7 Great Substitutes for Curry Leaves

Jun 1, 2021 | Cooking Tips

Curry leaves are one of the most notable herbs that were founded in the time of the Galleon Trade. Curry leaves are what defined the flavors of the Spice Islands then and they created so much depth into food. In this article, we present you with substitutes for curry leaves in case you can’t find any. Curry leaves are best fresh but that’s not possible for all countries so here are some more suitable alternatives for those who do not have fresh curry leaves in their countries.

It’s hard to describe our love for curry leaves. Curry leaves are simply fantastic. Curry leaves are the foliage of the curry plant that is used in many Indian dishes like stews, breads, beverages, dals, meats, seafood, rice dishes, chutneys, sauces and snacks.

The curry leaf is a very aromatic leaf that has citrus notes. These characteristics of the curry leaf definitely stands out in anything you add it to.

Curry leaves aren’t only delicious and essential to Indian cuisine but they’re also packed with nutrients. It is packed with antioxidants, which are great for the immune system and phytonutrients that help with inflammation, reduce heart disease, help balance blood sugar and helps fight cancer.

The curry leaf is basically GREAT. However, there are some instances that we run out of curry leaves. Here’s a good list of substitutes for curry leaves.

Kaffir Lime Leaves

1. Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir lime has a distinct aroma. Its fruit doesn’t exactly have a very special flavor, as it is also a citrus fruit meaning that it is sour just like lime and lemon juice. But the essence from the leaves truly lifts you off your feet and takes you to Nirvana just like curry leaves.

It’s not the exact some flavor as curry leaves but it’ll achieve the experience that curry leaves bring.

Lime Zest

2. Lime Zest

If you’re looking to replace the citrus notes of curry leaves, lime zest would be perfect for that but it would be perfect with the help of basil. In order to attain the curry leaf minty x citrusy vibe, add some chopped basil leaves to the dish together with lime zest.

You wouldn’t completely know what changed!

Lemon Zest

3. Lemon Zest

If you’re looking to achieve the citrus flavor of the curry leaves for your dish, lemon zest is an easy alternative for curry leaves. The lemon zest is quite strong in essence and it makes a good replacement for curry leaves in salads, vegetable stews, and rice dishes.

Bay leaves

4. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves make a good substitute for a lot of things – curry leaves being one of them. Bay leaves have a deep and minty flavor, which are perfect for stews and beverages.

Bay leaves are good for stews, curries, chickpea dishes, stir-fries, meats and seafood.

Lime Leaves

5. Lime Leaves

Lime leaves aren’t very easy to find in the grocery stores but when you get a hold of them, they’re a great substitute for curry leaves in seafood and rice dishes.

Sometimes when using curry leaves, you’re mostly looking for that essence of curry but not the in-your-face kind of curry essence. That is what is great about using lime leaves for seafood dishes as a replacement for curry leaves. You want the citrus essence to shine through the dish but not overpower it.

Lemon Balm Leaves

6. Lemon Balm Leaves

Lemon balm leaves are a great alternative to curry leaves. Lemon balm leaves are from the mint family. It has a hint of minty notes but the lemony notes shine more. Lemon balm leaves surely mimic the flavor of curry leaves most especially in curries.

Basil Leaves

7. Basil Leaves

Basil leaves are commonly used as “curry leaves” in Thai cuisine thus, the variety of “Thai Basil Leaves” which are more citrusy in flavor compared to other kinds of basil leaves.

Thai basil stands out in Thai curries and it serves the purpose of that refreshing addition of the citrus flavor in a heavy stew. If the citrus flavor isn’t enough to substitute for curry leaves, you may some lemon juice to partner with the Thai Basil.


Hey there! I'm Isabel. I love cooking, dogs, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good flavorful food, to share with family and friends.



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