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21 Best Basil Alternatives That You Should Know To Use In Next Cooking

Used in a wide range of different cuisines, basil is arguably everyone’s favorite Italian herb. Primarily playing a vital role in Mediterranean cooking, basil is a key ingredient in most of your favorite dishes.

This includes pasta sauces, pesto, salad dressings, and of course pizza toppings. It’s also one of the easiest herbs you can work with at home. It instantly brings a beautiful hint of minty, aromatic flavor to your dish. 

However, what are we supposed to do if we’ve run out of basil halfway through cooking or simply don’t like it?

The Best Basil Substitutes (8 Alternatives You Should Know)

This is when you’ll need a reliable basil substitute and luckily for you, we’ve got 8 of the best for you in this post.

Whether you don’t like basil but still want plenty of flavor, or simply don’t have time to get to the store, we’ve got a substitute on our list that will suit your dish and mimic basil.

Let’s dive straight in!

Basil Substitutes: Quick Table

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100 gm)
Dried Or Fresh Basil251
Italian Seasoning273
Spinach Leaves23
Celery Leaf25
Olive Oil-Basil Scented800
Lemon Balm48

1. Dried Or Fresh Basil

Alright, so bear with us, we know we’re starting a list of basil substitutes with basil, but everything will make perfect sense in a minute.

If you’ve run out of dried or fresh basil, you can quite easily use the opposite type of basil as an alternative.

For example, if your recipe asks for 1 tablespoon of dried basil and you have none left, you can quite easily substitute in fresh basil leaves and vice versa. 

This will ensure the flavors in your dish stay the same, which is just what you want. 

How To Substitute

Dried basil packs more flavor than fresh basil If a recipe requires 1 tablespoon of dried basil, you should use 3 tablespoons of fresh basil as a substitute. To use fresh basil as a substitute, simply throw the leaves into your dish towards the end of the cooking process. This will prevent them from overcooking and losing any flavor.

2. Italian Seasoning

Next up, we have Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning makes a good basil substitute for many reasons. One of those is that most Italian seasonings actually contain a small amount of basil. 

Even if your Italian seasoning doesn’t contain basil, you can still add a burst of Italian flavor to your dish. 

The main ingredients aside from basil include parsley, thyme, pepper, rosemary, and oregano. 

How To Substitute

Before adding Italian seasoning to your dish, you should first check the other ingredients in your recipe. For example, if the recipe already contains oregano and thyme, you will want to add a little less as your dish already has some Italian seasoning. Aside from that, we recommend using the same amount of Italian seasoning as your recipe asks for.

3. Spinach Leaves

An unlikely basil substitute is spinach leaves. A solid choice for anyone that doesn’t like basil, spinach leaves offer the best solution when making fresh pesto. 

While the overall flavors of the two herbs are quite different, spinach leaves help keep your pesto looking vibrant and green. It will also add a fairly mild flavor that the kids might prefer. 

Spinach leaves can also be used as basil substitutes when making various Thai dishes. This again helps to add color and add a flavor that isn’t too overpowering.

How To Substitute

There aren’t any specific requirements for substituting basil with spinach leaves. You should simply add the spinach leaves in small amounts until you’re happy with the color and flavor of your dish. It is worth noting though that it will take a lot more spinach leaves than basil to reach a similar level of flavor.

4. Thyme

If you don’t have enough time on your hands to get to the store and buy more basil, you could always use thyme instead.

Thyme has a stronger citrusy taste than basil, adding a fresh lemony taste to a variety of sauces and casseroles.

What makes this herb one of the best basil substitutes is its subtle mint undertone. This is what links basil and thyme together. Of course this is apart from the fact that both herbs also originated in the Mediterranean.

How To Substitute

As a result of thyme’s unique citrusy taste, you need to be a little more careful when adding it to your food. Adding too much to your dish will easily result in the thyme overpowering the other flavors. We can tell you from experience that this can be quite unpleasant.

5. Oregano

The next basil substitute on our list is oregano. Oregano is another flavor-packed herb primarily used in Mediterranean cooking. Compared to other herbs, not just basil, oregano has a stronger peppery, floral taste.

This taste goes perfectly in pasta sauces, casseroles, and on a pizza. 

The Best Basil Substitutes (8 Alternatives You Should Know) (1)

Despite having a stronger flavor, oregano and basil still share similar flavor profiles so using one to substitute for the other is pretty easy. 

Personally, we like to use basil and oregano together when seasoning our fresh bruschetta. If you have both, we recommend giving it a try.

How To Substitute

When it comes to substituting oregano for basil, how much you use ultimately comes down to your personal preference. Oregano’s stronger taste might make you want to use a little less or a little more. It all depends on what you like. With that in mind, we recommend adding the oregano a little bit at a time like you would with thyme.

