Is basil good for smoothies?

Basil is a popular herb that is frequently used in many culinary applications, from pasta sauces to pesto to caprese salads. But can this flavorful herb also be used to make delicious, nutritious smoothies? Read on to learn more about the potential benefits and downsides of adding basil to your blended beverages.

What is Basil?

Basil is an aromatic herb that comes from the Ocimum basilicum plant. There are many different varieties of basil, including sweet basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, and holy basil. Basil has a distinctive flavor that is warm and minty with hints of anise and clove. It also has a fragrant aroma.

The leaves of the basil plant are used fresh or dried to add flavor to dishes. Basil contains vitamins A, K, and C as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also has compounds called flavonoids that act as antioxidants in the body.

Quick Answers:

– Can you put basil in smoothies? Yes, basil can be blended into smoothies. Its flavor pairs well with fruits and vegetables.

– Is basil good for you? Basil contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide health benefits. It may help reduce inflammation and stress.

– What does basil taste like? Basil has a warm, fragrant flavor with hints of mint, anise, and clove. The taste is bold and aromatic.

– What nutrients are in basil? Basil contains vitamins A, K, C, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also has antioxidant flavonoids.

Benefits of Adding Basil to Smoothies

Adding fresh basil to your smoothies can provide some excellent health benefits, in addition to its wonderful flavor and aroma. Here are some of the top reasons to consider using basil in your blended drinks.

1. Provides Vitamins and Minerals

One of the biggest advantages of basil is its nutrient content. Just one cup of fresh basil contains (1):

– 52% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin K
– 42% of your RDI of vitamin A
– 12% of your RDI of vitamin C
– 8% of your RDI of calcium
– 12% of your RDI of magnesium

Blenderizing basil with fruits and veggies is an easy way to increase your vitamin and mineral intake in one drink.

2. Contains Antioxidants

In addition to vitamins and minerals, basil is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage if they accumulate in large amounts (2).

Some of the main antioxidants in basil include:

– Orientin: A flavone shown to protect cells from damage
– Vicenin: A flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
– Eugenol: Believed to defend against oxidative stress and free radicals
– Luteolin: An antioxidant that may suppress inflammation

Mixing antioxidants from basil and other ingredients into a smoothie can help fight oxidative stress and inflammation.

3. Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Chronic inflammation is a major driver of many diseases, from cancer to autoimmune disorders. Basil contains powerful plant compounds that may help fight inflammation in the body (3).

One test-tube study showed that basil extracts inhibited the same inflammatory pathways as drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen (4). Another study in mice found that feeding mice basil helped suppress inflammatory responses (5).

Adding anti-inflammatory basil to smoothies provides a natural way to help combat chronic inflammation from the inside out.

4. Could Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Animal and human research has found that basil may provide calming effects by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in the brain (6, 7).

Compounds in basil including estragole, linalool, and cineole may act directly on neurotransmitter systems involved in mood regulation. The aroma of basil may also contribute to its relaxing properties.

If you suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, sipping on a basil smoothie could potentially help you feel calmer.

5. May Have Antimicrobial Properties

Test tube studies indicate that basil contains essential oils and other compounds that inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds (8, 9).

Adding fresh basil to your smoothies could help fight off infections from pathogens like Listeria or Salmonella, keeping your gut microbiome balanced. However, more research is needed.

6. Easy to Add Flavor and Aroma

One of the simplest reasons to add basil to smoothies is for its taste and smell. Basil has an intensely aromatic, sweet flavor that blends well into fruit smoothies, green smoothies, and vegetable smoothies alike.

Its scent also invigorates the senses and gets the digestive juices flowing. If you find your smoothies need a flavor boost, try tossing in a few basil leaves.

Potential Downsides to Basil in Smoothies

While basil has some excellent benefits for smoothies, there are a few potential downsides to consider as well:

1. Can Add a Bitter Taste

One of the main complaints about adding basil to smoothies is that it can make the drink taste bitter. This depends on the quantity of basil you add as well as the other smoothie ingredients. Start with just a few leaves and increase slowly to avoid an overly bitter flavor.

2. May Cause Allergic Reactions

Rarely, people may be allergic to basil. Symptoms can include hives, itching, or swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat. Discontinue use if you suspect an allergic reaction.

