13 Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes (Mouth-watering dish)

Kaffir lime leaves are a common ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese dishes. They can be difficult to find at grocery stores, even hard to come by in the United States.

There are many substitutes for kaffir lime leaves, but none can replicate the flavor as well as the real thing. 

However, a few alternatives come close and will still impart some of their own unique flavors to your dish.

Therefore, substitutes for kaffir lime leaves when it comes to cooking Thai food. If you’re craving those flavors, try substituting them with lemongrass or Persian lime and some other mention below.

Are Makrut lime leaves the same as kaffir lime leaves?

Makrut limes (also called kaffir leaves) are actually an exotic citrus native only found in Asia.

Kaffir lime leaves are applied in Thai and Vietnamese cooking to impart their magic. They add an intense, fragrant flavor wherever they’re featured, mostly by simmering them with other ingredients for sauces or soups so that the herb’s unique taste can come out more clearly. 

What do kaffir lime leaves taste like?

Those who enjoy sour, citrusy flavors without the tang of salt or sweetness from sugar – kaffir leaves may be for you. 

The aroma these fresh green leaves emit reminds one strongly of a cross between lime juice and freshly cut grass with just enough floral tone to make things interesting; at this point.

I’m sure many readers imagine some sort of tropical fruit salad where an ingredient called “kffi” would come into play–though such dishes exist as well.

Makrut leaves add an intense, fragrant flavor and have many different uses.

It can be used as part of cooking sauces like curry pastes. It imparts its signature rich yet light fragrance while imparting extra depth on food dishes such as fish sauce or shrimp paste containing umami (a savory taste). 

Or else folks might simply enjoy smelling them straight up because those fresh leaves smell amazing when crushed between fingers.

13 Makrut or kaffir lime leaves substitutes.

1. LEMON JUICE is an Alternative to Makrut Leaves

It’s true that you can substitute lime juice for kaffir lime leaves in Thai curry paste. This swap is perfect if your dish relies on the acidity and flavor of limes, but it will add more than just some sweetness!

The smell of fresh-cut kaffir lime leaves is reminiscent of a Thai cook’s kitchen. The scent has been used in Southeast Asian cuisine for centuries, and it’s hard not to get excited about cooking with them!

If you want an authentic taste, then make sure that when using substitute ingredients such as the use of juice instead or these coarsely chopped herbs like lemongrass stalks can also be swapped out during preparation time if needed.

Just keep an eye on how much liquid might need to be added because they will wilt quickly once immersed under hot oil/gravy.

The hint of tang from one or two limes will not overpower other flavors in most curries – just make sure to experiment before loading up on this ingredient so that everyone enjoys their meal.

Read More- Try Our Best Ever Lemon Extract Substitutes

lemon juice is one of the best substitutes for kaffir lime leaves.

2. Use LIME LEAVES instead of Kaffir lime leaves

The lime leaves are a type of herb that comes from the citrus fruit and can have both aromatic properties and some bitterness. 

They’re best avoided if you don’t want your dish to taste like limes in general because it will be strong enough even without raw consumption.

But only deliver mild scents when cooked with them for use at home or restaurants alike; avoid biting into any part too since they contain sharp, acidic enamel on their surface, which may irritate these tissues more than others.

3. PERSIAN LIMES for Substitution of Makrut Leaves

Another alternative for Kaffir lime leaves is the Persian limes. They’re a great substitute in most recipes because they usually lack seeds.

These attractive, small-leaved citrus fruits are also known as Tahiti Limes or Chilean Seeded Limones in Spanish because they were initially found on islands off South America! 

Most likely, you’ve never seen them before, but once added to your dish will add a delicate touch with their sour taste – perfect for any meal we serve up at home.

Once added into food dishes with other citrus ingredients such as soups stews, this will provide delicate flavor without making things too sour like an ordinary lemon might do – it’s perfect after adding spice flavors from pepper sauces, etc. 

But not only does this bring balance out of all types of cuisine, plus I always love how those little pieces look sitting pretty on top perfectly set off by their vibrant.

the image contains five persian limes which are the best alternatives for kaffir lime leaves.

4. LEMON ZEST as another replacement for Kaffir Lime Leaves 

For anyone trying to substitute the flavor of kaffir lime leaves, lemon zest will be an adequate replacement.

But Asian recipes call out to it. For example, this Thai pineapple fried rice will be better with 1/4 teaspoon of lemon peel in place of 2 makrut limes (or about 10 small-sized wedges). You can also scatter over your favorite chicken dish or any other recipe!

