Which is the Best Lemongrass Substitute?

Which is the Best Lemongrass Substitute?

Table of Contents

How and Where is Lemongrass Used for Cooking?

Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian countries and is now accessible almost everywhere. People like to add it to their dishes for the pungent and unique flavor, especially when they are making Asian curries.

Lemongrass is a lemony-flavored big tall thick grass and the magical flavor is found inside the stalk (which has a woody flavor covering that you don’t use).

Lemongrass has therapeutic benefits, so people also like brewing it as a tea. In some African countries, people keep lemongrass available in dried form and use it in their dishes. It increases the shelf life of the herb and helps concentrate the flavors. So, a little goes a long way.

In terms of cooking, lemongrass is a common element in the majority of beef, fish, and even chicken curries. The addition of this herb brings out the light aromatic and citrusy flavor in the dish that you will grow to love.

Given how versatile it is in cooking, this herb is now widespread across the world and not localized in just Southeast Asian countries.

What are the Health Benefits of Lemongrass?

Many people think that lemongrass is only good for cooking and for adding flavor to a dish. While that is true, lemongrass’ benefits go beyond the confines of the kitchen.

This herb is known for its therapeutic benefits as well. It is enriched with a balance of essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for our body.

Lemongrass is a source of:

  • Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C
  • Folates
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium

Aside from that, lemongrass is loaded with beneficial antioxidant properties too. It helps fight off the excess of free radicals in the body. It also has antifungal and antibiotic properties that help stave off infections.

The aroma of the lemongrass is also quite soothing. Many people find the smell so relaxing that they use it in an air diffuser before bed to help them get a better night of sleep.

What are the Best Lemongrass Substitutes?

fresh Lemongrass on white background

1. Lemon Zest

Lemon zest is the easiest and most accessible lemongrass substitute.

Just grating a little lemon zest into your dish packs in a punch of citrusy flavor that you will grow to love – if you want a measurement, the zest of one whole lemon is equivalent to two small stalks of lemongrass.

Often, mixing in one leaf of arugula with some lemon zest can create magic when it comes to replicating the flavors. It won’t be as authentic and pungent as you want it to be, but it comes pretty close.

While the lemon zest packs in the citrusy taste, arugula replicates another part of the flavor of lemongrass.

2. Dried Lemongrass

In case you can’t get your hands on the fresh lemongrass, dried lemongrass can save the day.

Drying the herb makes the flavors a lot more concentrated. It is an amazing substitute, but since the flavors are so dense and complicated, you must keep an eye on the amount you are using.

A little does go a long way, so keep that in mind.

Dried lemongrass has a slightly stronger citrusy flavor and taste. Start by adding a little to the dish and taste it. If you feel like it needs more, add a bit more but gradually. Just make sure you don’t overwhelm your dish with dried lemongrass, as it is a very easy mistake to make.

One small teaspoon of dried lemongrass is equivalent to an entire stalk of lemongrass, so be careful with the measurements.

If you can’t find fresh lemongrass, dried lemongrass is a good substitute. Here is a good dried lemongrass you can find online.

3. Kreung (Lemongrass Paste)

In case you are wondering if lemongrass paste counts as a lemongrass substitute, Kreung is not just lemongrass paste. Kreung is an authentic aromatic paste from Cambodia – a mixture of shallots (which tastes between  onions and garlic), galangal (which is a little similar to ginger), and lemongrass. This is a fantastic substitute if you want to replicate some of the staple curries that use lemongrass.

If you are comparing the quantities, one tablespoon of this paste is equivalent to one chopped tablespoon of fresh lemongrass.

You might have trouble getting your hands on it. But, in case you don’t find it in your local Asian supermarket, you can find Kreung online.

4. Kaffir Lime leaves

Kaffir lime and leaves as a substitute for lemongrass

Another popular lemongrass substitute that is considered very similar, is Kaffir lime leaves. It adds the element of citrus that mimics that of the lemongrass.

