Basil has been referred to as the aromatic “King of Herbs” and is a favorite seasoning used by Italian chefs. Pizza is undoubtedly one of the most popular Italian dishes ever created. Americans alone eat over 350 slices per second 24/7. So, it should come as little surprise that basil and pizza have a very close relationship.
Whether dried or fresh, basil has probably played some part in creating every pizza you have ever eaten. If you have already realized this, you may have pondered what kind of basil is best for pizza.
In this article, we’ll do our best to answer that question and many other of the most frequently asked questions about pizza and basil.
So, What Kind of Basil is Best for Pizza?
What kind of basil is best for pizza is a loaded question. Over 150 types of basil are used in cooking and defining what a pizza is can ignite an hours-long debate.
Some still believe pineapple on a pizza is sacrilegious. Others think spreading or sprinkling anything on a crust creates a pie.
Arguments notwithstanding, here are some general guidelines you can use to make the best use of basil:
In Red Pizza Sauces
In classic (tomato-based) pizza sauces, you can use any basil that fits your taste. These sauces are generally stout enough to hold up to any basil commonly used. If you are not familiar with the more pungent varieties of basil like Black Opal, Thai, or Red Rubin, you should approach their use with caution. Their flavor can be very dominating.
In White Pizza Sauces
White pizza sauces are most commonly dairy-based and much lighter in flavor. Lemon Basil pairs well with white pizza, as does sweet basil. For dessert, pizzas that use a white sauce, Cinnamon Basil can add a surprising bite.
As a Topping
Basil of all types can be used as a pizza topping. Which ones work best is entirely a matter of taste and what other toppings are being used. However, it should be remembered that fresh basil should only be added as a pizza topping just before the pie comes out of the oven. When over-baked, basil loses its flavor and doesn’t look very appetizing.
FAQ About Basil On Pizza
What basil is used for Neapolitan pizza?
Authentic Neapolitan pizza, the forebearer of New York-style pizza, is a very precise pizza made from a specific list of ingredients. There are only two types of cheese, two varieties of tomato, and one form of yeast that can be used to create a true Neapolitan pizza.
Surprisingly, for Neopolitan Pizza, the type of basil used is not mandated, but Italian Large Leaf, Sweet, and Napoletano Basil are the most common choices.
Why is basil used in pizza?
The short answer to why basil is used in pizza is FLAVOR. Basil can have various flavor profiles, but most types have a sweet, slightly peppery edge and refreshing taste that enlivens almost any dish.
As a bonus, when used as a topping, basil adds both texture and visual appeal.
Which basil leaves are used in pizza?
Sweet, Italian Large Leaf, Napoletano, and Genovese Basil are all popular choices to top a pizza or season pizza sauces. However, almost any form of culinary basil can be used with a bit of practice.
Can I put fresh basil on pizza?
Fresh basil used as a topping for pizza is spectacular. It adds visual appeal, textural contrast, and a burst of flavor that is surprisingly refreshing. One thing to remember is basil leaves lose their flavor and become soggy when overcooked. They should be placed on the pizza in the last minutes of baking or just before serving.
Do you put basil or oregano on pizza?
Both basil and oregano can be used on pizza, but basil is the preferred choice of most people. Oregano tends to be a tad overbearing and often develops a bitter edge when used as a pizza topping.
Can I use tulsi instead of basil in pizza?
Tulsi, or Holy Basil as it is also known, can be used in pizza. Generally, Holy Basil is better known for its medicinal properties but is also suitable for cooking. There are four common types of Tulsi available. Each has a slightly different flavor profile but similar health benefits.
Can I use Thai Basil on pizza?
Yes, you can use Thai Basil on pizza. It is not the most common choice as some people find Thai Basil’s licorice and anise edges unsuitable for pizza. With the diversity of pizzas today though, including dessert pizzas, there is a home for almost any flavor profile.