26 Different Types of Basil

Different Types of Basil
Photo by Giorgi Iremadze

Basil is a prevalent herb, and while there are various varieties, each has its unique taste and aroma. It can be challenging to know how to use them in your cooking.

That’s why we’ve written this guide on the different types of Basil and how to use them in your cooking. No matter what type of Basil you have, the following recipes will help you make the most of it!

1. Dark Opal Basil

Beautiful purple Basil, Dark Opal is perfect for ornamental and culinary purposes. When used in cooking, it has a slightly sweeter flavor than other varieties. Try it in pesto or as a colorful garnish on grilled fish or chicken.

2. Genovese Basil

One of the most common different types of Basil is Genovese, named after the city in Italy where it originates. It has large, deep green leaves with a sweet, anise-like flavor that’s ideal for pesto, Caprese salad, and other Italian dishes.

3. Purple Leaf Basil

Purple Basil, one of the different types of Basil, has a deep, earthy flavor and a beautiful purple color. It’s perfect for making homemade tomato sauce or adding color to a summer salad.

4. Sweet Basil

This is the most common type of Basil you’ll find at the grocery store, and it’s what most people think of when they think of Basil. It has a sweet, anise-like flavor that goes well with tomatoes (which is why it’s often used in tomato sauce). You can also use it in pesto, salads, and garnish.

5. Napoletano Basil

This type of Basil is grown in Naples, Italy, and has a strong, pungent flavor that’s perfect for pizzas and other tomato-based dishes. To use it, chop the leaves and add them to your dish. You can also make a pesto with Napoletano basil by blending it with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and pine nuts.

6. Italian Large Leaf Basil

A classic type of the different types of Basil. Italian Large Leaf is often used in tomato-based dishes or as a garnish.

Also, it has a strong, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with other herbs like oregano and thyme. To use, snip the leaves off the stem and add them to your dish.

7. Lime Basil

This type of Basil has a strong citrus flavor that can be used to liven up any dish. It’s also a good garnish for cocktails. To use it in cooking, try pairing it with fish or chicken. One of the more popular recipes is grilled salmon served over basmati rice with lime basil as a garnish. 

8. Sweet Thai Basil

Often confused with Thai Holy Basil, this herb is sweeter than other types and can be used fresh in sauces, soups, or dried as part of a spice mix.

9. Holy Basil

Also known as tulsi, Holy Basil is a sacred plant in Hinduism. It’s used in Ayurvedic medicine and has a strong, slightly spicy flavor. Holy Basil is great in curries, stews, soups, and saute ́ s. Though it’s best when paired with some other herbs or spices.

10. Spicy Globe Basil

This is one of the different types of Basil commonly used in Thai cooking. It has a strong anise flavor and is very aromatic. 

To use it, first remove the leaves from the stem. Then, chop them up and add them to your dish towards the end of cooking. This will help preserve their flavor. You can also make pesto with spicy globe basil by adding garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

11. Greek Basil

Greek Basil, also known as Horta or wild Basil, is a variety of Ocimum minimum. It’s native to the Mediterranean and used in Greek cuisine. 

These different types of Basil have small leaves and are used fresh or dry in cooking. Greek Basil has a strong flavor with hints of mint, cloves, and anise. Try it in stews, soups, sauces, salads, and pasta dishes.

12. Christmas Basil

Also known as eastern redbud, this type of Basil is a bushy annual that reaches about two feet in height. It has egg-shaped leaves that are dark green on top and purple underneath. 

The Christmas basils are different types of Basil that get their name from their small, deep red flowers blooming in the shape of a star. Basil is often used as an ornamental plant, but it can also be used in cooking. When used in cooking, Christmas basil has a slightly minty flavor with hints of clove.

13. Lemon Basil

This type of Basil has a citrusy flavor that is perfect for adding to cocktails or iced tea. It can also be used in savory dishes, like chicken or fish. To use lemon basil, add it to your dish at the end of cooking so the flavor doesn’t get cooked out.

