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Don’t Have Lemongrass? Here Are 16 Lemongrass Substitutes To Use Instead

Here’s the thing. Even though lemongrass has a distinctly unique taste and imparts a rich flavor to different dishes, it just isn’t a staple ingredient most people have lying around.

So, when you need it, you’ll often find out at the last minute that you don’t have any on hand.

However, the great news is that there are many great substitutes you can use to replicate the flavor. Up ahead, you’ll find the best substitutes for lemongrass.

What Is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass is an herb gotten from the stalks of the lemongrass plant. It is native to tropical climates and commonly grows in Southeast Asia.

This culinary herb is characterized by its light green woody stalks, but it is notably used for its citrus flavor. 

It is a very common ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Indonesian cooking and is used to impart a tart citrus flavor to most dishes.

It also has a subtle touch of mint and ginger undertones in its flavor. So, it generally brings a rich and layered flavor profile to many dishes. 

Lemon grass is usually added to curries, sauces, and salad or infused into teas and stocks.

Now we’ve established what an all-around great culinary herb lemongrass is but in case you don’t have it, we’re here to let you know what substitutes you can use instead. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Nutritional Value Table

Lemon Paste55
Lemon Zest2.8
Lime Zest13
Lemon Verbena0
Lime Juice11
Lemon Juice54
Coriander And Ginger11
Lemon Balm48
Dried Lemongrass14
Arugula And Lemon Zest195
Curry Leaves98
Thai Basil27
Eucalyptus Leaves0

1. Lemon Paste

When you don’t have fresh lemongrass, one of the best substitutes you can use is lemongrass paste. It majorly consists of blended lemongrass, so it will impart the same citrusy taste of lemongrass. 

However, the taste of lemongrass paste is more intense since it is made to be a concentrated form of lemongrass. So, you’ll need to use it with caution to avoid overpowering the other flavors in your dish.

How To Substitute

Start with one teaspoon of lemongrass paste for each stalk of lemongrass required. Then taste the dish and add more as needed.

2. Lemon Zest

Lemon zest is probably one of the easiest substitutes you can use in place of lemongrass. It has a strong citrus taste and aroma and can be added to any dish. 

Lemon zest is the outer part of a lemon, so all you’ll need to do is grate a fresh lemon to get the desired amount you need.

How To Substitute

Use half a tablespoon of lemon zest for each tablespoon of lemongrass required in a dish.

Here is a video to show you how to zest a lemon very quickly without much hassle-

3. Lime Zest

If you don’t have lemon zest, lime zest is another great option you can try. Like lemon zest, it has a tangy citrus taste and will impart a rich lemony flavor to your dish

It is a great last minute option as all you’ll need is the outer part of the lime. You can grate it to get an even size.

How To Substitute

Use half a tablespoon of lime zest for each tablespoon of lemongrass required in a dish.

4. Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena is another great substitute you can use in place of lemongrass. It is a flowering plant native to South America and is commonly used for its medicinal properties. 

However, it also has many uses in the culinary world and is commonly added to soups, sauces, dressings, and even desserts.

Lemon verbena has a strong herbaceous flavor and lemony taste, making it a great herb for mimicking the taste of lemon grass. However, the scent of this herb is quite strong, so you may need to reduce the quantity. 

Keep in mind, though, that the lemon flavor in lemon verbena isn’t as intense as that of lemongrass, so reducing the quantity also means you’ll get a mild lemon flavor, but it won’t be on the same level as lemongrass.

How To Substitute

Use ¼ of a teaspoon of lemon verbena for each stalk of lemongrass required.

5. Galangal

Galangal is a great substitute for lemongrass. It is closely related to ginger but has a more pronounced citrus flavor that mimics the taste of lemongrass really well. 

Galangal is commonly used in many Asian cuisines, so if you’re making Thai or Vietnamese soups and sauces, galangal will blend seamlessly with those dishes.

