Are you out of lemon balm? If you are and you’re looking for a substitute for lemon balm, then you’re in luck because we have five options available for you.
Lemon balm also known as balm mint is an aromatic perennial herb from the mint family. This herb is native to Europe and Northern Africa and has a citrusy flavor with hints of mint. Lemon balm is used in many ways including as a tea, seafood, sauces, soups, stews and more.
However, if you’re preparing a dish that calls for lemon balm and you have none you may be wondering if there are other similar herbs or food items that can work in its place. Thankfully there are and you can check them out below.
Best Substitutes For Lemon Balm
If you happen to have lemongrass on hand, you can use this aromatic herb as a replacement for lemon balm. Lemongrass is also an aromatic herb that has a herbal, lemony flavor with hints of mint and ginger.
This herb also works well in seafood, sauces, soups, stews and many other recipes where lemon balm is used. Therefore, if you’re out of lemon balm, but you have lemon grass, simply make a quick swap.
Lemongrass is usually added to dishes to impart its lovely lemon scented aroma, then discarded before the dish is served. This is so because the outer layers of lemongrass stalks are hard and inedible. However, if you don’t want to have to find and discard lemongrass stalks, simply peel off and discard all of the outer husks of the lemongrass stalk (all the hard pieces) until you’re left with the most inner husk, which is soft and edible. Chop these up nicely and add to your dish for the wonderful lemon scent.
Another herb with a lemon-like flavor that can work in place of lemon balm is lemon verbena. Lemon verbena will add a nice intense citrusy flavor to marinades, sauces, soups, stews and more.
Lemon verbena does lack the note of mint-like flavor that you can find in lemon balm but it is an okay sub to use.
In a pinch, you can also use lemon thyme as a substitute for lemon balm as well. Lemon thyme also called citrus thyme, is a lemon-scented hybrid thyme that also has earthy, minty and floral notes. It is popularly used to add flavor to seafood, vegetables, poultry, marinades, soups, stews, sauces and even for garnishing.
Because of its similar uses and similar lemony flavor, it makes a great stand in for lemon balm in a pinch.
Lemon bee balm
Lemon bee balm can also be used as a substitute for lemon balm. Lemon bee balm and lemon balm are not the same herb although they are both members of the mint family. Lemon bee balm is a larger plant that produces lavender, red or pink flowers, while lemon balm has smaller leaves and produces smaller white flowers.
Lemon bee balm has a lemon-like flavor and can thus add this lemony flavor to many foods including green salads, herbed breads, muffins, and even for making teas, for cocktails, in meats and in spice blends.
Lemon zest + mint leaves
Last, but by no means least, if you can find some lemon zest or fresh lemon peel and mint leaves, the combination can make a suitable stand in for lemon balm as well. The lemon zest will add that citrusy flavor and the mint leaves will add the minty flavor.
To make this concoction, 2 teaspoons of freshly chopped mint leaves and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest is ideal to replace 1 tablespoon of lemon balm in marinades and for meats.
FAQs about lemon balm substitutes
What can I use instead of lemon balm?
There are at least 5 other items you can use instead of lemon balm. These include lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemon thyme, lemon bee balm and lemon zest + mint leaves.
Is mint the same as lemon balm?
No, they are not the same. While they come from the same family called the mint family and tend to look quite similar to an untrained eye, mint and lemon balm are not the same herbs. Mint is subtly sweet with a menthol-like cooling effect left on the tongue, while lemon balm has a lemon-like flavor with subtle mint undertones.
These are the 5 great ways to replace lemon balm. A few of the substitutes can be used in a straightforward way as a lemon balm alternative as they are lemon scented herbs from the same family. While others are homemade concoctions that take a little adjusting. Regardless of which one you have available or plan to use, these substitutes actually work and can add that nice citrusy flavor to your dishes or teas.