Coriander is the dried seeds from the same plant (Coriandrum sativum) whose leaves we call cilantro. It is accepted that basil and cilantro can be substituted for each other, within certain limits. The question is, does the same apply to coriander and basil?
In this article, we look at:
- Can coriander be substituted for basil?
- What can you use in place of basil?
Table of Contents
So, can I use coriander instead of basil?
You can use coriander in place of basil but it presents several challenges. More if you make it fresh basil.
Coriander is a seed that has a warm spicy taste with citrus notes. Fresh basil has a savory, sweet flavor with touches of cloves, anise, and licorice—dried basil taste much the same but without the vibrance that fresh leaves provide.
For recipes that call for dried basil, coriander can be used as a replacement. You can also substitute coriander for dried basil as a garnish. Both are lovely sprinkled on curries or pizzas. In either case, though, you shouldn’t expect the flavors or textures to be the same.
Using any dried seasoning in place of fresh savory herbs is problematic. The taste variance will always be extreme. The textures and the colors will not match. This isn’t to say that you can’t create a satisfying dish when replacing fresh basil with coriander, just that it will take a great deal of unnecessary effort.
What can I use in place of basil?
Basil, both fresh and dried, is one of the most used seasonings in American kitchens. Considering its versatility and sweet, savory nature, this is of little surprise. Still, there may be times when you find yourself out of your favorite herb or just wanting to try something a little new.
Here are five suggestions for when you’re wondering what I can use in place of basil.
No, this isn’t a typo. In most cases, if your recipe calls for fresh basil and you are out, the closest substitute you will find is dried basil. The same is true of fresh for dried.
You need to remember that dried basil is about three times as strong by volume as fresh. If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of dried basil, you will need three teaspoons of fresh as a replacement. If the recipe calls for three tablespoons of fresh basil, then one tablespoon of dried should suffice.
Italian seasoning is typically made of basil and oregano with minor amounts of parsley, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. If you find yourself in a pinch for basil, Italian seasoning is a simple-to-use replacement.
Remember to check your recipe and see what other seasoning you may need to adjust to compensate for the seasoning mix.
For dishes like pesto, spinach leaves make an excellent replacement for basil. Spinach are milder in flavor but still have a touch of zest, making them ideal to use when cooking for kids or others with pallets too sensitive for basil.
Like basil, oregano is an Italian classic that you can make work in most traditional dishes. Oregano is much more pungent than basil, so you will want to reduce the amount you use. A little secret is that you can add a touch of agave nectar to oregano to help it better mimic the sweeter flavor profile of basil.
Thyme and basil are cousins. Thyme is best used in dishes and sauces that call for lemon basil because of its rather heavy citrus character. Thyme has a warmer flavor than basil but shares that minty undertone basil often displays.
Other possible substitutes for basil include:
- Celery Leaf