7 Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes – Similar Replacements to Try

Kaffir lime leaves are the dark green, shiny leaves of the kaffir lime tree. They have a strong, citrusy smell and an acidic taste. They’re used to add flavor to soups, curries, and stir-fries.

If you find yourself in a bind and you have run out of kaffir lime leaves, you’re in luck!

This article will provide you with a list of the best substitutes for kaffir lime leaves, along with the correct ratios and examples of how they can be used.

Substitutes For Kaffir Lime Leaves:

  1. Lemon Zest
  2. Lime Zest
  3. Orange Leaves
  4. Tangerine
  5. Grapefruit
  6. Lemongrass
  7. Bay Leaves

Lemon Zest

In some cases, lemon zest can be used as a 1:1 ratio replacement. Keep in mind that the flavor won’t be exactly the same, but it will still be delicious.

If you’re using lemon zest as a substitute in a recipe that calls for kaffir lime leaves, start with a ratio of 1 teaspoon of zest for every 2 leaves called for. You can always add more zest to taste.

When using lemon zest as a kaffir lime leaf substitute, you’ll get a hint of sourness and sweetness along with the citrusy flavor. So if your recipe calls for other citrus fruits like lime or orange, feel free to experiment and use lemon zest to enhance those flavors.

Trust your palate and have fun with it!

Lime Zest

If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of making a recipe that calls for kaffir lime leaves only to realize that you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry – lime zest can be used as a substitute.

Just use a ratio of 1:1, meaning for every kaffir lime leaf the recipe calls for, use one teaspoon of lime zest instead. The zest will add a similar citrusy flavor to your dish without changing the overall taste too much. And in some cases, using lime zest as a substitute can even be an advantage.

For example, if you’re making a soup or curry that has a lot of other strong flavors going on, the subtle taste of lime zest might be preferable to the more assertive taste of kaffir lime leaves. So next time you find yourself in a bind, remember that lime zest can be a great stand-in for kaffir lime leaves.

Orange Leaves

If you’re out of kaffir lime leaves and need a suitable substitute, orange leaves can be a good option. You’ll need to use more orange leaves than kaffir lime leaves in ratio to the recipe, but the results will still be flavorful.

The benefits of using orange leaves as a substitute include the fact that they’re easier to find than kaffir lime leaves (especially if you don’t have a Southeast Asian market nearby) and they’re less expensive.

Keep in mind, however, that the flavor is different – orange leaves are more citrusy than kaffir lime leaves, so adjust your recipe accordingly.


Tangerine leaves have a similar ratio of citric acid to limonene as kaffir lime leaves, so they will give your dish the same tart and citrusy flavor. In addition, tangerine leaves are easier to find and usually less expensive than kaffir lime leaves.

To substitute tangerine leaves in a recipe, use one tangerine leaf for every two kaffir lime leaves called for. Keep in mind that tangerine leaves are larger than kaffir lime leaves, so you may need to adjust the amount for other ingredients in the recipe accordingly.

With a little trial and error, you’ll be able to create your own delicious dishes using tangerine leaves as a substitute for kaffir lime leaves.


When substituting grapefruit for kaffir lime leaves, use a ratio of one grapefruit for every two kaffir lime leaves called for in the recipe. In terms of flavor, grapefruit is slightly more tart than kaffir lime leaves, but this can be balanced out by adding a bit more sugar to the dish.

Additionally, grapefruit provides a similar nutritional profile to kaffir lime leaves, with both being rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. So next time your recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves, reach for some grapefruit instead. You may just find that you prefer the taste.


In a pinch, lemongrass can be used as a substitute for kaffir lime leaves. The ratio to use is three parts lemongrass to one part kaffir lime leaves.

This substitution will work in any recipe that calls for kaffir lime leaves, from curries to soups. Lemongrass has a similar citrus flavor as kaffir lime leaves, with a touch of ginger.

It is also very fragrant, so a little goes a long way. When using lemongrass as a substitute, it is important to chop it very finely so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t overpower the dish.

Overall, lemongrass is a good substitute for kaffir lime leaves and can be used in most recipes with minimal adjustments.

Bay Leaves

If you’re out of kaffir lime leaves and need a substitute in a recipe, bay leaves can be used as a suitable replacement. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use more bay leaves than kaffir lime leaves, as the latter is more potent in flavor.

A ratio of 3 bay leaves to 1 kaffir lime leaf should do the trick. As a bonus, bay leaves also offer some health benefits. They’re thought to aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity.

So if you find yourself without kaffir lime leaves, don’t worry – bay leaves make a great stand-in.


What is a kaffir lime leaf?

A kaffir lime leaf is the leaf of the kaffir lime, a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. The leaves are used in cooking as a flavoring agent and are prized for their unique citrusy flavor.  In addition to their culinary uses, kaffir lime leaves have a long history of being used for medicinal purposes. The essential oils in the leaves are thought to have antibacterial and antifungal properties.

What are some substitutes for kaffir lime leaves?

Some substitutes for kaffir lime leaves include orange leaves, tangerine leaves, grapefruit, lemongrass, and bay leaves.

How do you use kaffir lime leaves in cooking?

Kaffir lime leaves can be used in cooking in a variety of ways. They can be added to curries, soups, and stews for flavor. The leaves can also be used to make kaffir lime leaf oil, which is used as a flavoring agent in many Southeast Asian dishes.

What is the flavor of kaffir lime leaves?

Kaffir lime leaves have a citrusy flavor that is similar to lemon or lime. They are also very fragrant and have a strong aroma.

How do you store kaffir lime leaves?

Kaffir lime leaves can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year. They can also be frozen for longer-term storage.

Are kaffir lime leaves healthy?

Yes, kaffir lime leaves are healthy. They are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants and have many health benefits.


When you’re in a bind and need to find a kaffir lime leaves substitute, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve listed some great substitutes for kaffir lime leaves. Each substitution has its own unique flavor and benefits, so it’s easy to find one that will work well in your recipe.