Galangal is a member of the ginger family, native to Indonesia.
It is very similar to root ginger, and also has a similar flavor, and is usually used as a spice in Indonesian and South Asian cooking. It can be found in the vegetable section and is freshly minced or grated into dishes such as curries, stir-fries, and noodle dishes.
Although it is widely available in Asia, you might not find it in every supermarket. But you can substitute galangal for many other ingredients if needed.
Knowing what spices to use as a replacement is a great skill to have, and will take you further in all your cooking. Other spices have similar flavors, like ginger. And knowing this will make it easy to substitute spices for any recipe.
Keep reading on for more tips about substituting galangal.
Best Galangal Substitutes
Although galangal has a unique flavor, it’s not irreplaceable. You can easily replace it with some of the next ingredients and save your recipe.
The best substitute for galangal is ginger, as they have a similar look and flavor profile.
Ginger will provide an incredible flavor to your dish and will replace galangal perfectly in curries and stir-fries. It can also be prepared the same way, whether it needs to be chopped, diced, or grated.
Galangal has a slightly spicy, yet minty flavor, and ginger has a similar flavor to galangal which makes it a perfect substitute. You can easily find it in supermarkets, whether you need fresh or dried ginger.
You can also add fresh lime leaves along with ginger to provide even more flavor to your dishes and replicate the galangal flavor even more.
Fingerroot, ginger, and galangal are members of the same family, so fingerroot is another great substitute if galangal cannot be found.
It looks like a long finger and resembles a thinner carrot, with a slight orange color. So, it doesn’t look the same as galangal but still has a similar, pungent flavor.
It is used as medicine in many parts of Asia due to its healing properties. Fingerroot is used in many Thai and Asian curries and can be substituted for galangal in any dish that you need, as it will still deliver a good flavor.
To substitute, you will need about half the amount of fingerroot to galangal.
Lemongrass is used in a lot of Thai cooking and has a fragrant, pungent flavor perfect for curries and stir-fries. A pinch of lemongrass is the perfect galangal replacement, and will also add great flavor to many curries, soups, or dishes that you are making.
Lemongrass can also be put in tea if you have a lot left.
4. Black or white pepper
Peppers can be used to make dishes a little spicier and add flavor. So, any pepper can be used instead of galanga to give it that slightly spicy kick. Pepper can also give slightly citrus notes, making it a good replacement for galangal.
It will not replicate the same flavor. But will still add something to any dish you prepare. White pepper has a milder flavor, whereas black pepper is more pronounced.
Use a pinch or two of pepper in replacement to galangal in your dish.
5. Cinnamon and mace
Cinnamon is a spice that can substitute galangal and will help replicate the galangal flavor if combined with mace.
None of these spices are related. However, cinnamon and mace together help replicate the galangal flavor. It will also add a depth of flavor to curries, stir-fries, or dishes that require galangal.
Cinnamon also has a warm flavor which is perfect for richer stews and curries. The two together produce a mild citrus flavor that is reminiscent of galangal.
6. Galangal paste
If you can’t find fresh galangal, galangal paste is a perfect replacement because it can be stored and used whenever. This can usually be found in supermarkets. You can also make your own galangal paste by bulk buying galangal and purring it in a food processor.
You can freeze it for up to 6 months and use it accordingly. Galangal paste is essentially the flavor of galangal, but more concentrated, and it can be used in any dish as a replacement.
7. Kaffir lime leaves
Kaffir Lime Leaves are used in a lot of Thai and Asian cooking due to their slightly bitter, citrusy flavor, and are often added to curries and stir-fries.
They have a citrusy flavor, thus they can also be used as a substitute for galangal, and will still deliver a great flavor for your curry or stir fry.
If you have extra, you can also use kaffir lime leaves as a garnish to any dish to give it a pop of color and freshness.
8. Galangal powder
You can buy galangal powder and use it instead of galangal. If it isn’t available in the spice section of your local supermarket, you can find it online.
One good thing about galangal powder is that it lasts a long time. So, you can use it many times before running out in all recipes to get that same galangal flavor.
The only disadvantage is that it is not as flavorful as fresh. But if needed, galangal powder is a good replacement for fresh galangal.
9. Ginger powder
This powder is the best alternative to galangal because of its flavor profile. So, if you can’t find ginger either, you can use ginger powder instead.
Ginger has the same citrus notes as galangal and is quite similar. And although fresh ginger would be better, the ginger powder would still deliver great results in any curry or stir fry.
10. Cinnamon and ginger
Cinnamon and mace have been talked about before. However, if you’re looking to imitate the galangal flavor without the mace, try ginger instead.
When you combine cinnamon and ginger, they do a good job of replicating the galangal flavor to any dish. The two spices can substitute galangal in curries, stir fry, or other dishes.
Can I use turmeric instead of galangal?
Turmeric is a much less pungent spice than galangal. It also has a bright orange color that makes it distinctive in any dish.
Although they do not have the same flavor, you can use turmeric if needed, as long as you use another spice as well, such as ginger.
Turmeric will give your dish a vibrant orange color as well.
Are galangal and ginger the same?
Galangal and ginger come from the same family and look very similar, but they are not exactly the same. You can use them interchangeably due to their similar looks and flavors, so if you don’t have ginger and you need it, you can use galangal in your dish instead and vice versa.
What does galangal taste like?
Galangal has a pungent taste with citrusy and slightly spicy notes, a lot like ginger.
It is slightly more pungent than ginger and has a slightly more pronounced flavor. Galangal can also be compared to pepper, as it has quite a peppery, sharp taste.
Can you use galangal in place of ginger?
Yes, you can use galangal in place of ginger, as the two have similar flavor profiles and you can prepare them the same way. If you’re using galangal, you may want to use a little less at first as the flavor is slightly more pungent than ginger, and you don’t want to overpower your dish.
Where does galangal originate from?
Galangal root is native to China, Thailand, and Indonesia, which is why it is such a popular root to flavor Asian dishes, specifically Thai curries, and noodle dishes.
Galangal is a fragrant root and adds to the flavor profile of South-East Asian curries and soups, giving it a distinct slightly pungent, citrus flavor that is unique to South-East Asian cooking.