Best lemongrass substitutes and alternatives

Now days many people like to eat Asian food and cook different recipes at home too, but sometimes you many find that your recipe requires lemongrass because many recipes do but don’t have at home then you have reached the right destination as here we will share some of the popular and uncommon substitutes which you can use in place of lemongrass at home.

Lemongrass is mainly used in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and other south east Asian countries and is one of the tropical island plant know by another name of Cymbopogon also which people add to food items and while making tea in kettle too for giving spicy and citrus flavor to it as per their liking. people in India, Sri Lanka and nearby countries prominently use it in their recipes for great taste.

It tastes like somewhat lemon and ginger mixture type and has lemon type aroma that’s why it is also made into essential oil for different usage purposes across the world.

substitutes of lemongrass

Benefits of lemongrass

lemongrass is very popular herb found in different parts of world. it is very good flavor and aroma that’s why it is used in various different types of food recipes to make them more tasty to eat. some of the popular benefits of lemongrass are shared below for you to checkout.

  • Lemon grass is used as a natural diuretic
  • It helps in reliving metal stress, nervousness and anxiety issues
  • It contains lot of different types of nutrients like calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper and many more.
  • It contains lot of anti inflammatory elements and substances in it which makes it good for having to reduce food induced inflammation, Gerd in stomach and different body parts.

10 lemongrass substitutes popular across the world

1. Japanese yuzu

It belongs to citrus fruits family and have aroma and flavor similar to lemongrass which makes it a good alternative to lemongrass if you find it in your local market. it gives a strong flavor to the dish and people mainly like to add it to savory and sweet dishes to add a little punch in the dish taste.

japanese yuzu

2. Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbene is another substitute which comes with good lemongrass type aroma and has citrus flavor to it. it comes in leaves form which you can add to your recipe to get lemongrass type flavor. In general couple of lemon verbena leaves would be good to replace 1 lemongrass leaf stalk.

Do not forget to remove the leaves before serving the dish as it wont be liked by your guests if it comes in their mouth directly due to its tangy flavor. It has lot of good benefits for our body when in include it in our recipes and dishes. It helps to remove unwanted mucus and phlegm which provides relief in your respiratory system related issues for better breathing. people has also reported benefits for better appetite for good body metabolism and good digestive system.

many people add it salad bowl with your choice of spices and olive oil for great tasting side salad with main course platters which can be non veg or vegetarian. soups, nachos salad, salsa taste great with lemon verbene. people who like desserts also add it in making lemon tasting ice cream, pastries, jellies for subtle yet distinct lemon like taste in the sweet dishes.

lemon verbena

3. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm leaves comes with mint flavor which makes them perfect substitute for lemongrass. it is advised to chop the leaves and then add in the recipe to enhance the taste and flavor of the recipe. Add up to 3-4 leaves to substitute 1 stalk of lemongrass. you can add more if you like strong flavor.

Besides being a great alternative to add in recipes if you don’t have lemongrass, it also comes with other benefits like providing aid in digestion, giving relief in metal stress among, working as breath purifier among others.

lemon balm

4. Preserved lemon

You can also make use of reserved lemon at home in place of lemongrass as it comes with very similar properties and aroma.

Couple of spoons would be enough to substitute 1 spoon of lemongrass juice in your recipe. it will give the right amount flavor without over powering the recipe to make it much more delicious. you can also add lemon slices if you don’t want to add lemon juice directly as they would work equally good as well.


5. Normal lemon zest

lemon zest has taste and flavor somewhat similar to lemon grass and is easy available everywhere which makes it quite popular substitute for lemon grass to add in different recipes. just grate the outer part of the lemon into your recipe as per your taste and you are good to go.

To get a comparison of sizes let me tell that a medium size normal lemon would give zest equal to 2 small size stalks of lemongrass. so add the zest as per your recipe and size of serving to make a perfect flavored recipe with zest.

lemon zest is quite popularly used in baked bread and other dessert recipes to give then a tinge of citrus flavor without overpowering the main flavor of dessert which makes it an indispensable part of cooking anything which require subtle lemon like flavor with hint of citrus tinge in their recipes like lemon bread, lemon pastries, lemon cakes, lemon protein bars, fruit bars, savory curries for great aroma and texture, meat and sea food stuffing’s, burger patties, and many different recipes.

lemon zest

6. Lemongrass paste or kreung

kreung is local name for lemongrass paste and is generally made in south east Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos etc. by local companies. they mix some other ingredients also in the paste jar with lemongrass to enhance the flavor. couple of things which are quite popular and you will definitely find in lemongrass paste includes shallots and galangal fund locally.

