11 Best Lemongrass Substitutes For Cooking Or Soup


Fresh Lemongrass is a very common ingredient in asian dishes mainly for stir fries,  seafood dishes soups, salads or even tea. The lemon scent that comes from the stalk of a lemongrass plant is one that you cannot do without if you always desire to have a tasty delicacy. The complex and fresh lemongrass recipe is one that is quite difficult to replicate.

Here some perfect substitutes that you can use and still get close lemongrass imitation of the lemongrass flavor.

Are you interested in knowing more about these lemongrass alternatives?Keep reading and learn more about some substitutes that can help to diversify your cooking process

The Ultimate Lemongrass Substitutes List

The unique flavor of lemongrass makes it ideal for grilled meats, curries, stews and soups. Even if the lemongrass replacements are said to have similar flavors, they can still not match up to the herbal flavor of lemongrass. Despite that, you can still rely on them to bring out the best in your meals.

Lemon Juice

lemon juice

If you are seeking a quick way to get your dish to attain a citrus flavor, this is the way out. Picking out the right lemon is key. As you pick out lemons for this purpose, look out for fresh ones with a slightly soft feel. The soft feel gives you an assurance that the lemons are juicy and have thin skin.

To extract lemon juice from your lemons, slice the lemons into halves and load the pieces into a citrus juicer then squeeze out the juice. As you add the lemon juice to your dish, keep checking on the quantity of the lemon juice.  Too much of it is bound to make your dish extremely acidic.

For proper measurements, one medium sized lemon will be equal to 2 small stalks of lemongrass

I would recommend that you use the freshly squeezed lemon juice rather than the bottled one. This is because the freshly squeezed juice will give you better results. Luckily, the procedure of making it is quite simple.

Lemon Zest

Lemon zest

This one has been my all-time best as it is the closest lemongrass substitute in terms of texture and flavor. For every lemongrass required by a certain recipe, one teaspoon of lemon zest will just be adequate. Add your lemon zest little by little as you continuously taste to ensure that its taste is just right according to the dish you are cooking.

Dumping quite a tablespoon of it might leave you with bitter regrets. The citrus flavor will no doubt give your food an extra different flavor. Making lemon zest is quite simple. Wash your lemon first and dry it up with a clean paper towel. You simply need to grate the exterior part of the lemon’s skin.

It gives an intense lemon flavor, and you will only feel just a little bitter taste. To achieve this, make sure that you grate the thin outer skin only, leaving out the white pith which is bound to make your food very bitter. To add some herbal undertone to your meals, you are free to add some herbs to your lemon zest.

Arugula Leaf

Arugula leaves, also known as rocket or roquette, are tender and bite-sized with a tangy flavor.(Source)

For every one stalk of fresh lemongrass required in your recipe, you can replace with a single angula leaf and one teaspoon of lemon zest.

Do note that arugula has a very sharp peppery taste, so you have to make sure it is not being overused.

Lemon Verbena Leaves

Lemon Verbena Leaf (Aloysia Citrodora L. - Folium Verbenae Citriodoratae) Health Embassy - 100% Natural (25g)

The lemon verbena leaves are closely similar to lemon zest. The shrub will not give your food a taste that is completely similar to that of lemongrass, but it will be close, say a distinct close citrus flavor to lemongrass.

For every single stalk of lemongrass you need for your recipe, you can rely on two lemon verbena leaves to bring out the taste you desire. A little amount of it will go a long way as it has a strong aroma and flavor.

To use them in your recipes, finely chop the leaves into the dish. Chopping them allows the release of the flavor appropriately and uniformly. You can also opt to place the entire leaves in your cooking pan and remove them before you serve.

The best thing about the lemon verbena leaves is that you can harvest or buy a lot of them and store them in a frozen state in ice cube trays immersed in clean water. You can also dry out the lemon verbena leaves and store them in a tightly sealed container if you intend to use them at a later date.

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Thaï Chef : Dried-Kaffir-Lime-Leaves, 30g | Curry Leaves, Premium Gourmet Ingredient for Thai & Asian Cuisine , De naturel 100%

The kaffir lime leaves also have the capability of adding a citrus aroma to your soups, broths, and curries. You can easily recognize them from their unique double leaf lobes and green color. To bring out the best of the taste in your dishes, tear the kaffir lime leaf into two.

If you have older leaves at hand, get rid of the stalk and the midrib which are likely to cause your food to be very bitter. You can also improve the taste brought about by the kaffir lime leaves by using them together with other ingredients such as the lime zest.