It has similar properties and flavors that make up for its lack of aroma with age-old usage among Asian recipes like this Thai pineapple fried rice dish!

Lime trees possess sharply citrusy tastes but with one key difference: matcha limes can often have a bitter finish due to their high levels of caffeine content. 

Lemons are naturally sweet, so they don’t overpower other ingredients such as chicken dishes made exclusively from protein sources–like paneer cheese or even beef rendang curry if you’re feeling especially adventurous (I’m not judging).

Another option is to use lime zest instead of kaffir leaves when smoking meats. 

Kaffir leaves are hardy and sometimes do not burn down in time, so they might stick onto the meat, making it taste fishy or soapy. Using lemon or lime zest can be an excellent substitute for this idea.

5. Use OTHER CITRUS LEAVES for substitution of Makrut leaves

Kaffir lime leaves are the best way to bring a kick of flavor and aromatherapy. Still, if you can’t find them or don’t have time during dinner prep for your guests, then citrus plants like limes (lemon), oranges juice will do.

This citrus plant has a different aroma and flavor that cannot be found everywhere. Still, some other plants can give something similar in taste if used as substitutes before with success. 

For example, adding at least 1 ½ of these types will help balance out your dish better than just using a kind because there’s more depth to it overall without overpowering anyone around!

6. LEMON THYME- Kaffir lime Leaves Substitute

If you are looking for a substitute with an earthy, spicy flavor than the traditional lemon thyme leaves but still tastes like thyme, this plant could be perfect. 

Lemon thyme has the same flavor as regular old-fashioned or common culinary grade dried bay laurel herb.

Lemon thyme is bitter in some ways so just make sure not to overdo it when substituting these substitutes! 

It will also work well as long as there’s enough sweetness from other ingredients such as sugar or honey, which helps balance any bitterness from spice blends used during cooking.

7. Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitute- LEMONGRASS

Lemongrass is an excellent alternative to kaffir lime leaves. It has a similar flavor and aroma but with the added benefit of not containing any pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful if consumed on its own.

If you have some fresh stalks from your garden in mind for whatever recipe calls out, then go ahead and use 1 stalk per 3-4 Makrut leaves!


Thai lemon basil has small, narrow leaves and purple stems. The flowers are pink-purple in color, with hints of citrus thrown out by the aroma to make this kitchen staple an even more appetizing experience!

The type of herb used for flavoring dishes throughout Asia, including Thai cuisine (this includes meals from Laos & Cambodia), Vietnamese spring rolls dipped into soy sauce or hot chiles — even Lao chicken rice—is typically this kind of leafy variety found growing wild near aromatic spices like cloves/ginger roots often utilized within these countries’ native cooking methods.”


The grapefruit is a citrus fruit relatively large, sour to semi-sweet, somewhat bitter fruit. It has been an essential part of Caribbean cuisine for centuries.

It originated in Barbados as a hybrid of shaddock (a type of orange) seeds from India, possibly via Jamaica; this plant eventually spread throughout the West Indies before making its way to North America, where it became popularized among home cooks there too!


A mixture of basil, cilantro, and mint is another best replacement for Makrut leaves. 

One full spoon of basil leaves, one stem of cilantro, and a handful of mint are enough to balance the bitter and strong aromatic taste of kaffir lime.

The most satisfying part is that you don’t necessitate to cook the mixture. You can have it in raw form and consume it with any favorite dishes.

However, if you want to cook it, just add the herbs into any stir fry or soup. The odor and taste of the herbs will balance the taste of kaffir lime in your dish.

If you’re looking for a delicious and easy way to add some flavor to your food, look no further than kaffir lime leaves. These small, green leaves are from a citrus fruit related to lemons and limes, and they impart a unique, bitter-sweet flavor to dishes.


Kumquats are tiny oranges from the family of small, oval-like gems that may be available for a short time in the winter. 

Their bright and sweet-tart citrus flavor is stunningly delicious with an addictive quality to it when you have access to these fruits during their season from January through March or April.

Native to China, kumquats are a naturalized citrus fruit in the United States. “kumquat” is derived from two Cantonese words meaning “golden orange.” Kumquats grow on evergreen shrubs and reach 5-10 feet tall, but they can be pruned to any size.

kumquat lemons are bitter in taste and are also used as a replacement for kaffir lime leaves

12. Kaffir Lime Leaves Alternative- CURRY LEAVES 

Curry leaves are a common substitute for kaffir lime leaves in Indian cooking. Its unique flavor is traditionally used in southern Indian cuisine, namely Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where it makes curries ranging from meat to seafood dishes.

