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Infuse Flavors: 5 BEST Substitutes for Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a game-changer in the kitchen, folks. It amps up dishes with its citrusy zing, making flavors pop in a way that’s hard to replicate.

But we’ve all been there – halfway through prepping a meal only to find out the lemongrass stash has hit zero. Not cool.

Lucky for you, we’ve got the lowdown on the five best stand-ins that’ll save dinner without skipping a beat.

Each substitute brings something special to the table (literally), keeping your meals zesty and your kitchen stress-free.

From common pantry staples to more unique finds, we’re here to keep those flavors bold and bright, lemongrass or not.

Stick with us, and you’ll never miss a beat in whipping up your favorite dishes, even when the original star ingredient is AWOL.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a popular herb known for its refreshing citrusy flavor and aroma.

It is commonly used in Asian cuisines, particularly in dishes like curries, soups, and stir-fries.

However, if you don’t have access to fresh lemongrass or want alternatives to experiment with different flavors, there are several substitutes available.

In this guide, we will compare the top 5 substitutes for lemongrass, discussing their key characteristics and suggesting proper ratios to help you achieve similar results in your recipes.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
GalangalA rhizome with a pungent, spicy, and slightly citrusy flavor; offers a similar aromatic profile to lemongrassUse an equal amount of galangal as a substitute for lemongrass
Kaffir Lime LeavesFragrant leaves with a strong citrus flavor and distinct aroma; can add a tangy and refreshing element to dishesUse an equal amount of kaffir lime leaves as a substitute for lemongrass
Lemongrass PasteA concentrated form of lemongrass with a similar flavor and aroma; convenient to use in place of fresh lemongrassUse an equal amount of lemongrass paste as a substitute for fresh lemongrass
Lemon ZestThe outermost layer of the lemon peel; provides a bright citrus flavor that complements many dishesUse 1 tablespoon of lemon zest as a substitute for 2 stalks of lemongrass
Lemon VerbenaAn herb with a strong lemony flavor and aroma; imparts a vibrant citrus note to recipesUse an equal amount of lemon verbena as a substitute for lemongrass

Now let’s delve into each substitute in more detail:

1 – Galangal

galangal

First and foremost, galangal is a root. It’s a plant that’s in the same family as ginger.

You can find it fresh or powdered. This ingredient is quite popular in Thai cuisine.

Galangal has a rather earthy taste with citrus undertones.

It’s worth mentioning that galangal is an excellent lemongrass substitute because it has a similar flavor.

The main difference is that galangal is more pungent.

When substituting galangal for lemongrass, use the same amount.

You can also use this ingredient in curries, soups, and stir-fries.

Remember that galangal goes well with fish, poultry, and beef.

  • Key Characteristics: Galangal is a rhizome with a pungent, spicy, and slightly citrusy flavor. It offers a similar aromatic profile to lemongrass, making it a suitable substitute.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of galangal as a substitute for lemongrass in recipes. Adjust the cooking time to ensure the galangal softens and infuses the dish with its flavors.

2 – Kaffir Lime Leaves

kaffir lime leaves

The next best lemongrass substitute on our list is kaffir lime leaves.

These leaves come from a citrus tree that’s native to Southeast Asia.

The tree is also known as makrut lime or Mauritius papeda.

Kaffir lime leaves have a strong citrus flavor with a hint of mint.

You can find them fresh, frozen, or dried.

When using fresh leaves, make sure to remove the central vein.

In terms of flavor, kaffir lime leaves are quite similar to lemongrass.

The main difference is that kaffir lime leaves are more citrusy.

When substituting kaffir lime leaves for lemongrass, use two leaves for each stalk of lemongrass.

There are several dishes that you can make with kaffir lime leaves.

Our favorites include tom yum soup, green curry, and Massaman curry.

3 – Lemongrass Paste

  • Key Characteristics: Kaffir lime leaves are fragrant leaves with a strong citrus flavor and a distinct aroma. They can add a tangy and refreshing element to dishes, replacing the citrus notes of lemongrass.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of kaffir lime leaves as a substitute for lemongrass. Remove the central vein before using the leaves in your recipe.
lemongrass paste

If you can’t find lemongrass or galangal, lemongrass paste is a great alternative.

This ingredient is made from ground lemongrass, garlic, and salt.

It’s available in most supermarkets or online.

Lemongrass paste has a strong citrus flavor that’s slightly sweet.

You can use the paste in curries, soups, and stir-fries.

When substituting lemongrass paste for fresh lemongrass, use one teaspoon for every two stalks.

Keep in mind that lemongrass paste is quite concentrated.

Therefore, you don’t need to use a lot of it. A little goes a long way.

  • Key Characteristics: Lemongrass paste is a concentrated form that captures the flavor and aroma of fresh lemongrass. It is a convenient substitute when fresh lemongrass is not available.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of lemongrass paste as a substitute for fresh lemongrass. Adjust the seasoning to taste as the paste may be more concentrated.

4 – Lemon Zest

lemon zest

Lemon zest is a great substitute for lemongrass for a milder citrus flavor.

Zesting a lemon is easy–use a Microplane or fine grater.

Lemon zest has a bright, refreshing taste perfect for desserts and cocktails.

You can also use it in savory dishes like chicken or fish.

In terms of flavor, lemon zest is similar to lemongrass.

The main difference is that it’s not as intense.

When substituting lemon zest for lemongrass, use one teaspoon for every two stalks.

You can use lemon zest in various dishes, both sweet and savory.

Some of our favorites include:

  • Lemon bars.
  • Lemon meringue pie.
  • Lemon poppyseed muffins.
  • Citrus salad.
  • Chicken piccata.
  • Fish tacos.
  • Key Characteristics: Lemon zest refers to the outermost layer of the lemon peel. It provides a bright citrus flavor that complements many dishes, though it lacks the fibrous texture of lemongrass.
  • Proper Ratio: Use 1 tablespoon of lemon zest as a substitute for 2 stalks of lemongrass. Incorporate the zest into your dish during cooking or sprinkle it as a garnish before serving.

5 – Lemon Verbena

lemon verbena

Another great lemongrass substitute is lemon verbena.

This herb has a strong lemon flavor with minty undertones.

It’s also quite fragrant. Lemon verbena goes well in both sweet and savory dishes.

You can use it to make syrups, jams, jellies, and ice cream.

It’s also great in savory dishes like chicken and fish.

When substituting lemon verbena for lemongrass, use one teaspoon of leaves for each stalk of lemongrass.

You can also use this ingredient in curries, soups, and stir-fries.

You can find lemon verbena fresh, dried, or powdered.

If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, try an herb or specialty food store.

  • Key Characteristics: Lemon verbena is an herb with a strong lemony flavor and aroma. It imparts a vibrant citrus note to recipes and can be used as a substitute for lemongrass in certain dishes.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of lemon verbena as a substitute for lemongrass. Adjust the quantity based on personal taste preferences and the intensity of the lemon verbena leaves.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Lemongrass

Searching for the perfect lemongrass substitute? Your quest ends here! Explore our handpicked selection of the 5 best alternatives that seamlessly replicate the distinct citrusy essence of lemongrass, ensuring your culinary creations maintain that vibrant and flavorful touch.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • Galangal
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Lemongrass Paste
  • Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Verbena

Instructions
 

  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for lemongrass
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