top of page

Basil Plant Spectrum

The Flavour Potential of Basil Varieties

Are you tired of the same old basil routine? Does your Caprese salad feel a little, well, predictable? If you're ready to unlock the exciting world of basil varieties and elevate your home cooking, then this blog is for you. Basil isn't just Basil – there's a whole spectrum of flavours and aromas waiting to be explored.

In this guide, we'll delve into the fascinating world of Basil, showcasing the most popular varieties and their ideal flavour pairings. To get your creative juices flowing, we've even crafted a delicious meal plan for a week featuring different basil plant types incorporated into exciting dishes.

From zesty Lemon Basil in a refreshing summer salad to the warm embrace of Cinnamon Basil in a unique cocktail, get ready to transform your meals.

Basil Plant Spectrum. How to Use Basil Varieties in Dishes - Blog Outline:

1. African Blue Basil.

African Blue Basil distinguishes itself with its distinct look and taste characteristics. It presents an unexpected combination of a robust, spicy taste blended with elements of camphor and hints of liquorice. The plants of African Blue Basil exhibit a striking visual contrast, showcasing rich green leaves highlighted by vivid purple streaks.

Best Pairings:

  • Grilled Meats Enhances the flavours of grilled lamb, chicken, or beef.

  • Vegetable Stir-Fries Adds depth to a mix of sautéed vegetables.

  • Pasta Dishes Complements robust sauces like puttanesca or arrabbiata.

  • Cocktails Muddle a few leaves for a vibrant twist.

  • Fruit Salads It pairs well with berries and melons.

2. Cinnamon Basil.

Cinnamon Basil has a distinctive, spicy aroma reminiscent of cinnamon. This unique fragrance translates into a complex flavour that elevates sweet and savoury creations. Its deep green leaves with contrasting purple veins add a decorative touch to dishes.

Best Pairings:

  • Desserts Perfect for fruit salads, apple pies, or baked goods.

  • Teas Infuses warm, spicy notes in herbal teas.

  • Mexican Cuisine Enhances the flavours in salsa, mole, or enchiladas.

  • Cocktails Cinnamon Basil's unique flavour profile makes it a versatile ingredient for cocktails.

3. Greek Basil.

Greek Basil, known for its small leaves and compact growth, offers a unique blend of sweetness and spiciness that distinguishes it from other types of Basil.

Best Pairings:

  • Salads It is ideal for Greek salads or Caprese salads.

  • Pizza Sprinkled fresh over a Margherita or white pizza.

  • Mediterranean Dishes It pairs well with dishes like moussaka or spanakopita.

  • Stuffed Vegetables Bell peppers, courgettes, aubergines.

4. Lemon Basil.

As the name suggests, Lemon Basil plants bring a burst of citrusy sunshine to your dishes. The vibrant green leaves release a refreshing aroma that's a delightful blend of lemon zest and peppery spice. This refreshing fragrance translates perfectly onto the palate, offering a bright, lemony flavour that cuts through richness and elevates lighter fare.

Best Pairings:

  • Seafood Perfect with grilled fish, shrimp, or calamari.

  • Asian Dishes Adds zest to Thai curries or Vietnamese pho.

  • Beverages Refreshing in iced teas, lemonade, or cocktails.

  • Summer Salads Combine with watermelon, feta cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil

5. Pesto Basil.

This variety boasts an abundance of green and white variegated leaves compared to classic Sweet Basil. While it retains the familiar peppery-sweet flavour profile, the sheer volume of Pesto Basil leaves makes it the undisputed champion for pesto enthusiasts.

Best Pairings:

  • Savoury Swirls Pesto Basil chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and cream cheese makes a delicious filling for flaky pastry.

  • Sandwiches Spread on a panini or toasted sourdough bread and top it with a fried egg.

  • Vegetables Tossed with roasted potatoes or green beans.

  • Pizza Try a pesto base topped with mozzarella, crumbled sausage, and caramelised onions for a delightful twist.

