Lemongrass Paste Uses

Lemongrass paste is a versatile ingredient used in many cuisines. Its citrusy, ginger-like flavor pairs well with seafood, poultry, beef, and vegetables.

Lemongrass Paste Uses

This aromatic paste also makes a nutritious addition to soups, curries, marinades, dressings, and even baked goods.

Origins and Flavor Profile

Lemongrass is a tropical grass that grows in hot climates like Southeast Asia. The most usable part is the lower stalk, which gets chopped and ground into a smooth, easy-to-use paste.

Fresh lemongrass has a bold, lemony aroma with hints of ginger, mint, and citronella. The flavor is simultaneously tart and sweet, with an underlying spiciness. Drying and grinding the stalks concentrates these flavors while toning down bitterness.

Lemongrass paste delivers a bright pop of flavor to all kinds of recipes:

  • Soups and curries
  • Salad dressings and marinades
  • Stir fries and sautés
  • Stews and braises
  • Baked goods and desserts

It also makes a refreshing addition to hot or iced tea. Keep reading for creative ways to cook with premade or homemade lemongrass paste!

Buying and Storing Lemongrass Paste

You can purchase prepared lemongrass paste at the supermarket, often in tubes near the fresh herbs. Asian grocers may offer their own house-made pastes too. Once opened, store lemon grass paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

For the freshest, boldest flavor, consider making your own paste at home. You'll find a simple DIY method later in this article.

Key Takeaway: Find lemongrass paste in the fresh herb section or make your own for bolder flavor. Store opened paste in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Lemongrass Paste Recipe Uses

Lemongrass paste shines in Asian recipes, lending its citrusy aroma and spicy undertones. It pairs especially well with coconut milk, ginger, fish sauce, chiles, cilantro, basil, mint, and lime.

Check out some popular ways to use lemongrass paste:

Soups and Curries

Lemongrass is a cornerstone ingredient in many Thai and Vietnamese soups. It adds complexity to rich coconut-based curries too.

For example, Tom Yum soup gets its trademark sour-spicy broth from lemongrass stalks simmered with lime juice, chiles, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and mushrooms.

Meanwhile, Thai curries like red, green, yellow, and massaman start with a curry paste featuring lemongrass. It mingles with the coconut milk for a creamy, gingery base.

With prepared lemongrass paste, you can shortcut lengthy soup and curry recipes without sacrificing flavor.

Stir Fries

A spoonful of lemongrass paste brings Thai inspiration to meat and veggie stir fries. It pairs especially well with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, and tofu.

For a quick lemongrass beef, just sauté strips of flank steak with onions and peppers. Season with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and lemongrass paste before serving over rice.

You can also make fragrant lemongrass chicken by velveting chopped chicken breast, then stir frying it with snap peas, baby corn, and lemongrass paste. Finish with a splash of coconut milk.

Marinades and Dressings

The tart, gingery notes of lemongrass paste make it a stellar addition to marinades for chicken, fish, pork, or tempeh.

For a tasty lemongrass pork tenderloin, combine lemongrass paste with garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce, vegetable oil, and lime zest. Let pork marinate for 1-2 hours before grilling or roasting.

You can also blend lemongrass paste into tangy salad dressings, like this zesty vinaigrette:

Lemongrass Vinaigrette

  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1⁄4 tsp chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients until emulsified, then drizzle over any salad.

Desserts and Drinks

Surprise your guests by adding lemongrass paste to sweet treats like cookies, cakes, and frozen desserts. A little goes a long way to provide subtle gingery brightness.

You can also sip lemongrass paste in hot tea, iced tea, lemonade, and cocktails like mojitos or Thai basil smashes (just muddle lemongrass paste with basil leaves, rum, simple syrup, and lime).

Check out this easy Lemongrass Iced Tea for a refreshing pick-me-up:

Lemongrass Iced Tea

  • 5 cups water
  • 3 black tea bags
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 1⁄4 cup lemon juice

Steep tea bags in hot water for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar until dissolved, then chill tea completely. Stir in lemongrass paste and lemon juice. Serve over ice.

Making Homemade Lemongrass Paste

While convenient, store-bought pastes lose potency over time. Making your own allows you to control quality and tailor flavor to your taste.

With just three ingredients, you can have homemade lemongrass paste in minutes:

Homemade Lemongrass Paste

  • 4 lemongrass stalks, lower 6 inches only
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt

Trim and peel outer layers from lemongrass stalks. Cut into 1-inch pieces. In a mini food processor, pulse lemongrass with shallot, garlic, oil and salt until a thick paste forms, about 2 minutes.

Scrape paste into a jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for longer storage. Use in any recipe that calls for lemongrass paste!

Key Takeaway: With just 5 basic ingredients, you can easily make fresh lemongrass paste at home to control quality and flavor.


Is lemongrass paste spicy?

Lemongrass itself is not spicy; rather, it has subtle gingery heat with bright lemon notes. However, prepared pastes sometimes contain other hot ingredients like chiles and peppercorns. Check labels and taste a little paste before adding it to heat-sensitive dishes.

What's the difference between lemongrass stalks vs. paste?

Lemongrass stalks are very fibrous, so they usually get removed after infusing flavor during cooking. Grinding the stalks into a paste makes lemongrass easier to incorporate seamlessly into recipes. The paste delivers the same aromatic flavor in a smooth, convenient form.

How much lemongrass paste equals one stalk?

In general, 1 tablespoon of prepared lemongrass paste equals 3 trimmed lemongrass stalks. So if a recipe calls for "2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped" you can substitute in 2 tablespoons paste. Start with less paste than you think you need, tasting as you go until the flavor balances out.

What proteins and vegetables pair well with lemongrass?

Lemongrass paste pairs wonderfully with salmon, halibut, tuna, shrimp, chicken, pork, beef, and tofu. It also tastes great with onions, garlic, carrots, snap peas, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, and leafy greens.

Can you bake or grill with lemongrass paste?

Yes! Lemongrass paste makes a superb addition to marinades and glazes for grilled, broiled, roasted, and baked poultry, meat, fish, and tofu. Mix it into burger blends or stir some into barbecue sauce too.


From Thai curries to summery iced tea, lemongrass paste adds bright flavor and aroma to both sweet and savory recipes.

Its versatility makes it a pantry staple for home cooks. Experiment with it across diverse cuisines to enhance everything from pork roast to fruit salad.

For the best quality and value, consider making your own lemongrass paste using fresh herbs and simple ingredients.

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