best Substitution For Thai Basil

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Looking for a Substitution For Thai basil? There are several alternatives that can mimic its distinct taste of this herb in your Thai recipes. Whether you’re out of Thai basil or simply can’t find it, don’t worry. I’ve got some great substitutes that will keep your meals deliciously on track.

substitution for Thai basil

Thai Basil Substitutes

Here are more detailed descriptions of the best substitution for Thai Basil:

Italian Sweet Basil

Also known as Genovese basil, this is a suitable substitution for Thai basil. It has a strong aroma and a flavor profile that mixes anise, pepper, and a bit of mint.

Sweet basil is widely used in Mediterranean cooking, especially in Italian cuisine. However, it’s more delicate than Thai basil, so adding it towards the end of the cooking time is better to preserve its flavor.

Holy Basil

Holy basil is another good Thai basil substitute. It’s more similar to Thai basil than sweet basil because of its spiciness, but it also has a hint of lemon.

Holy basil is used in many Thai dishes like Pad Kra Pao. It’s a bit more challenging to find than sweet basil, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great substitute.

Cinnamon Basil

As the name suggests, cinnamon basil has a mild flavor of cinnamon. Thai basil is more spicy than Thai basil, but its unique flavor can add an interesting twist to your dish.

Cinnamon basil is a variety of sweet basil, which shares the same peppery and slightly sweet flavor profile with the added hint of cinnamon. You can use cinnamon basil to substitute Thai basil.

Star Anise

Star Anise is not an herb but a spice with a strong anise flavor, one of the distinctive flavors of Thai basil. While it won’t provide the herbal notes and similar flavor of Thai basil, it can replicate the anise-like flavor.

If you’re using star anise as a Thai basil substitute, remember to adjust the quantity because it’s stronger in flavor than Thai basil.

Mint and Regular Basil Combination

A combination of mint and regular basil (sweet or Italian) can also mimic the flavor of Thai basil and can be a good alternative.

Mint brings in sweet and refreshing notes, while regular basil adds a peppery flavor. This combination will differ from Thai basil but can provide a similar flavor profile.

What Are The Types Of Basil Leaves?

Sweet Basil/ Italian Basil
This is also called Genovese basil, the most common type of basil, and is a key ingredient in Italian cuisine.
These regular basil leaves are vibrant green, smooth, and oval-shaped, emitting a strong aroma and sweet and slightly spicy flavor when crushed, tantalizing the taste buds. They bring a fresh, clove-like flavor with a hint of mint to dishes.

Purple Basil
Known for its striking dark purple, almost black foliage, purple basil adds a pop of color to salads and vinegar. Its flavor is similar to sweet basil but has a slight clove undertone.

Lemon Basil
As the name suggests, this variety has a strong, lemony aroma and distinct flavor. The leaves are light green, narrow, and slightly wrinkled. Lemon basil is often used in salads, marinades, and seafood dishes to add a refreshing citrus note.

Cinnamon Basil
When substituting Thai basil,this unique variety has a spicy, cinnamon-like flavor and aroma. The leaves are narrow and pointed, and the plant often produces small, pink flowers. Cinnamon basil can be used in desserts, teas, and cocktails for a spicy-sweet touch.

Thai Holy Basil
This aromatic herb, also known as Tulsi, holy basil, is revered in the Indian subcontinent for its medicinal properties and is considered a sacred plant. It has a strong, peppery flavor and a spicy scent. The leaves are grayish-green, slightly fuzzy, and more robust than others. Holy basil is often used to add strong flavor to many dishes and spicy soups.

Greek Basil
This variety is characterized by its small, round leaves and intense flavor that’s somewhat sweeter and milder than Italian basil. Greek basil is often used fresh in salads and paired with tomatoes in Mediterranean dishes.

Lettuce Basil
Named for its large, wrinkled leaves that resemble lettuce, this variety has a mild, sweet flavor. The leaves are perfect for making pesto or layered in sandwiches and wraps.

Cardinal Basil
This ornamental variety is named for its vibrant red flowers that resemble a cardinal’s hat. Its leaves are dark green slightly serrated, and its flavor profile is strong and spicy.

African Blue Basil
This perennial variety stands out with its purple-streaked leaves and a strong camphor scent. While it’s not typically used in cooking due to its intense flavor, it’s prized for its ornamental value and bee-attracting properties.


What Can I Use Thai Basil For?

Cooked Dishes: Thai basil can be incorporated into stir-fries, Thai curries, and soups, harmonizing well with Chicken, pork, and Beef. The heat helps to bring out the full flavor of the basil.

Noodle Dishes: Thai basil leaves are a key ingredient in traditional Noodle dishes like Drunken Noodles and Pho, where they add a fresh, aromatic note.

Thai Salads: Raw Thai basil can be slivered and added to Salads for flavor. It’s particularly good in meaty salads like northern Thai larb.

Thai Dishes: As you might expect, Thai basil is a staple in Thai cuisine. It’s used in green curry beef, Thai basil chicken, and many other traditional dishes.

Pasta Dishes: While not traditional, you can use Thai basil in pasta dishes. Adding it to your usual pasta sauce can introduce an intriguing variation.

Green Curry: Thai basil is often used in green curry dishes, which lends a distinctive grassy and spicy flavor.

Stir Fries: A quick stir fry is one of the easiest ways to make the most of Thai basil’s flavor. It’s particularly good in Thai basil stir-fry sauce.

Southeast Asian Cuisine: Outside of Thailand, Thai basil is also used in Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese recipes.

find A Thai Basil Substitution Today!

Whether you’re looking for a milder alternative or a bolder flavor profile, these herbs and spices offer something special.

From sweet basil to star anise and all the other herbs and spices mentioned here, there’s bound to be one that can work for you. Try out different combinations and find the one that best suits your taste!

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