herb that combines the sweet and subtle taste of cinnamon with the fragrant aroma of Italian Basil.

It is an easy-to-grow herb that thrives in warm climates, bringing a touch of spice to any garden.

With its narrow, jagged leaves and deep purple stems, it’s certainly a sight to behold.

Besides its ornamental appeal, this variety packs a punch of flavor.

As you might expect from its name when consumed raw and fresh, it has a spicy infusion of both cinnamon and licorice notes that other varieties simply don’t have.

Alternatively, cooked dishes tend to bring out more of the basil flavor.

The beauty of cinnamon basil is that it can be used as an excellent substitute for Thai basil in dishes like Pad Krapo Gai or Gang Kiew Wan if desired.

The 4 Best Substitutes for Thai Basil in Cooking

Need a replacement for Thai basil? Explore our selection of 4 substitutes that can impart similar aromatic and slightly spicy notes, enhancing your Southeast Asian dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Sweet Basil
  • Lemon Basil
  • Holy Basil
  • Cinnamon Basil


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Thai Basil in Cooking
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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