Find the Best Curry Leaves Substitute for Your Dish

Running out of an important ingredient that a recipe requires can be very frustrating, especially when there’s no way to get it immediately. This is where substitutes come in handy to save the day. So if you are looking for curry leaves substitute, you are on the right page.

When the time doesn’t permit you to look around for curry leaves, don’t fret. There are several alternatives you can use in place of curry leaves in your recipe to get a perfect meal. Keep reading to discover 10 of these alternatives.

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What Are Curry Leaves?

Curry leaves are herbs that originate from South India. Even though the name seems related to curry powder, curry leaves are totally different in terms of taste and flavor. Curry leaves are flavorful herbs that are common in a South Indian kitchen. 

The leaves are also referred to as Sweet Neem Leaves and are glossy. You will always find them on a curry tree which you can easily plant in your garden. Curry leaves have a flavor profile that can give your meals a rich, complex flavor.

Curry leaves are a signature ingredient in southeast Asian cuisines like curries, rice dishes, and soups. It has a lemony scent, with a pungent taste, and a flavor profile that blends anise and lemongrass. 

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Curry Leaves Substitutes

1. Lime Zest

Lime Zest is known for its lemony taste and they provide the same flavor and taste as curry leaves. This is a good inexpensive substitute that you can use for your recipe. It will give your food a more complex profile with a citrusy taste. 

Lime zest is widely available in the market and very inexpensive. It is often combined with basil leaves to get the full flavor profile and blend for recipes. Lime zest is one of the best substitutes you can use in place of curry leaves as it offers the closest taste to curry leaves. 

Use one lime zest to substitute 8 curry leaves in your fish and seafood dishes. You can also use it for your stews, soups, sauces, dips, and even yogurt dips for optimal flavor effects. 

2. Makrut Lime Leaves

Also known as Kaffir lime leaves, makrut lime leaves have a similar taste to curry leaves that’s hard to tell apart. It offers your dish a delightful flavor with citrus notes. However, they are not edible and should only be used as an addition to recipes to give them flavor. 

There are three ways you can use makrut lime leaves in your recipe. You can either crush them, slice them or add them whole to your dishes. Use only 6 markut leaves in place of every 10 curry leaves your recipe requires. 

You can use makrut lime leaves to replace curry leaves in meat and fish dishes, salads, curries, rice dishes, coconut milk, soups, and stir-fries. 

3. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are a staple herb in most Indian cuisines. It is widely used in the preparation of Mediterranean and Indian cooking. The leaves are obtained from the Laurel plant and are available in fresh and dried forms. The sweet and citrusy taste makes it a close alternative to curry leaves. 

Bay leaves also have a minty, earthy, taste that will turn up the flavor profile of your dish. Use 1 bay leaf to replace every 5 curry leaves that your recipe requires. 

You can use bay leaves to replace curry leaves in your stews, soups, sauces, and casseroles. You can also use bay leaves to infuse flavors in stir fry veggies, beans, curries, salads, seafood, and Indian dishes. 

4. Lemon Zest

Here’s another curry leaves substitute you can use to infuse a similar flavor to your dish. The oil in lemon zest has a strong citrusy and tangy flavor and taste. This flavorful zest is always taken from the upper part of the lemon’s rind. 

You can use this flavorful zest to replace curry leaves in any dish ranging from Asian to European dish recipes. Use 1 thick lemon zest to replace every 8 curry leaves that your recipe requires. 

You can use lemon zest to substitute curry leaves in salads, dips, veggies, meats, rice dishes, broths, and other Asian dishes. 

5. Lemon Balm Leaves

Lemon balm leaves are also known as Melissa leaves. They have a fresh minty flavor that’s quite similar to curry leaves and the citrusy taste they give is no different too. You can never go wrong by replacing curry leaves with lemon balm leaves in your recipes. 

You can use it to substitute for the curry leaves recipe. Not only will you get a similar taste and flavor to curry leaves, but you also stand to enjoy some health benefits. It helps with indigestion, from bloating to relieving stomach upsets. 

Use 2 lemon balm leaves to replace every 3 curry leaves you need in your recipe. For a citrusy flavor infusion into your dishes, you can use lemon balm leaves in the preparation of your soups, salads, stuffings, meats, fish, and vegetables. 

6. Lime Leaves

Lime leaves are not a common substitute for curry leaves as they are not easy to find around. However, their aroma is the perfect fit for your dishes if you can get your hands on them. Lime leaves have an intense flavor profile with high notes of lemon flavor that are close to that of curry leaves. 

Due to its intense flavor profile, you have to use it sparingly in your dish when replacing curry leaves with it. Use only 6 lime leaves for every 10 curry leaves you need in your recipe. You can grind, slice, or use the leaves whole in your cooking. 

For a perfect food flavoring, you can use lime leaves to replace curry leaves when preparing stir-fry Asian dishes such as seafood, rice, curries, steaks, and so on. 

7. Basil Leaves

Here’s another staple ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Basil leaves can be a great alternative to run to when you can’t get your hands on any curry leaves for your recipe. Basil had a sweet, floral flavor so it may not give you the perfect taste you want. However, it is still a great addition to your curry leave recipes. 

With the help of some lemon juice, you can easily use Basil leaves to achieve a similar flavor profile to curry leaves. The lemon juice will give it the tangy and citrusy taste your recipe needs. You can use it in any Asian or Mediterranean dish to achieve a citrusy and tangy flavor. 

Use equal parts of basil leaves to replace curry leaves in your recipe. You can use it for fresh salads, vegetables, yogurt dips, and other Asian recipes that require curry leaves. Don’t forget to add a drop or two of lemon or lime juice to the dish. 

8. Daun Salam Leaves

Daun Salam leaves are the least popular alternative to curry leaves. These leaves are not very popular and you may not find them around easily. However, it works great in dishes with its cinnamon flavor. It has a distinct aroma with a powerful blend of spicy, sweet, minty, and earthy tastes. 

You can use up to four Daun Salam leaves to replace 1 curry leaf in your recipe. It works great in meaty dishes and vegetables.


Is curry leaf the same as curry powder? 

No, it isn’t. Despite having similar names, curry leaf and curry powder are two different ingredients. While curry powders are a spice mix that combines cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and coriander, curry leaf is an herb that grows on a curry tree. 

Curry leaves originate from southern India while curry powder is an invention from the British made with a combination of spices to add flavor to Indian dishes. 

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Do curry leaves have health benefits?

Yes, it does. Curry leaves are often used in the Ayurvedic medicine approach to healing popular in India. They contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to health. Additionally, they have a high iron content that can help with anemia. 

That’s not all, curry leaves can also help to reduce blood sugar levels. Likewise, it can help to regulate cholesterol, making it a good anti-diabetic treatment. 

What is the best curry leaf substitute?

Lime Zest. It is considered the best curry leaves substitute you can find around. Its availability is not the only reason, it is also inexpensive and can give your food a closely similar taste and flavor to curry leaves.


Even though you cannot get the exact taste of curry leaves with an alternative, the recommended substitutes in this article will go great in your dishes. Lime zest and lemon zest are the best alternatives to try as they will give you a closely similar taste to curry leaves. 

Use the right amount of alternatives to substitute for curry leaves in your recipe and you won’t get disappointed. These substitutes will help to infuse the right flavor profile similar to curry leaves for your dishes. 

Thanks for reading.

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