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10 Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes

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Kaffir lime leaves are among the most popular condiments used in Asian cuisines. It is a staple in most of the cuisines in Thai as it has a pleasant and strong aroma of fresh lime. Apart from using them for cooking, these leaves can also be eaten raw.

The leaves used are collected from the kaffir limes plant, although it is tough to find them outside Asia since it is native there. If you’re looking for an alternative to fit in for these leaves, or you don’t like the strong flavor and need other kaffir lime leaves substitutes, we’ll help you with that.

You can use bay leaves, lemon or lime zest, lemon thyme, lime juice, lemongrass, Persian limes, Thai lime, frozen kaffir lime leaves, and other citrus leaves to replace kaffir lime leaves in your cuisines.

Let’s quickly learn more about them and why they make a suitable alternative to kaffir lime leaves!

Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes

You may find it hard to find a substitute that can be used in place of kaffir lime leaves because it has a distinct taste and aroma that cannot be easily fetched and is also very unique.

However, that doesn’t mean there are no similar replacements that can come close to the taste and smell.

Some excellent kaffir lime leaves substitutes that you can always use are listed below:

1. Bay Leaves

Another fantastic substitute for kaffir lime leaves is bay leaves. Bay leaves are similar to kaffir lime leaves and fit perfectly in all savory dishes.

A downturn that bay leaves have is that when it is used, do not expect them to have the same citrus taste that kaffir lime leaves have.

The taste may be different, but you don’t need to worry; your dish will still be close to perfect with a fantastic aroma and taste. Bay leaves work very well in seasoning soups, stews, sauces, and rice dishes.

2. Lemon or Lime Zest

The very similar citrus-like flavor that comes very close to the kaffir lime leaves is the zest of lemon or lime, as they have the spice required for most recipes that require kaffir lime leaves.

So, if you find it hard to get another substitute mentioned, you can easily get lemon and lime and take the zest to replace kaffir lime leaves.

Using this would add more intensity to your dish, and for every two kaffir lime leaves, you can substitute for it with a zest of lemon or lime. Kaffir lime leaves can be sprinkled over an Asian-made chicken recipe or any other recipe that requires kaffir lime leaves.

3. Lemon Thyme

Another herb that can perfectly fit kaffir lime leaves is lemon thyme. It has both a crusty flavor with a lovely lemon scent. Even if this substitute does not taste exactly like the kaffir lime leaves, it is a perfect substitute also.

Since the lemon thyme is not as bitter as the regular thyme, we all know you can add more lemon thyme than required, but it is all based on your taste. It can be substituted in almost every recipe that involves kaffir lime leaves, like in soups, stews, and many other savory dishes.

4. Lemon Grass

Lemongrass is a native spice to south Asia, and that region has lemongrass that can serve as an exact replacement for kaffir lime leaves. This herb is beneficial in everyday activities, apart from culinary purposes.

Lemongrass has a distinctive taste on its own, and it also has a crunchy and crusty flavor, almost like lemon mint. Since the aroma and taste of lemongrass are also light, you can always add a bit more than the required amount.

5. Lime Juice

Lime juice is also not an inadequate substitute for kaffir lime leaves. The swap is almost perfect if you’re making Thai curry paste.

By adding lime juice to your dish that requires kaffir lime, you would not only be adding the lime traces, and you would also be adding acidity to your dish.

6. Persian Limes

Another very good kaffir lime substitute is the Persian limes. Persian limes are also called Tahiti limes and are suitable for replacing kaffir limes in most substitutes. These limes come without seeds, so you do not have to worry about removing them before using them.

Adding these Persian limes will provide a delicate touch to your dish and make it even tastier. To replace them with kaffir lime leaves, slice the lime and add it to soups, stews, or any other recipe.

7. Other Citrus Leaves

Other citrus leaves can be a good substitute for kaffir lime leaves. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and leaves can also serve as a good substitute.

Even though the smell might not be as strong as that of kaffir lime leaves, there’s a way you can always bring the taste closer to that of kaffir lime leaves, either by adding more of these leaves or mixing it up with their zests.

You can use 1 ½ of citrus leaves to replace kaffir leaves, and you can adjust the amount depending on your taste and preference.

8. Thai Basil

Thai basil is a native herb commonly used in cooking in Thailand. It is a very delicate herb that can fit nicely into your recipe and is versatile.

You can use Thai basil in curries, noodles, summer rolls, and many other recipes.

9. Dry for Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves

Since there are only a few substitutes for kaffir lime leaves, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to substitute dry leaves for fresh ones and vice versa.

An added advantage when using dried leaves as a substitute is that they can be stocked in plastic bags and last for months and still be suitable for use.

10. Frozen Kaffir Lime Leaves

You can also find kaffir lime leaves in frozen forms, apart from dry. You have the option to pick the form you want your kaffir lime leaves in depending on the time you would need to use them.

Since frozen kaffir lime leaves do not last as long as dried leaves, ensure you use them before the period of one week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Lime Juice Instead of Kaffir Lime Leaves?

Yes, lime juice can also serve as a good substitute for kaffir lime leaves, and amazingly, the swap works better than Thai leaves. Also, you can add it to some savory dishes, and it will also provide a nice touch and a nice flavor to your dish.

Can You Cook with Lemongrass as a Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitute?

Yes, lemongrass can be cooked as a substitute for kaffir lime leaves. Lemongrass is very aromatic, and even if it can’t be eaten raw, they provide your dish with a pleasant aromatic taste. Also, you can use the leaves to wrap your seafood or meat. Also, apart from cooking, you can either roast the lemongrass or grill them.

Where Can I Get Kaffir Lime Leaves?

You can buy kaffir lime leaves from any Vietnamese or Asian store. Some Chinese food stores also sell these leaves, but they can’t be found every time. You can find these herbs and leaves alongside other leaves in the freezer section with other fresh produce.

Is Makrut Lime Leaves the Same as Kaffir Lime Leaves?

Makrut limes leaves are the same as kaffir lime leaves, just that that term is offensive to some people. These leaves are used in Vietnam and Thailand for cooking.

What Is Kaffir Lime Leaves Used For?

Kaffir lime leaves are commonly used to infuse curries, stir-fries, soups, or stocks. Cooks usually crush dried leaves in their hands before adding them to a dish to release their aromatic flavors.

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