6. Purple Basil.

Purple Basil isn't just a feast for the eyes. This stunning variety boasts vibrantly coloured leaves of deep purple, adding a touch of whimsy to any dish. But beyond its ornamental appeal, purple Basil offers a subtle flavour twist. While it shares a base similar to Sweet Basil, it has a milder peppery kick and hints of earthy sweetness.

Best Pairings:

  • Salads Adds colour and a mild flavour to mixed greens.

  • Pickling Great for making aromatic pickles.

  • Cocktails Stunning in gin and tonic or vodka-based drinks.

  • Berry Desserts Garnish berry tarts, sorbets, or parfaits with Purple Basil leaves.

  • Cheese Plates Use Purple Basil as a garnish on cheese platters. It pairs beautifully with soft cheeses like goat cheese, brie, and ricotta, adding a fresh, aromatic touch.

7. Sweet Basil.

The most common variety is Sweet Basil, which has a sweet, peppery taste. Characterised by its large, vibrant green leaves and sweet, slightly peppery flavour, Sweet Basil is a cornerstone of many culinary traditions, particularly Italian cuisine.

Best Pairings:

  • Tomato-based Dishes Classic in tomato sauce, bruschetta, or Caprese salad.

  • Soups Enhances minestrone or tomato basil soup.

  • Pasta Integral in marinara sauce or Alfredo.

  • Roasted Vegetables Sweet Basil enhances the flavours of the Classic Ratatouille - Provençal dish made with aubergine, courgette, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle chopped Sweet Basil over roasted bell peppers for a fresh, aromatic finish.

  • Basil LemonadeInfuse lemonade with Sweet Basil leaves for a refreshing, herbal twist on a classic summer drink.

  • CocktailsSweet Basil pairs beautifully with spirits like gin and vodka. Try it in a basil gimlet or a basil-infused mojito.

  • Fruit SaladsFor a fresh, summery dessert, try it with strawberries, peaches, or watermelon.

  • Basil Ice CreamMake ice cream infused with Sweet Basil for a unique and refreshing treat.

8. Thai Basil.

Thai Basil, known for its unique aniseed and liquorice taste, plays a crucial role in a variety of Southeast Asian cuisines. This herb features robust, purplish stalks and smaller, spear-shaped foliage. The presence of Thai Basil in recipes lends a pungent, fragrant touch that can transform a simple meal into something remarkable.

Best Pairings:

  • Thai Curries Green curry, red curry, Panang curry.

  • Vietnamese Dishes Crucial in pho or banh mi.

  • Spicy Stir-fries Chicken, beef, or tofu with vegetables.

  • Salads Adds complexity to Asian-inspired salads.

9. A Week of Basil-icious Inspiration.

Meal Planning Ideas with Various Basil Plants.


Start the week light with a Lemon Basil and Prawn Salad with a lemon vinaigrette.


Whip up a classic Pesto Pasta using Pesto Basil and top it with grilled chicken.


Embrace Thai flavours with a Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Stir-fry.


Experience Greek vibes with Stuffed Bell Peppers using Greek Basil and serve with a side salad.


Indulge in a Caprese Salad featuring Sweet Basil and celebrate the end of the week.


Get creative with Purple Basil in a Summer Berry Salad, or muddle some African Blue Basil for a unique Mojito twist.

Basil Plant Spectrum. How to Pair Basil Varieties. Summary.

Exploring different basil plant varieties can elevate your culinary repertoire, infusing dishes with unique flavours and aromas. Whether you're preparing a spicy Thai curry or a refreshing summer salad, there's a basil variety to complement every dish. Embrace these pairings and enjoy the delightful versatility of Basil in your kitchen.

Discover Various Fresh Basil Plants at Pepperpot Herbs Nursery

Did you know June is the perfect time to order fresh basil plants and experiment with various basil plants?

At Pepperpot Herbs Nursery, we have a vibrant selection of basil plants, all eager to add their unique flavour magic to your kitchen. So, grab your favourite pot and let's embark on this flavourful adventure together. Visit our online nursery today and discover the world of Basil beyond the supermarket shelf.

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page