The BEST Substitute for Basil (9+ Great Options)

There are plenty of good substitutes for basil, depending on the dish you’re cooking and the specific flavor profile you’re looking for! Here are some options, categorized by whether you need a fresh or dried alternative.

Fresh Basil Substitutes

Arugula

Similar to spinach, arugula offers a peppery bite and a bit of texture. Works well in pesto, salads, and as a garnish.

Oregano

Similar in texture and has a warm, peppery flavor that can mimic basil in tomato sauces, pizza toppings, and stir-fries. Use slightly less oregano than basil to avoid overpowering the dish.

Dried spices on spoon.

Mint

A member of the same family as basil, mint has a similar refreshing aroma but with a cooler, menthol note. Works well in salads, dips, and some Southeast Asian dishes. Use even less than oregano as the flavor is more intense.

Cilantro

Another herb with a bright, herbaceous flavor and citrusy notes. A good substitute for basil in salsas, guacamoles, and stir-fries, but less suitable for Italian or tomato-based dishes.

Spinach

Not a perfect flavor match, but spinach adds green color and a mild earthy taste to pesto, stir-fries, and soups. It won’t have the sweetness or bite of basil, but can hold its own in some dishes.

Dried Basil Substitutes

Oregano

A slightly concentrated version of fresh oregano, perfect for sauces, soups, and stews. Use ½ the amount of dried oregano compared to fresh basil.

Italian Seasoning

A blend of herbs including oregano, thyme, and basil, making it a convenient substitute for a variety of Italian dishes. Adjust the amount based on the desired intensity.

Thyme

Provides a warm, earthy flavor, ideal for soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. Use a much smaller quantity than fresh basil, about ¼ teaspoon for every tablespoon.

Bundle of thyme.

Tarragon

Offers a unique licorice-like flavor and works well in creamy sauces, chicken dishes, and some Asian-inspired recipes. Use sparingly as it’s quite potent.

Tips

  • Remember that substitutions may not be exact, so adjust the amount based on the herb’s potency and your taste preferences.
  • Consider using a combination of herbs for a more complex flavor profile.
  • If you’re unsure, start with a smaller amount of the substitute and add more to taste.

PS – Be sure to check out this post on 🌿 how to freeze basil 🌿 so that you’re never without it!

Related Recipes

Here are some recipes using basil:

Collage of basil substitutes with text overlay.

The BEST Substitute for Basil

There are plenty of good substitutes for basil, depending on the dish you're cooking and the specific flavor profile you're looking for! Here are some options, categorized by whether you need a fresh or dried alternative.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 Tablespoon basil

Ingredients

For Fresh Basil: Arugula

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh argula (has a slightly peppery bite)

For Dried Basil: Italian Seasoning

Instructions

  • If your recipe calls for fresh basil, substitute with an equal amount of fresh arugula. Be aware though that arugula is a bit more peppery.
  • If your recipe calls for dried basil, substitute with an equal amount of Italian seasoning or oregano.
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