3. Contains Oxalates

Basil contains moderate amounts of oxalates, compounds that can bind to calcium in the body and cause kidney stones in sensitive individuals. However, this is typically only an issue for those prone to kidney stones.

4. Risk of Contamination

There have been instances of foodborne illnesses linked to contaminated basil. Make sure to wash basil thoroughly before use and grow it yourself or buy from a trusted local source when possible.

5. May Interact with Medications

Basil contains coumarins, compounds that could potentially interact with blood thinners like warfarin or supplements that impact clotting. Speak with your doctor before use if taking any medications.

Ideal Smoothie Ingredients to Pair with Basil

To make the most flavorful and nutritious basil smoothies, consider blending up basil with these tasty ingredients:


– Strawberries
– Blueberries
– Raspberries
– Pineapple
– Mango
– Peaches
– Apples
– Pears
– Watermelon


– Spinach
– Kale
– Cucumber
– Carrots
– Beets
– Zucchini
– Celery

Herbs and Spices

– Ginger
– Cinnamon
– Cardamom
– Turmeric
– Mint
– Lemon juice


– Greek yogurt
– Nut milk
– Ice
– Nut butter
– Chia seeds
– Ground flax
– Hemp seeds
– Protein powder

Basil pairs particularly well with other fresh herbs like mint, fruits like pineapple and berries, and greens like spinach. Feel free to experiment to find your own perfect basil smoothie combo!

Best Smoothie Recipes with Basil

Here are some nutritious and delicious smoothie recipes that showcase the unique flavor of basil:

1. Strawberry Basil Smoothie

– 1 cup strawberries
– 1 banana
– 1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup milk
– 2 dates, pitted
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 1 tsp honey (optional)
– Ice

2. Pineapple Basil Green Smoothie

– 1 cup pineapple chunks
– 1 cup spinach
– 1⁄2 cup coconut water
– 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
– 1⁄4 avocado
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 1-inch knob ginger, peeled
– Ice

3. Blueberry Basil Smoothie Bowl

– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 banana
– 1 cup almond milk
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 1 Tbsp almond butter
– Toppings: granola, coconut, chia seeds

4. Peachy Basil Smoothie

– 1 peach, pitted
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1⁄2 cup plain kefir
– 1⁄4 cup packed basil leaves
– 1 tsp honey
– 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
– Ice

5. Triple Berry Basil Smoothie

– 1⁄2 cup blueberries
– 1⁄2 cup raspberries
– 1⁄2 cup strawberries
– 1 banana
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 1⁄4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
– 1⁄2 cup orange juice
– Ice

Basil pairs perfectly with fruit flavors, adding a pop of freshness and aroma. Try out some of these tasty combinations or get creative with your own basil smoothie recipes.

How to Store Basil for Smoothies

To have basil readily available for smoothies, learn how to store it properly to retain maximum freshness:

– Rinse basil and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Cut off any brown or wilted parts.

– Place basil stems in a jar with about an inch of water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag.

– Store basil this way in the refrigerator for up to a week, changing the water every 2 days.

– Alternatively, wrap cleaned basil in a dry paper towel and place in an airtight container or bag in the fridge.

– Basil also freezes well. Simply place leaves in an airtight freezer bag or container. Frozen basil will keep for 4-6 months.

– When ready to use, remove desired amount of basil and chop while still frozen. Then add to your smoothie.

Proper storage keeps basil fresh so it retains its flavorful oils and aromatic qualities in your smoothies.

How Much Basil to Add to Smoothies

When it comes to how much basil to add to smoothies, start with small amounts and increase to taste:

– For a 16-20 ounce smoothie, start with around 1⁄4 cup of packed basil leaves.

– From there, add more 1 Tbsp at a time until you achieve the desired intensity of basil flavor.

– Too much basil can make smoothies bitter and overpowering. 2 cups is the max amount for a large batch.

– For stronger basil taste, use less liquid or frozen ingredients which can dilute the flavor.

– Sweeter, creamier smoothies can handle more basil than green veggie smoothies.

– Dried basil has a more concentrated flavor. Use about 1-2 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh basil.

– Basil has a more mild taste before heating. Add it raw at the end for best flavor.

Get to know your own taste preferences and adjust the amount of basil you blend into smoothies accordingly. Start small and let those aromatic basil flavors shine through!

Should Basil Be Peeled or De-Stemmed for Smoothies?

