Can I use Mint Instead of Basil? (ANSWERED)

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Can I use Mint Instead of Basil

Wondering if you can use basil instead of mint? You’re in the right place. Keep reading and we’ll give you all of the details that you need to know.

So, can I use mint instead of Basil?

mint menthol

In many dishes, mint can be used instead of basil. Basil and Mint are both parts of the Lamiaceae family and are very close cousins. The flavors of both are cool and refreshing, however, they do have their differences. 

One of the most important parts of using mint effectively as a replacement to basil is to proportion it well. You don’t want to overdo it, or else the menthol of the mint might be overpowering. 

This is especially true for savory dishes that are Mediterranean or European in origin. The mint will really stand out a bit overpowering, and abnormal to people expecting the pepperiness of basil.

Swapping out mint for basil would work better in sweet dishes than in savory ones most of the time.

For Pizza

mint on pizza

For pizza mint can be a little tricky to use in place of basil. Because pizza is so savory, using fresh mint as a topping on pizza may not mingle with the flavors too well. While both mint and basil have a coolness to them, the menthol found in mint really stands out when it is used fresh. 

However, if you are cooking some toppings (such as sauteed mushrooms) you can use mint as an alternative for basil. Although, only use about half of the amount of mint as you would for basil since the menthol can really come out powerfully and change the flavors. 

For Tomato Sauce

mint on tomato sauce

Mint can be used to replace basil in tomato sauce, and some actually recommend you allow the menthol to permeate your sauce. The mint can be allowed to stand out in certain tomato sauce recipes, especially if it is a sweeter sauce. 

If you are making a strong garlic or savory tomato sauce, rather than a sweet sauce, you may want to tone the mint down a bit. There are two good ways to do this. If you are making a sauce that will be used right away, add fresh mint towards the end of your cooking process. This way the mentol is mild and has not been extracted too much during the cooking process. 

If you are making sauce to be kept in the fridge for a while (or canned) use dried mint rather than fresh mint. The menthol will be toned down a lot, and can really help keep it in check. 

For Pesto

mint on pesto

Mint is a wonderful addition in pesto sauces when used alongside basil. It’s recommended that you use 3 parts basil and one part mint when making pesto.

One note, however, is you might want to avoid garlic in this pesto (or use a lot less of it). It can be a personal preference for you, but garlic is a little weird when paired with mint. The two flavors aren’t very complimentary, as one is very savory and the other is sweeter. 

To summarize:

  • For pizza: Yes – just be careful not to overdo it, and add it cooked.
  • Tomato sauce – Add to sweet sauces and avoid overdoing it with savory sauces
  • Pesto – You can make a mint pesto which is very tasty, however, try to avoid overdoing it on the garlic. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Basil taste Like Mint?

mint flavor

Overall, the fundamental flavor of mint is much more potent than basil. Basil is a cool, mild fresh flavored herb, with a mild pepper undertone. The flavor can be described as mildly sweet with anise undertones that give it a touch of licorice flavor. 

Mint grows in a variety of flavor profiles, including spearmint, peppermint, and wintergreen. One of the most distinguishing features of this herb is the presence of menthol. This is the scent that we identify with the cool, minty fresh scent we love.

Think of a “toothpaste” flavor but much less artificial! 

Of these three types, wintergreen echoes the sweetness of basil, but peppermint has the robust, slightly pepper-like flavor similar to basil. The menthol is a strong distinction, however, and the coolness left in the mouth after consumption is a sensation many of us recognize and may not want in certain dishes.

What is Basil Mint used for?

Basil mint is a mint plant that smells like — you guessed it — basil! It can be used in the same way that basil and mint are used such as salad dressings, pestos, infusing oils, tea, and much more. 

How do you take care of Mint and Basil?

mint perennial

Mint needs moderate sunlight with gentle watering. You do not want to overwater this plant, but also avoid allowing it to get dried out. This plant is incredibly hearty once the roots are established, but be sure to plant it somewhere you don’t mind if it spreads. 

Mint has a very efficient and rapid root system that spreads itself fast. It can easily overtake a garden bed if not managed well. 

Basil, however, prefers direct sunlight and consistent moisture. You want to avoid overwatering, which can lead to mildew and root rot. Unlike its cousin, Basil does not tend to spread excessively, and only grows about 4 inches across and 2-3 feet high.

Mint is a perennial, which means every year it should grow once more after going dormant for the winter. Basil, however, varies based upon your climate and can be annual,  which means it must be replanted every year if you live in a cold region. 

If you do live in a cool region, just remember both of these herbs make excellent houseplants. Just be sure they get adequate light, whether it is artificial or sunlight. 

What is the difference between Basil and Mint?

basil flavor

One of the starkest differences between these plants is the presence or absence of menthol. Mint, as mentioned above, has menthol which gives it the cool, crisp flavor we associate with ice cream and candy canes. 

Basil does not have menthol, which makes it feel more savory and mild when you eat it. This is why it can be a difficult swap in dishes that require the distinctive cool, freshness of mint. 

Additionally, the anise flavoring of basil sets it apart from its mint cousin. This flavor is highly prized in Italian cooking, especially. This is one of the defining flavors of their sauces, and if you were to add menthol to it, this could really ruin your sauce if you add too much.