How To Substitute

Use one teaspoon of galangal for each stalk of lemongrass required. You’ll need to either slice or grate the galangal into smaller pieces to get an even spread of flavor.

6. Lime Juice

Lime juice is another great substitute you can use in place of lemongrass. It is a great last-minute option, as all you’ll need is freshly squeezed lime juice.

It adds a lemony flavor to your dish while also brightening up the overall taste with some added acidity. 

However, lime juice has a slightly sour taste, so you’ll need to use a very small amount or risk making your entire dish sour.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of lime juice for each stalk of lemongrass required in a dish.

7. Lemon Juice

Another lovely citrus fruit that can be used in place of lemon grass is lemon. Like lime juice,  Lemon juice has a distinct lemony taste that imparts a similar flavor to that of lemongrass.

It also brings a touch of acidity to boost the other flavors in a dish.

You can add lemon juice to any sauce, soup, meat, or seafood dish, and it’ll turn out incredible.

However, as with lime juice, you’ll need to use a small amount of lemon since it has a slightly sour taste. 

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of lemon juice for each stalk of lemongrass required in a dish.

Here is a video to give you some inspiration on how to make Thai-inspired dishes with lemon juice-

8. Coriander And Ginger

A combination of coriander is a very creative mixture that mimics the flavor of lemongrass really well. The coriander brings a refreshing citrus taste, while the ginger brings a peppery earthiness that balances the citrus taste. 

For this mixture, It is best to use either fresh coriander leaves or stalks. However, you can also use coriander seeds if you’re in a bind. They still impart a similar citrus flavor.

How To Substitute

Combine two teaspoons of coriander and half a teaspoon of ginger. Then use that mixture at a 1:1 ratio when substituting.

9. Lemon Balm

Another great herb that can be used in place of lemongrass is lemon balm. This small green herb is a member of the mint family of plants, and its bright lemony scent and taste make sit a great herb for mimicking the flavor of lemongrass. 

Lemon balm is rich in antioxidants, so it is popularly used for its health benefits. 

However, it makes a great addition to many dishes like salads, seafood, soups, sauces, and chicken.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing lemongrass with lemon balm.

Here is a video to show you how to use lemon balm in your cooking-

10. Dried Lemongrass

If you’re making a dish that calls primarily for fresh lemongrass, then dried lemon grass is an ideal substitute you can use as a replacement. It is a very fragrant herb with a similar citrusy flavor to lemongrass. 

The flavor of dried lemongrass is not as bright as that of fresh lemon grass, but it releases an earthy and slightly tangy flavor that is sure to enhance the flavor of any dish.

When using dried lemongrass, you’ll need to chop the leaves into small sizes to allow them to blend into the dish easily and reduce their fibrous texture.

How To Substitute

Use one teaspoon of dried lemongrass for each stalk of fresh lemongrass required.

11. Arugula And Lemon Zest

Another creative combination that works surprisingly well at mimicking the flavor of lemon grass is a mixture of arugula and lemon zest. 

The arugula imparts a tart and peppery taste, while the lemon zest brings the much-needed citrus kick. You can infuse this combination into soups, sauces, stews, broths, and curries. 

However, you’ll need to make sure not to use more than one or two arugula leaves. Use too much, and you’ll end up with a bitter mixture that does not taste at all like lemongrass.

How To Substitute

Combine one arugula leaf and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Then use that mixture at a 1:1 ratio in place of lemongrass.

12. Curry Leaves

Curry leaves are small green leaves obtained from the curry plant. They are native to Asia, and although their name may make you think they are related to your usual curry powder, they are not related to it at all. 

These leaves, also known as sweet neem leaves, have a strong tangy aroma and flavor that is hard to characterize, but their taste and aroma are nearly identical to lemongrass.  

Curry leaves are also very versatile. You can add them to salad, curries, soups, sauces, and potato dishes.

How To Substitute

Use one tablespoon of curry leaves for each stalk of lemongrass required in a dish.

