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11 Best Substitutes for Basil [2024‘s Flavor Game-Changers]

By: Shivani Choudhary
Updated On: February 14, 2024

Basil, with its distinctive sweet and savory flavor, sure is a beloved mainstay in many of our kitchens. Whether you’re whipping up a pesto sauce or garnishing a Margherita pizza, it’s hard to imagine these dishes without that classic taste. But what happens when your garden isn’t blooming, or your local store runs out of it? That’s when knowing the best substitute for basil comes in handy.

Imagine being able to still create flavorsome dishes even if basil is missing, simply by switching it out with another delicious, readily-available herb. In this blog post, we will explore a host of substitutes, each carrying its own unique twist and turns to your culinary creations. So, don’t fret about running low on basil next time, because I’ve got you covered!

Also Read: Best Substitutes for Leeks

11 Best Substitutes for Basil in 2024

Best Substitutes for Basil in 2024

Who knew that one herb missing from your spice rack could make all the difference in your culinary masterpieces? If you’re a basil enthusiast like me, you’re certainly aware of the charm and hallmark taste that basil brings to the table. Not to mention the vibrant, leafy embellishment it provides. But, at times when basil is sparse, it’s high time we look for alternatives. Luckily, there are numerous options. In this section, we delve into the top 11 best substitutes for basil.

1. Baby Spinach Leaves

Baby Spinach Leaves - Best Substitute for Basil in 2024

Baby Spinach, a more laid-back cousin to basil, vitalizes your meals while providing a similar texture. The light and somewhat peppery taste can make a great alternative when cooking soups, salads, or pasta that require a pinch of green and a subtle flavor. And let’s not forget, spinach is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, bringing a bit more than just flavor to your dishes!

2. Italian Seasoning

Italian Seasoning - Best Substitute for Basil in 2024

Next on deck, we have Italian seasoning. This exquisite blend is like having the whole Italian countryside in a bottle! Basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram – all come together to give your dishes a very akin-to-basil taste. Of course, Italian seasoning as a basil substitute works best in dishes with an Italian twist. So if you’re aiming for that pizza or pasta, Italian seasoning got your back!

3. Mint


Venturing out a bit more, we land on Mint. Now you might be thinking, how is mint even close to basil? Yes, mint does have a more sweet, cool flavor compared to basil’s sweeter, subtle flavor. Yet, it’s this uniqueness that makes mint such a fascinating alternative! For dishes that can manage a minty breeze, like salads, beverages, and desserts, substituting basil with mint can be quite the experiment.

4. Parsley


Bringing some garden-fresh taste to your meals is Parsley. Its vibrant green color and mildly bitter note can be a refreshing substitute for basil. But, bear in mind that parsley has a somewhat more robust flavor. In small amounts, its earthy undertone can complement dishes like pesto, where basil traditionally steals the show.

5. Arugula


For the lovers of a good punchy flavor, Arugula can be your ultimate basil substitute. Its strong, peppery taste might overshadow basil’s sweet subtlety, but hey, sometimes we need a little extra kick in our dishes, right? Especially salads can benefit from an arugula rush!

6. Tarragon


Welcoming a hint of French cuisine into your kitchen is Tarragon. This elegant herb, often dubbed as ‘little dragon,’ brings a slightly bittersweet flavor, somewhat similar to basil’s sweet, savory notes. Its aromatic, slightly licorice hint works wonderfully in chicken, fish, and even egg dishes.

7. Thyme


Ever reliable, Thyme steps up as a basil substitute. With its subtly sweet, yet prominently earthy flavor, it brings a dash of coziness to your dishes, perfectly suitable for stews, roasts, and hearty Mediterranean cuisines.

8. Savory


Savory, either winter or summer varieties, is your go-to herb when seeking something truly delightful. Its peppery, thyme-like flavor can replace basil, especially when it comes to sprucing up beans, lentils, and poultry dishes.

9. Celery Leaves

Celery Leaves

Onto surprising substitutes, Celery leaves top the list! Their bright, slightly bitter flavor can remarkably imitate basil’s sharp sweetness. Additionally, the leaves’ unique texture can add a nice crunch to salads, soups, and stews.

10. Oregano


If you’re a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, chances are you’re no stranger to Oregano. This robust, balsamic-woodsy flavored herb can double as a savory basil substitute. Imagine pizzas, pastas, Greek salads, or gyros, further amplified by the presence of oregano!

11. Cilantro


Last but certainly not least, we have Cilantro. With its fresh, citrusy note, cilantro can imbibe a truly vibrant feel to your dishes. Though used predominantly in Mexican cuisine, when used as a basil substitute, cilantro can give an unexpected twist to Italian or Thai cuisines as well!

Choosing the Right Substitute for Basil Depending on Your Dish

When you run out of basil, it’s not just about quickly grabbing any other green thing lying around in your kitchen. It’s about keeping the balance and maintaining the flavor profile of your dish. Let’s take a look at a few dishes and the substitute that would work best for them:

  • Pesto: Arugula provides the perfect peppery twist, giving your pesto a robust flavor.
  • Soups and Stews: Parsley goes great in these hot dishes, adding a fresh and tasteful punch.
  • Italian Dishes: Italian seasoning or Oregano can provide that quintessential Mediterranean flavor we all love.
  • Asian Dishes : Your best bet would be Cilantro. It brings in a delightful burst of freshness and tanginess.
  • Salads: Baby Spinach leaves or Celery leaves will give your salad an earthy flavor, while Mint would add a unique freshness and sweetness.

