Basil Substitute: 13 Fresh And Dried Basil Substitutes

Basil has been utilized as a distinctive and tasty addition to a variety of foods, including Italian, Thai, and Mediterranean fare. Both fresh and dried basil is a common addition to many different types of foods, but what if it’s not readily available? 

Fortunately, there are plenty of basil substitute options to choose from. This article helps you discover the best basil substitutes for when you are in a pinch.

I. 6 fresh basil substitutes 

Here are some of the top basil alternatives you can use when you can’t find any fresh basil:

1. Celery leaf

Celery leaves have a mild flavor reminiscent of basil leaves. It makes a great replacement for fresh basil leaves in soups, stews, salads, and dressings where you need an added flavor boost. 

2. Oregano leaves

The pungent, slightly bitter flavor of fresh oregano adds a unique touch to many Greek and Italian dishes. However, because oregano has a stronger flavor than basil, use less of it in marinades and sauces.

3. Mint Leaves

Fresh mint leaves, which have a flavor that is similar to basil but slightly sweeter, can be used in place of fresh basil. These herbs taste amazing in desserts, beverages, and Middle Eastern dishes. 

Keep in mind that it has a much stronger flavor than basil and that you will need to use less of it if you don’t want the other flavors of the dish to be overpowered.

4. Parsley

Parsley is the ideal herb for giving any dish a subtle grassy flavor. Fresh parsley is an excellent fresh basil substitute in savory recipes like sauces and soups. Additionally, it imparts a wonderful aroma to your dishes.

Explore More: Parsley vs Cilantro

5. Cilantro 

All of your favorite foods benefit from the lemony, fragrant flavor of cilantro. It has a strong flavor that goes well with Middle Eastern, Asian, and Mexican dishes. Additionally, incorporating cilantro gives your food rich flavors and color.

However, it might be worth noting that some people might perceive a soapy aftertaste after consuming cilantro owing to a genetic mutation. But for those who like it, cilantro is a versatile herb that improves a variety of dishes.

6. Spinach 

Spinach is another alternative to basil with its mild, earthy flavor. Because of its moderate flavor and high iron, vitamin, and antioxidant content, it provides a healthy alternative to pesto or pasta dishes.

Additionally, it works wonders in savory recipes like sauces and soups to give them depth and richness. However, remember that basil has a similar texture but a different flavor from spinach. Although it may work well in some recipes, it might not be a good idea in others.

II. 5 dried basil substitutes 

The best alternative to dried basil substitute is to use fresh basil leaves that you dry yourself. This method will help you get the most flavor from your basil leaves and retain their full aroma and taste. 

However, if you don’t have access to fresh basil leaves either, then here are some dried basil alternatives:

1. Dried oregano

When dried basil isn’t available, dry oregano can be used instead. But since oregano is more fragrant and flavorful than dried basil, use less of it while cooking.

2. Italian seasoning 

Italian seasoning is an easy way to add a robust flavor to your recipes. The combination of dried basil, oregano, and thyme creates a unique blend that can easily replace dried basil in many dishes. However, the flavor of Italian seasoning is more complex than using just one herb alone, so adjust the quantity accordingly.

3. Dried tarragon

The flavor of dried tarragon is distinctive, somewhat sweet, and licorice-like. It frequently serves as a basil alternative in many dishes, particularly French fare. When substituting, use less tarragon because it has a stronger flavor than basil.

Related Article: Tarragon Substitute

4. Thyme 

Another excellent substitution for basil is thyme. Its flavor is similar to basil in that it is woodsy and slightly minty, making it ideal for adding a little additional zing to your favorite meals. But keep in mind that thyme can impart an unpleasant taste if used excessively. 

5. Dried marjoram

In several recipes, dried marjoram, a herb with a strong and bitter flavor, can be substituted in place of basil. Just remember that marjoram has a stronger flavor than basil, so you might need to use it carefully to get the perfect flavor.

III. 2 readily available basil leaves substitutes 

Here is a list of two basil substitutes that are super convenient since they are ready to use. 

1. Pesto sauce

Pesto sauce is an excellent way to add basil flavor to any dish. It functions as a delicious fresh basil substitute and is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil. Due to its robust flavor, it goes perfectly with sandwiches and pasta.

2. Basil oil

Basil oil is a great way to add intense basil flavor to your dishes. Made from pureed basil, basil oil can be used in small amounts as a substitute for fresh basil, allowing you to really dial up the flavor in whatever dish you’re creating.


Basil is a wonderful herb with a wide variety of uses in cooking. However, if basil is unavailable or you want to try something different, there are many substitutes for both fresh and dried basil. Ultimately, you need to experiment and find the basil substitute that best suits your dish and flavor preferences.


Here are some of the frequently asked questions about dried or fresh basil substitutes. 

1. What herb is similar to basil?

Although there are many substitutes for fresh or dried basil, oregano, mint, and thyme are the herbs most similar to basil and are often used as basil alternatives. 

2. Is there a substitute for dried basil?

Yes, several alternatives to dried basil can be used in recipes. Some of them are dried oregano, marjoram, and Italian seasoning. 

3. Can I use parsley instead of basil?

Yes, some recipes can use parsley as a substitute for basil. However, parsley has a milder flavor than basil. 

4. What is the best substitute for Thai basil?

Sweet basil is the greatest alternative to Thai basil because sweet basil and thai basil both have comparable flavor profiles. As an alternative, you can imitate the peculiar flavor of Thai basil in your meals by combining a little mint or cilantro with Italian basil.

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