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5 Good Mint Substitutes Every Homecooks Should Know

When it comes to adding a burst of freshness to dishes, mint has always been a go-to herb in the culinary world. Not only does it have a refreshing flavor, but it also has numerous health benefits.

But what if, for some reason, you’re fresh out of mint? I’m here to guide you through the luscious garden of mint’s family relatives – five substitutes that, when used right, can be just as invigorating as your trusty mint leaves, and maybe even enhance your recipes in new and exciting ways.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mint has always been a popular herb in the culinary world for its freshness and versatility.
  • Basil, lemon balm, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon are delicious substitutes for mint that offer their own unique flavors and benefits.
  • When substituting mint with these herbs, consider their flavor profiles and adjust ratios accordingly to achieve the desired taste.

5 Delicious Mint Substitutes

1 – Basil

Basil, the hero of pesto and the backbone of caprese, strikes a balance between sweet and savory. It’s an impeccable partner to tomatoes in salads, pasta, or garnishing a hearty Bolognese. Its anise-like undertones provide a refreshing twist to your culinary creations, and it’s particularly at home in Italian and Thai cuisines.

To swap basil for mint, ensure your recipe can handle the savory notes basil offers. In cocktails, pair it with fruits like strawberries or blackberries, and in savory dishes, experiment with Thai basil for a more peppery profile. The ratio is typically one-to-one, but adjust it to your taste.

2 – Lemon Balm

Relatively unknown in most kitchens, lemon balm is the secret weapon for recipes that crave a citrusy punch. It grows like a weed and tastes like a lemon-infused mint, with its refreshing, tangy flavor that uplifts salads, sorbets, and teas. To use it as a mint substitute, consider intensifying the citrusy elements or use it in making digestive waters and marinades.

In terms of ratio, lemon balm can be quite potent, so start with half the amount that a recipe calls for in mint and adjust upward to taste. It’s a subtle but effective swap that can truly brighten up your dish.

3 – Cilantro

Cilantro, the cool cousin of coriander, comes packed with its own brand of flair. Fear not the cilantro haters — this green herb with a piquant, lemony taste is excellent in salsas, guacamole, and curries. To substitute for mint, consider its distinctive flavor and use it in recipes that appreciate a zesty kick.

For cilantro to stand in for mint effectively, use it more as an accent than a foundation, adjusting your quantities according to how prominent you want the flavor to be. Try a 2-to-1 ratio at first and adjust from there to balance the dish.

4 – Parsley

Bold yet not overpowering, parsley may seem mundane, but it’s a wondrous herb in its own right. It carries fresh, grassy notes, which work particularly well in enhancing the flavors of other ingredients. You’ll find parsley right at home in tabbouleh, as well as in most dishes where you’d serve mint as a garnish or for a touch of color.

Substituting mint with parsley usually requires a 1-to-1 ratio, though you might want to use a bit extra to make up for mint’s typical zing. It’s hard to overdo it with parsley, so don’t be afraid to be generous with your handfuls.

5 – Tarragon

Tarragon is the sophisticated diner’s answer to the minty freshness question. With a flavor profile that’s a dance between sweet and slightly bitter, tarragon pairs delightfully with fish, chicken, and eggs. Its unique notes make it a star ingredient in Béarnaise sauce and certain dijon mustards.

Being slightly more potent than mint, a good rule when you’re using tarragon as a mint alternative is to start with about three-quarters or half of the recipe’s mint amount, then tweak until you achieve the right balance in flavor.