What Does Thai Basil Taste Like?

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What does Thai basil taste like? Is it different from sweet basil? We’ll answers these questions and more, then we’ll tell you how you can use it in sweet and savory recipes.

Thai Basil in a white bowlSave

Let’s take a look…

What Does Thai Basil Taste Like? 

Thai basil is strong like sweet basil, pungent and herbal. Both types also contain a certain spicy element, but Thai basil differs from sweet basil in its slight licorice flavor.

Though both herbs are used in savory cooking, Thai basil could be said to be the more savory plant. It blends well with tart, sweet, earthy and spicy flavors.

Thai Basil Texture 

It looks a little different with spiky edges and elongated leaves, though Thai basil is soft to the touch, and it’s just as tender as Italian basil. 

The smaller, younger leaves on the stem are the tenderest. Sometimes Thai basil can get a little tough if it’s from an older plant, but you shouldn’t encounter this at the supermarket.

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What Is Thai Basil Good For? 

You may come across this flavorsome herb in Asian dishes like stir-fries and curries. You’ll find that it complements sharper ingredients like ginger, lemongrass and garlic. 

But there’s no reason you can’t use Thai basil instead of sweet basil in vegan pesto. The anise flavor may even be a welcome change. Though Thai basil is excellent for Thai and Southeast Asian cuisines, it can replace any type of basil in a recipe.

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Are Thai Basil Flowers Edible? 

If you got some of the flower buds in your bag of Thai basil, use them! They’re not just good for garnish—they’re soft and taste like less spicy versions of the leaves.

You can always use fresh herbs in a salad, but sometimes they’re a bit potent. To get a toned-down Thai basil flavor, use the flowers is in your salad. Just place them on top or mix them right in with your greens and veggies. 

Thai Basil Serving Tips 

Now that you have an idea of what Thai basil is like, you can start experimenting with it in the kitchen. For inspiration, check out these video. They’ll guide you through vegan recipes one step at a time.

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This Thai eggplant stir-fry will knock your socks off. It’s made with:

  • Eggplant
  • Chili pepper
  • Garlic
  • Thai basil leaves
  • Cornstarch or your favorite thickening starch
  • Yellow soybean paste
  • Soy sauce
  • Cooking oil

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Have you ever tried vegan Thai basil ice cream? If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and make some. Sharing is optional.

Here are the ingredients:

  • Coconut milk
  • Vegan milk
  • Thai basil
  • Italian basil (you can skip this and use all Thai basil for a deeper licorice flavor)
  • Orange zest
  • Sugar
  • Arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • Xanthan gum
  • Vanilla extract

Wrap Up 

Thai basil is like a licorice-flavored cousin of sweet basil. It’s perfect for Southeast Asian dishes, but try it in a vegan pine nut pesto. Don’t forget about the sweet treats you can make with it—vegan ice cream is a winner.

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