Belonging to the mint family, there are more than 100 varieties of Basil! So, the confusion is a must. The most common amongst this class is the sweet Basil, also known as the Italian Sweet Basil. Thai Basil vs Basil is based on its physical appearance and the way it grows.

The flavors of the two are different enough to change the taste of a dish if substituted for each other. Thai Basil is usually found common in recipes from Southeast Asia. Thai Basil also originates from the Southeast Asian region.

The interest in home-garden all around the world is growing. More and more herbs and basic vegetables are grown at homes in the backyards or even in pots. Basil and many of its types are easy to grow at home. I have planted Thai Basil as well as Basil in my window pots as well! Looks cute and I have fresh Basil at hand always.

The major differences lie in two major factors; appearance and flavor. Being a raw herb that is also easy to grow, it is amazing how different the taste can be if added to a recipe. But you need to know how to add them to a recipe and which recipe requires which one of the 100 varieties.

How Different Do They Look?

You need to differentiate them, but how will you do it if you don’t know how they look? So I will tell you the fun parts of its appearance with which you will never get confused among Thai Basil vs. Basil again.

Sweet Basil or Italian Sweet Basil has delicate leaves and stems that are delicate. The stems are towards the thinner side and are green in color. The leaves on this one are larger than the Thai Basil.

Thai Basil has sturdy leaves, more like mint leaves. Its stem is also thicker compared to Sweet Basil. The color of the stem is not green but purple.

How Are the Flavors Different?

The herbs you add to a dish are the aroma and aesthetics it adds to the food. The spiciness or the tanginess added by the herbs is unique, and skipping them might not result in the authentic flavor of the dish.

Thai Basil adds a savory flavor to the dishes it is added to. It has spicy, black licorice and anise-like flavor. Besides, it is added in dishes where spicy flavor and sturdy texture are needed. It is also a common ingredient in Vietnamese spring rolls.

Sweet Italian Basil has a subtle flavor. The flavor this adds is not as spicy as this Thai counterpart. It is more like black pepper. 

Which Cuisines Use the Two?

Thai Basil is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian dishes. It is also a basic ingredient of Chinese food. However, due to its hot flavor, it is not preferred in the Western world.

Due to its mild flavor, Sweet Italian Basil is preferred in the Western side of the world. It is commonly used in European and American dishes. It is also used in Mediterranean food.

How Do You Add Them to the Dishes?

Thai Basil vs. Basil is different, so it is added to a dish as an ingredient is also different. Thai basil is added during the cooking. It is usually chopped roughly and added.

Sweet Italian Basil is not added while cooking. It is added when the dish is completed and ready to serve. It is more of a garnishing ingredient in most of the recipes.

Can Both of the Substitute Each Other?

Thai Basil has a certain flavor to it. So, if the recipe calls for Thai Basil, you can add Sweet Basil, but it will not give the same flavor. So, if you are looking for the same flavor, it is better that you add Thai Basil only. Then, if you run out of it, you can grab it from your nearest Asian grocery store.

If the recipe states to add Sweet Basil, you cannot add Thai Basil instead. The Thai basil has a unique flavor, and the recipe can be ruined if you substitute it for Sweet Basil.

The best thing is to grow it at home as both of them can be grown in pots. You don’t require a large space to grow them!

Try recipes with both of them:


Authentic flavors will be delivered only if you use the right type of Basil in the right recipe. So go ahead and try out your hand.