Basil vs. Parsley: What’s The Difference?

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We have to admit, most of us are not too good at using fresh herbs in our everyday cooking. We think of herbs as something fancy, only to be used by professionals in their five-star dishes. But these fresh herbs are important culinary tools that each of us can use in our dishes to add an extra splash of flavor, make them taste slightly better, and make them refreshing. 

Two of the most common herbs globally are Basil and Parsley. According to a survey, parsley production covered around 1,535 hectares of land in France in 2019.  In another survey, researchers found that Basil sales amounted to 49 million Norwegian kroner (equivalent to 5.4 million US dollars) in Norway in 2019.

 So, both of these herbs are quite popular. But many people don’t know the basic difference between the two, which leads to confusion in home-based chefs. But today, we will clear the confusion and differentiate these two incredibly flavorful herbs. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about Basil and Parsley.

What is Basil? 

Basil is a versatile herb that’s used in plenty of dishes. But before we get to its uses, let’s go back a little. Basil is a prominent member of the mint family; it is highly flavorful and has a strong fragrance. 

More specifically, Basil hails from the Lamiaceae family, which is the same family as rosemary or thyme. The basil plant is usually very bushy. If you cut the top of the plant, it will start growing sideways and have a bushier look.

The leaves on the plants are usually large, glossy, and have an elliptical shape with pointed ends. These leaves are placed in clusters on the stems. There are multiple stems on each branch, and there are multiple branches on the plant. 

Basil Nutrition 

Basil is considered less nutritious when compared with Parsley. But this doesn’t mean Basil doesn’t have its advantages. Basil has a larger amount of copper and Manganese; Basil has seven times more Manganese than Parsley. If we talk numbers, Basil has 1.148mg of Manganese; on the other hand, Parsley has only 0.16mg.  

Basil Uses

Basil is a versatile herb, and there are plenty of ways in which Basil is usually used. Here are some of the most popular and interesting ways of using Basil in your everyday cooking. 

  • Used with pesto.
  • Used in Caprese salad.
  • Used to add complexity to different kinds of pasta.
  • Used in recipes with tomatoes to cut the acidity of tomatoes.
  • Paired with olive oil, garlic, and balsamic.
  • Used with fruits like strawberries, mangoes, citrus fruit, and peaches.
  • You can also use it in sweet dishes.
  • According to a study, using Basil and Parsley in broiler feed increases productivity.

Holy Basil

Holy Basil is a very specific type of Basil that became popular only recently. You can’t really use Holy Basil like normal Basil because it’s substantially stronger. Holy Basil is more often used as an extract, tea, or supplement.

What is Parsley?

Parsley is one of the most commonly used herbs in the world right now. It is often used in rich dishes, including soups, salads, heavy sauces, and casseroles. Parsley was initially very popular in European and middle eastern countries, and later it was adopted by the whole world.

And today, almost all of the cuisines in the world use Parsley in one way or another. The green part of the herb has an herbaceous, grassy flavor. This grassy flavor is very important as it enables us to use Parsley in various dishes to complement various flavors.

But as Parsley doesn’t have a strong flavor like Basil, it cannot be used alone in a dish to make it more flavorful. Instead, it is combined with other herbs and spices to add complexity to the dish. The main advantage of using Parsley is that it won’t overwhelm the dish’s flavor while still making the dish more complex.

Parsley Nutrition

Parsley is one of the most nutritious herbs with many Vitamins and several minerals. Parsley has higher amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, Potassium, and Fiber. It is also a good source of minerals like Iron and Zinc, which are essential for the proper synthesis of blood, among other important functions in our bodies.

Parsley Uses

Being a versatile herb, Parsley is used in many different dishes. Its grassy and mild flavor enables us to use it in a diverse range of dishes. Here are a few ways of using Parsley:

  • Used as a garnish in many dishes.
  • Used in tomato-based pasta.
  • Used with savory dishes.

Parsley Varieties

  • Flat-leaf
  • Curly leaf
  • Japanese
  • Hamburg or Parsley root

As its name suggests, flat-leaf Parsley has flat leaves usually thinner, broader, and more fragile. Flat-leaf Parsley is the most popular kind of Parsley because it has the strongest flavor when it comes to Parsley. On the other hand, curly Parsley looks like ruffles and has curly leaves.

Japanese Parsley is quite substantial, and it has thicker stems. It is also the only kind of Parsley eaten on its own. It is best to use all kinds of Parsley and the figure out which one suits your needs best. It is kind of a trial and error thing, because you can’t tell which type will suit you, without using it.

So What’s the Difference Between Basil and Parsley 

  • Basil has a larger amount of copper and Manganese
  • Parsley has higher amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, Potassium, and Fiber
  • Basil is from the Lamiaceae family, while Parsley is from the Apiaceae 
  • Parsley has a lower glycemic index than Basil.
  • Parsley is cheaper than Basil.
  • Parsley is rich in vitamins, while Basil is not.
  • Basil is lower in sugar, saturated fat, and cholesterol than Parsley.
  • Parsley is often used to garnish dishes, while Basil isn’t.
  • Basil has a stronger, minty flavor, unlike Parsley, which is grassier.