14. Purple Ruffles Basil

Purple ruffles are a beautiful and unique type of Basil with a frilly, deeply-lobed leaf. It’s a striking addition to any dish but can be especially lovely in salads or as a garnish. The flavor is slightly spicy with hints of anise. Try it in this recipe for Purple Basil Pesto.

15. Spicy Bush Basil

These different types of Basil are perfect for those who love a little spice in their life. They have a strong, pungent flavor that can add some zing to any dish. 

While it’s often used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, it can also be used in other dishes. Just be careful not to use too much, as it can easily overpower different flavors. If you’re looking for the best place to find this type of Basil, head to your local Asian market.

16. Cinnamon Basil

This type of Basil has a strong cinnamon flavor with a hint of clove. It’s often used in Asian cuisine as a spice or in curries.

To use it, add it to your dish while cooking. If you’re not cooking something spicy, sprinkle it on top after you’ve cooked the dish for a little extra flavor.

Alternatively, drizzle honey over sweet dishes and garnish with chopped cinnamon basil leaves. The result is an explosion of flavors that’ll make you want to eat more!

17. Summerlong Basil

A warm-weather annual summerlong basil is one of the most heat-tolerant varieties. It’s a good choice for growing in hot, dry climates. 

These different types of Basil have large leaves and have a slightly ruffled edge. They’re bright green and have a strong, pungent flavor that’s perfect for use in pesto or other Italian dishes.

While it is often eaten raw as an appetizer, it can also be cooked lightly without losing its flavor. Summerlong Basil goes well with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and spinach.

18. Sweet Thais Basil

This type of Basil is commonly used in Thai cuisine. It has a sweet, anise-like flavor and can be used in cooked and raw dishes. Try it in a stir-fry, curry, soup, or salad. I recommend adding this to your next Pad Thai dish! You can also use it for pesto if you’re feeling adventurous.

19. Ararat

The most common of all the different types of Basil. You can find this variety at most grocery stores. It has large, green leaves with a sweet flavor that pairs well with tomatoes. You can use it in any dish, from pesto to pizza. One thing not to do? Add it to anything spicy or salty because the flavors will be overpowered. 

20. Ocimum

 If you’re looking for something substantial, this is for you! It tastes best when used as an ingredient in pasta sauces and soups. Pairing it with tomato-based dishes will give them a more robust taste.

21. Purple Ruffles

Often used as an ornamental plant, this type also tastes delicious as an ingredient in salads or as a garnish on top of dishes like fish tacos or chilaquiles.

22. Cardinal Basil

A large, red-leaved variety with a sweet, anise-like flavor, Cardinal basil is named for its resemblance to the robes worn by Catholic cardinals. 

It’s commonly used in Italian cuisine but can be used in any dish that calls for sweet Basil. Some people also use it as a garnish or substitute for cilantro.

23. African Blue Basil

Have you ever seen a more beautiful Basil than the African blue Basil? Basil is often used as an ornamental plant, but it can also be used in cooking. 

Its flavor is similar to that of other basils, with a hint of clove. Try using it in Italian dishes or use it to make homemade pesto.

24. Green Ruffles

This type of Basil has ruffled green leaves and a slightly sweet flavor. It’s perfect for use in salads, as a garnish, or in pesto. 

25. Semi-dried 

These are the different types of Basil that have been dried and soaked in oil. They have a more intense flavor than fresh Basil but can still be used for many things such as pasta sauce, bread dipping oil, or salad dressing.

They can also be used to make tea by steeping one teaspoon of crushed semi-dried Basil into hot water.

26. Opal Basil

This type of Basil has a warm, spicy flavor that’s perfect for use in desserts or baking. Try adding it to sugar cookies, gingerbread, or even pumpkin pie to bring out its flavor.

You can also use it in savory dishes like curries or stir-fries. It is often used as an accent rather than the main herb.

Conclusion 

Finally, there are different types of Basil, and each style has its distinct flavor profile that can be used in various dishes. You will find your own choice out of the lists.

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