Food ingredients

Kaffir Lime vs Lime

Although they come from the same family, kaffir limes and limes are very different. Both of them play very important roles in cooking.

If you have been wondering what the difference between kaffir lime is, this article is for you. We will look at all the differences between kaffir lime and lime including the appearance, flavor, culinary uses, storage, and so much more. Let’s dive in.

Size and appearance

Kaffir limes are usually bigger in size compared to regular limes. They also differ in appearance. Kaffir limes have warty bumps and are not perfectly round in shape.

On the other hand, regular limes have a perfectly round shape and smooth skin. You can easily tell lime and kaffir lime apart from their appearance.

Their Taste


Lime juice has a pleasant tart flavor that makes it a perfect addition to salads, vegetables, soups, and many other dishes. It also adds freshness to the dishes it is added to. Kaffir lime juice also has a tart flavor. However, the juice is not commonly used since the fruit produces very little juice.

Kaffir lime leaves have a distinct citrus aroma and a potent citrus flavor. Although they are a bit sour, the leaves have floral undertones.

Kaffir limes are commonly used in Thai cuisine, especially curries because of their complex flavor. On the other hand, lime leaves have a complex bright, and tangy flavor. They add an amazing herbal flavor to all the dishes they are added to.

Both kaffir lime zest and lime zest add a tart flavor and freshness to the dishes they are added to.

Click here to read more on Kaffir Lime taste

Culinary uses


Kaffir lime

Kaffir lime zest is mostly used to make green and red curry pastes. These pastes are used as marinades for lamb, pork, and chicken dishes.  The paste is really easy to make.

You just need to follow a few simple steps. First, use a mortar and pestle to grind galangal and sliced lemongrass. Once ground, add your kaffir lime zest, shrimp paste, garlic, salt, cilantro roots, and green/red peppers.  Pound the mixture until it forms a smooth paste and you are done. Pretty simple, right?

Kaffir lime leaves are popularly used in Asian cooking. They are known for the intense fragrance they add to dishes. Kaffir lime leaves can either be used fresh or dry.  However, I have always preferred using the fresh ones since the fragrance and flavor are more intense. Add kaffir leaves to your favorite curry whole and let them infuse their fragrance and aroma to the dish as it cooks.

You should always remove the leaves from your dish once you are done cooking because they are too tough to chew. You can also add kaffir leaves to your rice as it cooks. The oils will infuse into the rice as it cooks and it will taste amazing.



Limes are more common in the United States compared to kaffir limes. Lime zest is a common ingredient in baked goods. A little of it goes a long way. Just add a pinch of lime zest to enhance the flavor of your baked goods.

Lime zest can also be added to pasta. I love grating the zest onto my pasta before serving for an intense flavor. I also add lime zest to my homemade vinaigrette. It always tastes better with some zest in it.

Lime juice can be added to baked goods, soups, vegetables, and salads. The juice adds a pleasant tart flavor to the dishes.

You can also squeeze some lime juice onto pan-fried fish or roasted chicken for an amazing tangy flavor.  A lot of people use lime juice as an ingredient in pickles, jams, jellies, and even candies.

Another use of lime juice is in beverages. You can add it to cocktails, fresh beverages, and sorbents. Lime leaves are commonly used in traditional Thai and Asian cuisines. They are mostly combined with other spices and herbs including lemongrass, ginger, chilies, and basil. They add a complex tangy flavor to dishes.

Does Lime Juice Go Bad? Click to read.

Lime leaves and kaffir lime leaves Storage


Lime leaves and kaffir lime leaves can be stored in either the refrigerator or the freezer. If you buy them frozen, you should store them inside your freezer, and if you buy them fresh, store them in your refrigerator.

Kaffir limes and limes can either be stored at room temperature or inside the refrigerator. If you choose to store them at room temperature, place them in a fruit basket and place the basket on your kitchen counter.

When stored at room temperature, they will stay fresh for approximately one week. If you want the limes to last longer than one week, store them in the crisp drawer of your refrigerator. They will stay fresh for approximately two weeks.

Can you substitute one for the other?


There is no straight answer to this question, so I’ll say it depends.  For starters, the juice of kaffir lime is not a suitable substitute for regular lime juice.

Additionally, regular lime leaves are not ideal substitutes for kaffir lime leaves because they are not as aromatic and they are also bitter compared to kaffir lime leaves.

However, if a recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves, you can substitute the leaves with a squeeze of regular lime juice.  You can also substitute kaffir lime zest with regular lime zest. The zest will give you similar results.

What is a Suitable Substitute For Kaffir Lime Leaves? Click to read.

Where to buy kaffir limes and limes


Limes are very common in the United States. You can buy them in grocery stores, supermarkets, or farmers’ markets near you. Kaffir limes are a bit difficult to find since they are not very popular.

You can get them in Asian grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Very few supermarkets stock them, but if you are lucky enough you can get them at the sections of the tropical fruit. You can also order limes or kaffir limes online. Several vendors stock them.

Also, Check out: How much juice is in one lime?


As we have discussed above, kaffir limes and limes are different.

Both of them come in handy in different recipes, and they play different roles.

I hope this article has made it easier for you to understand the difference between kaffir lime and lime.

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