If you want to pack in a little more punch, mix the kaffir lime leaves with lemon zest and lime juice to enhance the taste and flavor.

One stalk of lemongrass is equivalent to around 1 leaf of kaffir lime, one teaspoon of lime zest, and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

If you are using these leaves, make sure to discard the midrib. Only use the fresh leaves and get rid of the rest. Make sure to remove the leaf once the curry has been flavored, as leaving it in will add a bitter taste to your curry

5. Fresh Coriander and Ginger

Now, this might seem a little confusing for some, but the combination of fresh coriander and ginger can make magic. This might not pack in a lot of tangy and citrusy punch, but it works to balance out the flavor that you want.

Make sure you use fresh ginger with soft skin because that is what will make all the difference. The coriander stalks also add fantastic flavor and aroma to the dish.

Chefs and experts suggest that ginger is a little similar in taste and flavor to lemongrass, with its sweet and pungent flavors. This is why Thai curries have ginger as a staple.

6. Lemon Verbena

Fresh and dry verbena as a lemongrass substitute

Much like fresh lemongrass, lemon verbena is also a very aromatic herb. It has a strong flavor along with mild citrus notes which mimic lemongrass. They are quite easily accessible and are best used fresh.

If you like the taste and flavor, you can buy it growing in a pot and keep it for future use.

Aside from cooking, this works amazingly for making tea and other drinks as well. It adds a kick of freshness that you will love sipping on during the hot summer months.

But be careful with how much you are using. The leaf is very strong in terms of flavor, so make sure you don’t overdo it.

Add a leaf, taste it, and then add more if you want a more concentrated flavor.

7. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is one of the most popular substitutes for fresh lemongrass. This herb has a balance of citrusy and mint flavors that you might grow to love. The leaves pack in a lot of flavor, so you need to be careful with how much you are using.

Some people like chopping it into shreds and adding it to the food while some like crushing it in their palms and adding it whole. You can do either.

But, it is extremely strong in taste. Just three leaves are equivalent to one stalk of lemongrass. So, make sure that you don’t overdo it.

Lemon balm is also a therapeutic herb that helps improve digestion, cures headaches, and even provides relief from painful cramps.

8. Lemon Juice

If you want something mild and don’t want lemongrass’ overwhelming flavor, lemon juice is the best lemongrass substitute.

This is the simplest way of adding citrus flavor, and it is also one of the cheapest and accessible options.

However, lemon juice doesn’t bring in the typical flavor of a stalk of lemongrass. It does add in the tang, but you need to be careful with how much you are adding.

The last thing you want is to end up making an extremely tangy dish. Balance is key when you are using any kind of substitute. This is what makes all the difference.

9. Preserved Lemon

Another possible lemongrass substitute that you can try is preserved lemon. It adds a very concentrated citrus flavor to your dish. Preserved lemon has a mild taste, which complements the dishes nicely without any issues.

If you are using this as a substitute, remember that one teaspoon of preserved lemon is equivalent to one stalk of lemongrass.

10. Japanese Yuzu

Japanese yuzu - another substitute for lemongrass

Lastly, another fantastic alternative for lemongrass that you can try is Japanese Yuzu. This citrus fruit can add magic to your dish.

Aside from the citrus taste, it also packs in a lot of floral flavors, which can be pretty amazing. It blends in well with curries and any kind of seafood dishes too.

It is quite strong in taste and pungency, so be careful with how much you are adding.

If you can’t find this lovely fruit fresh, you can use this yuzu juice as a lemongrass substitute.


If you are looking for some good lemongrass substitutes, here are some of the best ones that you can use. Make sure to always balance the flavors and not overdo it. The best substitute depends on the flavor you want to use for your dish. Some substitutes are more pungent than others, so be careful and only add a little at a time and keep tasting to ensure you don’t overdo your lemongrass substitutes.

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