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17 Best Galangal Substitute To Level Up Your Asian Cooking

Galangal is a part of the ginger family and has a very similar flavor profile to many root spices used in Asian cooking.

It’s one of the Asian ingredients that will be difficult to find substitutes for, ergo this list. Galangal carries a rather strong spicy flavor, but there are other ingredients that can stand in for it.

Here are some of the best substitutes for galangal:

  1. Galangal or Thai Chili Paste
  2. Galangal Root Powder
  3. Ginger
  4. Fingerroot
  5. Lemongrass
  6. Kaffir Lime Leaves
  7. Turmeric Root
  8. Horseradish
  9. Mustard Seeds

Do not worry if you still cannot find any suitable alternatives. We have a full list below.

But first, let us understand a bit more about the origin of this Asian food ingredient

17 Best Substitute For Galangal 

Galangal Substitute

Some of the oldest reports shared about galangal use and existence are from Southern China and Java. The lesser galangal is from china while the greater galangal is native to Java, Indonesia.

It may not be easily available if you are living in the North American region.  If you’re trying out an exotic Asian dish requiring galangal, some of the best substitutes for galangal with similar spiciness and taste include ginger or lemongrass.

Of course, feel free to test out the remaining substitutes in this list.

Galangal or Thai Chili Paste


If you happen to walk into a Thai store that sells ingredients for Thai cuisine, then ask for galangal paste. It’s a good substitute but it won’t be as fresh.

This chili paste can be cooked with rice, but it also works well as a dipping sauce. You can also use it to season Thai recipes like coconut chicken soup and tom yum soup.

You still get the same nutrients from the chili paste variants of galangal. It boosts the immune system, prevents inflammation, and protects from certain types of cancer. [Source]

Galangal Root Powder

If you can’t find galangal paste, another option is the powdered galangal root. Note that it’s not as flavorful as fresh galangal or its paste variant.

The powdered galangal root still carries the same flavor profile as the fresh roots, which resembles that of ginger. It also hints of pine and sharp citrus flavors, which makes dishes perky, especially when it’s used in soups.

Use it in both Vietnamese and Thai curry dishes. It’s also great for Indonesian Satay recipes and coconut curry chicken. [Source]



Ginger has a similar flavor profile to galangal, which makes it a good alternative. It also brings a mild sweetness to the dish, which is an added flavor to some Asian recipes.

If you’re using it as a substitute for galangal, make sure to use grated ginger. You can use it to marinate fish or meat when preparing for stews.

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Ginger brings many health benefits because of its many antioxidant compounds. It promotes healthy aging, reduces inflammation, prevents heart disease, and reduces blood pressure. 

Ginger is spicier than galangal root, something you should keep in mind. It’s recommended that you use half as much ginger as galangal in your recipes.


Fingerroot is another good substitute for galangal, though not as spicy or flavorful as ginger. If you’re looking for something with a milder aroma, then this ingredient will work quite nicely.

Fingerroot goes well with many seafood recipes, especially in the Cambodian and Thai cuisines. Its extracts help to reduce the excessive fishy flavors in local Asian dishes.

It has many medicinal properties and is used in many herb-based treatments. It helps reduce bone deterioration, lower blood pressure, promote brain function, relieve abdominal discomfort, and reduce inflammation. 



Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines, especially in Vietnam. It’s used in many types of dishes including dips, stir fry veggies, and soups.

It can match the spicy, hot, and strong pungent flavors of galangal. It also adds a citrus lime-like zest to any recipe, which makes it an excellent substitute.

Lemongrass can help prevent yeast and bacterial infections. Its extracts may also prevent swelling and reduce blood cholesterol, pain, and swelling. [Source]

Kaffir Lime Leaves

If you’re trying out native Malaysian dishes that call for galangal, then you can try substituting kaffir lime leaves. The texture and use of kaffir lime leaves are similar to those of bay leaves.

If you want to get the most flavor from these lime leaves, you should tear them into smaller pieces. You can do this to both single and double leaves.

You get more of its mild spiced citrus flavor when you chop the leaves into very fine pieces. It can also be a fine addition to many types of stir fry recipes.

Kaffir lime leaves also add a lime-like aroma to any dish. They also remove fishy smells from seafood recipes.

It’s best to add these leaves using small amounts at a time. It can create a very pungent flavor and using excessive amounts can alter the taste of your recipe.

Turmeric Root

Turmeric root

Turmeric root is another flavorful ingredient in many Asian dishes. Do you know that it is also used as a type of food tint?

This root is used in many Vietnamese, Indian, and Thai recipes. This close relative of ginger takes away unpleasant smells from meat and fish.

