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Spice Up Your Cooking: 4 BEST Substitutes for Thai Basil

Thai Basil, also known as Asian or Holy basil, is an herb with pungent and peppery flavors that is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine.

But what if you don’t have access to it? How can you substitute a missing ingredient while still maintaining the same flavor?

The answer lies in finding the best substitutes for Thai basil – ones that can give your dish a similar flavor profile.

In this article, we will explore how to use Thai Basil as well as dive into the five best substitutes for it.

The 4 Best Substitutes for Thai Basil in Recipes

While commonly grown in Thailand, Thai basil is also becoming a popular ingredient across the globe due to its unique flavor.

However, not everyone can get their hands on fresh Thai basil, or some may just be looking for alternative options in their cooking.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the 4 best substitutes for Thai basil in recipes, along with their key characteristics and proper ratios:

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
Sweet BasilSimilar to Thai basil but milder in flavor. It has a slightly spicy and peppery taste.Use an equal amount as Thai basil
Lemon BasilHas a citrusy and lemony aroma with a hint of basil flavor. It adds brightness to dishes.Use an equal amount as Thai basil
Holy BasilAlso known as tulsi, it has a strong and peppery flavor with hints of clove and anise.Use an equal amount as Thai basil
Cinnamon BasilHas a spicy and warm flavor reminiscent of cinnamon. It adds a unique twist to recipes.Use an equal amount as Thai basil

Now let’s explore each substitute in more detail:

1 – Sweet Basil

sweet basil

Also known as Italian basil, sweet basil is the most widely available type of basil in the United States.

Its flavor is described as being sweeter and more aromatic than other types of basil.

Sweet basil has a mild yet still slightly spicy taste, while Thai basil is considered to be much spicier in comparison.

Sweet basil leaves are usually longer and pointier than Thai basil leaves and they have a more pungent smell.

This makes them ideal for cooking dishes like pizza, pesto, pasta, spaghetti sauces and tomato salads.

However, when compared to Thai basil’s stronger flavor profile and higher oil content—which results in a number of health benefits—sweet basil can pale in comparison.

2 – Lemon Basil

lemon basil

Lemon basil is a variety of basil native to tropical Africa and India.

It is easily identified by its thin, pointed leaves that have a highly fragrant aroma of lemon.

Lemon basil can be substituted for Thai basil in cooking because they both have similar flavor profiles and can be used interchangeably in savory dishes.

The flavor of the lemon basil will be subtler than that of Thai basil, but it will still impart the same citrus-herb taste.

When substituting for Thai basil in recipes, use about one-third to one-half lesser amount than what the recipe calls for – because its flavor is milder, you’ll need less to get the same great flavor as Thai basil.

3 – Holy Basil

holy basil

Holy basil, also known as tulsi basil, is a type of basil that is common in Southeast Asian cuisine.

It’s a different strain from Thai basil, with a slightly different flavor profile.

Holy basil has notes of licorice and clove, along with the signature warm spiciness of regular basil.

You can use it instead of Thai basil if you don’t have any on hand.

Holy basil adds especially nice flavor to curries, tomato sauces, and noodle dishes.

Like other types of basils, holy basil also makes an excellent garnish for dishes such as salads or soups if shaved into paper-thin slices.

You should be able to find fresh holy basil in Southeast Asian grocery stores or organic food markets.

4 – Cinnamon Basil

cinnamon basil

Though it is not easy to find, cinnamon basil is one of the best substitutes for Thai basil.

It does have a hint of cinnamon in its taste, which would make it a great addition to spice up the dish.

The leaves are usually smaller than Thai basil, however; they have a vibrant and bright flavor that will add an interesting aura to recipes.

As long as you use it in dishes that include either spicy or sweet flavors, this type of basil can be equally as good as using Thai basil.

A little goes a long way with cinnamon basil as its intense flavor can be overwhelming when used in large quantities.

substitutes for thai basil

The 4 Best Substitutes for Thai Basil in Recipes

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • 1 – Sweet Basil
  • 2 – Lemon Basil
  • 3 – Holy Basil
  • 4 – Cinnamon Basil


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @EatDelights or tag #eatdelights!

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