It gives strong flavor to dish so allow it to cook for while adding it to different dishes like soups, curries etc. To get full blended flavor from it. generally speaking 1 spoon paste would be equal to 1 spoon chopped lemon grass leaves. add in quantities as per your liking. you can also make this at home with paste recipes on internet.

If you are looking for simple kreung recipe then let me share it with you. you can take couple of lemongrass stalks along with  2-3 slices of galangal, 2-3 slices of ginger, 1-2 slices raw turmeric, 2-4 garlic cloves, 5-7 lime leaves or 1/2 spoon lime zest, 1/2 spoon lemon juice, 2 shallots,  1/2-1 spoon cumin powder/seeds, 1/2 -1 spoon coriander seeds, 1-2 spoon chili powder, 1/2 spoon sumac power(optional), 5-10 spoon water for smoothness of paste as per your liking. mix all the ingredients in blender and then transfer in bowl to use it in various recipes of your choice. If you want to get unique texture from your paste then you use pastel and mortar as it gives good taste and texture but is time consuming.

lemongrass paste

7. Dried lemongrass

Lemongrass can be dried and stored when its available in market so that you can use it for long time when its gone from your local market else you can also get dried lemongrass from super market stores in small plastic bottles.

It has strong flavor so it should be added in less quantity in the dish. you can add it in sauces, sandwiches and even non veg meat dish marinades to make the overall dish flavorful. it has strong herbal aroma and citrus flavor and 1 spoon dried power equates to 1 stalk of lemongrass for your understanding to add correct amount in the recipe.

you can dry lemongrass at our home also by using a food dehydrator to store it for long time and use when required.

dried lemongrass

8. Kaffir lime

kaffir lime leaves comes in dried form or you can take fresh also. it comes close in terms of flavor and aroma to lemongrass. you further enhance its flavor i would recommend that you mix it lemon zest or lemon juice and then add in the recipe.

kaffir lime leaves are used to provide flavor in the recipe to it would be great if you remove from the recipe after some time as people don’t like to eat it with meals or recipe. while using fresh leaves it remove its midriff and bottom part for better taste in the food. in an ideal scenario 1 kaffir lime leaf with 1spoon lemon zest and 1/2 spoon lemon juice would be equal to 1 lemongrass stalk.

People in Thailand calls it makrut and its widely used in variety of recipes in south asian countries and Latin America region and other parts of the world for making curries, stews, added in soups and other different recipes.

It is advised to not eat kafir lime directly as its quite bitter in taste and you wont like it but its leaves are edible and great tasting which is used in recipes when lemongrass is not found in your kitchen.

kaffir lime

9. ginger and cilantro

you can use paste of ginger and cilantro leaves as a substitute for lemongrass. it gives good taste little bit different then lemongrass. Minch the ginger piece along with knife chopped cilantro leaves to make a blend and add to recipe.

1 spoon cilantro leaves along with 1 spoon ginger paste would be equal to 2 spoon lemongrass, so adjust the quantities as per your taste liking. I personally like this substitute as everyone has these 2 items at home most of the time so we can use them instead of lemongrass if its not present.

lemongrass alternative ginger cilantro paste

10. Lemon zest along with Arugula

We have already talked about using lemon zest in recipe as a substitute of lemongrass above but when you combine lemon zest with arugula herb it adds a ting of spicy flavor in the food which gives flavor close to lemongrass making this combination a strong contender for using as a substitute of lemongrass while making tasty recipes in kitchen.

For getting the quantity idea while using it in recipe preparation let me tell you that 1 arugula leaf along with 1 spoon of lemon zest would be equal to 1 lemongrass stalk leaf.

arugula lemon zest - lemongrass substitute

Frequently asked questions on lemongrass

What is basic difference between in lemongrass and normal lemon?

The difference is very simple in both these natural items, lemon has citrus flavor and lemongrass has citrus and strong ginger like taste to it and it is grown in form of stalks unlike lemon which always grows on trees.

How to store lemongrass?

Lemongrass storage is not a difficult task, you can make a paste of it and store in the fridge but if you are busy and cant make the paste then you can just wrap the stalks loosely with paper or cling sheet and put in the fridge for using when required. you can use it up to 30 days but i would recommend that if you want to get fresh like flavor then consume the lemongrass within 10 days of buying from market while keeping it in fridge all the time.

lemongrass can be added in lemon rice recipe prepared in rice cooker also to make it much more delicious.


Hope you got a good idea about all the possible substitutes and alternatives for lemongrass which can be used in your food preparation to get a citrus flavor and good aroma just like lemon grass when using these substitutes. if you have a favorite among these or use something different which we forget to add above then let us know in comments below.

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