6. Cilantro

Cilantro is another awesome choice from basil substitutes that you can use if you don’t like or have run out of fresh or dried basil. Also commonly referred to as coriander, cilantro offers a strong burst of lemon, pepper, and mint all in one mouthful.

For many, cilantro isn’t the herb of choice but its subtle minty flavors don’t make it a bad basil substitute. Having said that, you’ll never imitate the basil flavor by using cilantro.

One thing cilantro is excellent for though is adding that green vibrancy to dishes. This makes it a fabulous choice for pasta sauces, pesto, and dressings.

How To Substitute

Particularly good in curries that require hard-hitting flavors, you can easily substitute basil with cilantro leaves by adding a pinch of cilantro leaves to your dish. Alternatively, you could add a similar amount of ground coriander as you would basil.

7. Celery Leaf

The penultimate substitute on our list is celery leaf. If you don’t like the taste of basil it is a fantastic option when making pesto. 

However, in our opinion, it is also one of the last substitutes you should use. Despite being a solid option, there are other options on our list that closely mimic basil flavors.

We would consider this to be one of the best solutions when you don’t have any of the other substitutes.

Having said that, the celery leaf is also one of the easiest substitutes to use, so if you want a simple solution with decent flavor, this could be a great option.

How To Substitute

The best thing about the celery leaf substitute is that you can use it exactly the same way you would use basil. If your recipe requires 1 tablespoon of basil, toss 1 tablespoon of celery into the dish. Do this when the dish is nearly cooked to avoid burning the leaf.

RELATED: What Alternatives Are Best For Cilantro? 11 Options!

8. Mint

The final basil substitute on our list is mint. Mint is an awesome basil substitute for two reasons. First of all, both herbs are part of the same family. Secondly, they both share a minty profile.

However, you do need to be careful when adding mint to your dishes as it has a stronger flavor than basil. This makes it unsuitable for foods like casseroles and pizzas.

The flavor won’t quite work. The cooling taste of mint would be quite unpleasant.

Instead, you should use mint in sauces and dressings that don’t require any cooking.

How To Substitute

Use mint as a basil substitute in sauces and dressings that don’t require any cooking by adding a small amount of mint at a time. This will guarantee the best flavors and ensure you don’t overpower your dish. The mint will also add plenty of vibrancy to your dish.

9. Olive Oil-Basil Scented

Basil is an herb used in many different recipes, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. It has a delicate flavor and is known to be a potent natural antioxidant.

Basil oil has a similar flavor and is made from the plant’s leaves. It has a light, refreshing scent and a slightly spicy taste.

Basil-scented olive oil is a great way to add extra flavor to a dish without adding too much, making it a great alternative.

It will be a great choice to go for it if your recipes require basil in small quantities.

How To Substitute

You may start by adding a small amount to your recipe until you reach the flavor your dish calls for.

10. Lemon Balm

With its sweet and tangy aroma, basil is a delicious herb that can be used in various dishes, from salads to pesto.

However, if you are looking for a replacement for basil in your cooking, consider lemon balm, a close relative. Lemon balm is also known as sweet woodruff, lemon thyme, or lemon mint.

It is a small herb with aromatic, lemon-like leaves that you can add to salads, chicken and fish dishes, or desserts. Lemon balm is also a member of the mint family, so you may use it to create a minty flavor in drinks or desserts.

How To Substitute

If your recipe calls for a citrusy and tangy flavor, you may use an equal quantity of lemon balm to substitute basil.

11. Arugula

Of many substitutes for basil, arugula is one of the best, with a flavor similar to basil. Arugula is mainly used for salad dressing and sometimes served as spring green in a salad.

That’s why it is one of the best choices to replace it in arugula. Arugula is high in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. In addition, arugula has a peppery, slightly bitter taste and a unique peppery smell.

How To Substitute

The best substitution ratio to substitute basil is 1:1 for a similar taste.

12. Tarragon

If you are cooking your favorite dish and running short of basil and a peppery flavor is its foremost requirement, try using tarragon to replace basil.

Tarragon is a great, delicious, fragrant herb to substitute for basil. This herb is used in many French dishes like sauces and white wine.

It is known for its unique flavor with a peppery touch to it.

How To Substitute

Use tarragon in a 1:1 substitution ratio for best results.

13. Kale

Kale has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor and a crisp, somewhat crinkly texture reminiscent of watercress. It’s a dark green leafy vegetable with large leaves that are deeply cut and tinged with purple.

It has a more bitter taste than the famous basil, which you can use in any basil recipe. Due to its flavor, it won’t be a perfect substitute for every recipe. However, in some recipes, it will work.

How To Substitute

Use kale to substitute basil in 1:1 substitution.

14. Fennel


Fennel is a green herb that you can use for basil. It has a mild licorice flavor and a strong anise flavor. In addition, fennel has a sweet, slightly licorice flavor and is used to flavor drinks, desserts, and salad dressings.