The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, known to have many health benefits. It can potentially improve heart health, act as an anti-inflammatory, relieve arthritis, and treat depression symptoms. 

Turmeric is best used as a galangal substitute in curries and stews. It’s not going to work well in pastes and stir fries because of the noticeable flavor difference.


Horseradish comes from the same family as broccoli, kale, and mustard. As a condiment, it adds a rather pungent smell to any dish.

Some people even mistake the smell of horseradish to the spicy wasabi in Japanese cuisine. However, it is not as spicy and also has a hint of mustard oil in its scent.

You can prepare horseradish by grating it first and then mixing it along with other ingredients. It’s best used as a galangal substitute in fish, meat, and beef dishes.

Horseradish has plenty of health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants protecting the body from cell damage, and it may help prevent lung, stomach, and colon cancer. 

Mustard Seeds

mustard seed

The most popular mustard seeds are the white variants compared to other types like brown and black. It is recommended to use white mustard seeds as the best substitute to galangal.

The white variants also have the mildest spicy profile. But if you can’t find any white ones, then use the black or brown variants but add them incrementally.

It’s best to use mustard seeds to replace galangal for pickled side dish recipes. You should sauté them first before adding them to your food.

Mustard seeds are a good source of calcium, dietary fiber, and other essential minerals. Along with the antioxidant content, its nutrients help protect the body from certain cancers, heart attack, and asthma. 

Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the most common spices the world over, making it the galangal substitute easiest to find. It adds a robust earthy taste with a sharp pungent warm flavor to any recipe.

It’s recommended to use black pepper in meat and fish recipes including stir fries, stews, soups, as well as marinades. Use fresh whole black peppers and grind them as needed to get the most out of their flavors.

Studies show that black pepper provides a lot of health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory effects, improves blood sugar control, lowers cholesterol levels, and fights certain types of cancer. 

White Pepper

White Pepper

Flavor-wise, black and white pepper has the same taste. For this reason, some people ask what the difference between these two types of pepper is.

First off, white pepper is less pungent, which is great for dishes that are mild to the taste. However, if you use more white peppers in your recipe, it can easily boost the spicy flavors.

It’s best to use white pepper in galangal marinade recipes and stews. You can also use it for cheese soups and fondues, especially if you want to improve the spicy flavor.

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Cinnamon and Mace

The cinnamon and mace combination may seem odd for some, but they do make an excellent substitute for galangal. The unmistakable citrusy taste, sweet flavor, and light spicy scent provide unique highlights to any dish.

Mace adds an intense woody flavor to the mixture. Combining the two spices creates the same effect on your dish as fresh galangal.

Cinnamon helps neutralize free radicals, preventing their ill effects on the body. Mace, on the other hand, relieves symptoms of bloating, constipation, and gas. 

Mustard Oil


Some people might not think of mustard oil as a substitute for galangal in their dishes. However, given its pungent and slightly bitter taste, it can stand in quite well in certain recipes.

If you’re cooking Indian and Pakistani recipes, then using mustard oil can be an excellent substitute for galangal. You can reduce its bitterness and produce a sweet taste by cooking food in temperatures of 480 degrees Fahrenheit.

Usually, one teaspoon of mustard oil is enough to enhance marinades for grills and roasts. It’s also a good addition to stir fries and pickled dishes, adding a unique aroma to your meals.

Cinnamon with Ginger

You can use the combination of cinnamon and ginger in some dishes that require galangal. This herb combo is also an excellent substitute for mace.

Ginger adds a hot flavor that also matches the citrusy flavors of galangal. Cinnamon, on the other hand, enhances the flavors of ginger.

Ginger Powder


Ginger powder is dried ginger root in powder form. It is used in many Asian soups, sweets, and desserts.

It’s an excellent substitute for galangal, especially if you’re making soups. It can retain its flavor even under high heat.

Use half a teaspoon of ginger powder for every teaspoon of galangal in your recipes. This ratio is highly recommended due to the strong flavours from ginger powder.


If you can’t find mustard seeds, then the herb itself should do just fine as a substitute for galangal. You can use it to replace galangal paste if the recipe calls for it.

If you’re looking for the same consistency and flavor as galangal, then mustard will do the job quite well. It’s as thick . aromatic and adds a dose of pungency to any dish.

It’s highly recommended for burgers, hotdogs, and other grilled meat. In addition, this aromatic condiment is easy to incorporate into any recipe.



Cinnamon can also be used instead of galangal for certain recipes. It adds a warm spicy flavor to dishes.

If your recipe needs mace, ginger, and galangal, you can definitely use cinnamon as an excellent substitute. Cinnamon adds a sweet pungent flavor to recipes for baked goods, soups, pies, and snacks.