The Health Benefits Of Basil Seeds (And A Drink Recipe You Can Use To Reap Them All)

They're the new chia seeds.

What Are Basil Seeds And A Basil Seed Drink Recipe For Your Health unsplash / roberto nickson

By Justina Huddleston

Chia seeds have been our go-to for a few years now, whether we're making a healthy pudding for breakfast or dessert, adding them to our kombucha for a nutritional boost or using them as an egg substitute in our vegan baking. But there's another seed out there that could be chia's long-lost twin: the basil seed.

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What are basil seeds?

Popular in Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, basil seeds (also known as sabja seeds) are literally the seeds of the sweet basil plant. Like chia seeds, the exterior of basil seeds becomes gelatinous when soaked in liquids. They swell faster than chia seeds and get a little larger too, retaining a tiny bit of crunch in their center even after they swell.

Are basil seeds good for you?

Basil seeds have a lot of the same benefits as chia seeds. Their layer of mucilage (the technical term for that gooey outer layer) soothes the digestive tract, the seeds are high in iron, and their high fiber content can help alleviate constipation.


How to use basil seeds

Use basil seeds in the same way you'd use chia seeds. You can add them to beverages (they're commonly used in India and the Middle East to make falooda, a sweet dessert beverage flavored with rose water), use them to make a pudding with your favorite milk or milk alternative, add them to your smoothies or mix them into your fave overnight oats recipe. You can also grind the seeds up and mix them with water to make a vegan egg substitute for baking.

Simply soak one teaspoon of basil seeds in 8 ounces of the liquid of your choice, and you'll have three tablespoons of swollen basil seeds in five minutes or so.

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We recently tried this recipe from Elephants and the Coconut Trees, and it's so refreshing and delicious. Here's the recipe if you want to try it. 


Basil seeds limeade recipe

Recipe courtesy of Elephants and the Coconut Trees

Serves 1


  • Basil seeds
  • Water (for soaking the seeds)
  • Lime or Indian lemon 
  • Simple syrup
  • Ice cubes 
  • Cold water (to fill the glass)
  • Club soda (optional)


  1. Wash the basil seeds and soak them in water in a glass for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  2. Drain the water. 
  3. In a cocktail shaker or glass, zest 1/2 the peel of the lime or lemon and squeeze all the juice. Add the simple syrup, basil seeds, ice cubes and water and shake vigorously. 
  4. Top off the basil seeds limeade with club soda if you'd like a little carbonation. 

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Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine whose real passion is cooking.  You can follow her Instagrammed SoCal foodie adventures at @Jsteadyfosho.