You may use fennel in sauces, stews, or braises. For better results, you can use fennel standalone or pair it with other ingredients like spinach or nettles.

How To Substitute

You may use fennel in your recipe in small quantities and later increase depending on its requirement.

15. Marjoram

Basil is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking, but finding fresh basil is challenging. The best alternative is to use marjoram.

Marjoram is also known as sweet basil and is a perennial herb with a flavor similar to basil but slightly sweeter. It is one of the best basil substitutes.

How To Substitute

To replace basil with marjoram, replace one part with three parts. For dried herbs, use three tablespoons of marjoram for one tablespoon of basil.

16. Lovage

Basil is one of the most commonly used herbs in the world. Its taste and smell make it an easy addition to any dish. Lovage is a more delicate herb with a unique flavor and scent that compliments basil in cooking.

Lovage, a vegetable in the celery family, is an excellent substitute for basil in dishes like pesto, salad dressings, and sauces. This herb has a similar flavor to basil and is often used as a substitute in Italian dishes.

Lovage is also known as celery root.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 part of basil with 1 part of lovage.

17. Nettles

Nettles are the ultimate green, edible plant that is gaining popularity as a culinary ingredient. They are often found in herb gardens, which are incredibly easy to grow.

They are also an excellent substitute for basil in pasta and chicken and fish dishes. However, while using them, you should wear gloves as they sting on the skin.

So while using them, you should be careful. Also, you may prepare them the way you prepare spinach.

How To Substitute

Use nettles for basil in a 1:1 substitution ratio.

18. Sorrel

Basil, a herb type, has been used for centuries in many different cultures and countries. However, basil is challenging to find and expensive. So instead, you can use Sorrel.

Sorrel is a type of herb that is green in color and is used as a substitute for basil. It has a taste similar to basil but with more zing. Sorrel can be found in most grocery stores.

How To Substitute

Use 1 part of Sorrel to replace 1 part of basil.

19. Rosemary

Basil is slightly peppery and can be found in many Mediterranean dishes. Rosemary has a piney, citrus flavor and is a crucial ingredient in Mediterranean dishes like roasted lamb.

Basil and rosemary are often used interchangeably in Mediterranean cuisine, but substituting rosemary for basil may lead to a dish with a different flavor profile.

Rosemary has a very distinct taste and aroma.

How To Substitute

Start by adding a small quantity of rosemary to your recipe unless you reach the desired level of flavor.

20. Parsley


To make a substitute for the taste of basil, use parsley instead. Parsley is a close relative of basil, so it has a similar taste.

To make a substitute for the smell of basil, use sage instead. Sage is also a close relative of basil, so it has a similar smell. In addition, you may use dried and fresh parsley, depending on your recipe.

Fresh parsley will work exceptionally well in garnishing.

How To Substitute

Replace basil with parsley at 1:1 to get your desired taste profile.

21. Sage

Basil is easy to grow and find and has a rich and savory flavor. On the other hand, Sage is a bit harder to come by, has a different flavor than basil, and is less widely used.

If you’re looking for something different from basil, try using sage. To replace Basil with Sage in a dish, add a teaspoon of dried Sage with the rest of the ingredients.

Basil is a much more delicate herb and will lose flavor quickly, whereas Sage can be cooked for up to an hour and still maintain flavor.

How To Substitute

Use sage to replace basil in a 1:1 substitution ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Oregano Do I Substitute For Basil?

The answer to this question is a complex one. There is no definite answer because basil and Oregano are two different plants, and each amount is additional. Oregano has a more intense flavor than basil, but it is harder to come by.

Basil has a sweeter taste, but it is more widely available. If you are substituting Oregano for basil, it is recommended to use at least a 1:2 ratio.

What Herb Can Replace Basil?

Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world, but its intense flavor is only sometimes the best for cooking. For that reason, many people prefer to substitute basil with another herb.

One of the most popular choices is parsley, which has a more mild flavor.

What Is Similar To Dried Basil?

Many herbs are similar to basil. Those herbs can become one of the best substitutes for dried basil. Try substituting dried basil such as Oregano, thyme, mint, coriander, parsley, pesto sauce, etc.

The Best Basil Substitutes (21 Alternatives You Should Know)

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All out of fresh or dried basil and need a quick alternative? Check out this list that details the best 21 basil substitutes and how to add them to your dish.


  • Dried Or Fresh Basil

  • Italian Seasoning

  • Spinach Leaves

  • Thyme

  • Oregano

  • Cilantro

  • Celery Leaf

  • Mint

  • Olive Oil-Basil Scented

  • Lemon Balm

  • Arugula

  • Tarragon

  • Kale

  • Fennel

  • Marjoram

  • Lovage

  • Nettles

  • Sorrel

  • Rosemary

  • Parsley

  • Sage


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith