The Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes

The Best Kaffir Lime Leaves Substitutes

Kaffir Lime Leaves have a strong aroma that can elevate a dish within minutes. If you don’t have some at hand, here are a few kaffir lime leaves substitute that you can use.

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Limes are available around the world in different varieties, shapes and forms. Limes are best known for their slight tangy taste, that help in elevating any kind of recipe within a few minutes. Let us bring our focus to one kind of lime – Kaffir Limes. Kaffir limes and their leaves have a strong aroma and flavor profile. The scent of the kaffir lime leaves is so intense that it can fill a large room with its citrusy and fresh fragrance. Kaffir limes are available at only a few selected grocery stores and if you are looking for some kaffir lime leaves substitute, here are a few options you can choose from.

What Is Kaffir Lime And Where Is It Found?

The kaffir lime leaves contain citronellal, nerol, and limonene.

Before we move onto our discussion about the kaffir lime leaves substitute, let’s first learn about the fruit species in brief. Kaffir lime is also known as the Thai lime or the Mauritius lime, owing to their place origin. The scientific name for kaffir lime is Citrus hystrix. This lime fruit is cultivated in the Southeast Asian countries and some parts of the Southern China province. Since the fruit is famous in the Asian continent, you will find that both the fruit and the leaves are used enormously in Asian cuisine. 

The kaffir plant grows up to a considerable height, where the leaves are in double shape. All the species’ fragrance is concentrated in the leaves of the plant, whose aroma lingers in the air like a thick cloud. If you see the lime fruit, you will find the kaffir lime having a vibrant green color at the time of harvest. The skin of the kaffir lime if quite thick compared to other varieties of lime found all over the world.

The kaffir lime leaves contain citronellal, nerol, and limonene which is responsible for it’s aroma. The leaves are used in various ways and not only in cooking the South Asian dishes.

What Are The Benefits Of The Kaffir Lime Leaves?

Kaffir limes and its leaves have a lot of health benefits.

Before discussing kaffir lime leaves substitutes, we first need to discuss the benefits of the plant part in several fields. So, let’s have a look!

1. Alleviates depression and stress – It is strongly believed that kaffir lime leaves can ease the levels of the stress hormone in your blood. Cortisol- the stress hormone- is mainly secreted in your blood in response to your adrenal system’s hyperactivity. The Thai lime leaves ensure that your hormone level is lowered, reducing stress levels and depression.

2. Removes the bad or foul breath from your mouth: Another significant benefit of the lime leaves is that it helps in removing a foul breath or odor from your mouth. Since it has its antibacterial properties, the leaves kill the streptococci bacterium, which is the primary source of bad mouth odor.

3. Helps your skin glow and become radiant – Be it the Thai lime leaves or any of the kaffir lime leaves substitute, surveys have shown that these elements have proven to be extremely beneficial for one’s skin. Be it a direct dermal application mixed with other elements or because of oral consumption, the materials have resulted in glowing skin in many women, with no speck of tiredness and early aging of the dermal tissue. 

4. Perfect for strengthening your hair roots – Another benefit of the kaffir leaves is that they help strengthen your hair roots, both externally and internally. It helps prevent the early graying of your hair and prevents the accumulation of dandruff and lice. 

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5. It helps detoxify the blood – The Thai leaves help in detoxifying your blood in a great way. The bioactive compounds present in the leaves will help remove the toxins and the nitrogenous wastes from your blood, thereby cleaning it effectively for better health.

6. One of the best insect repellant – You might have seen that in most of the insect repellant sprays that you can find in the market, one of the key ingredients is kaffir lime leaves. This is because the lime has a strong fragrance, which can be used to ward off many insects like cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, and so on. 

7. Promote your gut’s health – It has been observed that both the Thai lime and the kaffir lime leaves substitute to promote the health of your digestive system. The lime restores the proper gut flora of bacteria in your large intestine, which is essential for maintaining your gut’s health. Also, the lime ensures that the digestive enzymes are appropriately secreted, which finally aids in a rapid digestion rate.   

8. Kaffir lime leaves have anti-inflammatory properties.

Why You Need A Kaffir Lime Substitute?

Kaffir lime leaves aren’t always available throughout the year

Here are a few reasons you might need kaffir lime leaves substitutes.

  • Kaffir lime leaves aren’t always available throughout the year, which has become one reason for the rise in the need for substitutes.
  • Kaffir lime leaves are abundant in Southeast Asian countries but not so much around the world. A lot of people rely on a kaffir lime leaf substitute while cooking. 
  • One of the major disadvantages of the lime leaves is that they can lose their fragrance and the taste over time if kept in the open for too long. This is why you will always need to use the fresh leaves in your cooking or oil extraction. But, every time, you won’t be able to get fresh leaves from the plant, and that’s where you will need a substitute. 

What Are Various Substitutes Of Kaffir Lime Leaves?

Let us discuss the various herbs and spices you can use as kaffir lime leaves alternatives

Bay leaves

Bay leaves can be used in curries, broths and soups.

The flavor profile of kaffir lime leaves is much stronger than bay leaves. Even though bay leaves lack the citrusy punch of kaffir lime leaves, they do add a lovely flavor to a dish. Bay leaves have more floral notes than citrusy and can act as a great substitute in savory dishes. You can use bay leaves in a lot of dishes as a substitute –

  • Bay leaves are an excellent addition in the Italian pasta dishes when you make sauces.
  • Kaffir lime leaves can be substituted with bay leaves in curries.
  • Bay leaves can be added to your broths, stock and even rice preparations as a substitute.

Lime Zest – Lemon Zest

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The zest of limes and lemons adds a citrusy punch to any dish.

Lime or lemon zest is another great substitute for kaffir lime leaves used worldwide in most of the dishes. The lime zest is a great addition to many savory dishes and desserts as well. The zest provides the tanginess of the citrus family and a slight bitterness which enhances the overall taste. You can use lemon/lime zest in a lot of dishes as a substitute –

  • Use lemon or lime zest in desserts like pies and cakes.
  • Addition of zest to marinades and salad dressings can elevate the taste instantly.
  • Add zest to your crumb coating for a citrusy punch.

Lemon Thyme

Lemon thyme is one of the most used aromatic herbs in cuisines. It is considered a perfect Kaffir lime leaves replacement, thanks to its taste and aroma. The aroma and taste of lemon thyme is due to the presence of limonene and thymol. Regular thyme is a tad bit bitter than lemon thyme and the citrus flavors of lemon thyme cuts off bitterness to a certain level. You can use lemon thyme in a lot of dishes as a substitute –

  • Turn your butter into a herb butter by adding some lemon thyme to it. Simply infuse the lemon thyme branches into melted butter and keep it away for a couple of days. The leaves will release the taste and the aromatic molecules into the butter over the days. 
  • Another great way to use lemon thyme as a kaffir lime leaves substitute is by making a lemon thyme salt mix.
  • Adding lemon thyme to sauces, curries and broths will impart an excellent flavor.
  • You can mix the herb leaves with olive oil or mustard for the salad dressing.

Persian Limes

Persian limes have no seeds.

The Persian limes are a hybrid species and have no seeds. Green Persian limes (raw) the yellow Persian limes (ripened) can both be used as a kaffir lime leaves substitute. Use the juice of these limes to make beverages.


While some people also suggest using a mix of these herbs, some recommend curry leaves too. Depending on the cuisine and dish you are preparing, choose your kaffir lime leaves substitute with care. Each of the substitutes mentioned above provide their own signature taste and aroma. Hope this article provided you with some clarity about kaffir lime leaves substitutes.

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