For effectiveness purposes, you can substitute one stalk of lemongrass needed for your recipe with a single leaf of kaffir lime leaf combined with exactly two tablespoons of lemon juice that has been freshly squeezed and a single tablespoon of lime zest.

For soup, the combination of kaffir lime leaves and lime juice would be perfect.

With these amounts of substitutes, you can be sure to get the best citrus taste in your curries and soups.

Fresh Ginger Combined With Coriander Stalks

Ginger always brings out a certain strong and distinct taste in meals. You can barely ignore its goodness. For you to be sure that your ginger is fresh, it should always feel very hard, but its skin should feel smooth. To keep them looking fresh, wrap it in a plastic bag and place it in a refrigerator.

Coriander stalks, on the other hand, have an aromatic and zesty flavor. When combined, that intense flavor taste can be described as reminiscent, very close to that of lemongrass.

To aid you in the right measurements for your broths and soup, for every one stalk of lemongrass needed in your recipe, use two teaspoons of coriander stalks and fresh ginger root.In this case, the coriander stalks seem to be more preferable compared to the leaves. This is because they have more flavor.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is ideal for desserts. You can opt to have some lemon balm in your backyard for convenience purposes, or you can also decide to get some from the nearest supermarket or grocery store down the street in the herb section.

To achieve the ultimate taste, use exactly four lemon balm leaves to substitute one stalk of lemongrass needed in your recipe. Chop the lemon balm leaves and add them to your dish towards the end of the cooking procedure.

You can store lemon balm for a longer period of time and still retain their flavor for a longer period. Chop the leaves into smaller pieces and immerse them in fresh water then place each of the mixtures in a tray with ice cubes. Refrigerate them in that state.

If you have dried lemon balm, place them in a plastic bag which is resealable and store the dried lemon bam in a place that is cool and dry.This way you can have them handy whenever you run out of lemongrass substitute.

Ginger And Cilantro

Suitable for use in broths and soups, you can substitute lemongrass with ginger and cilantro.

Two teaspoons of cilantro stalks alongside two teaspoons of fresh ginger will replace one stalk of lemongrass. It is important to use cilantro stalks rather than leaves as the stalks are richer in flavor.

Japanese Yuzu

japanese yuzu

Another citrus fruit that you can consider as a lemongrass alternative is the Japanese yuza. The exterior color of this fruit is similar to a lemon and sized like a grapefruit. If you have drink yuzu juice before, its zest has hints of mandarin orange!

Japanese yuzu is one ingredient commonly seen in east Asian cuisine for sweet and savory dishes like curries or fish recipes.

It is more difficult to extract the same amount of juice compared to a lemon or lime as it produces less juice due to its larger pips.

For measurement purpose, to replace 2 small stalks of lemongrass may require to have at least two or more yuzu to extract sufficient liquid. Some testing may be required as they add powerful flavor to dishes and may spoil your recipe

Dried Lemongrass

We consider dried lemongrass as a great substitute for fresh lemon grass recipes, especially for meat dishes and poultry dishes that have a sauce base.

When dried, the lemongrass has a strong herbal and citrusy flavor therefore the right amount should be added. (Source)

You will not need a lot of dried lemongrass to replace one stalk of fresh lemongrass. One teaspoon of dried lemongrass will be more than enough.

Lemongrass Paste

The name given to lemongrass paste is kreung. Its origin is in Cambodia, and you can rely on it as a substitute for lemongrass in a variety of dishes. You can comfortably find it in grocery stores. It is packaged in squeezable tubes which can store it in good condition for a long period.

The ingredients of lemongrass paste:

  • 1 galangal
  • 6 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger
  • 3 minced cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves

To make, ground all ingredients in a food processor or the traditional mortar and pestle.

Watch this video:

Get The Best Out of Your Lemongrass Substitute

I hope that you have learned about the various lemongrass substitutes that are viable. Running out of lemongrass which could be an important ingredient in your recipe does not mean that your desire to make that particular dish should end there and then. You can rely on the best lemongrass substitute to bring out the best in your meal.

Lemon zest happens to be my all-time lemongrass substitute which brings out a flavor that is almost similar to that of lemongrass. Lemon juice, on the other hand, comes in handy when I am in a hurry to get my meals ready. Feel free to try out the different lemongrass substitutes, and in the long run, you can clearly tell the one that brings out the best in your dishes.

Jessica Blythe

Jessica Blythe is a passionate home cook, preparing delicious home cook meals daily for her family, She also enjoys baking as her favorite hobby.

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