The 5 Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes Out There

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If you have traveled around Southeast Asian countries before, surely you were able to taste the rich flavors of Asian cuisines and indulge in new recipes. When you go back to your original country, you might miss the authentic dishes that you were able to try, and one of the most common flavor that you probably encountered in your trip might have been from Kaffir Lime Leaves. It's a prominent ingredient, especially in Thai dishes. Kaffir lime leaves are known for their strong, citrusy, and pungent flavor that adds an authentic touch to various Southeast Asian cuisines.

Here’s What You Should Know About This Herb

Even though Kaffir lime is a plant that you would usually find in Southeast Asia, its name is actually Arabic. However, its also called various names depending on the country that you are in. Some stores might offer kaffir lime leaves in either dry or fresh form. If you’re looking for the strongest aroma, make sure to buy the fresh leaves instead. Sometimes, the leaves are also frozen to make the flavor stay. You can do this if you have several leftover kaffir lime leaves at home. Doing so would make your leaves last for up to six months.

Health Benefits of Kaffir Lime Leaves

If you live in a tropical area, then planting kaffir in your garden is something that you should try. It's not just a great source of flavor for your dishes, but it also offers some health benefits that you can enjoy.

  • Helps you to release stress – Are you easily stressed out? The stress that you might be feeling can lead to more serious situations if not prevented. Luckily kaffir lime leaves are known to reduce stress because it stimulates your brain to produce hormones that could improve your mood.
  •  Anti-inflammation – One of the common symptoms of illnesses such as a sore throat and fever is inflammation. Even though you might not be able to see the inflammation because it’s inside your body, you can still fight it using natural remedies like kaffir lime leaves.

The Excellent Kaffir Lime Substitutes

While there may be some stores in the US and Canada that might have some stock of Kaffir lime leaves, it’s could still be difficult to find especially if you just don’t have the time and energy to run from store to store just to find the leaves you are looking for. To help you create the recipes that you want even when Kaffir lime leaves are missing, here are the awesome substitutes that you can try instead.

Citrus Leaves

If you want to get the citrusy flavor of kaffir, then you should try using other citrus leaves for your recipe. Some examples of this are lemons, oranges, and lime. These leaves are more common compared to kaffir lime leaves, so you’ll have no problem looking for them. However, when it comes to the aroma, you won’t be able to achieve the strong aroma of kaffir. Citrus leaves usually have a mild fragrance. So when you try to use them as a replacement, you might want to use more amount than what’s required for kaffir lime leaves.

The thought of using your lemon tree's leaves might be a little weird for you, but it's worth a try! Most people are not aware that other cultures like Sicilians use lemon leaves in their dishes. They use it for their meatballs, polpette recipe, and even use the leaves to wrap an oven-baked dish. This is a little surprising, but once you taste the burst of flavor that lemon leaves give to the dishes, you might even try putting it in your own recipes!

Aside from the flavor, you’ll also love the health benefits that come from citrus leaves. These leaves are great for fighting abnormal cell growths that can lead to breast, colon, and lung cancer. They also have limonene which is a substance that can lower a person’s cholesterol level, which is essential if you want to keep your heart healthy. For those who love to keep their skin healthy, citrus leaves like lemon and orange leaves are also really helpful for delaying the aging process and keeping your skin wrinkle-free.

If you have a citrus plant such as lime, lemon, and orange nearby, you can simply pick some of the leaves so you can use them as a kaffir lime leaf substitute in your recipe. However, make sure that you pick the leaves that are green and healthy. To remove dirt and insects, always wash the leaves first thoroughly with clean water to avoid any contamination.

For most people, the best way is to add the leaves once the dish is cooking, and then remove it after, since most people don’t really eat them anyway. The recommended amount of substitute leaves is three for every two kaffir lime leaves. You can add more of the substitute leaves if you feel like you're not getting the strength of the flavor that you need.

Persian Limes

Another substitute that is really easy to get is Persian lime. It’s a common type of lime even in US grocery stores. It's also called Tahiti lime, but the origins of this fruit are still unknown. But even though some botanists believe that this lime is first introduced in the Mediterranean countries, the largest producer of Persian lime today is still Florida. So if you live in America, Persian limes are great Kaffir leaves substitute. It has a strong flavor that is so similar to the ones Kaffir lime leaves can produce.

An additional advantage about using this substitute is that usually, Persian limes are seedless which means that you won’t have to take out the seeds when you squeeze some of the juice in your dish. There are various types of Persian lime such as Bearrs, Idemor, Pond, USDA No. 1, and No. 2.

Since Persian Limes is a citrus fruit, you’ll get the health benefits that other citrus fruits like Lemon have. It’s also packed in Vitamin C and antioxidants. These nutritional properties can help improve your heart health, antimicrobial activity, prevents asthma, increases iron absorption, and boosts your overall immune system. These are just some additional reasons why you should definitely get Persian limes and have a stock of it in your kitchen.

