7 Best Pandanus Leaf Substitutes

pandanus leaf

Pandan, also known as screwpine, are herbs with long leaves which are common for the cuisine of South Asia and Southeast Asia. They give aroma and color to your cooking.

Pandanas leaves are green leaves that are collected from Screwpine or Pandanas trees. They have a very sweet taste, but the aroma that comes from the leaves is actually what makes them special and even overwhelms the taste.

These leaves are usually used in cooking to flavor rice, also they are used in puddings and any other desserts. Also, since they give color to the dish, they are used for pigment as well.

Further, what is important that you need to know is that even though they are leaves and grow like weeds, they can’t be used for drinking like making tea. They are also used for medicine.

However, if there are no leaves at reach, is there a replacement? Can I substitute Pandanus leaves? Sure you can. It may be harder to replace them, but they are not irreplaceable.

The best replacements include vanilla beans, matcha tea, collard greens, ginger, Pandanas essence, cilantro, and celery leaves. These replacements will make your dish very delicious, as well as some of them, can imitate the leaves because of their green color.

Go through the list and pick something that will suit best in your recipe.

Pandanus Leaf Substitutes

As we stated, it may be difficult for you to find pandanus leaves. But they might be hard to find depending on the place that you live.

So that means that if you choose a recipe that requires pandan leave you’ll need to find the best replacement on the market. Actually like any other ingredient in your recipes and when cooking, also for these leaves you can find the best substitutes such as the following.

1. Vanilla beans

Vanilla beans

The pods that grow on vanilla orchids just like the wine are a good replacement for these leaves. You can also use vanilla extract as a cheaper version since the beans tend to be costly.

The vanilla provides a similar taste and aroma just like the pandan leaves. Also, if you have a vanilla paste that can serve as a replacement as well.

2. Matcha tea

Matcha tea

Matcha is an ideal replacement for pandan leaves. It is a highly concentrated green tea made from green tea leaves that are specially grown in East Asia and finely grounded.

Just like the leaves, matcha tea can add green color to your meal. However, it will also add caffeine. Meaning, you need to be careful how much you add since it has a bitter taste.

This tea is also considered to be very healthy. 

3. Collard greens

Collard greens

An important ingredient from the southern kitchen is the collard greens. They can serve as a great replacement for pandan leaves.

These greens come from the cabbage family. However, before you use them in your cooking, make sure to remove the hard stems.

They have a very similar taste to cabbage and are considered to be very healthy. These greens can fit well in almost every savory dish and can replace the pandan leaves.

And since their leaves are green, this is another similarity that can imitate the pandan leaves and it will provide a similar taste.

4. Ginger


Pandan leaves can also be replaced by ginger. The fresh flavors of the ginger which are sweet and peppery can easily replace the leaves in most recipes.

Make sure to use a freshly, young ginger so the taste will be very similar.

Ginger mellows when it’s cooked and it can turn bitter if you burn it, so make sure to cook it to the proper amount. Replace in almost every recipe and add the proper amount.

5. Pandanas essence

This replacement is also common in Southeast Asian cuisine. Pandanas essence is another easy way to replace pandan leaves in your cooking.

If you want to get almost the same aroma as if you have used pandan leaves, then pandan essence is what you are looking for. The taste of this product is a combination of coconut and walnuts and can easily adapt to your cooking. 

6. Cilantro


Part of the parsley family and a way to replace pandan leaves is by using cilantro. It is an annual plant that originates from southern Europe and some portion of Asia.

The leaves of the cilantro are shiny and flat and are usually used in salads, salsas, or soups. You can use them in almost every recipe that calls for pandan leaves.

Cilantro is a staple in Thai and Mexican dishes. 

7. Celery leaves

Celery leaves

A native herb from the Mediterranean area is another substitute for pandan leaves.

The celery leaves have a distinctive taste and can be used to replace pandan leaves in different recipes. They also have a dark green color which is similar to the pandan leaves.

Moreover, you can use them to prepare salads, turn them into soups, risotto, or any other recipes that call for pandan leaves.

Related Questions

Are pandan leaves the same as banana leaves?

Even though pandan leaves and banana leaves may look like they are the same, actually they are not. They are used similarly. However, pandan is thinner, whereas the banana leaf is thicker.

Are Pandan and Lemongrass the same?

Pandan leaves and lemongrass might look the same but they are totally different. They are typically combined especially for making tea. Also, you should know that they may increase your health and may benefit you. 

Is pandan leaf edible?

The one pandan that is used in the Southeast of Asia is the pandan that is edible. Actually, the leaves themselves are not edible. You can use pandan to cook sweet and savory dishes.

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