Don’t have basil, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best substitute for dried and fresh basil to use in recipes.

Basil substitute

Making a recipe that calls for basil and don’t have it? Basil is a beautiful herb that has a unique, peppery flavor. It’s often used in Mediterranean and Italian-style cooking. Don’t have time to shop for it or can’t find it? Or cooking and just realized you don’t have it? Here are some substitute ideas.

Keep in mind: basil is hard to replace

Are you cooking that features basil like Caprese Salad, Basil Pesto or Margherita Pizza? Here’s our advice. Try to find the real thing if at all possible! Basil is not like some ingredients that have obvious substitutes: it’s got a unique flavor that’s not easily replaceable. It’s worth waiting for when you’re able to find it. But if you must: keep reading for the best substitutes.

Best basil substitute

1. Oregano

The best substitute for basil? Oregano. Keep in mind: the flavor profile is not the same! But it’s similar enough that it works in a pinch: it brings in loads of Italian flavor. You can use equal amounts of fresh oregano or dried oregano to substitute for fresh oregano or dried oregano. In our opinion, dried basil doesn’t have a lot of flavor: so you could also omit it if you prefer.

2. Tarragon

The next best substitute for basil? Tarragon. It’s got a similar lightly anise (licorice) finish to the flavors. Again, the flavor profile is not the same! But it works in a pinch. Use equal amounts of fresh or dried tarragon to substitute for basil.

3. Mint

The last substitute for basil: mint! Like both oregano and tarragon, the flavor profile is not the same. But it can work in a pinch! Fresh mint is especially good for garnishing something like a crostini. We recommend using peppermint and not spearmint: spearmint evokes the sweet flavor of gum and less of the peppery flavor of basil.

Basil recipes

Here are some recipes with basil:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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