When adding basil to your smoothies, should the stems and veins be removed? Here are some tips:

– For smoothies, the tender, smaller leaves of basil can be used whole without de-stemming or peeling.

– Larger leaves have tougher central stems that are often discarded. Tear or cut the leaf, leaving the center rib out.

– Stems and veins can get stuck in your teeth or leave fibrous pieces. Removing them helps make smoothies smoother.

– However, the stems and veins contain nutrients too. If not overpowering, they can be blended into the smoothie.

– For milder flavor, use just the basil leaves. Stems and veins taste more bitter.

– The central vein of basil leaves contains more oxalic acid, so removing may be preferable for kidney stone-prone individuals.

– If leaves are dirty, rinse and peel off the first outer layer. But the inner veins don’t need to be peeled or removed.

Basil is easy to incorporate into smoothies without much prep needed. Just focus on the tender leaf portions rather than any thick, fibrous stems for the best texture.

Can You Replace Basil with Other Herbs?

Although basil has a unique, iconic flavor, you can substitute or pair it with other herbs in smoothies. Some great options include:


Spearmint and peppermint have a cooling flavor that works well in fruit smoothies. Start with around 2 Tbsp for 1⁄4 cup basil.


Fresh flat-leaf parsley has an herbal taste. Use a 1:1 ratio to replace basil.


Cilantro has citrusy notes. Use a bit less than basil, around 2 Tbsp cilantro per 1⁄4 cup basil.


Dill has a distinctive anise-like aroma. Use 1 to 2 Tbsp fresh dill for 1⁄4 cup of basil.


Licorice-flavored tarragon can stand in for basil. Use about 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon for every 2 Tbsp basil.


Zesty oregano pairs nicely with basil. Replace up to 1⁄4 of the basil with 1 tsp dried oregano.


Lemony thyme complements basil’s flavor. Use about 1⁄2 to 1 tsp dried thyme for 2-4 Tbsp fresh basil.


Pine-scented rosemary can substitute for up to 1 Tbsp basil per 1⁄4 cup.

Experiment with these herbs to find a blend you love if you don’t have basil on hand or want to change up the flavors.

Basil Smoothie Recipes Without Bananas

Some people wish to avoid bananas in smoothies or need banana-free options due to allergies. Here are some delicious basil smoothies without bananas:

Chocolate Basil Smoothie

– 1 cup almond milk
– 1 cup spinach
– 1⁄4 cup basil
– 2 Tbsp cacao powder
– 1 Tbsp almond butter
– 1 medjool date, pitted
– 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
– Ice

Raspberry Coconut Basil Smoothie

– 1 cup coconut milk
– 1 cup raspberries
– 1⁄4 cup basil
– 2 Tbsp shredded coconut
– 1 Tbsp chia seeds
– 1 tsp honey
– Ice

Green Tea Basil Smoothie

– 1 cup brewed green tea, chilled
– 1 cup mango chunks
– 1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 1 Tbsp lime juice
– 1 inch knob ginger, peeled
– Ice

Carrot Apple Basil Smoothie

– 1 large carrot, peeled
– 1 apple, cored
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 1 Tbsp almond butter
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– Ice

Watermelon Strawberry Basil Smoothie

– 1.5 cups watermelon chunks
– 1 cup strawberries
– 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
– 2 Tbsp lime juice
– 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
– 1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
– Ice

You can still make bright, flavorful basil smoothies without bananas as your base. Fruits, veggies, nut milks, yogurt, and greens pair deliciously with basil’s vibrant taste.


Adding fresh basil to smoothies provides a quick and easy way to infuse drinks with aroma, antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Its distinctive sweet, yet minty flavor blends nicely with fruits, greens, nuts, yogurt and more.

Start with just a few leaves, around 1⁄4 cup, and increase basil amounts slowly to prevent bitterness. Remove any tough stems or veins for the best texture. Store fresh basil properly in the refrigerator or freezer to retain its flavor and qualities.

While extremely rare, some people may have an allergy to basil. It’s also high in oxalates, so individuals prone to kidney stones should moderate intake. But otherwise, basil is a safe, healthy addition to smoothies.

Feel free to substitute or combine basil with other fresh herbs like mint, parsley, cilantro or tarragon for flavor variations. Let your imagination run wild coming up with tasty smoothie recipes starring this quintessential Italian herb.

Leave a Comment