In some cases, the leaves are also used in pickles and chutneys.

Curry leaves are not as widely available as kaffir lime leaves. Still, they can easily be found online or at an Indian grocery store. If you cannot get curry leaves, you can use finely chopped fresh cilantro as a substitute. However, the flavor will be different than if you use curry leaves.

Curry leaves are a great way to add flavor to your dishes and are worth seeking out if you enjoy Indian cuisine. Give them a try!


Bay leaves are one of the most suitable substitutes for kaffir lime leaves. They work perfectly in all savory dishes, though it doesn’t have an exact citrus taste like fresh limes.

Bay leaves are also used in many sweet desserts.

You can find dried bay leaves at any supermarket or herbs and spices department, often next to the basil and oregano. It will keep for months if stored in a cool, dark place!

Here is my recipe for simple but delicious Chicken Rendang (West Sumatran style)

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Tom yum soup kaffir lime leaves substitute

Many people go to Thailand and come back blustering about the wonderful things they ate: for instance, tom yum soup.

The soups of Northern and Northeastern Thailand are among the most distinctive in the world. But what those travelers spend much less time talking or writing about is that to make those sizzling concoctions, they need lots and lots of kaffir lime leaves.

So you can add Lemon Zest instead of Kaffir lime substitute, or try Persian limes, Thai lemon basil that go with tom Yum soup well.

substitute dried kaffir lime leaves for fresh

That’s the only option if you’re in a pinch. just be conscious that dried lime leaves are stronger than fresh, so use less (1/2 or 1/3). If you can get them, pick up some frozen at an Asian store; they carry both varieties and they’re almost as good as fresh (they do contain some of the dried stuff, too).

Conclusion- Makrut aka Kaffir lime leaves Substitutes

Kaffir lime leaves are a vital component in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. 

Happy cooking! There are many substitutes for Makrut leaves with varying degrees of success. It is up to you, the cook, to decide which substitutes will work best in your kitchen and on your palate!

So, go ahead and give one of these replacements a try the next time you need some fresh kaffir lime leaves! 

And let us know how it goes in the comments below.

FAQs Related to Kaffir Lime & Its Alternatives

Can I use curry leaves instead of kaffir lime leaves?

Yes, you can, without a second thought, use Curry leaves rather than Kaffir lime leaves. Give your dish a new taste, and make sure don’t overdo it because Curry leaves do not have the citrus smell or taste. 

Where can I find kaffir lime leaves?

They can be difficult to find sometimes, but we’ve got some good news for you! If you live near an Asian grocery store or Chinese food market, then your search is over because these stores will likely carry kaffir lime leaves. 

Just make sure to check the freezer section of the produce aisle first before heading out of the store empty-handed! 
You can also order them online if there isn’t one nearby.

Are bergamot and kaffir lime the same?

No, from the taste and use, they are different. Bergamot is not edible, although it belongs to the orange family.

Bergamot oranges are the type of citrus fruit that was initially named after their place of origin, Bergamot in Turkey. Bergamot is generally used to produce perfumes.

Whereas Kaffir lime edible is native to Southeast Asian countries and traditionally used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.

kaffir lime leaves vs lime leaves

i. lime leaves are mostly found everywhere, whereas kaffir lime is hard to find.

Kaffir Lime, also known as “kafir”, “makrut,” or “makroot,” is one of the most distinctive ingredients in Southeast Asian cooking. 

Lime leaves are more widely available than kaffir limes. Kaffir limes look like small, knobby lemons that feature prominently in Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian cooking. They’re native to Southeast Asia.

Lime leaves have a tart, acidic citrus flavor that adds brightness to Southeast Asian curries, soups, and salads. They are also used in teas and as garnish.

The fragrant leaves of kaffir lime are also referred to as “bai makrut,” which means “kaffir lime leaves” in Thai and Laotian (the term kaffir is considered a derogatory word for black people in some English-speaking cultures).

The main difference between kaffir lime and lime leaves is that kaffir lime is a type of fruit, whereas lime leaves are parts of the kaffir lime plant. 

Kaffir limes have knobbly skin, whereas limes have smooth skin. The fragrant leaves of kaffir limes are called bai Makrut, which means ‘kaffir lime leaves in Thai and Laotian. 

They have a tart, acidic citrus flavor that adds brightness to Southeast Asian curries, soups, and salads.

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