Here is a video to show you how to incorporate curry leaves into your cooking-

13. Parsely

Parsely is another fantastic herb which works well as a substitute for lemongrass.  It is slightly peppery and earthy so, it does not have the same exact flavor as lemongrass.

However it’s bright flavor tends to impart a subtle citrus notes that brings out other flavors in a dish. So, it will work well with just about any dish that calls for lemongrass.

How To Substitute

Use two tablespoons of parsley for each stalk of lemongrass required. To get the strongest flavor out of parsley, you’ll need to use fresh or frozen parsely

14. Thai Basil

If you’re making an Asian dish that requires lemon grass, then Thai basil is a great substitute to use in its place. 

It won’t give you the same flavor as lemongrass, but it imparts a bold flavor with notes of licorice that will enhance the taste of the dish. 

Thai basil is also more sturdy, so it can withstand long cooking times without wilting away. You can add it to soups, curries, and stews.

However, you can still use regular basil if you don’t have Thai basil. You may just need to add it toward the end of your cooking.

How To Substitute

Use two teaspoons of Thai basil for each stalk of lemongrass required in a dish.

15. Thyme

If you can’t get your hands on any of the other substitutes listed above, then a great alternative you can try is thyme.

It has an earthy and minty flavor laced with citrus, so it will impart a touch of citrus into your dish while also bringing its own unique flavor profile. 

It is best to use fresh thyme to get the best taste and flavor.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing lemongrass with thyme.

16. Eucalyptus Leaves

Eucalyptus is another substitute you can use in place of lemongrass if you’re completely out of options.

It is a very aromatic plant with a strong citrus and menthol like taste, so it will work well in soups and sauces that require lemongrass. 

However, when using eucalyptus, you’ll need to discard the leaves after cooking as all you need them for is the flavor they impart. It is best not to eat the leaves.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of eucalyptus for each tablespoon of lemongrass.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Lemongrass Taste Like?

Lemongrass has a citrus taste similar to lemon but with bright hints of mint and ginger.

What Tastes Similar To Lemongrass?

Kaffir lime leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon verbena are some good substitutes that taste similar to lemongrass.

Can I Substitute Lemon For Lemongrass?

You can substitute lemon for lemongrass. It will impart a similar citrus taste, although it won’t be exactly the same as the unique flavor of lemongrass.

Is Lemon The Same Thing As Lemongrass?

Lemongrass and lemon are not the same thing. Although the two have a similar citrus taste, they are very different plants. Lemon is a citrus fruit, while lemongrass is an herb from Asia.

Where Do You Get Lemongrass?

You can find lemongrass in the produce section of most grocery stores. Sometimes it may come in frozen packets, which will be in the freezer section.

However, if you can’t find it at your local grocery store, then the best place to get lemongrass are Asian markets or specialty spice stores.

How Much Dried Lemongrass Equals Fresh Lemongrass?

One teaspoon of lemongrass powder is equal to one stalk of lemongrass.

What Is Lemongrass Used For?

Lemongrass is used to add a lemony flavor to curries, sauces, and some desserts. It is also infused into teas and soups. However, lemongrass is also commonly used for its medicinal properties, and its leaves and oils are used to treat many ailments.

16 Best Lemongrass Substitutes To Use

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Explore our wide range of lemongrass substitutes? Check out our list that will give your dish the flavor it needs.


  • Lemon Paste

  • Lemon Zest

  • Lime Zest

  • Lemon Verbena

  • Galangal

  • Lime Juice

  • Lemon Juice

  • Coriander And Ginger

  • Lemon Balm

  • Dried Lemongrass

  • Arugula And Lemon Zest

  • Curry Leaves

  • Parsely

  • Thai Basil

  • Thyme

  • Eucalyptus Leaves


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith

gate io

Friday 2nd of June 2023

I may need your help. I tried many ways but couldn't solve it, but after reading your article, I think you have a way to help me. I'm looking forward for your reply. Thanks.