What is a Suitable Substitute For Kaffir Lime Leaves? 

What are Kaffir lime leaves?

The scientific name of Kaffir lime is Citrus hystrix. It is a tropical citrus fruit. Kaffir lime is commonly found in native parts of South East Asia. Kaffir lime fruit is green in color but as it matures, it turns yellow.

Kaffir lime is popular for its culinary use because it has a delicious flavor and special tart. Additionally, it is used in herbal medicine since it contains several beneficial organic compounds which are good for the body systems.

The leaves, fruit, and rind of Kaffir lime are all used for different purposes. Some people compare the flavor of Kaffir leaves to a combination of lemon, Persian lime, lime fruit, and orange. Thai, Cambodian and Indonesian cooking techniques use Kaffir leaves.

Below is a list of Kaffir Lime Leaves alternatives you can use. We will discuss them in detail in the article.

Bay LeavesLime LeavesLime JuiceLemon Thyme
Lemon ZestCurry LeavesKeffir lime essential oilsMixed Herbs

Kaffir lime leaves resemble bay leaves but they are more course. The leaves turn greyish when they mature. Their distinct citrusy aroma makes them very desirable in Asian recipes.

You probably can’t get the scent of a Kaffir leaf when you smell it in its whole form but when you tear the leaf slightly, you will get a distinctive flavorful aroma.

That flavorful aroma is the reason why people use kaffir leaves in cooking. The leaves bring a vibrant punch to cooking.

How much juice is in one lime? Click Here to find out.

How to cut and use Kaffir leaves.

Closely cut the leaf from the middle section. Once you do, roll it up and then cut it into very thin pieces. You should be able to drizzle the thin pieces into your dish. If the leaves are dried, simply crush them in your hand and sprinkle it over your dish.

I highly recommend using fresh Kaffir leaves because the dried ones might fail to deliver the zing you are looking for.

What are the benefits of Kaffir lime leaves?


Kaffir leaves are known for their many herbal medicinal benefits. Most people use the leaves to improve their oral hygiene by rubbing them into their gums.

According to research, Kaffir leaves contain essential oils that get rid of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Here are a few benefits of using Kaffir leaves.

  1. Kaffir leaves promote good oral health by getting rid of harmful bacteria that tend to build up in the mouth.
  2. They help manage digestive issues like gastric ulcers, constipation, and, hemorrhoids. The leaves are anti-inflammatory and as a result, stimulate the digestive system.
  3. Kaffir leaves contain anti-oxidants which minimize the appearance of pimples, scars, and age marks.
  4. They can help strengthen hair follicles and improve hair shine. Additionally, they eliminate dandruff.
  5. The leaves detoxify the blood by eliminating pathogens in the blood. They also help the lymphatic and liver system to eliminate dangerous foreign substances from our bodies.
  6. Kaffir leaves may help manage medical conditions like arthritis, gout, migraines edema, and headaches because they are anti-inflammatory.

Also, Click here to find a good substitute for Curry Leaves.

Uses of Kaffir leaves


Kaffir leaves have many uses, the most common one being its culinary use in Asian cuisine. However, as the benefits of using Kaffir leaves continue to be discovered, the uses of Kaffir leaves keep growing as well.

Here are a few uses of Kaffir leaves. You should probably consider using Kaffir leaves any time you want to do these activities.

  1. Cooking using Kaffir lime leaves is an integral part of Asian cuisine. Kaffir leaves are used in multiple Thai dishes like Thai curry, Thai curry paste, fish cakes, Thai soup, green curry and, many others. They can also be used in baking. For instance, they are used in baking the Kaffir key lime pie.
  2. When mixed with coconut oil, Kaffir leaves are great for massaging joints and muscles. One feels quite relaxed after the massage.
  3. Kaffir leaves can be used as a natural air freshener. Simply slice the leaves and soak them in water for approximately 2 hours. Pour the water into a spray bottle and spray it around your house. Your home will smell amazing.
  4. Kaffir leaves are used in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety, fatigue and stress because they contain essential oils. Inhaling the essential oils does wonders for your body and mind in general.
  5. The leaves are used to promote healing by preventing the growth of bacteria on wounds. They have antibacterial properties which make them a natural antiseptic.
  6. When mixed with other citrus extracts, they are effective for washing away grease or dirt from hair and also untangling hair strands. Kaffir leaves also act as an anti-dandruff.
  7. Kaffir leaves are a natural insect repellant because they contain citronella oil. You can use them instead of commercial insect sprays that potentially contain harmful chemicals.

