In this post, we’ll explore the many delicious and easy-to-find items to substitute for lemongrass paste. Whether you’re out of lemongrass paste or just looking to switch things up in the kitchen, these substitutes will help you create dishes that are full of flavor and aromatic depth.
When do you Need to Substitute Lemongrass Paste?
Lemongrass paste is a staple ingredient in many Southeast Asian and Thai dishes, lending its signature citrusy, slightly sweet flavor and aroma to soups, marinades, and more. It’s typically made by grinding fresh lemongrass stalks with a little oil or water to form a smooth, spreadable paste. Lemongrass paste can be found in most Asian markets and some specialty grocery stores, or you can make your own by blending fresh lemongrass with a little oil in a food processor.
Lemongrass Based Alternatives
Some of the most obvious substitutes for lemongrass paste are other forms of lemongrass. Lemongrass powder is a convenient and shelf-stable alternative that you can stock in your kitchen without worrying about it not staying fresh. Simply measure out the amount you need and mix it into your recipe as you would the paste.
Fresh lemongrass stalks can also be used as a substitute for lemongrass paste, although you’ll need to chop them very finely or grind them in a food processor before using. You can also make your own homemade lemongrass paste by mixing your lemongrass stalks with olive oil in the food processor or with a mortar and pestle.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any of the above options on hand, you can use lemon zest as a substitute for lemongrass paste. As a general rule of thumb, 1 lemon is equivalent to about 2 lemongrass stalks, so you can use the zest of half a lemon to replace 1 stalk of lemongrass. Just be sure to adjust the amount to suit your taste and the recipe you’re using. You can add a little bit of the juice as well if you want but be careful as lemon juice is very sour and not all that similar in taste to lemongrass.
Lemon Zest and Ginger
Cilantro and Fresh Grated Ginger
For a bright, fresh flavor that’s similar to lemongrass, try using a combination of cilantro and fresh grated ginger. The cilantro will add a lively, herbaceous note, while the ginger will provide a spicy kick. It’s best to use the Cilantro stalks rather than the leaves as they have more flavor. 2 tsp ginger + 2 tsp of Cilantro = 1 stalk of lemon grass. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients together. If you don’t have one the handle of a knife can be used.
Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest and Lime Leaves
If you have some fresh lime leaves on hand, perhaps left over from making punch you can use them in combination with lemon juice and zest to create a lemongrass-like flavor. The lime leaves will add a subtle, citrusy aroma, while the lemon juice and zest will bring a tart, zingy quality to the dish. By adding the subtlety of lime leaves you can certainly get away with using lemon juice and end up with an accurate replacement for lemongrass paste.
As you can see, there are plenty of tasty and easy-to-find substitutes for lemongrass paste. Whether you go with a store-bought alternative like lemongrass powder or create your own unique blend of herbs and spices, you’ll be able to add depth and flavor to your dishes without missing a beat.