Ran out of mint at the last minute? If you did, and you are looking for the best mint substitute then you are in luck. Here, you will find 6 of the best mint substitutes for just about any recipe.
What is mint?
Mint is an aromatic perennial herb with hundreds of varieties including peppermint, spearmint, wild mint, apple mint, pineapple mint, ginger mint, and more.
Mint is subtly sweet with a cooling effect left on the tongue. Fresh mint is used to add flavor to cocktails, soups, teas, salads, frozen treats, and even pestos, and it is widely used as a garnish.
So, what are the best ways to substitute for mint?
The best substitutes for mint are basil, peppermint extract, spearmint extract, peppermint oil, and dried mint. Each will be discussed in more detail below.
Before we go on, it is important to point out that nothing, other than mint itself, will give the same exact flavor and fragrance that mint adds to recipes. Many of the substitutes listed below will slightly change the flavors of certain dishes. However, in a pinch, they can be used to replace mint with good enough results.
10 Best substitutes for mint
Basil is one of the most popular substitutes for mint. Basil is from the mint family and has a flavor that is sweet and peppery with hints of anise and cloves. It is not a perfect mint replacement, and it does not have the cooling effect of fresh mint, however in savory recipes like vegetables and certain salads chopped fresh basil will work well in replacing mint.
Basil is also a great garnish.
Oregano is a member of the mint family and therefore, in a pinch, it can be used in place of mint. You can make oregano work as an alternative because it has a nice peppery flavor and minty aroma.
Oregano leaves can be used as a garnish for salads and many other dishes, but they can also be used in many other food preparations like in pestos, sauces, marinades, and even pasta dishes as a good mint substitute.
This is an extract that is made from peppermint leaves and is a mixture of peppermint oils and alcohol.
Peppermint extract has a fresh and minty flavor that works great in sweet desserts such as holiday baking, ice creams, and other frozen treats. It works great in drinks, dipping sauces, and candies too.
For a good substitution ratio, use 4 drops of peppermint extract to replace 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped mint leaves.
While less popular than peppermint extract, spearmint extract is another good substitute for mint. Spearmint extract comes from spearmint leaves and is a mixture of spearmint oil and alcohol.
Spearmint extract has a flavor that is sweet and minty without the same cooling effect of peppermint as it contains a significantly lower percentage of menthol than peppermint extract does. In fact, spearmint contains less than 1% menthol, compared to the 40% menthol found in peppermint.
Nonetheless in savory dishes, spearmint extract can be used to replace mint leaves.
Peppermint oil is an essential oil that is taken from the leaves of the peppermint plant.
Peppermint oil is another good alternative to mint. Use peppermint oil in recipes like mint milkshakes, hot chocolate with peppermint, ice creams, and other frozen treats.
Peppermint oil is a lot more concentrated so use 1 drop of peppermint oil to replace 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped mint leaves.
Dried mint is simply 100% fresh mint leaves that have been dried.
Typically the flavor of dried mint leaves is sweet and earthy with hints of eucalyptus, but, this depends on the brand you use. Some are weak and will not impart the flavor of mint.
I like and use The Spice Ways brand of dried mint.
While dried mint does not have the cooling effect that fresh mint provides, it works great in salads, teas, pestos, stews, and casseroles, and is even used in dry rubs for meats.
Dried mint has a very concentrated flavor so use 1/3 tablespoon of dried mint for every 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped mint. ie a 1:3 ratio of dried mint to fresh mint.
Use other varieties of mint as effective substitutes
Usually, when someone speaks of mint, they’re referring to the peppermint leaves. These are the most popular mint leaves used in cooking or food preparations. However, if you are looking for a few mint leaf substitutes, then other types of mint leaves are great options too. Here are a few worth looking into:
Spearmint leaves can be used as a substitute for mint or mint leaves in many recipes. This is so because spearmint is easy to find and it looks quite similar to peppermint leaves – similar leaf shape and bright green color. The main difference is that peppermint has a more ‘minty’ flavor than spearmint.
Apple mint leaves
While these aren’t as popular as peppermint or spearmint, they can make a good substitute for mint. Apple mint works because it has a nice minty flavor. Because apple mint has an apple aftertaste, it is usually used to make recipes like applemint jelly. However, in a pinch, you can use apple mint leaves as a replacement for the more popular mint leaves in teas or even to garnish salads and other many dishes.
Never heard of chocolate mint? It really does exist! Chocolate mint is a type of mint with a chocolaty minty flavor. It can work as a mint leaf replacement in many chocolate dishes like chocolate ice cream, minty hot chocolate, milkshakes, brownies and so much more.
The chocolate mint will serve to enhance the chocolatey flavor in those dishes while adding that nice minty touch that peppermint leaves usually add.
This is a hybrid type of mint that you can use as a mint alternative. Basil mint is a very aromatic sweet and spicy scent that is hard to ignore. You can use basil mint to garnish salads, and even cook it in dishes, but it must be added at the end of the cooking process as its flavor is not strong enough to hold up to long periods of cooking.
Mint substitutes in specific recipes
- Mint substitute for Moscow mule
- Mint substitute in a mojito
If you want to make a mojito but you don’t have mint leaves, you can go ahead and make a mojito with basil leaves instead.
- Substitute for mint leaves in biryani
Mint leaves are used mainly to garnish a biryani recipe. Therefore, if you are out of mint leaves, you can use cilantro leaves or even parsley.