Substitutes for Basil

Basil is one of the most ancient and traditional herbs which has many culinary and medicinal benefits [1]. 

You may be well aware of this plant and its associated usefulness in daily life- yet there may be some days when you might want to use some alternatives to this wonderful ingredient.

There are some useful substitutes for basil that can save your day in different recipes, home remedial uses or other necessary chores.

You may sometimes run out of basil, or your family members or guests don’t like its taste, or else, you may want to do some alternate experiments with your recipes.

No matter what the reason might be, you can safely use these great substitutes for basil that we are going to explore in the following segment of this article. 

Let’s read on.

What Substitutes You can Use for Basil

You will find basil useful for various purposes including food, therapeutics, environmental benefits, etc. 

The most common use you can find of basil is for cooking such as pesto, tomato sauce, vinegar, etc.

In this article, we are going to cover only those substitutions that may come in handy for you in your food recipes. 

For various food recipes, you may use the following 7 items as substitutes for basil:

  • Parsley 

Parsley is considered a perfect substitute for basil in cooking. 

Parsley serves best with its subtle and delicate taste in the raw dishes like a green salad or pasta salad. 

Like basil, you can chop the parsley and top it with various Asian or Italian dishes. 

Parsley will prove a shining ingredient in your salad, pasta, Thai curry, soup, etc.

  • Cilantro 

Cilantro is a derivative herb species of parsley. This is the leaf of the coriander seed plant. 

You will find cilantro sharp and tangy in taste. It can serve many of your Latin and Asian dishes.

You may want to be careful in using cilantro as many people don’t just like its taste that much.

  • Oregano 

You can use fresh oregano in your cooking as a substitute for basil in an equal amount. 

Oregano contains a peppery or spicy aroma which will serve best in your Italian dishes. 

You may toss some chopped rosemary where you will use oregano for simmering. This addition will hold the aroma of your cuisine for a longer time.

Besides, you can use oregano just like basil in many other suitable dishes.

  • Thyme 

Thyme may not be as similar as basil but you can still get away by mixing thyme in various dishes instead of basil.

Thyme gives your recipe a warm, pungent and earthy taste.

Thyme is a popular ingredient in Italian pasta sauce. 

You will find thyme as an excellent marinade for meat before grilling. Rosemary and sage are two extra ingredients you may add to the meat marinade with thyme. 

Grilled fish and vegetable salads like tomato or roasted potatoes also can be topped with fresh thyme leaves. It not only gives the dishes a sharp aroma but also increases the appetite of the eaters. 

  • Celery Leaf

Celery leaf is delicious and suitable for many dishes. You will find a decent substitute in celery leaf for basil.

Oddly enough, many people don’t utilize this herb and throw it away. But you can use a celery leaf instead of basil whenever needed. 

Add some fresh parsley leaf with celery leaf to give the flavor a more Mediterranean cuisine tone.

  • Spinach and Arugula 

If you want to make pesto with a different taste and aroma holding the necessary deliciousness in it, opt for spinach and arugula.

Wondering how does it work as a substitute to basil?

Because spinach has a sharp and arugula has a peppery taste. Along with cheese, nuts, olive oil, and some fresh oregano or parsley, spinach and arugula will serve your pesto a kick in taste.

  • Mint 

You may use mild mint leaves as a substitute for basil in your Thai or Mediterranean cuisines. 

It is better to use mild mint leaves as they are much sharper than other substitutes and you can also cook your dish for a longer time if you do so. 

If you want to lower the minty aroma and taste in your dishes, you may combine thyme or celery leaves with mint leaves.  


Though basil is a great choice for cooking and raw dishes, it is also a very well-known herb worldwide for its therapeutic uses. 

The substitutes for basil mentioned above can also be used as many home remedies, disinfectants, tonic, and mixed with Ayurvedic recipes.

Some of these substitutes come from the same genus and some are derivatives from the same species. 

All of these substitutes may not be suitable for every person as they may have some side effects on digestion, heart or skin. You must see a doctor or health specialist before or after using these herbs to know if you are using them rightly. 

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