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11 Best Substitutes For Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir lime leaves are a key ingredient in many Thai and Malaysian dishes, but they can be difficult to find. If you want to make authentic Thai or Malaysian food, you’ll need kaffir lime leaves. Luckily for those of us who don’t live near any Asian markets, there are plenty of substitutes that will allow you to make the same dishes at home! Here is our list of 11 substitutes for Kaffir Lime Leaves.

You can kaffir lime leaves substitute with Fennel Seeds, Fresh Ginger Root, Coriander Roots, Corn Starch, Fresh basil leaves, Dried thyme leaves, Cilantro, Cardamom, Chili pepper, Coriander, Mustard seed.

Substitutes For Kaffir Lime Leaves

  1. Fennel Seeds
  2. Fresh Ginger Root
  3. Coriander Roots
  4. Corn Starch
  5. Fresh basil leaves
  6. Dried thyme leaves
  7. Cilantro
  8. Cardamom
  9. Chili pepper
  10. Coriander
  11. Mustard seed

1. Fennel Seeds:

Substitutes For Kaffir Lime Leaves

Got a stir-fry cooking? Add some fennel seeds to get the best flavors you can’t recreate otherwise. These crunchy, green Fennel Seeds are the latest secret ingredient in your favorite recipes. A burst of fresh flavor that will give you a new taste experience out of regular meals.

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Fennel Seeds are a secret ingredient that you don’t want to tell too many people about. Maybe it’s the tangy-sweet flavor with notes of licorice and dill, or maybe it’s how old-world farmers always keep their fennel seed crop close to home, but for whatever reason, these little seeds are becoming more and more popular every year. If you’ve tried experimenting with different types of cooking, but you’re looking for something new then we suggest giving Fennel Seeds a try!

2. Fresh Ginger Root:

Substitutes For Kaffir Lime Leaves

We can use it as a kaffir lime leaves substitute. Fresh organic Honeycrisp ginger, sourced locally from our own personal farm. Wonderful for everything from baking to adding zip to your cocktails and drinks. Be a rebel and make your own fresh ginger tea with our knobby root!

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Pick out the perfect one, peel off its tough outer skin, and grate away at its tender flesh. Pour in boiling water or add milk for a rich treat tea that’s well worth waking up for. This product is long overdue, with its sweet fragrance that’s incomparable to anything else. You also get a more natural taste thanks to the absence of chemical additives in those leaves. Give your stomach a healthful treat!

3. Coriander Roots:

Substitutes For Kaffir Lime Leaves

The piquancy of kaffir lime leaves can’t be replicated, but the inspired use of coriander roots will provide you with an elegant replacement for citrus-based dishes. It pairs well with cumin and onion in curry rice, a freshly minced garlic bulb, then chopped finely to infuse into your lentils or Indian bread.

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The differing flavor profiles enable a level of diversity that is sure to please even the most discerning palate! Cilantro roots are the perfect substitution for kaffir lime leaves. Ground and tossed in a spicy sauce, it’ll be hard to tell the difference!

4. Corn Starch:

Think of all the times you needed kaffir lime leaves but didn’t have them! Now, this kaffir lime leaves replacement can be your best friend in any kitchen situation. Use this handy DIY ingredient substitute for zesty sauces, rice dishes, dressings, and even desserts.

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Corn Starch is a perfect replacement for kaffir lime leaves and cooks up white as they do. Add it to any dish that calls for the distinct lime flavor, but wants something tastier than just plain old lime juice.

5. Fresh basil leaves:

Basil is an ingredient that absolutely needs to be fresh and can’t win against time. When you’re cooking, wilt it for a couple of minutes in some olive oil and garlic for the most perfect spaghetti sauce. With the kaffir lime shortage, we want to offer you an alternative that will still keep your dish fresh. That’s why with every order of Fresh Basil Leaves you can select any other a-fresh-ing flavor!

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6. Dried thyme leaves:

Thyme is a little-known mix mechanic for Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It’s worth keeping in your pantry since it doesn’t spoil, unlike kaffir lime leaves, which only stay fresh briefly before wilting away to nothing. Fresh Thyme leaves are light green with small white hairs on the leaves. Whereas After dry, thyme leaves are dark brown and crumbled-looking. Because they’re left out in the sun to dry.

To use Dried thyme as a substitute for Kaffir lime leaves without tasting like soap smells (Kaffirs have an extremely high fragrance), grind just enough of them in a mortar and pestle (or finely chop up with scissors) until you can still recognize bits of herb in the sauce.

7. Cilantro:

Chances are you’ve ordered a margarita with one too many limes and have been left searching for the right substitute to round out your drink. You might be in luck because we’ve found a gem of an ingredient: cilantro! There’s no better herb that provides the zesty citrus notes you’re craving than cilantro, which can also replace kaffir lime leaves for a more authentic flavor.

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Instead of hunting around for an expensive jar at the grocery store, cook up some ready-made curries from scratch or whip up some saag paneer (potato spinach dish) using mild Indian spices like garam masala.

8. Cardamom:

When you need to soak up the smoky flavor in a dish but don’t have lime leaves, what do you do? Well, we recommend reaching for Cardamom. It’s got all the bright flavors of citrus and coconut that happy your everyday cravings without any weird aftertaste or the invasive flavor profile of other swap-outs.

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9. Chili pepper:

This chili pepper has all the spiciness you need with a citrus twist. Ok, it’s likely not the same thing as kaffir lime leaves, but sometimes we just can’t control where our food comes from and don’t want to break the bank trying to find some new foreign product. It might be spicy, but it still means you’re getting some fresh flavor despite your circumstances!

