Fresh mint is a versatile ingredient that is suitable for sweet and savory dishes. Its leaves offer a burst of fresh sweetness with cooling, minty notes. If you don’t have any mint, then keep reading as we reveal the best mint substitutes for any recipe.
How to replace fresh mint
To closely mimic the taste of fresh mint you can use dried mint, peppermint extract, or even try infusing the flavor from a mint tea bag. If you prefer to use fresh herbs then consider basil, marjoram, or parsley as your first choice. No fresh herb alternative will perfectly match the flavor profile of mint, but the options in this guide won’t be out of place in most recipes either.
1. Dried mint
Dried mint can be found in the spice aisle of well-stocked supermarkets. While the fresh leaves offer superior flavor, you can still use the dried version in many recipes like pesto, chutney, casseroles, and curries. You could also use them as part of a spice rub on lamb.
Dried mint has a stronger taste than the fresh leaves, so you’ll want to use less in any recipe. To replace one tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, we recommend adding one teaspoon of dried leaves.
For applications where mint adds a visual element like potato salads, boiled mint potatoes, or sangria, avoid using dried mint.
Quick tip: if you don’t have time to visit the store search the cupboard for mint tea bags. Use a whole tea bag to replace a tablespoon of fresh chopped mint.
2. Peppermint extract
Peppermint extract is a convenient way to add a minty flavor to food without having to do any chopping.
Like dried herbs, only use an extract in recipes where you’re trying to add mint flavor to food. Recipes that call for the infusion of fresh mint leaves into a liquid are a good example of where it could be used instead. Dishes like mint ice cream, puddings, drinks, baked goods, and even some slow-cooked savory dishes will work with this replacement.
Peppermint extract is pungent so use it in moderation. Start with one or two drops then taste test before adding more.
If you need a fresh herb to substitute for mint, then your best option is basil. People commonly use this for providing a similar freshness to food.
Keep in mind that basil won’t have the same mint intensity and it will add a sweet, peppery flavor to your food. If people are expecting a mint dish, they will notice the difference. But in most cases, basil won’t be out of place in the dish.
In some recipes like mint potatoes or mint sauce used to pour onto lamb, basil won’t be ideal. We’d suggest making this dish another day when you have fresh mint.
Use fresh basil in similar quantities as you would use fresh mint.
Fresh marjoram adds a citrusy, pine-like flavor to food that is warming and slightly sharp. Like basil, marjoram will bring a different flavor to the recipe than mint.
The leaves are an excellent option for sprinkling into salads and are also delicious added to vegetables, marinades, pasta, soup, and egg dishes. Most savory food that calls for mint can use marjoram instead.
Like oregano, marjoram can easily overwhelm a dish so use sparingly as a replacement option. We suggest using half the amount of mint and then taste testing if you can – add more when required.
For a more subtle tasting herb, try using flatleaf parsley (aka continental parsley). Some people find the flavor and aroma of mint too strong for their palate, if that’s you then parsley makes an excellent alternative.
Use parsley in savory dishes like potato salad or stews. It has a green flavor which could be added to a smoothie, but it isn’t ideal for sweet desserts.
Parsley doesn’t have an overwhelming taste or fragrance. You can use a similar amount as you would use mint without fear of putting your dish out of balance.
Related reading: A comparison of fresh parsley and cilantro.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a hotly debated herb which some love and others loath. Some describe the herb as fresh and citrusy while the detractors of this ingredient consider it chemical-like or even soapy.
If you’re familiar with the taste of cilantro and you enjoy it then this is a good option for replacing mint. However, if you’re cooking for fussy eaters you may want to use a milder tasting herb.
When using cilantro in cooking we recommend using half the amount that you would use mint. If possible, taste test and add more if needed.
Tarragon has a pungent flavor with hints of licorice, like fennel. The sprigs add freshness when they’re given time to steep into a liquid, making them perfect for replacing mint in some drinks. The leaves can be added to water for a refreshing, low-calorie beverage.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family, so it shares some of the flavor characteristics that you get from mint. You could potentially use it as a replacement in savory applications. But keep in mind that these two herbs have a much different texture. While mint is delicate and should be added at the end of cooking, rosemary is a hardy herb that should be added at the start of the recipe.
Tip: Combine this option with lemon thyme or thyme for a winning combo.
Watch the video for mint alternatives
What can I use to replace mint in a mojito?
To replace fresh mint in a mojito your best options are thyme, basil, rosemary, or tarragon. For a spicier play on a classic cocktail consider adding jalapeno. If getting that mint flavor is essential to your drink, then simply use a peppermint extract or oil.
Mint is a popular herb that can be used in drinks and sweet or savory dishes. Whatever your reason for replacing it in a recipe, we suggest substituting fresh mint with dried mint or peppermint extract if you’re trying to mimic the flavor. For dishes that require fresh leaves, you can try basil, marjoram, or parsley.
As you’ve probably guessed, no substitute will perfectly replace fresh mint. The purpose of this list is to suggest alternatives that won’t taste unpleasant or out of place. You’ll need to use your discretion as peppermint extract won’t taste good added to boiled potatoes. Likewise, you wouldn’t use rosemary as a cheesecake garnish. A few attempts may be needed before you’re happy with the result, but we think testing new flavor combinations is the fun part about cooking.
What recipe are you looking to make that calls for mint? Please let us know in the comments below.