What is the Best Substitute for Lemongrass Paste?

by Charlie
Published: Last Updated on
Lemongrass Paste substitute

Lemongrass paste is popular for its ability to add a nice kick and flavor boost to every meal. From soups and broths to eleven teas, lemongrass paste is a versatile ingredient for sure.

These days, however, cooks love to be versatile in how they work. So, if you can’t find lemongrass paste, what do you do? Find a substitute, of course.

What is the best substitute for lemongrass paste? Out of the multitude of substitutes, we’ve found that dry lemongrass is the best available option for lemongrass paste. It offers pretty much the same taste and flavor profile, and it can easily be made. So, it works very well as a lemongrass paste substitute.

An Overview of Lemongrass Paste

In today’s world, lemongrass paste is usually put in dishes to add a bit of a citrus-infused scent and fresh flavor to them. This is what makes lemongrass paste so awesome. You can use it to add more flavor to your dishes and even teas, and a lot of people have caught on to that.

Lemongrass paste is usually gotten by peeling the outer layer of the lemongrass stalks, chopping everything else, and grinding the grass perfectly. You can throw in some water to make the paste thick, and you’re ready to go!

If the original lemongrass can be used in a dish recipe, then rest assured that lemongrass paste can be used for it as well. This flavorful paste can be prepared and stored ahead of time, or you could make it in the moment since it takes only a few minutes and a handful of ingredients to be prepared.

There are many variations of lemongrass paste. You could even find some that come in packers in grocery stores – although these pens have additional ingredients like garlic and ginger that give them a tangy taste.

Why Replace Lemongrass Paste?

  • Taste differences: Not everyone loves the taste of lemongrass paste. If you’re such a person, then perhaps a substitute will be ideal for you.
  • Non-availability: If you can’t find lemongrass paste around you, then you’d need a substitute that can work well in its place.

Options for Lemongrass Paste Substitutes

Best Overall Substitute for Lemongrass Paste: Dry Lemongrass

Considering that they’re almost the same thing, it goes without saying that dry lemongrass will be the ideal substitute for lemongrass paste. While lemongrass paste comes with additional ingredients like ginger and garlic that give it a bit of a spicy taste, dry lemongrass offers a bit of a woody taste. But, the base notes are the same, and you will find that dried lemongrass gives more of its flavor as you cook it.

Dry lemongrass is also not so tangy or sharp, making it more suited for a substitute for lemongrass paste. However, you should note that the dried lemongrass flavor will strengthen if you leave your food to simmer.

In terms of proportions, you can use one teaspoon of dried lemongrass for a teaspoon of lemongrass paste. So, it’s more of a one-for-one substitute. However, you need to be careful with proportions because dried lemongrass can have a more intense flavor as you cook it longer. So, we recommend that you use less, and you can always add more as you cook along.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that you might want to properly chop your dried lemongrass. This way, you don’t get any wood chunks in your food. If your lemongrass has stalks, you can also grind them in a food processor. You might be able to get ground dried lemongrass; if you do, then you’re good to go.

Best Non-Lemon Substitute: Japanese Yuzu

If you don’t have any lemongrass paste in your house and would like to switch the flavor up, then Japanese yuzu might be your best bet. The fruit is a member of the citrus family, and it comes with that familiar citrus and floral flavor that we’ve all come to know and love. It’s pretty close to lemongrass pasts, so you won’t be missing much from a taste standpoint.

Usually, Japanese yuzu is applied in traditional sweet and savory dishes. It’s perfect with seafood and curry-based dishes, and it works best as a flavor substitute for lemongrass paste.

You can use the zest and juice from the fruit, but you should keep in mind that yuzu zest comes with a bit of orange and mandarin as well as a floral note.

In terms of applications, it’s all based on your preference. Yuzu is flavorful, so you should be able to get more with less. However, you should also be ready to squeeze more yuzu since the fruit doesn’t have so much juice.

Best Combo Substitute: Arugula and Lemon Zest

Sometimes, you need a combination of ingredients to offer that lemongrass paste substitute you need. In that case, give the arugula and lemon zest combination a fair shake.

Arugula offers the peppery and tangy taste that you need to make your dish pop, while lemon zest can introduce that familiar freshness that comes with all citrus plants. It’s a double threat!

Many people tend to use lemon zest alone to substitute lemongrass pasts. To be fair, lemon zest can work fine – especially when the flavor is what you’re really after and you don’t need the lemon zest to be the primary ingredient. However, when mixed with arugula, lemon zest is on another level of flavor. 

In terms of application, you can use the arugula and lemon zest combination in different dishes. It works well in curries, soups, broths, and more. The combination is also a great addition to fish dishes. When combining both, we recommend that you use one arugula leaf and one teaspoon of lemon zest to replace two teaspoons of lemongrass paste.

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