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The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Leaves

Curry Leaves are widely grown in countries such as India and Sri Lanka.

These leaves are extremely synonymous when it comes to Indian Cuisine.

Since these leaves come from a citrus background, they possess a strong and fragrant flavor that is quite similar to ingredients like Lemongrass.

What are the best substitutes for curry leaves? They consist of basil, lemon balm, bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and lemon or lime zest.

What Are Curry Leaves?

what are curry leaves

Curry Leaves refers to the foliage of Murraya Koenigii, which is the curry tree.

These leaves possess both culinary and medicinal uses.

The curry tree grows well in well-drained soils and places that get a partial shade or full sun.

The leaves are mostly used in the West Coast and Southern part of India.

The people fry the leaves using vegetable oil, chopped onions, and mustard seeds during the first phase of preparation.

Curry leaves go best with dishes like dal, curries, and rice recipes.

This versatile cooking herb also provides multiple health benefits because of its effective compounds.

It is useful for reducing the risks of cancer, heart illness, and blood sugar.

5 Best Substitutes for Curry Leaves

best substitutes for curry leaves

Here are the top substitutes for curry leaves:

1 – Basil


Basil can be an excellent substitute for curry leaves.

You can reap its maximum benefits by combining it with some lime or lemon.

Basil doesn’t have that citrusy twang that you would get from curry leaves, but the freshness will make up for it.

Basil also tends to possess a slightly minty type of taste like anise.

So, the need for lemon or lime comes here to replicate curry leaves in taste and aroma.

Even if Basil is mostly associated with Mediterranean and Italian cuisines, they go just as well in South Indian cuisines.

Substitute Ratio – Here, you can use the exact amount of the basil leaves as indicated in the recipe for the curry leaves.

2 – Lemon Balm

lemon balm

Lemon Balm or Melissa is a common herb found in many kitchen gardens.

It has a fresh citrusy, and earthy taste; however, it is sweeter than curry leaves.

Many people use it as a substitute, especially because of how readily.

The aroma is quite similar to the curry leaves.

However, you only have to use its leaves and not the roots.

Plus, lemon balm helps treat digestive problems like vomiting, tummy ache, bloating, or even hysteria.

Substitute Ratio – You can use about 2/3 of the curry leaves amount based on the recipe.

3 – Lemon Or Lime Zest

lemon or lime zest

Swapping your curry leaves for lemon or lime zest is another smart choice.

Curry leaves naturally have a citrusy aroma or taste, so it would make sense for you to use them.

You will require lemons and limes that are unwaxed for this purpose because nobody would want peeled wax in their dish.

You need to go for organic and fresh lemons/limes to obtain that unique taste that curry leaves give.

But since the zest is quite intense, you need to use only a small amount of it.

The last thing you would want is to overpower your dish.

Substitute Ratio – You need to use half what’s required in the curry leaves recipe.

So, if a recipe requires you to use 1tsp of curry leaves (powdered), you need to use ½ tsp of the zest.

4 – Kaffir Lime Leaves

kaffir lime leaves

Another excellent substitute for curry leaves would be the Kaffir Lime Leaves.

They also go by the name of “Makrut Lime Leaves” and possess benefits such as reducing stress, treating bad breath, giving you glowing skin, and much more.

These leaves are excessively used in Indian cuisines only makes sense for you to substitute them for curry leaves.

Once you use it, you will realize that Kaffir Lime Leaves and Curry Leaves share similar tastes.

You can add them to soups, fish recipes, steamed meats, rice, curries, etc.

Plus, they also go extremely well with coconut milk.

Substitute Ratio – You can use the same number of leaves as you would with the curry leaves.

5 – Bay Leaves

bay leaves

This ingredient is heavily used in Mediterranean cuisine.

It possesses a sweet undertone that makes it suitable for substituting curry leaves.

We aren’t saying that these leaves will give your recipe the exact taste that curry leaves would; however, they will do a great job of balancing your aroma and taste.

Bay leaves also contain many health advantages since they have a rich source of magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, calcium, iron, and Vitamin C.

Bay leaves have that subtle earthy and bitter taste, which we all love.

Plus, they go well in soups.

Substitute Ratio – Ensure that you use a single bay leaf for ½ cup of curry leaves.

Bay leaves are strong in taste, so you need to be cautious of the amount.


Curry Leaves are known for giving your dish that unique heavenly taste.

These leaves also have neuroprotective and antibacterial properties.

This ingredient also has anti-inflammatory effects and relieves pain in your body.

You won’t have any trouble incorporating them into your diet.

Be expectant of a delicious meal whenever you choose to use them.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Leaves

The 5 Best Substitutes for Curry Leaves
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Basil
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Or Lime Zest
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Bay Leaves


  1. Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  2. Organize all of your ingredients.
  3. Follow the substitution ratio to determine how much is required in your recipe.

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