If there’s an herb in my kitchen that I’m most fond of using, it’s mint.
My favorite recipes with mint are practically endless: cauliflower fritters with mint and pea spread, lemon braised chicken and beans with mint pesto, mint chocolate Milano cookies (Uhm, YUM?!), watermelon mint frosé, should I go on?
As it is, mint’s something that I have to keep on hand as much as I can.
Apart from it being one of my most sought-after herbs, mint, in all its forms, is flavorful and aromatic, one that you might think is complicated to substitute.
Despite its distinct taste and aroma, there are many ingredients out there that people swear by as excellent substitutes for mint.
If you don’t want to run out again, grow your own at home.
Today, I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret. Make that secretS.
What does mint taste like?
This might very well surprise you, but I’d say that mint tastes cold. It has a robust scent, and when concentrated, can be quite invigorating.
Have you seen those commercials that add wind and snow and ice to the visual experience of eating mint? It might be a little exaggerated, but you get the picture.
Biting into fresh mint leaves leaves a tingling sensation on the tongue, and mint in dishes adds a mildly peppery (hence the name “peppermint”) and subtly sweet flavor. It’s unique, and every mint varietal is a bit different.
Below are the best mint subs:
Basil has a similar tender leaf as mint and is deeply aromatic.
I’ve added basil leaves to avocado ice cream in place of mint, and it was a great addition to the sweet and rich dessert.
This famed plant offers mint’s noted attributes: pungent, refreshing, and cooling.
While basil comes with a slightly peppery texture, it still has a strong, sweet aroma, which also boasts a hint of coolness.
You may use basil leaves as a one-to-one replacement for mint leaves.
2. Peppermint extract
Peppermint extract is also one of your safest bets when it comes to mint substitution.
A popular flavoring in frosting and candies, this extract is best as an alternative in some desserts.
When choosing peppermint extract as a substitute, however, you have to know that they also come in different labels.
These include pure, natural, and artificial.
The use of peppermint oil in this regard is also crucial.
The oil variety refers to a more concentrated form of peppermint but is also made from peppermint leaves.
So, how do you use peppermint extract as a mint substitute?
For each tablespoon of chopped mint leaves, you may use four drops of peppermint extract (or a single drop of peppermint oil).
Are you planning on serving some serious Italian dishes but forgot that you already ran out of mint? Marjoram should be able to help you in a pinch!
Widely used in Italian dishes, marjoram is noted for its delicate flavor, alongside its menthol qualities.
If your recipe calls for mint, start by using half of the amount you’re substituting for mint.
If you feel like this still hasn’t achieved your desired flavor, you may add some more marjoram.
Another option that never fails to impress me when substituting for mint is tarragon.
It features a taste akin to anise and can be used as an alternative for mint in some drinks.
We have an amazing hand-crafted tomato sauce for calzone that uses tarragon over other typically “italian” seasonings. It’s so good.
Tried and tested, the tarragon is what MAKES the sauce.
Start with half the required amount of what your recipe calls for, then build off that initial flavor if you try tarragon.
If your recipe specifies mint in your meat but you don’t have it on hand, rosemary can save the day! Ideal for all of mint’s savory applications, this substitute is effective, especially when it comes to meats.
I’ve been seeing rosemary sprigs added to drinks more and more often, with pinched leaves added to simple syrup and strained out.
Though rosemary has a rich flavor, you can replace mint with it, so long as you don’t overdo it.
You can substitute rosemary for mint when dealing with soups and main dishes.
Parsley isn’t just a garnish.
Parsley is another excellent alternative to mint, especially when you’re concocting soups and other main dishes.
For an alternate flavor, it’s recommended that you try substituting one tablespoon of chopped parsley for one tablespoon of chopped mint leaves.
It may be milder in flavor than what you are looking for so you may need to add more as needed.
Also known as coriander, cilantro is an herb that is also fresh and citrusy.
But here’s the thing, you should only use this alternative as a substitute for mint if you’re familiar with its taste.
If you’re cooking for fussy eaters, then you may have to opt for a milder-tasting herb.
Some people say cilantro tastes like soap, and some of us crave cilantro in everything. Mexican food? Thai food? Yes and yes.
It’s suggested that cilantro be used for half the amount that you’d use mint.
8. Dried mint
Are you in the mood for pesto, chutney, casseroles, and curries all at once but are running out of fresh mint? The dried version of mint won’t fail you.
As the dried mint variety has a more concentrated taste than the fresh mint fresh leaves, it’s suggested that you use less in any recipe.
For instance, if you’re replacing one tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, add one teaspoon of dried mint leaves.
Want to dry mint for the next time you have it on hand? Go here.
What can I use instead of mint in Mojitos?
We recommend pinching five or six fresh rosemary leaves and muddling them into the mojito.
You can also use basil leaves the same way that you would use fresh mint.
If you have no fresh herbs on hand, try dried mint, or make a simple syrup out of your peppermint or spearmint tea, or use a single drop of peppermint oil or extract in each glass.
Have those red and white star peppermint candies sitting around? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Try crushing eight of them and mixing with ¼ c hot water until dissolved, stir and add 2 T to each mojito.
The bottom line
As distinct as it tastes, mint can be quite a versatile ingredient. Add it to your next Tequila Mojito and see what you think.
This is especially true for those who already praised and used it for their tried and tested sweet and savory dishes.
Want to dry mint for the next time you have it on hand? Go here.
The same is true for its substitutes. These excellent alternatives I’ve listed should be able to give you that burst of fresh and light sweetness, with a bit of chill, too.
- Peppermint extract
- Dried mint
- Choose basil as your mint substitute.
- You may use basil leaves as a one-to-one replacement for mint leaves.
- Pro Tip: When using dried herbs or oils/extracts as a substitute for fresh, remember to use less at first, because the flavor is more concentrated than fresh, raw leaves and stems.