Remember, these are guidelines, not strict rules. Feel free to experiment with flavor, and you might just discover a new favorite mix!

Fresh Vs. Dried Substitutes for Basil

Fresh Vs. Dried Substitutes for Basil

A key decision to make when finding the best substitute for basil is choosing between fresh and dried alternatives. Much like basil, herbs such as oregano, thyme, and Italian seasoning are available in both forms, and each one brings something different to the table.

Fresh Substitutes

Substituting fresh basil with fresh alternatives like Baby Spinach leaves, Parsley, or Cilantro brings a certain vitality and texture to the dish. Fresh herbs have a brightness and vibrancy that can’t be replicated. They’re excellent for garnishing or stirring into raw dishes like salads.

Dried Substitutes

On the other hand, dried herbs like Oregano, Thyme, or Savory deliver intense and concentrated flavors. They’re great additions to long-cooked dishes, as they release their flavors slowly over time. A good rule of thumb is to use one-third the amount of dried herbs to fresh ones, as dried herbs have a stronger taste.

However, both fresh and dried herbs have their own place in our kitchens and it all boils down to the dish you’re making and your personal preference. Both versions will provide fantastic flavors, so take the plunge and start trying these substitutes in your dishes!

Also Read: Best Substitutes For Black-Eyed Peas

Pairing Your Basil Substitutes With Other Ingredients

Giving basil a miss doesn’t mean bidding farewell to taste. In fact, substituting basil can produce a twist on your dish’s flavor that you didn’t know you were missing.

However, keep in mind that not every substitute will work well with the other ingredients you’re using. So here’s a quick and easy guide for you:

  • Baby Spinach Leaves: These wonderfully versatile and nutritious leaves offer a mild, slightly bitter flavor. Toss them in your salads, pasta, or even a spinach artichoke dip. They pair beautifully with tomatoes, garlic, and mozzarella.
  • Italian Seasoning: Containing basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, this seasoning goes well with most ingredients. Sprinkle it on your pizzas, add in stews or sprinkle over roasted veggies.
  • Mint: Beyond your refreshing mojito, throw mint into salads, salsas, and even mix it with rice. It pairs well with lemon, feta cheese, and watermelon.
  • Parsley/Bay leaves: Use these flavorful herbs in everything from sauces to stuffings. They complement potatoes, chicken, and fish wonderfully.
  • Arugula/Tarragon/Thyme/Savory: These herbs impart a delightful flavor and aroma into your stews, soups, and vegetable dishes. Pair them with ingredients like garlic, butter, and onions.
  • Celery Leaves/Oregano: Their unique, strong flavors work great in Italian dishes like pasta and pizza. They’re a fine match for tomatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
  • Cilantro: Known for brightening up dishes, cilantro is common in Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine. It’s perfect with lime, tomatoes, chili, and avocados.

Remember, the objective is to experiment and discover what tickles your tastebuds!

Growing Your Own Basil Substitute Herbs

Growing Your Own Basil Substitute Herbs

If you’re into making your meals as fresh as possible and are blessed with a green thumb, then this section right here is for you. Growing your own herbs can be a rewarding experience, plus it allows you to have a constant supply of your own “basil substitutes”.

How to Start

  1. Choose your plants: Start choosing the herbs you frequently use. Parsley, cilantro, and thyme can be excellent choices.
  2. Decide on the spot: Most herbs love sunlight, so place them in a sunny location. Some herbs, like parsley and mint, tolerate a bit of shade.
  3. Prepare the soil: Most herbs require well-drained soil. Add organic matter, fertilizer, or compost to make the soil fertile.
  4. Plant and Water: Plant the seeds or transplant the small plants into the soil. Water appropriately depending on the plant’s needs.

In no time, you’ll have your own selection of fresh basil substitutes, right in your backyard, or even in your kitchen windowsill!

With these helpful hints, you’ll discover a world of flavors even without the beloved basil. But remember, it’s not about completely replacing basil. Instead, it’s about exploring new taste possibilities when your favorite herb is off the menu.


Running out of basil doesn’t have to spell disaster for your culinary adventures! With a plethora of readily available, versatile, delicious, and not to mention, nutritious alternatives out there, you can still whip up your favorite dishes with a unique twist. From the refreshing zest of baby spinach leaves to the Mediterranean charm of oregano, testing out these different substitutes not only saves your day but also opens the door to exploring new flavors and culinary creations.

Remember, it’s all about balancing the flavors and choosing the right substitute that complements your dishes. So, the next time your kitchen runs out of basil, take it as an opportunity. Who knows? Your next culinary masterpiece might just be a dish away!

Food Lover and Storyteller 🍽️✨ With a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, Shivani brings her culinary adventures to life through evocative words and tantalizing tastes. Her love for food knows no bounds, and she's on a mission to share the magic of flavors with fellow enthusiasts.
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