Ran Out of Lemongrass? Don’t Worry! These Lemongrass Substitutes Will Work Equally Well

You may not be using lemongrass in your cooking, but it’s being used widely in the world. It’s a herb that adds flavor to your dish but not the substance.

You may have seen lemongrass teas, curries, sweet dishes, especially Thai recipes.

Lemongrass is every cooks’ favorite, especially those who look for a citrusy taste without the lemon-like bitterness.

But if your recipe requires lemongrass and you don’t have it, a lemongrass substitute is the solution, which we are going to discuss today.

So, let’s begin!

Possible Lemongrass Substitutes

These lemongrass replacements won’t undermine your recipe’s taste or flavor. For your ease, we have mentioned the required quantity and the best recipe you can try it in.

1. Lemon Zest

Lemon Zest
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Lemon zest is simply the peel of a lemon sliced into small pieces. It’s the nearest match of lemongrass.

It tastes very citrusy but has low bitterness.

How much To Use?

1 Lemon’s zest = 2 lemongrass stalks

Best For Which Recipe Type?

For all cooking recipes

Professional Tip
You may combine lemon zest with Arugula leaves to get the taste of herbal notes of lemongrass.

2. Kroeung (Paste of Lemongrass)

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Kroeung is another name for lemongrass paste that is made from chopped stalks of lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, garlic, salt, galangal, and turmeric powder.

It’s the next best substitute for lemongrass, especially in cooking.

Lemongrass paste substitute has long been valued for its aromatic and bold flavor which it gets from the woodsy backbone of both lemongrass and galangal.

How much To Use?

1 tbsp lemongrass paste = 1 stalk of lemongrass

Best For Which Recipe Type?

For all cooking recipes

Do You Know?

Kroeung is a generic Cambodian word for chopped spices and herbs

3. Kaffir Lime Leaves

kaffir lime leaves
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Also called Thai Lime, the plant belongs to the same family as lemon. The rind and crushed leaves of Kaffir Lime’s has an intense citrus fragrance.

The taste may not be the same as lemongrass’, but the aroma is the same. You may add a few drops of lime juice to enhance the citrusy flavor.

How much To Use?

1 Kaffir Lime leaf = 1 stalk of lemongrass

Best For Which Recipe Type?

For both curries and soups

4. Lemon Verbena Leaves

Lemon Verbena Leaves
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It’s another aromatic herb that has glossy pointed leaves and a strong lemon scent.

As compared to lemongrass, it’s a bit stronger in taste and fragrance. So, use it with care.

How much To Use?

2 Lemon Verbena leaves = 1 stalk of lemongrass

Best For Which Recipe Type?

For curries, sauces, and savory cakes

Bonus: Your savory dish may require the earthy flavor of caraway seeds.

5. Lemon Balm leaves

Lemon Balm leaves
Lemon Balm leaves

It’s a plant that belongs to the mint family and has a mild lemon scent similar to mint. It has both herbal and citrus flavor and is good for the digestive system.

How much To Use?

3 leaves of Lemon balm = 1 stalk of lemongrass

Best For Which Recipe Type?

For all dishes

6. Preserved Lemon

Preserved Lemon
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Although lemon can’t substitute lemongrass directly, yet its preserved form can (Both the pulp and the peel are used). It tastes different than the fresh lemons.

While fresh lemons have the sharpness of the juice and a strong aroma, the preserved lemon’s flavor is mellow but intensely lemony, without the nose-tickling notes of the lemon.

How to Preserve Lemon

Add deep cuts to each lemon vertically without cutting the base, sprinkle salt, and put them tightly in a jar. After leaving at room temperature, put it in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.

How much To Use?

1 preserved lemon = 1 stalk

Best For Which Recipe Type?

For seafood

7. Dried Lemongrass

Dried Lemongrass
Dried Lemongrass

The lemongrass is usually dried like other herbs to be used in the offseason. Drying and saving the lemongrass is simple.

Drying a herb intensifies its flavor, and that is true for lemongrass as well. You need to add a lesser quantity of dried lemongrass than the fresh stalks.

How much To Use?

1 tsp of dried lemongrass = 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass

Best For Which Recipe Type?

Best for meat dishes and poultry

How to Dry Lemongrass Leaves

Cut off the leaves, wrap them in a round shape tightly to make a wreath and let it dry( away from the direct sunlight), and finally store it in an airtight container after drying.


Lemongrass can best be substituted with lemon zest, Lemongrass paste, kaffir lime, lemon verbena, and lemon balm, preserved lemon, and dried lemongrass.

All of these substitutes vary in taste. One may work well in one dish and may not in another. So, it would be best if you read the taste of the lemongrass alternative first and then go for it.

Which one of these alternatives would you use for your recipe? Let’s discuss this in the comments section below.

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