Inside the Spice Cabinet: Makrut Lime Leaves

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Jerrelle Guy)

These distinctly aromatic leaves, sometimes referred to simply as lime leaves, have a unique lemon-lime flavor that you may have experienced if you’ve ever eaten Thai food.

What Are Makrut Lime Leaves?

Taste: Sour
Most Popular Use: Sauces, soups

Native to Southeast Asia, makrut lime leaves can be used fresh, dried, or even frozen. The deep green leaves are quite tough, with an intense, fresh citrus aroma.

Fresh leaves can keep for several days in the refrigerator, but if you wait too long, they will turn brown. If you don’t use the leaves right away, store them in a sealed bag in the freezer or lay them out to air dry and then store them in an airtight spice jar, away from heat and light.

More About the Name

Makrut lime is the Southeast Asian term for what you may already know as kaffir lime. What many people aren’t aware of, is that this name is quite offensive. No one is quite sure exactly where the name kaffir lime originated — but are certain its hurtful to certain communities. To that effect we no longer use designation, instead referring to these aromatic leaves as makrut lime leaves, or simply lime leaves.

How To Use Makrut Lime Leaves

Makrut limes leaves are commonly used in soups, sauces, curries, and fish dishes. They’re most widely used in Thai cooking, but can also be found in Laotian, Cambodian, and Indonesian cuisines. The leaves can be used whole or thinly sliced to impart flavor, and similar to bay leaves, these tough herbs are typically removed from the dish before eating.

Recipes for Coking with Makrut Lime Leaves