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Is Sweet Basil Same As Italian Basil? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 04:20 pm

Chances are you that have heard of sweet basil more often than once due to the popularity of the variety.

However, if you’ve read many blogs concerning basil before, you’ll notice that writers usually distinguish between sweet basil and Italian basil.

So you may be pretty confused and wonder if this distinction is necessary as you go through contrasting pages or analyze the plants yourself.

So, Is Sweet Basil same as Italian Basil? Of course, Italian basil is the same as sweet basil. However, a cultivar known as ‘Italian basil’ isn’t recognized. It is just a name given to the abundant sweet basil or Genovese basil with either basil cultivars referred to as the Italian basil.

Is Sweet Basil Different from Genovese Basil?

Sweet and Genovese basil cultivars are basil herbs referred to as the ‘Italian basil.’ You may also wonder if Sweet Basil is same as Thai Basil?

On most occasions, these varieties of the basil herb are used interchangeably to the point where they are sometimes referred to be the same thing.

However, Sweet and Genovese basil are different cultivars of the basil plant. The Genovese basil is a variety of sweet basil, and although they may look similar, there are still some subtle differences between them.

The most efficient way to tell these two varieties of the basil plant apart is in the leaves. The signature green color of the leaves in Genovese basil has a much darker hue than in the Sweet basil.

The green color in the leaves of Genovese basil appears more evident; this and the leaves are slightly broader than those of the sweet basil.

Another difference between both varieties of the herb is their aromatic composition – how they smell.

Genovese basil tends to have a more pronounced smell than Sweet basil due to a difference in the intensity of their flavors.

Can I Substitute Genovese Basil for Sweet Basil?

As stated earlier, Genovese and Sweet basil are often used interchangeably in recipes.

They are collectively referred to as ‘Italian basil because of the striking similarity in taste between the two cultivars of basil. 

Both cultivars have their signature mint flavor with a peppery and spicy feel with Genovese basil having a clove-like flavor in this mix and Sweet basil having an anise-type taste.

When one of these cultivars of basil is substituted in meals, the difference in taste is always negligible and wouldn’t be a problem if you substitute one for the other in a recipe.

With a substitution of the Genovese and Sweet basil in a recipe, they would be a slight change in the recipe’s flavor. Nevertheless, there would still be a lot of similarities.

These similarities in taste make it difficult for any person to fully tell the difference in the taste between the two cultivars of basil.

Can Sweet Basil and Genovese Basil be Planted Together?

Genovese basil is a cultivar of sweet basil, and like sweet basil, they would need the same conditions for their growth; as such, planting them together should not be a problem.

Conditions include 6 hours of sunlight as they do well in warm environments, accurate spacing of about 15 to 18 inches, the right amount of water, well-drained soil, and tolerable atmospheric conditions.

Sweet and Genovese basil are sturdy plants. Hence, the need for fertilizers or compost is negligible.

With this observation, one would not have to worry if one basil cultivar needs more nutrients to survive.

Growing to roughly the same size in height, Genovese and Sweet basil wouldn’t pose any competition to the other in the field as long as they are spaced out evenly.

Genovese and Sweet basil need the same conditions to survive and grow together, ideally when you provide these conditions.


The Italian basil is a trendy name given to the sweet basil or the Genovese basil.

These varieties of the basil plant are very similar in characteristics and can sometimes be mistaken for the other if one is unaware of the features that make them differ.

From leaf size to the flavor of the sweet and Genovese basil, they are surprisingly only the things to tell the difference between these plant varieties.

As such, they can be planted together and used interchangeably in a recipe with barely any effects.

So, be it sweet or Genovese basil, you can use either for your recipe that calls for the Italian basil!


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