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5 BEST Substitutes for Kaffir Lime Leaf: Flavorful Choices

Kaffir lime leaves offers a unique and intricate floral note that makes it hard to be substituted with only one ingredient, and that is why it is advisable to include different plants.

For instance, take half a teaspoon of bay leaf, one-fourth of lime zest, and last but not least, 1/8 teaspoon of lemon thyme.

Kaffir lime is a citrus plant and originated from South-Eastern Asia.

In Indonesia, this exotic citrus plant is also known as Jerukpurut, Makrut, or Mauritius Papeda.

Kaffir Lime leaves looks exactly like bay leaves with more courses.

The leaves of Kaffir plant turn dark-greyish color when the leaves get old.

The Kaffir Lime leaves are special because of their unique citrusy aroma, which you see in several Asian recipes.

You can find fresh kaffir lime leaves in Asian countries.

Also, you can find frozen or dried forms of kaffir lime leaves all over the world.

What is Kaffir Lime?

what is kaffir lime

A kaffir lime is a recurring shrub, and it belongs to a citrus family.

This shrub is grown mostly in Southeast Asia and other Asian countries, including Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

You can find the leaves and fruits of kaffir lime dried or frozen in all Asian markets globally.

The leaves of the Kaffir Lime look like an hourglass shape and give out the aromatic citrus flavor.

New leaves of kaffir lime are in glossy green color, and they turn to greyish color when they grow big.

The Kaffir Lime fruits are green when they are small; as they grow, they turn yellow.

The difference between kaffir lime and other citrus fruit is the texture, as kaffir has warty textures in the peel.

Kaffir is an Arabic word, and in some countries, like South Africa, it is called K-leaves, and in some places, it is called Makrut lime.

Before looking into the substitutes for Kaffir Lime leaves, you need to know the scent and flavor of these lime leaves.

Kaffir lime leaves contain a strong citrus flavor combined with a bit of pungent note.

Also, they taste a bit bitter, which makes them not suitable to eat raw.

The flavor of the kaffir lime leaves can be used in different ways.

You can add them to soups, curries, marinade, sauces, aromatic rice, etc.

However, if you want to know what are the substitutes for Kaffir Lime leaves? Here, you can find the five best substitutes for Kaffir Lime that can help you use in your recipes when you cannot find kaffir lime leaves.

5 Best Substitutes for Kaffir Lime Leaves

1 – Bay Leaves

bay leaves

Bay Leaves are one of the best substitutes for Kaffir Lime leaves.

Also, bay leaves taste a bit bitter and pungent when you eat raw.

Nevertheless, the citrus flavor of bay leaves is very mild, and you may not get strong flavors like kaffir lime leaves when you use them in your recipes in place of kaffir lime.

Fresh bay leaves are used often to season seafood, soups, stews, sauces, and aromatic rice dishes in French, Mediterranean, and Thai cuisine.

The dried bay leaves are considered an herb, and it gives out a floral fragrance that smells a bit like thyme and oregano.

Bay leaves are a rich source of Vitamin A and C, minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and more, and essential oils.

2 – Lemon Zest and Lime

lemon zest and lime

Lemon Zest and lime are also some of the best substitutes for Kaffir Lime; although lime leaves and lemon zest come from different plant parts, they both give out comparatively the same taste.

They both contain an aromatic scent and a strong citrusy flavor.

You can find lime everywhere, and it is available in all groceries, which is why lime zest is the best and more prominent substitute for kaffir lime leaves.

You can use either lime leaves or lemon zest, and when you use lemon zest, you will get a bit of sweetness and the sourness of citrus.

Choosing lemon zest in place of kaffir lime leaves is best as it replicates the taste of kaffir lime.

3 – Persian Limes

persian limes

Persian Limes are also one of the best substitutes for Kaffir Lime.

It is also known as Tahiti lime, mostly found in all grocery stores in the United States.

From different types of lime, Persian lime contains a similar flavor as kaffir lime, and the juice of Persian lime is very fragrant, like kaffir lime.

Also, Persian lime is easy to use; all that is needed is to add the Persian lime by cutting the fruit and squeezing the juice into dishes like curries and soups.

4 – Lemon Thyme

lemon thyme

Lemon thyme is also one of the best substitutes for kaffir lime.

It is an herb with small leaves and is used to season fish dishes, meat, salads, and soups.

However, you should know that lemon thyme and normal thyme are two different herbs, so don’t get confused.

Lemon Thyme contains a stronger and intense citrusy fragrance that smells similar to kaffir lime leaves.

Also, lemon thyme offers an earthy note, and it won’t have bitterness like common thyme.

Lemon thyme is one of the best herbs.

It controls blood pressure and heart rate, increases immunity system, prevents lung cancer, relieves bloating, upset stomach, benefits neurotransmitters in the brain, reduces fatigue, stress, enhances skin and vision, and more.

5 – Lemongrass


Lemongrass is also one of the best substitutes for kaffir lime, and it is one the most beneficial and flavorful grass easily available globally.

Lemongrass is also one of the main ingredients in many Asian cuisines, such as Vietnamese recipes and Thai curries.

Lemongrass offers a unique flavor when you crush the leaves.

The grass leaves release a citrusy fragrance, and the lemongrass flavor is light and doesn’t overtake other flavors of your dish.

Use one stack of lemongrass for three to four kaffir leaves for better taste and flavor.


If you want to try a special delicious dish with kaffir lime, and if you are out of stock of kaffir lime, then don’t worry at all.

Use any of these substitutes as mentioned above in the place kaffir lime for similar or better taste.

best substitutes for kaffir lime leaves

The 5 Best Substitutes for Kaffir Lime Leaves

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Bay Leaves
  • Lemon Zest and Lime
  • Persian Limes
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lemongrass


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