Where to buy Kaffir leaves.


Kaffir leaves are not that hard to find. You might not get fresh Kaffir leaves in your standard grocery store in the United States, but you will get the dried leaves.

I always prefer fresh Kaffir leaves and I highly recommend using fresh Kaffir leaves. You can always buy them online from suppliers of Thai foods. Alternatively, source them from an Asian market if you live close to one.

If you are in South East Asia, you are in luck because all grocery stores have fresh Kaffir leaves in the herbs and spices section.

Also, Click to check out

Top Kaffir lime leaves substitutes

Are you making a dish that requires Kaffir lime leaves but can’t find any? There is absolutely no need to panic. There are several Kaffir lime leaves substitutes that may be a better option for your dish.


These substitutes are very common ingredients that are easy to find. You can buy them at any local grocery store.

  1. Bay leaves

Bay leaves are as pungent as Kaffir leaves and are mostly used in savory dishes. They are a great substitute for Kaffir lime leaves. However, they work best when combined with lime zest since the flavor is more floral than citrusy.

  1. Lime leaves

Lime leaves will give your dish a mild scent of citrus. However, they might taste slightly bitter compared to Kaffir leaves. Avoid consuming them raw.

  1. Lime juice

Lime juice only works if you are substituting the Kaffir leaves while making a Thai Curry paste. Adding lime juice to just any dish in place of Kaffir leaves can ruin your dish.

  1. Lemon thyme

Lemon thyme has a citrusy flavor. It also has a strong lemon scent. The herb is a worthy substitute for Kaffir leaves since it is not as bitter as normal thyme. You can always add a generous amount of lemon thyme to your dish.

  1. Lemon zest

Lemon zest can also be used as a substitute for Kaffir leaves. However, most people prefer lime zest. When using lemon zest, always add coriander or coriander substitutes to finish the dish.

  1. Curry leaves

Curry leaves can only substitute Kaffir leaves when making Indian dishes. They do not have the sharp and pungent citrus flavor so they are only suitable for Indian curries and Indian rice dishes.

  1. Kaffir lime essential oil

If you want the awesome aroma of Kaffir leaves, then the Kaffir lime essential oil is your best bet. It works best in curries, soups, pastes, and sauces.

  1. Mixed herbs

Mixed herbs are most probably the best substitute for Kaffir lime leaves. Simply combine 1 bay leaf, a handful of fresh lemon thyme, and one whole lime.

This is the closest you will get to the taste of Kaffir lime leaves. It is an almost perfect substitute.

Kaffir Lime Zest Substitute


If you are making a dish that requires the use of Kaffir leaves, you need to have a few substitutes in mind. Getting the good authentic kaffir leaves can sometimes be such a task, so you may at one time or another have to substitute them with something else.

When using any kind of substitute, you should aim for the maximum flavor. Lime zest is a very worthy Kaffir leaves substitute.

It has a very distinct citrusy flavor which makes it a perfect substitute. Additionally, lime zest is greatly used in Asian cuisine. People probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

Can kaffir lime leaves substitute curry leaves


Curry leaves play an important role in adding flavor to many Southeast Asian dishes. Their distinct flavor makes the dishes authentic. However, curry leaves can be hard to find in the United States, so you may need to substitute them with something else.

The pungent aroma and flavor of curry leaves can be hard to replicate. However, Kaffir leaves can provide a similar flavor to your dishes. Kaffir leaves have a distinctive citrus flavor, just like curry leaves and their flavor is quite strong.

The leaves should not be eaten whole, they should only be used to flavor the dish. You can crush the leaves using a mortar and pestle and add them to your dish or you could slice them finely with a kitchen knife. Alternatively, use them whole by letting them simmer in your dish for some time.

Use six Kaffir leaves for every ten curry leaves you would have used in your dish.


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