substitute for kaffir lime leaves to add citrus taste

kaffir lime is a herb which is widely used across Asian region in Thai food, Indian food, Chinese food etc. people like to add kaffir lime leaves in variety of dishes in places like Thailand to make the dish more tasteful and aromatic with citrussy tangents in it. when you cant get kaffir leaves then you need to have substitute for kaffir lime leaves to make tasty dishes without compromising flavor which can be done if you use below given alternatives for kaffir lime.

it has strong aroma and never advised to be eaten raw but use in cooking widely to make cuisines round the world tasty and flavorful. you will get very strong citrus flavor from these leaves which are broken from kaffir lime plant.

since it is native to Asian region it may become difficult for you to find and buy kaffir lime leaves in small towns and cities around the world.

substitute for kaffir lime leaves

you can use the kaffir lime leaves in Indian curries, gravies, Thai curries, Japanese sauces, American dips, sea food wrap, potpourris and many more dishes in which citrus aroma is required. you can use dried kaffir lime leaves which can be made by drying fresh leaves in dehydrator or sun and save for use in cuisines in off season or fresh kaffir lime leaves as per your preferences and availability. if using fresh ones you can add little extra as they are less potent then dried ones. you can also add them to your bathtub to get good aroma.

kaffir lime leaves substitutes and alternatives

Bay leaves

bay leaves are a popular alternative to kaffir lime leaves and can be found easily. you can add them in all kinds of savory dishes to enhance the flavor. you will get distinct aroma and taste from bay leaves. they can be added to rice, curries, garbanzo beans, soups, sauces, stews etc. to make them flavorful in absence of kaffir lime leaves, they don’t have citrus like taste but works great in may dishes.

Substitute for bay leaf

dried kaffir lime leaves

If you are out of fresh kaffir limes leaves and want the similar option then best option is to use dried kaffir lime leaves which you can get from market or you can make them from fresh ones by drying them when you have lot of them available at cheap in its season. you can store the dried kaffir lime leaves in normal plastic bag and keep it in your pantry or freezer for long time to consume it whenever you want even when market stock is finished.

dried kaffir lime leaves

lemon thyme

lemon thyme comes with strong smell of lemon and crispy texture. the taste is not matching largely but they works for replacing kaffir lime leaves to add some good taste to your food. you wont find bitterness in lemon thyme like normal thyme but it will have citrussy taste due to which you can even add little extra to get that tangy tinge of citrus flavor in your dish.

Add it in your soups, chili, stews, casseroles, hot dogs, beans recipes to see if you like the taste. some people also use it as stuffing for various roles, burritos and other tasty dishes. garnishing various recipes with lemon thyme also gives them a good visual appeal while serving besides enhance the taste profile of overall dish. you can also make sorbets with lemon thyme also to get some tangy flavor in them.

as far as nutritional value is concerned then it is found that lemon thyme has lot of iron content along with vitamin c, D, and B in abundant quantities.

lemon zest

lime or lemon zest works great to add in place of kaffir lime leaves as it will give your little bit bitterness and lot of citrus flavor just like normal kaffir lime leaves. you can easily make lemon zest at home using fresh lemons like yuzu lemons variety or other lemons or lime of your choice. you can replace 1 spoon zest for every 2 leaves to give good flavor to your dishes. you can adjust the quantity to get best suitable taste for enjoying the recipe to fullest.

Dishes like roasted chicken on outdoor bbq, fish fry etc. works great with lemon zest sprinkled over them along with some added herbs and spices.

lemon zest

If you are wondering weather i can use lemon leaves instead of kaffir lime and lemon zest my dishes then let me tell you lemon leaves are never advised to be eaten raw just like kaffir lime leaves in any kind of dishes. you can use them to get good aroma and little flavor in your dish but remove them before eating. people generally use them to wrap sea food in the leaves for flavor induction, use for grilling chicken platter, roasting meat items, sautéing veggies and other herbs to make a spice mix.

you can also add to your steam cooker while making noddle’s, pasta, dumplings, wontons and similar items to get lime like aroma and flavor from them.


lemongrass is popular herb that can be used kaffir lime leaves. It originates from south Asian region. you can get lemon like citrus flavor along with some minty traces from lemongrass and unique flavor to enjoy it in your recipes when kaffir lime is not present. its overall light when compared to kaffir lime so you can add little extra also to get strong flavor in your dishes with lemon grass.

 fresh lemongrass image

lime juice

lime juice is popular alternative to add in your dishes to get kaffir lime like tanginess in your dishes with simple lime juice, you can get limes easily in market and take out its juice at home and then add in dishes like chili recipes, Thai curries, sea food platter, fried fritters, mix veg curry to see the overall taste of the dish get elevated to next level.

Thai basil

It originates from southeast Asian region and has unique taste matching up to certain extent with kaffir lime. the leaves of Thai basil are small and narrow in size and lack citrus flavor like kaffir lime. you can add them to pizza, pasta, noddle’s, chili gravies, curries, spring rolls, pizza rolls etc.

some people also like them in their warm tomato soup, vegetable soup, cheese soups, green veggies soup, sauces, marinades etc. for taste enhancement due to lack of kaffir lime. try it to see if you like the flavor and then add them gradually in your dishes to get taste as per your preferences.

thai basil leaves image

curry leaves

curry leaves are also called is sweet neem as they are natives of neem family with very less bitterness in them. you can use them in place of kaffir lime to add in your recipes as it will give unique aroma and little flavor to your food also.

you wont get citrus flavor from curry leaves but a unique taste which will make you happy and your dishes tasty even in absence of your favorite kaffir lime. if you don’t like the taste of curry leaves then you can remove them post cooking to get its flavor in food but not eat it directly.

curry-leaves image

it is quite popular in India where people add it to rice, lentil curries, gravies, rice flour flakes baked with spices and herbs and other similar recipes to get a unique flavor from them.

they also have good medical properties for strengthening our immune system due to the presence of lot of anti oxidants in the curry leaves.

Persian limes

Persian limes are less popular alternative to kaffir lime leaves but they work wonderfully to replace the kaffir limes. they don’t have seeds in them and are fully of citrusy juice in them to take the recipe to next level. some people also know from from another name called Tahiti limes.

you can also cut them in slices and add in your soups, fruits infused water bottle, stews, salads and other similar recipes to get lime like tangy flavor from these Persian limes when kaffir lime is not been found in your grocery shops

Persian lime image

Frequently asked questions

can i use normal lime leaves instead of kaffir lime leaves?

yes sure they can be used without any issue in your recipe preparation and its cooking. some people describe that the taste of normal lime leaves is very similar to makrut lime leaves so if you had them them you know what to expect from normal lime leaves use them in less quantity and gradually add more to get best tasting flavor as per your liking.

can i use lime juice instead of kaffir lime leaves?

yes you can use lime juice in place of lime leaves in all kinds of recipes to get blended and integrated taste from the dishes. best dishes to add lime juice included thai curries, wonton soup, chili recipes, garbanzo beans and other similar recipes. if you are making rice and want to add lime then i would suggest you use leaves but if no option go with juice in spoon quantities.


hope you got some easy to find choices above to replace kaffir lime leaves in your dishes to make them more tasty and flavorful. not to forget that if you are unable to find anything just get some leaves of local citrus fruits like orange, limes, mandarins, tangerines, grapefruits etc. and use them in small quantities in your dishes to get kaffir lime like taste, you can add direct full leaves or ground them to get induced flavor in your recipes easily.

let me know in what all dishes you make use of kaffir leaves and substitute for kaffir lime leaves to make the dishes more flavorful with great citrus fruit like aroma.

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