Skip to Content

Galanga vs Ginger: What’s the Difference?

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes

Have you ever heard of galanga? If so, you might be asking yourself what is the difference between it and ginger: two spices that have strikingly similar origins, flavors, and uses.

In this article we’ll attempt to answer this age-old question by comparing the various visual appearances, flavors, aromas and textures of galanga and ginger.

So buckle up readers – we’re about to embark on a journey through the wonderful world of spices.

What is Galanga?

Galanga, also known as “Thai ginger,” is a root that adds a special flavor and scent to Asian dishes.

It has a strong taste and earthy undertones.

Galanga is more citrus-like than ginger.

It offers both medicinal and culinary benefits.

Eating Galanga adds flavor and could bring health advantages.

Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it an important part of Southeast Asian cuisine.

Explore exotic flavors by adding Galanga to your meals.

What is Ginger?

Ginger, a spice adored in many meals, is taken from the root of the Zingiber officinale plant.

It’s recognized for its unique aroma and flavor.

Ginger can be used in sweet and savory meals.

Plus, it’s valued for its possible health advantages, like calming nausea and inflammation.

Many households cherish it since it can be used fresh, dried, or as powder.

Ginger adds a powerful punch to dishes or drinks with its special taste and different uses.

Differences Between Galanga and Ginger

Galanga and ginger can look and taste similar.

But there are differences.

1 – Appearance and Physical Characteristics

Appearance and physical traits are important for telling one thing from another.

So, what makes galanga and ginger so unique? Let’s have a look at their amazing features.

Galanga, also known as galangal or Thai ginger, has a reddish-brown skin and knobby texture.

It has a citrus and pine taste that sets it apart from ginger.

To use it, you have to peel its tough outer layer.

Fresh galanga is pale yellow and turns light brown or beige when dried.

Its rhizome is slender with several branchy roots.

Ginger has a pale, tan-colored skin with a smoother texture.

Its aroma and flavor have a hint of sweetness and spiciness.

Its shape is an elongated hand with irregular bumps.

Its flesh is yellowish-white when fresh and light brown when dried.

It has thin roots extending from its rhizome.

But what about their uses in cooking? Both galanga and ginger add flavour to dishes, but each one has its own distinct taste.

Galanga is popular in Thai cuisine – soups, curries, stir-fries, and marinades.

It gives them a zesty kick.

Ginger, on the other hand, is used in many cuisines worldwide.

From sweet desserts like gingerbread cookies to savory dishes like stir-fried veggies and sushi.

2 – Flavor and Taste

Flavor and taste are key in distinguishing galanga and ginger.

Galanga gives an earthy profile with a hint of citrus and pine.

Ginger, on the other hand, brings a strong and sharp taste along with a subtle sweetness.

Both these ingredients bring their own flavor, making them indispensable.

Galanga adds complexity to Thai curries, soups, and stir-fries.

Ginger provides fiery notes to Asian stir-fries, desserts, and teas.

These unique tastes make galanga and ginger must-have additions to dishes.

Remember to use them as your recipe requires.

3 – Culinary Uses

Galanga and ginger: two popular ingredients in the culinary world.

Both have unique characteristics and flavors that give dishes a special taste.

Galanga is a common ingredient in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine, known for its citrusy aroma and spicy undertones.

It adds flavor to soups, curries, and stir-fries.

On the other hand, ginger has a pungent and earthy taste, used in many international cuisines, including Indian and Chinese.

It works in both sweet and savory dishes.

Galanga is also known as Thai ginger or greater galangal.

It’s pinkish-brown and has a more intense flavor than regular ginger.

Its fibrous texture and strong essence are like a combination of citrus and pepper.

Plus, it has potential health benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger, which is knobbly and pale yellow, contains gingerol, which gives it its strong flavor.

It also has anti-inflammatory effects.

Both spices are essential components of global gastronomy.

4 – Medicinal Properties

Galanga and ginger are two spices that bring flavor to our lives, as well as medicinal properties.

For centuries, galanga has been used to treat digestion problems and reduce inflammation.

It has powerful antioxidants to support better health.

Meanwhile, ginger is renowned for its anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory effects.

It can help with motion sickness, muscle pain, and strengthening the immune system.

Both of these spices bring unique benefits to our wellness routine.

Similarities Between Galanga and Ginger

Galanga and ginger have many things in common.

They both belong to the Zingiberaceae family and have a spicy flavor.

People use them to add zing to dishes.

Plus, they have medicinal properties.

For example, they aid digestion and reduce inflammation.

And they are great for soups, curries, stir-fries, and beverages.

But they also have unique qualities.

Galanga has a citrusy and floral aroma, while ginger has a warm and earthy scent.

Galanga has a strong flavor with hints of pine and pepper, while ginger has a milder taste with subtle lemon undertones.

These nuances make galanga and ginger invaluable ingredients in culinary creations around the world.

How to Use Galanga and Ginger in Cooking?

Galanga and ginger are two flavorful roots.

Use them in your cooking with these tips.

  • Galanga and ginger come fresh or dried. Fresh galanga is stronger than fresh ginger, and dried galanga is milder than dried ginger. Choose according to the recipe.
  • Peel off the skin before chopping or grating. This ensures no bitterness. Slice, chop, or grate for the desired texture.
  • Galanga and ginger are great in soups, stews, curries, stir-fries, marinades, and sauces. They add a pleasant aroma and heat. Galanga is common in Thai food, and ginger is popular in Asian dishes.
  • Slice or grate to infuse flavor into liquids like broths or teas. Powdered forms are available at stores.

Galanga has a citrusy undertone plus earthiness.

Ginger has a spicier kick.

Adding both can give depth to your culinary creations.


In conclusion, galangal and ginger are two very different plants from two very different parts of the world.

While they do share some similarities in both appearance and flavor, the differences between them are stark.

It is important to note that while galangal can be used as a substitute for ginger, it should not be assumed that these two spices are interchangeable.

Not only do they have different textures but also distinctly unique flavors that cannot be achieved when swapping one root for the other in a recipe.

With its multifaceted flavor profile, galangal is definitely worth considering the next time you’re making Asian-inspired dishes or looking to spice things up in the kitchen.

Galanga vs Ginger: What’s the Difference?

Recipe by Andrew Gray Course: This vs That

Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • Galanga

  • Ginger


  • Choose between galangal and ginger based on your flavor preference and recipe requirements.
  • Grate or slice the selected root spice according to your recipe’s specifications.
  • Incorporate it into your dish, adjusting the quantity to match your desired taste.
  • Savor the unique flavors of galangal or ginger in your culinary creation.
  • Experiment with both spices in various recipes to explore their distinct contributions to your dishes.

About The Author