What Does Thai Basil Taste Like? Discover Its Flavorful Secrets

Thai basil is a popular herb used in traditional Thai cuisine. Known for its appealing aroma and unique flavor, Thai basil has become a staple ingredient in many Asian dishes. If you’re curious about what Thai basil tastes like, then you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll explore the flavor profile of Thai basil and what makes it different from other types of basil. We’ll also take a look at some popular Thai dishes that utilize this herb and provide tips on how to use it in your own cooking.

What is Thai Basil?

Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora) is a type of sweet basil that is native to Southeast Asia. It has a distinct aroma and flavor that sets it apart from other basil varieties. Thai basil features narrow, pointed leaves that are slightly serrated and range in color from green to purple.

Taste Profile

The flavor of Thai basil can best be described as sweet, anise-like, and slightly spicy. It has a floral and peppery taste that is more pungent than the milder flavor of Italian basil. The combination of its unique flavor and fragrance makes it a popular ingredient in many Thai dishes.

Health Benefits

Like many herbs, Thai basil has several health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants and contains compounds that may help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and improve digestion. Additionally, it contains essential oils that may help reduce stress and anxiety.

Thai Basil in Thai Cuisine

Thai basil is an essential ingredient in many popular Thai dishes. Here are some of the most prominent dishes that utilize this herb:

Pad Krapow Gai

Pad Krapow Gai, also known as Thai basil chicken, is a stir-fry dish made with chicken, Thai basil, chili, and garlic. The dish is typically served over rice and is a favorite among Thai locals and expats alike. The bold flavor of the Thai basil is what makes this dish stand out.

Tom Yum Soup

Tom Yum Soup is a spicy and sour soup that is a popular appetizer in Thai cuisine. It typically contains shrimp, lemongrass, chili, and galangal. Thai basil is often added towards the end of the cooking process to provide a fresh and fragrant finish to the soup.

Green Curry

Green Curry is a Thai curry made with chicken, coconut milk, green chili, and a variety of spices. Thai basil is added towards the end of the cooking process to provide a distinct flavor and aroma to the dish.

How to Use Thai Basil in Your Cooking

If you’re looking to incorporate Thai basil into your cooking, here are a few tips and recipes to get you started:

Tips for Cooking with Thai Basil

  • Thai basil is best used fresh, as it has a delicate flavor that can be lost if cooked for too long.
  • It pairs well with spicy dishes and can help balance out the heat.
  • Thai basil can be used as a substitute for Italian basil in many recipes.
  • It is commonly used as a garnish or in salads.

Recipes Featuring Thai Basil

Here are a few dishes that you can try that feature Thai basil:

Dish Description Link to Recipe
Thai Basil Fried Rice A delicious and easy-to-make fried rice dish that features Thai basil. Recipe Link
Thai Basil Chicken A classic Thai dish made with chicken and Thai basil. Recipe Link
Tom Yum Soup A spicy and sour soup that is a staple in Thai cuisine. Recipe Link


Thai basil is a versatile herb that can add a unique flavor and aroma to many dishes. Its sweet, anise-like flavor complements spicy dishes and is a staple in many traditional Thai recipes. Whether you’re using it as a garnish or as a key ingredient in a dish, Thai basil is sure to provide a fresh and fragrant finish to your dish.


What does Thai basil taste like?

Thai basil has a sweet, anise-like taste and a floral and peppery aroma.

Is Thai basil good for you?

Yes, Thai basil is packed with antioxidants and has several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, and digestive health properties.

How do you use Thai basil in cooking?

Thai basil is best used fresh and pairs well with spicy dishes. It can be used as a garnish or in salads, or as a key ingredient in stir-fry dishes.

Can I use Italian basil instead of Thai basil?

While Italian basil has a milder flavor, it can be used as a substitute for Thai basil in many recipes.

What Thai dishes use Thai basil?

Some popular Thai dishes that feature Thai basil include Pad Krapow Gai, Tom Yum Soup, and Green Curry.

Where can I buy Thai basil?

Thai basil is commonly available at Asian grocery stores or can be grown in a home garden.

What else can I do with Thai basil?

Thai basil can be used to make pesto, infused into syrups or cocktails, or as a flavoring for oils and vinegars.


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