Where To Buy Fresh Lemon Basil In The US

Few dishes taste more like the start of spring than pasta with pesto. While pesto can be made with veggies like spinach or arugula, its bright, herby flavor, and vibrant green color is most commonly attributed to basil. While sweet basil may be the most widely available basil type in the U.S., did you know there are actually different varieties in the world?

Beyond the standard big green leaves we're used to, different basil plants also have dark purple flowerheads. The flavors of basil varieties can range from spicy to citrusy to peppery, according to the Culinary Herb Garden. If you're looking for one that can blend well in Indonesian cooking, you'll want to turn to lemon basil.

This green herb, aptly named for the lemony scent it releases, is native to India and is primarily found in Southeast Asian cuisines, per Specialty Produce. It's commonly used on grilled chicken or fish, in stir-fry dishes, and with oil as a topping for sautéed vegetables, according to North Shore Living. However, it can also be found in a variety of Indonesian and Thai recipes. If you want to get your hands on lemon basil in the U.S., you'll have to look in these specific places.

Try farmers' markets or Asian grocery stores

Lemon basil may be everywhere in Southeast Asia, but it can be a little trickier to find in the U.S. Your best bet is to hunt in Asian supermarkets or farmers' markets. Lemon basil is in season in the summer, just like many other basil varieties, so you're most likely to find it at farmers' markets during the warmer months, per Gardener's Path.

You may be able to find lemon basil at specialty online stores and nurseries, such as North Shore Living, The Growers Exchange, and Marx Foods. If you have a green thumb, however, one of the easier options may be to just grow it yourself. It's not too difficult to find lemon basil seeds — you can even get them online. To thrive, they need to be planted in small pots in warm areas, according to Outsidepride. You can even plant the seeds next to tomatoes and peppers, BBB Seed explains, as they'll enhance the flavor of your veggies while repelling flies and mosquitos.

If you're a fan of Indonesian or Thai cooking, don't let lemon basil's limited availability in the U.S. deter you. It's worth tracking the herb down for the citrusy flavor it can add to your recipes.