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Lemongrass Substitutes (And How To Use Them)

Lemongrass Substitutes (And How To Use Them)

If you are making a recipe that calls for lemongrass but you are all out, no need to worry! There are a number of ingredients you can use as a lemongrass substitute to achieve a similar flavor.

Lemongrass offers a citrus flavor with hints of mint. And it is a popular herb used in many types of cuisine. So no matter what you need a lemongrass substitute for, you will find multiple great options, as well as how to use them.

So what are the best substitutes for lemongrass?

The top lemongrass substitutes are lemon zest, lemon balm, preserved lemon, lemongrass paste, lemon verbena, kaffir lime leaves, arugula, and coriander with ginger.

Ok, so now you know what the best lemongrass alternatives are, let’s get to how you can use them so your recipe will taste great!

Lemongrass Alternatives

chopped lemongrass stalks

Lemongrass has a unique flavor and that makes it a bit more challenging to substitute for than many other ingredients. But, the key to a good lemongrass replacement is the citrus flavor, and that is what we will focus on with our list of subs.

Because lemongrass is used in many types of recipes, we will cover options that will work no matter what you are making that calls for lemongrass.

You will also find alternatives for both fresh lemongrass and dry lemongrass.

Note: Lemongrass is known by numerous other names but they all refer to the same ingredient. Some of those other names include fever grass, citronella, hierba luisa, tanglad, barbed wire grass, and silky heads.

Lemon Zest

spoonful of lemon zest and whole lemon

When it comes to adding some citrus to a dish, there is no better option than lemon zest. And it also is my go to substitute for lemongrass.

Most will already have lemons in their kitchen, and even if you don’t, they are easy to find at most any grocery store.

Simply zest your lemon (don’t grate the white part of the peel) and add it to any recipe that calls for fresh or dry lemongrass.

Related: Lemon Zest vs Lemon Juice


zest of half a lemon equals 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass

Lemon Balm

fresh lemon balm on table

Lemon balm is a wonderful ingredient to use instead of lemongrass. It works equally well in place of fresh or dry lemongrass and can be incorporated into any type of recipe.

Lemon balm works particularly well in poultry recipes as well as those containing fruit. Or add it to a salad dressing for a delicious citrus flavor.

Note: When cooking, add your lemon balm at the end of your recipe to retain as much flavor as possible.


1 part lemon balm equals 1 part dry lemongrass

Preserved Lemon

jar of Preserved Lemon

Preserved lemons are whole or sliced lemons that have been pickled in salt. They provide a strong lemon flavor that works well in many recipes that call for lemongrass.

But keep in mind that preserved lemons flavor is much stronger than lemongrass so take caution not to overpower the other flavors in your recipe.

Preserved lemons work particularly well in fish, seafood, and poultry recipes.


1/3 teaspoon of preserved lemon equals 1 teaspoon dry lemongrass

Lemongrass Paste

curry made with lemongrass paste

Also known as Kreung, lemongrass paste is a popular ingredient used in Asian cuisine. And it is a great alternative for lemongrass.

While not as popular in the US cooking, you can find lemongrass paste at specialty stores or online. It offers a flavor quite similar to lemongrass and can be used in any cooked or baked recipe.


1 tablespoon lemongrass paste equals 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass

Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena leaves

This leaf has a strong lemon flavor and can be used instead of lemongrass in all types of recipes.

It is popularly used in soups and steeping like tea. Lemon verbena has a more intense flavor than lemongrass so less is needed in most recipes.


1/2 teaspoon of lemon verbena equals 1 teaspoon of dry lemongrass

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir Lime Leaves on plate

Kaffir lime leaves are a great way to replace lemongrass in cooked dishes. These leaves provide a flavor that is quite similar to lemongrass.

Add your kaffir lime leaves to your other ingredients while they are heating and be sure to remove them before serving.


1 teaspoon kaffir lime leaves equals 1 teaspoon of lemongrass


Arugula in basket

Arugula can be paired with lemon zest to create a flavor strikingly similar to lemongrass. And it can be used in almost any dish that calls for lemongrass.

This combo provides a wonderfully complex flavor that pairs well with so many other ingredients.

Arugula is potent, so use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors in your recipe.


1 arugula leaf and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest equals 1 stalk of lemongrass

Coriander with Ginger

Coriander and Ginger

This combo is one of my favorite substitutes for lemongrass. It provides a robust flavor that offers hints of pepper and other spices. And it pairs wonderfully in most recipes that call for lemongrass.

You can use whole or ground coriander, but I do prefer whole. I also like to mince fresh ginger but any will work in a pinch.


2 teaspoon of coriander with 2 teaspoons of ginger equals 1 stalk of lemongrass

Lemongrass Replacement FAQ

lemongrass stalks chopped in a bowl

Can you substitute dried lemongrass for fresh?

Yes, dry lemongrass can be used instead of fresh lemongrass in most recipes. When using dried lemongrass in place of fresh lemongrass, use a 1:2 ratio.

Is lemongrass the same as spring onions?

No, lemongrass and spring onions are different ingredients. Though they both offer a similar flavor. Spring onions are a bit sweeter than lemongrass.

What is the best lemongrass substitute in curry?

When substituting for lemongrass in curry, use lemon zest, coriander, or preserved lemons. They will provide a similar flavor and they work well in most curry recipes.

1 stalk of lemongrass equals how much lemongrass paste?

One tablespoon of lemongrass paste is equal to 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass in most recipes.