If you’re considering to use this Kaffir lime leaf alternative, it’s really easy! You just have to slice the Persian lime fruit and squeeze the juice out. You can squeeze it directly on your recipe since there are no seeds to worry about. This is the best for shrimp and curry recipes. As for the quantity, the recommended amount of this substitute should be 1/2 lime for every two leaves of kaffir lime leaves required by your recipe.

While Persian limes are great substitutes, they do have a really strong flavor that might overpower the other flavors of your dish. So if this is your first time using this as a substitute, you might want to add the juice in small amounts, then gradually add more until you achieve the flavor you want.

Bay Leaves + Lemon Thyme + Lime Zest

The flavor and the aroma of Kaffir Lime leaves are really unique, but you can recreate it by combining bay leaves, lemon thyme, and lime zest. The combination of these ingredients will give you a citrusy flavor with floral notes. However, if you want to use this substitute, you have to be able to balance the flavor of each ingredient. This is difficult to do so if you’re a newbie in the kitchen and you haven’t tasted the flavor of kaffir lime leaves before, this might not be very recommendable for you.

But if you’re someone who loves to experiment with various ingredients and you are already pretty familiar with how kaffir lime leaves taste, then you can definitely give this substitute a shot.

To get you started, the recommended measurement for most dishes is a small bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon of lime zest, and around 1/8 teaspoon of lemon thyme.

These three ingredients are not really a hassle to find. Bay leaves are known for their amazing aroma. It’s an herb that can be bought either fresh or dried. It’s a common ingredient that’s why most people might have this ready in their kitchen. Keep in mind though that dried bay leaves have a stronger flavor than the fresh ones. They are also usually not eaten so you can remove them from the food once the flavor already sets in.

Before you try this combination, you should also know what lemon thyme offers. In case you didn’t know a lot of things about herbs and spices, lemon thyme is a small herb that is known for having a great balance of herbal and lemon flavors. It’s commonly used for salads and for seasoning meats and fishes. You can find lemon thyme in the herbs and spices section of grocery stores.

On the other hand, lime zest is probably the easiest ingredient to obtain in this combination. You can simply buy some lime from your local grocery store and grate the body of the lime to get the zest. You can also use a zester to make the whole process faster.

Lime or Lemon Zest

You can also use lime or lemon zest alone for your dish if you don’t have time to look for other ingredients to mix. However, do remember that this substitute won’t give you the full flavor of kaffir lime leaves. This is a great option if you just need the zesty flavor for your dish. You should also be reminded not to overdo it. If the recipe only needs one kaffir lime leaf, then half a lime's zest is enough. You can also use both lime and lemon zest for your recipe. Additionally, the lemon zest would give a hint of sweetness to your dish so be careful when using this as your substitute.

Curry Leaves

Kaffir lime leaves are also used for curry recipes. If you have to prepare such dishes, but you don't have a kaffir lime leaf on hand, curry leaves can be used as replacements. The curry leaves bring a citrusy flavor in your recipe that could blend well with your dishes. However, when using this ingredient, remember to remove them after cooking because they are not supposed to be eaten.

You can find curry leaves in Indian stores because it’s a common ingredient in Indian dishes. It has a strong aroma and unique flavor. It’s also known as kadi patta so if you see this name in the store, don’t be confused because it’s basically curry leaves.

Aside from being a good kaffir lime leaf substitute, curry leaves are also packed with a lot of health benefits that you have to know about just in case you are planning on incorporating it in your dishes. Here are some of them:

  • Weight loss – Curry leaves help regulate your body’s cholesterol level. If you can try munching the curry leaves alone aside from adding it to your dishes, it's going to give you the weight loss effect that you want to have. If you’re health conscious, you can add curry leaves in your salads as well.
  • It can offer relief to diarrhea, constipation, and dysentery – Curry leaves are also known for being a good medicinal treatment for upset stomachs. You can do this by adding buttermilk to grinded curry leaves.
  • It’s good for diabetics – Those who have high blood sugar levels can benefit from the effects of curry leaves to your glucose levels.
  • Eliminate bacteria – bacteria are one of the main causes of infection and illnesses. If you want to try some natural remedies to fight bacteria, then you can use curry lime leaves.
Kaffir lime leaf is a unique ingredient that may be used in Thai and Vietnamese dishes. But even though it has a distinct flavor, you can still use substitutes to achieve the citrusy and zesty flavor that it gives. The substitutes in this list will do a good job of giving the same flavors for your recipes.
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Gabrielle Anderson

On a day to day basis, Gabrielle manages her own fitness company but in her spare time contributes t...

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