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10. Coriander:

Coriander is a satisfying substitute for kaffir lime leaves. It has the tangy citrus flavor that you would expect in Thai dishes. These handy packages come with one tablespoon, just enough to spice up all your favorite recipes!  With Coriander, your dishes are seconds away from being transformed into tantalizing masterpieces!

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11. Mustard seed:

Kaffir lime leaves are great for Indian cooking, but when it comes to other dishes you’re cooking at home, they can be tough to get a hold of. Let us help with your mustard seed! It’s the perfect shortcut and replacement for kaffir lime leaves. Thinking about all of that time you’d save makes this essential ingredient totally worth how affordable it is.

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What can you substitute kaffir lime leaf with?

Vietnamese trick is to substitute julienned kaffir lime leaves with a tablespoon of finely-grated lime skin, but it doesn’t have the same distinctive scent as true kaffir. To make up for that you can add some lemongrass into the dish, just be careful not to let any of the sharper parts touch your skin. Some cooks like to add half a teaspoon of coriander seeds and one tablespoonful of long pepper in place of the kaffirs too when they lack fresh supplies.

Can you substitute regular lime leaves for kaffir lime leaves?

Yes! Kaffir lime leaves are a variety of lime, so even though they taste different than regular limes, it is possible to substitute them for one another. If you can get your hands on fresh kaffir limes make sure they’re washed and very finely shredded before use or else the bite will be too strong. Keep in mind that kaffir limes have more seeds, produce less juice and typically also cost more than regular limes.

What is the flavor of kaffir lime leaves?

Kaffir lime leaves are spicy and fragrant with citrus undertones. Imagine the zest of a lemon with the heat of a jalapeno, then throw in some vanilla extract for good measure. How about we call it “lime-ish”, but different.

Where can I buy kaffir lime leaves?

Kaffir lime leaves are not very common in Western supermarkets. May markets do stock them, and you can also find them at Thai, Indian or Vietnamese stores. To store leftover kaffir lime leaves for later use? You should rinse the unused kaffir leaves and put them in a resealable plastic bag.

What can I use if I don’t have kaffir lime leaves?

Some people simply substitute with fresh lime juice. But it is also suggested that one could use two tablespoons of the zest of one thinly sliced lemongrass stalk in place of the kaffir lime leaves.

Are kaffir lime leaves spicy?

Yes. Kaffir lime leaves are spicy because of kaempferol – a natural chemical found in the leaves that is similar to capsaicin, without the extreme heat. But don’t be discouraged by this; kaffir lime leaves can be used effectively as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
They have a distinctive citrus flavor with notes of mint and pepper, so they’re perfect for adding a new depth to your recipes whether you’re using them fresh or dry. And while they may not actually be spicy, their zesty taste more than makes up for it!

What’s the difference between kaffir lime leaves and lime leaves?

Kaffir lime leaves are the large, wrinkled dried tropical leaf of the Citrus hystrix, related to an orange tree and native to India. It is widely used in Thai cuisine for its lemon-lime strong flavor.
Lime leaves are the thin fresh green or dried processed leaf of a citrus tree, especially Citrus aurantifolia (lime). They have a stronger flavor than kaffir lime leaves, but can also be used in many dishes on their own or chopped up into other ingredients because they don’t overpower flavors as kaffir lime will do.

Can I eat kaffir lime leaves?

Surprisingly, yes – kaffir lime leaves are safe to eat. These leaves have a refreshing taste and sour smell that is known for combating the intense spice used in some Asian dishes such as curries. The leaves can be eaten whole or crushed into a paste called “daun limau purut” or “Petis ubi” which is used for sambal or to bring sweet and savory balance to creamy coconut curries.

The most common seasoning that contains kaffir lime leaves is Pad Thai sauce, which originates from Thailand but has quickly spread throughout the world due to its addictive flavor. Kaffir limes are used in soups, desserts, as well as another southeast Asian cuisine.

Can you use lime leaves in cooking?

Yes. Lime fresh leaves release a pungent, citrusy aroma when heated so they’re commonly used in Thai cooking and East and Southeast Asian cuisines. You can use them to flavor curries, sauces, soups, or even shrimp paste with ginger and garlic.

What do lime leaves taste of?

These fresh leaves will have strong, acidic notes as well as hints of eucalyptus and pine but it can be difficult to say what they taste exactly without taking a bite or sniffing. I would recommend either putting the leaves in your mouth and chewing or using them unbruised in a dish where their flavor can be highlighted.

Is Key Lime the same as kaffir lime?

Yes. “Key lime” is the common name for what we also call a Persian lime – a citrus fruit that looks almost identical to key lime and is more generally referred to as an edible Indian type of lemon. Kaffir limes, on the other hand, are not from Asia; they grow originally in Southeast Asia and are related to Arabian lemons.

The skin can vary in color depending (mostly) on environmental conditions, from pale greenish-white to dark brown or even pale yellow, but it always has some light green color stripes going up its sides which makes this plant relatively easy to identify. Kaffir limes have a fairly different taste than Key limes with notes of licorice.


Substitute for Kaffir Lime Leaves is a hot topic among cooks and chefs. For those who have never used them before, it can be difficult to find an alternative that is just as good in dishes such as Thai curry paste or Pad See Ew noodles. We’ve compiled eleven different substitutes you can use instead of Kaffir lime leaves. So your cooking doesn’t suffer from the lack of this ingredient!

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