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Trying to cook Asian cuisine but found out the recipe requires lemongrass, which you don’t have? You are in the right place to learn about all the lemongrass substitutes you can use for a meal full of lemony flavor.
Lemongrass is a common tropical island plant from the grass family. It is mostly used for cooking foods in southern Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, etc.
Lemongrass grass provides a lemon or citrus flavor that compliments the Asian cuisines.
Not only do Asian countries use lemongrass only but also African use it to spice up tea and other drinks. Every continent has different uses for lemongrass for cooking purposes.
These alternatives to lemongrass also provides a close citrus flavor and distinct aroma to pair your recipe almost like the fresh lemongrass.
What is lemongrass used for?
Lemongrass is an herb that has a lemony scent that comes from the stalk of a lemongrass plant. Lemongrass comes in a few different forms: whole lemongrass, dried lemongrass, and sometimes even lemongrass oil.
It is best described as a mix of ginger and lemon.
Lemongrass is most often used in cooking, especially in asian dishes like stir fries, soups, and even tea.
Benefits of Lemongrass
Besides the aroma and flavor complimenting the food, there are a number of health benefits of lemongrass.
- Full of healthy nutrients and essential minerals.
- Used as a natural diuretic
- Relieving anxiety
- Anti-inflammatory elements
- Consists of Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Manganese
- Provides Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, and Folates.
10 Lemongrass Substitutes
Although Lemongrass has a complex flavor and aroma that provides uniqueness on the Asian cuisine, there are other capable and available substitutes to use in place of Lemongrass.
The Lemongrass substitute won’t provide the exact flavor but they bring a close flavor as the lemongrass.
1. Lemon Zest
Lemon zest is easily the best lemongrass substitute because it is easily available in the local store. It also has the most similar taste profile. To use it in the recipe, you have to grate the lemon zest (outer part of lemon) and mix it according to the amount of food inside to have a balanced flavor.
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For proper measurements, one medium-sized lemon is equal to 2 small stalks of lemongrass. Depending on the amount of food, you can equate the required lemongrass with the right amount of lemon zest.
2. Kreung a.k.a Lemongrass Paste
The paste from lemongrass is made from Cambodia and its mixed with other ingredients to provide extra flavor besides lemongrass. It consists of galangal and shallots.
- Authentic Cambodian Food (Kroeung)
- No Artificial Preservatives, Colors or Flavors
- 2018 sofi Award Winner
You can use the lemongrass paste 1 tablespoon as a substitute for a tablespoon of chopped fresh lemongrass. The lemongrass paste may even impart a stronger flavor. If you cook it in a soup, make sure to give it time to cook through the dish.
3. Keffir Lime Leaves
Another great lemongrass substitute than adds a citrus aroma close to the fresh lemongrass. The Keffir lime leaves can be combined with other ingredients like lime zest and lime juice to enhance the flavor.
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One stalk of lemongrass = two tablespoons of lemon juice + one Kaffir lime leaf + one tablespoon of lime zest
Ensure to remove the midrib of the keffir lime leaf to only use the fresh leaves. Also, the Keffir leaves are hardly eaten thus it’s better to remove the leave before eating the food. Its purpose is to provide flavor and aroma.
4. Dried Lemongrass
Lemongrass is usually dried for later use and it is a great substitute for fresh lemongrass in recipes. When dried, the lemongrass has a strong herbal and citrusy flavor therefore the right amount should be added.
One tablespoon of dried lemongrass = one stalk of fresh lemongrass
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Too much of the dried lemongrass can overpower the whole meal because it has a higher concentration. For greater results, the dried lemongrass is best for meat dishes and sauces.
5. Coriander & Ginger
A combination of ginger and coriander can be used as a lemongrass substitute. Crush and mince 2 teaspoons of coriander stalks and 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger root to substitute one stalk of lemongrass.
This combination of ginger that is sweet and pungent with coriander stalks that intense flavor provides a close flavor to lemongrass.
6. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an herb that has a mint flavor that makes one of the best lemongrass substitutes just like lemon zest. You can chop the leaves or cut half and maximize the fragrant as well as the citrus flavor elements.
Three lemon balm leaves can substitute one stalk of lemongrass.
Apart from being a lemongrass substitute, it has great benefits to the body like to help get rid of digestive problems, headaches, and cramps.
7. Arugula and Lemon Zest
A combination of the two ingredients provides a great substitute for lemongrass. The Arugula adds an extra layer of spice that lacks when you use lemon zest independently.
For every one stalk of fresh lemongrass required in the recipe, it can be replaced with one arugula leaf and one teaspoon of lemon zest.
This combo brings out the citrus and herbal flavor the lemongrass provides to dishes.
8. Lemon Verbena
The Lemon Verbena is a very aromatic herb similar to lemongrass used to substitute lemongrass to provide a citrus flavor and a herby flavor.
To use in the dishes, add the leaves accordingly while monitoring the taste until it riches your prefered levels. In most cases, one to two lemon verbena leaves is enough to equate one stalk of lemongrass.
You can chop the leaves or insert them whole and make sure to remove the leaves before eating the food.
9. Preserved Lemon
Most of the lemon aspects are great choices for lemongrass substitute and the preserved lemon is no exception. It adds a citrus flavor to compliment your dishes without dominating.
Use one and a half teaspoons of the preserved lemon to substitute one teaspoon of fresh lemongrass. Its best for cooking seafood.
10. Japanese Yuzu
If you can find it, Japanese yuzu has a citrus, floral fragrance and close flavor as the lemongrass. It belongs to the citrus family.
Japanese yuzu is used in traditional savory and sweet dishes to go with curry and seafood recipes.
This is a capable substitute for lemongrass if you have it to provide powerful flavor to the dish.
With all of these substitutes, I would recommend adding in a few slices of ginger or some grated ginger to ensure that you cover the full range of flavors imparted by lemongrass.
More Food Substitutes
Frequently Asked Questions about Lemongrass
What’s the difference between lemon and lemongrass?
They are simply two different produce items! They are very similar, but lemon grows more as a fruit on a tree and lemongrass grows as a stalk. Lemongrass will have a more gingery taste too it.
How do I substitute dried lemongrass for fresh?
Dried lemongrass has a stronger flavor so we recommend adding about half of the suggested amount for fresh.
How do you store fresh lemongrass?
The best way to store whole, fresh lemongrass is to wrap it loosely and keep it in the fridge. You can also try mincing the lemongrass into a paste.
How long will lemongrass keep in fridge?
Lemongrass will keep well up to a few weeks, but it will taste most fresh and have the best flavor within the first 10 days.
There you have it! Next time you need a substitute for lemongrass or simply want to diversify your cooking process, use the above ingredients.
Some lemongrass alternatives may work for some people and others it might not because we have different preferences.
Most professionals recommend lemon zest to be the best lemongrass substitute.
Try all of the available substitutes to you to find your preferred lemongrass substitute.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.