The Best Substitute For Lemongrass For Delicious Dishes

Are you searching for the best substitute for lemongrass? Well, in today’s article, I will be sharing with you the best options you can choose from.

I’m sure you will be surprised to see some of the items on this list.

Anyway, if you are someone like me who loves to cook Vietnamese and Thai cuisines, which mostly call for lemongrass, you have probably noticed how often it can get to be a little challenging to look for these aromatic stalks.

This is the reason why I began searching for alternatives. Keep on reading below to find out what I learned from my search.

What Is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass, those sprouting leaves with a lemony scent when you pull out, is a type of grass native to Asia, Africa, and Australia, which is usually cultivated for its aroma, culinary applications, and good medical uses.

lemongrass, herb, food
lemongrass, herb; Photo by WonderfulBali on Pixabay

Lemongrass has a discrete citrus flavor. Hence it is being used in several different forms: powdered, dried, fresh, and more. It is a common ingredient in curries, dressings, soups, sauces, marinades, stews, and teas.

However, it is not normally found in some parts of the world, so an alternative to lemongrass may be necessary.

Benefits of Using Lemongrass

Do you know that lemongrass is popular in different areas globally because of its flavor and the numerous health benefits that you can reap from it too?

Dew drops on lemongrass, taken early in the morning. First shot from my new Nikon camera
Uses of Lemongrass; Photo by Dhruv Kumar on Unsplash

Anyway, here are some of the benefits that lemongrass will be able to deliver.

  • Keep your cholesterol levels at bay. Lemongrass comes with properties that can help you control your cholesterol levels. It provides the right kind of cholesterol into your body that can help you prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  • Help you flush out toxic wastes out of your body. Lemongrass has been known for its antioxidant properties that can help you improve the functions of your organ, most especially with your digestive system. It can be the best way to clean your system.
  • Helps fight respiratory disease. Since this herb comes with antioxidant properties, it also has healing effects for several types of sickness that are mostly related to colds and coughs. It is efficient in healing nasal blockage as well as other respiratory orders. It can boost your immune system as well as your nervous system too to help you become protected from different diseases.
  • Helps you fight infection and inflammation. This herb can help you cure pain, especially headache. It can also help you improve your body’s blood circulation to speed up the healing process of your infections and wounds.

Lemongrass Substitutes You Can Use For Your Next Recipe

1. Lemon Juice

If you are looking for a fast way to give your dish a citrus flavor, this is your best bet. Just make sure you are using the right lemon. It should be fresh with a little soft feel.

Why? Because this guarantees that your lemon will be juicy!

Fresh picked lemons from the garden. Still Life.
Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash

To do this, you need to extract the lemon juice by slicing it in half and loading the pieces into the citrus juicer. Squeeze as much juice as you can! Add the juice to your dish but make sure you will be doing it moderately. Keep checking the quantity you are adding. You don’t want to make your dish acidic.

Anyway, the bottled lemon juice is also widely available, but I recommend using fresh ones as it will give you much better results. Besides, the procedure is quite simple.

2. Lemon Zest

If you don’t want to be squeezing out some juice, then why not use the zest? All you will need is a zest of a lemon for every required lemongrass of a certain recipe.

This is my favorite substitute for lemongrass since it is always effective, and I like how it adds an extra different flavor to my dish.

slice of lemon on black surface
Lemon Zest – Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

When you use the zest as a lemongrass substitute, I suggest you keep tasting your dish to see if you already have enough.

Don’t just dump the whole tablespoon just yet, or else you will end up with bitter regret. You need to do it gradually and start adding if you’re not yet satisfied with its taste.

Producing the zest is quite easy too! First, you will need to thoroughly wash the lemon and use a clean paper towel to dry it up.

Then grate the exterior part of the lemon’s skin. But make sure you will be grating it thinly, leaving out the white pith, or else it will make your food very bitter.

3. Lemon Balm

Some desserts call for lemongrass, but if you currently don’t have one on hand, lemon balm can be a good substitute since it has this sweet and sweet-smelling citrus scent that I’m sure would make your dessert mesmerizing.

Lemon balm leafs
Lemon balm leafs -Photo by Sebbi Strauch on Unsplash

This is also why lemon balm can only be used as a lemongrass substitute for certain recipes, usual desserts like Lemon Curd Tartlets and Apricot Mojito.

All you will need is about three to four leaves of lemon balm in every stalk of lemongrass. This is the recommended ratio that I suggest you follow to give your dish a sweet citrus tangy flavor.

What’s also great is that lemon balm can be easily accessed in every local market. You can either purchase them fresh or dried. This will likely depend on your preference and needs.

Or, if you want, you can grow this plant in your garden or backyard. Believe this is one of the plants I find very easy to cultivate.

4. Kaffir Lime

The natural citrus scent of Kaffir lime closely resembles lemongrass. What makes this an excellent substitute is its versatility.

bergamot, fruit, leaf
Kaffir Lime (bergamot)

If you’d like to use this as an alternative to lemongrass, this will require some prior preparations by removing the lime’s leaves to show its midrib.

Once you start seeing the midrib, you now add it to your dish to begin cooking.

Like every ingredient, you can add Kaffir lime with other citrus-based ingredients to replace the lemongrass’ flavor.

For example, you can mix it with lime juice and lime zest to fully improve the power of its punch! This combination works great in curries and oriental soups.

5. Ginger and Coriander

When you’re making soups that need lemongrass, there’s a good combination that can provide an efficient alternative to this herb.

Let me present you with the combined effect of the two ingredients: ginger and coriander. Both can compete with lemongrass’ citrus tang flavor with their natural properties.

Raw, fresh coriander leaves
Raw, fresh coriander leaves

Coriander has this zesty scent and flavor. Ginger, on the other hand, gives the same flavor as lemongrass. Both have a strong scent and a bit of sweet taste, so combining these characteristics will result in the hint of lemongrass.

It is easy to use too! If your recipe requires one stalk of lemongrass, all you will need are two teaspoons of coriander stalk and another two teaspoons of minced ginger as an alternative.

Fortunately, mincing these two ingredients is quite an easy process, especially if you have a handy garlic crusher around your kitchen.

But I guess you’re wondering by now why I prefer to use coriander stalks rather than its leaves. This is because the stalks have more flavor than their leaves.

If you’re fond of Thai curries, you probably noticed that coriander stalks are one of their primary ingredients.

6. Lemon Verbena Leaves

This one is very the same with lemon zest. Though the shrub will not provide your food a taste that is totally like the lemongrass, its distinct citrus flavor is close.

For every lemongrass stalk required for your recipe, you can use two lemon verbena leaves to bring out the taste you want. A small out of this will go a long way since it has a strong scent and flavor.

lemon verbena, herbs, plant
lemon verbena, herbs, plant

If you want to use this in your recipe, you’ll need to chop the leaves finely into the dish to release the flavor properly and evenly. You can also place the whole leaves in your cooking pan, don’t forget to remove them before serving the dish.

What’s great about the leaves of lemon verbena is that they can be harvested or purchase plenty and stored in your freezer.

Final Thought

Unless you live in countries found in the Southeastern part of Asia, it will always be quite difficult to find lemongrass. Time will always come when you realize that you’re in the middle of a crisis just because this herb can’t be found in your kitchen.

So, just before things get worst, you must be prepared and be properly equipped.

I hope this list of substitutes for lemongrass will help you lessen your kitchen woes.

You can always use these alternatives just in case you don’t have the opportunity to acquire lemongrass. As long as you use them properly, these ingredients will efficiently recreate the wild flavor lemongrass delivers.

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