So you’re looking for substitutes for lemongrass. Lemongrass is one of those wondrous herbs that look like an annoying weed growing in your backyard. It is a herb that has a lemon aroma and that citrus zing that flavors food so well. Unlike lemon that is a fruit, the stalk of the herb is used to bring out the flavor of the herb. It is usually pounded to extract the smell and aroma and then simmered or steeped into liquids to get its essence.
Lemongrass is used in Southeast Asian cooking, notably Thai cuisine and is found in the cuisines of the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India.
Lemongrass comes in many different forms now from dried, fresh, powdered and even tea bags. It is used to make stews, sauces, and could even be found in cocktails.
Aside from its culinary purpose, it has plenty of medicinal purposes used in Eastern medicine.
However, what if you’re in need of lemongrass but it isn’t around?
Here’s a list of top substitutes for lemongrass.
Table of Contents
1. Lemon Zest
What better substitute for lemongrass other than its fruit counterpart, the actual lemon? Although the flavor won’t be the same oriental taste as lemongrass, lemon zest is commonly used as a good replacement for lemongrass in dishes that require it. Remember not to grate too deep into the skin of the lemon or else the dish might become bitter.
2. Kaffir Zest
Kaffir is one of those citrus delights that have a particularly robust aroma. It is equally sour as lemon and lime but there’s something about the strong aroma of this citrus fruit that sets it apart from the rest. Kaffir promises the same zing that lemongrass does with added aroma. This makes it a good substitute for lemongrass in dishes and beverages.
3. Kaffir Leaves
When we use fresh lemongrass, we usually get rid of the thinner part of the stalk and use the bottom part when most of the flavors and aroma are concentrated. With Kaffir leaves, a lot of the flavor and aroma of the plant is concentrated in the leaves. Kaffir leaves are a delicious replacement for lemongrass in making stews as it gives out the same zing with added kaffir flavor to it. It still maintains a hint of oriental taste in the dish.
4. Lemongrass Paste
Lemongrass paste is typically used in Khmer cuisine from Cambodia. They’ve created a paste with added flavors of galangal and shallots to intensify the flavor of the lemongrass. This could be a good substitute for lemongrass if you’re making Khmer or Indonesian food because of the added flavor of galangal and shallots, which are usually found in these cuisines.
5. Dried Lemongrass
If you don’t have fresh lemongrass, why not go with dry? Dry lemongrass is basically dehydrated lemongrass, which is a little bit more concentrated in flavor compared to fresh lemongrass. Although we do agree that fresh lemongrass is still the best, dried lemongrass still does the work. It’s great for infusing in teas and other beverages.
6. Coriander and Ginger
The combination of these two could pass as a substitute for lemongrass. If you mince these two and add them together, it creates that hot zing from the ginger and adds the herbaceous aroma and flavor from the coriander. It’s a good substitute to used in dishes that need a hint of lemongrass, mostly in the sautéing part.
7. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an herb that has the same aroma as lemongrass but the flavor of mint. It’s a good replacement for lemongrass if you don’t have lemon zest either. To maximize the herb, chop it up to get the smell out.
8. Arugula and Lemon Zest
What could be a Batman and Robin duo replacement for lemongrass is the marriage between arugula and lemon zest. Lemongrass is found in warm tropical climates but what if you’re cooking up a Thai dinner in Scotland? You can simply chop up some arugula and mix it with some lemon zest. The nuttiness and bitterness of the arugula together with the lemon zest recreates the flavor of lemongrass.
9. Lemon Verbena
This herb is usually used as a substitute for lemongrass. It adds the same flavor of citrus and citrusy aroma to the dish just like lemongrass but at a fainter level. Slowly added the leaves of the lemon verbena to gauge how much to use.
10. Japanese Yuzu
Japanese Yuzu is a great substitute for lemongrass in savory and sweet dishes. It is a little bit more powerful in the aroma department but will need some amplifying in the flavor department. Japanese Yuzu is part of the citrus family making it easily a good substitute for lemongrass. Add a little bit of minced ginger to the dish to amplify the citrus flavor.