7 Best Pandanus Leaf Substitutes

Pandan leaves, also known as the screw pine, are herbs that consist of long leaves. This leafy vegetable is very common in south Asia and southeast Asian cuisines.

After these leaves are collected from the screw pine on Pandanus trees, they are then used in dishes to add a sweet taste and amazing color. These leaves are used to add flavor to rice and some desserts.

Sadly, pandanus leaves are not very common in some parts of the world, which is where other pandanus leaf substitutes, such as collard greens, pandanus essence, cilantro, celery, matcha tea, vanilla beans, and ginger comes in.

These are the most suitable alternatives to pandanus leaf that you can always use when you suddenly run out of it at home. Now, let’s quickly learn more about these options and how to use them in place of pandanus!

What Are Pandanus Leaves?

Pandanus leaves are the long and green leaves that are gotten from the spine tree or the pandanus tree and have a sweet aroma which led to its popularity in many dishes.

These leaves originate mainly from southeastern Asia and can be used to flavor rice and several other desserts.

These leaves are highly pigmented. Therefore, it can be used as a food coloring, and its water can be extracted and used to make pandanus juice.

These leaves are popular in countries like Thai, Europe, and Sri Lanka, and due to their versatility, you can also use them medically to cure certain ailments.

See Also: Substitutes for Challah Bread

Best Pandanus Leaf Substitutes

1. Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans refer to the pods that can be seen growing on the vanilla orchids, and it’s one of the best pandanus leaf substitutes. However, you can also use vanilla extracts as this option is somewhat costly.

If you are very familiar with the taste and aroma of pandanus leaves, you should notice that vanilla beans taste very similar; you should try them sometimes.

2. Matcha Tea

Matcha tea is the ideal replacement for the pandanus leaves. It is made with concentrated green tea leaves grown in the eastern part of Asia and then ground finely to a powder.

This substitute is not so similar to the pandanus in taste as it is slightly bitter, but it is very hard to differentiate one from the other when it comes to looking.

Matcha tea leaves have high caffeine content so when substituting it, make sure it is done in moderation, so your tea does not get too bitter. It can be very healthy medically if you do not mind the taste.

See Also: 11 Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

3. Collard Greens

A very important ingredient from the southern kitchen is our collards of greens. These greens come from the cabbage family and can serve as green substitutes for the pandanus leaves but before using them in your recipes, make sure you remove the stems; those parts are not edible.

They taste similar to cabbage and are considered healthy medically. What’s more about this substitute is that it can fit well into any recipe without looking off, and because its leaves are green, it can also mimic the pandanus leaves effortlessly in salads.

4. Ginger

Many of us might not have been expecting this one, but ginger can also serve as an amazing substitute for pandanus leaves. The flavors of fresh ginger, which are usually sweet and peppery, can easily replace the taste of these leaves in a lot of recipes.

When using ginger as a substitute, make sure you use a freshly cut ginger, and you shouldn’t be worried if it seems too bitter; the taste of ginger mellows whenever it is cooked, but you should ensure that it does not get burnt during cooking because when burnt, its ca taste very bitter, and you wouldn’t want that.

5. Pandanas Essence

pandanus essence is one of the most common replacements for pandanus leaves in many southeastern dishes. Pandanus essence is another easy way to replace these leaves in your cooking and get the same aroma you sought.

The taste of this essence is like mixed walnuts and coconuts, and the taste similarity is very striking. The only difference between the real leaves and this essence is that it wouldn’t give you a fresh tart taste like fresh leaves.

6. Cilantro

Cilantro is a part of the pandanus family, so replacing the pandanus leaves with it does not seem weird. Cilantro is a plant that grows within one year and is said to have originated in southern Europe and some parts of Asia.

The leaves of this cilantro are shiny and flat, and they are majorly used in salads, salsas, and soups. You can use this substitute in almost every recipe that calls for the pandan leaves without feeling off because these leaves are also stapled in Thai dishes and Mexican.

See Also: 6 Best Anaheim Pepper Substitutes

7. Celery Leaves

Celery is another herb that has its origin in the Mediterranean and can serve as an amazing substitute for the pandanus leaves.

You can use the distinctive taste of the celery leaves to replace pandanus in almost every recipe that calls for it, and its dark green color is similar to the pandan leaves.

You can use these leaves in preparing salads, risottos, soups, ad any other recipe that calls for the inclusion of pandanus leaves without any noticeable difference observed.

What Are Pandanus Leaves Used For?

There are many health benefits associated with these pandanus leaves, even if it is majorly used in food applications. Some well-known uses of the pandanus leaves are;

Food Flavorings

These leaves are used in Malaysia majorly as a food flavoring, either in the coconut leaves or the chicken rice. Its amazing flavor and aroma bring out the earthiness in these dishes.

Food Coloring

Many local Malaysian cakes are also made from the extract of pandanus juice. To make this juice, all you need to do is cut the pandanus leaves into smaller bits, blend in a blender after adding water, and then, when finely blended, get the juicy part by sieving it through a sieve.

Food Wraps

Pandanus leaves are also amazing for wrapping your cooked or roasted foods. An example of a food that uses pandanus leaf as wrapping is the kuih tako. The casing is made with wrapped pandanus leaves, while the pandan chicken is roasted and wrapped inside.

Medicinal Uses

Pandanus leaves have been very useful for a while now; it is said to be used as a medicinal bath for women after childbirth, and you can use them to treat diabetes and sore throats.

Related Questions

Is Pandanus and Lemon Grass the Same?

No, they are not the same. Pandanus leaves smell more like grassy vanilla, while lemon grass has a grassy smell also but is also lemony. Lemon grass is used in most dishes to give your dish a tinge of citrus, while the pandanus leaves give off a sweet vanilla aroma.

What Flavor Is Pandan?

The taste of the pandanus leaves is naturally sweet and has a soft aroma. The strong flavor of this leaf is grassy, with some hints of rose, vanilla, and almond. These leaves share a similar flavor profile with basmati rice.

What Are the Benefits of Lemon Grass and Pandan Leaves?

The tasty and unique combination between these two grassy provides an amazing tea combination. The sweet and earthy aroma of the pandan leaves combines with the lemony and earthy flavor of the lemongrass to provide you with a lot of health benefits.

These two are known to reduce cholesterol levels, relieve constipation attacks, and relieve stress.

What are pandan leaves called in India?

In India, these leaves are known as anaphora leaves, and their major use in India is wrapping foods. It is used to wrap your roasted fish and chicken.

Does Lemon Grass Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Yes, it does. It is the most widely used mosquito repellent, and it is a major ingredient in some other repellants found in candles, sprays, and lotions. Its strong fragrance helps deter mosquitoes, so along with your home, you can plant lemon grass leaves and be safe from mosquitoes.

What Is Basmati Leaf?

Pandan leaf is commonly known as the basmati leaf because it has the same aroma as the basmati rice; you can take a few strands f this leaf and add them to your ordinary rice dish and watch its scent and taste like the basmati rice. It would help if you tried this sometimes.

Does Lemon Grass Spread?

Lemon grass is one of the fastest spreading leaves you can come across. It spreads quickly and fills a flower pot in a very short time so when planting these, ensure that you have enough space.

See Also: 9 Best Chile De Arbol Substitutes


If you are unable to find pandanus leaves in your area, this substitute is sure to do the trick, and if used wisely, these substitutes are not going to be affecting the taste and texture of your dishes and make them taste off.

If you sought a substitute that has a similar taste to pandanus leaves, then use taste-based recipes, and if the consistency or appearance is what you are after, you can use flavor-based substitutes.