When Life Gives You Lemongrass …

When life gives you lemongrass, make … I have absolutely NO idea.

For the second time in the past few years I planted lemongrass in my front yard because in my imaginary world I cook a LOT with lemongrass.  Mainly I do a lot of chicken and dips plus I’ve learned how to distill the essential oils from it, so the possibilities with THAT are endless.

Unfortunately as I said this is in my imaginary world.

In my real world I grow lemongrass, cut its stalks off, put them in the freezer and then throw them out when I need to make room for ice cream.


And no. Not lemongrass ice cream.

This year I anticipate it will be the same as I’m already conjuring up images of myself pounding out my lemongrass stalks into a concoction of ginger, soy and chile flakes. I’m also conjuring me making dinner in a pair of Artemis shoes that I don’t own while holding a glass of wine which I don’t drink.  Yup. My imaginary world strikes again.

After hacking off some of my lemongrass stalks (just cut them barely above soil level) and bringing it inside I thought I may need to call in help for this one.  It’s not that I don’t  know how to cook with lemongrass and I usually have all the ingredients that go well with it, it’s just that I haven’t got into the habit of cooking with it.

And also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but lemongrass recipes, even the simplest ones, tend to part of recipes that require 897 other ingredients.  It’s never like, “Add the lemongrass to your other 3 ingredients“. It’s always, “Step 54: Add lemongrass to freshly secured fish eyeballs, making sure not to disturb your homemade fermented tequila tinged miso paste.”

So I never (or rarely( cook with lemongrass.

To try to head this off at the pass I’m hoping you’re going to be able to help me out and lead me in the right direction.

Do YOU have a recipe that includes lemongrass that you love?  Does it have less than 897 ingredients and does it take fewer than 4 days to make it?

I’m hoping you do.

Because if you don’t, I might as well forego the whole freezer facade and stock up on ice cream.

Have a good weekend!


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  1. Sarah McDonnell says:

    you can faux distill by putting lemongrass ( or any other herb) in a simmering pot of water with a smaller can or wide jar in the middle above the water line. Put an upside down lid on the simmering pot so that the vapor catches and runs down the lid to drip into the smaller can or jar. It’s not as strong or consistent as buying EO on Amazon. But if life gives you lemongrass, make lemon…um…floor cleaner?? Paste wax?? Bath oil?? It works with flower petals, too. Don’t get excited because it takes a LOT of petals to make a teeny something.

  2. Peter says:

    Ice cream goes with most things and is usually looked forward to. Lemongrass is not =, so forgo the angst and stock up on ice cream

  3. Carly says:

    I’m not a fan of the taste of lemongrass – as others have said it’s too soapy! The only way I have been okay with it was as a skewer for meats and veggies. I can’t recall where I got that idea (was it you?!) but I’ve used it to make kebabs and it infuses *just* enough lemongrass-y flavor into whatever it’s skewered into that I enjoy it. Meat, fish, veggies, whatever you like!

  4. Jo says:

    Oh! And how does it ‘age’ in the fall? Do you cut all the fronds?

  5. Jo says:

    Thanks to everyone for the recipes and other suggestions!
    I TOO would like to know about how you grow lemongrass in Ontario Zone 5-ish?
    Maybe 6.
    As an annual plant from nursery? From seed? Or does it actually succeed as a perennial where you are?
    Whether or not I use it in recipes or other concoctions or it would be nice too as a tantalizing ingredient in my own Imaginary life, I would like to plant a sweet lemony smelling grass that has Potential Uses…

  6. Mary from Barrie says:

    I grew 3 pots of lemongrass this summer and was just going to throw them away. But now you tell me I can freeze it?! And then throw it away later hahaha.

  7. Carolyn says:

    Happy to see this post because I never thought of freezing it for one thing and I had the same dilemma as you. The main think I was using it for is loose tea. I grow stevia and mint and use: 2 cups dried mint to 1/2 cup dried chopped lemon grass to 1/4 cup dried crushed stevia leaves. Makes a nice sweet tea. Great for gifts and does not have an aftertaste.

  8. Teri on The Left Coast says:

    I did not know lemongrass could grow in Canada. Never even thought about it. Just assumed it was tropical. Now looking for a start.
    Also, please ‘splain how your secateurs are so clean and new looking? Unless of course that is a, no doubt well deserved, new pair. Mine look like, how can I put this? — old friends. And that is after I’ve replaced the cutting bits and spring with spare parts from Lee Valley.

    • Karen says:

      I’m not sure! They’re just my regular secateurs. I mean, I try not to cut asphalt with them and never molasses but other than that … no special treatment. ~ karen!

  9. Dave says:

    On Sunday evenings we make our lunches to take to work for the week. This is one of our favourites. I guess you could cut back the portions, but seriously, you’ll want to eat this every day until it’s all gone.

    Thai Coconut Curry Chicken
    Makes about 10 manly servings

    1 Costco tray of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or whatever you like, with skin, breasts, whatever)
    Salt & pepper to taste
    4 tablespoons butter
    4 14oz cans of coconut milk
    4 tablespoons corn starch
    1 141g box of creamed coconut
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    2 tablespoons minced ginger
    ½ cup red curry paste
    3 large onions, chopped
    6 carrots, sliced
    3 red peppers, chopped
    4 cups sugar snap peas, stem end and thick vein removed
    4-5 sticks lemongrass, dry end and outer leaf removed, chop into 3 or 4 sections
    2-3 cups mushrooms, quartered
    Juice of 2 limes
    2 tablespoons fish sauce
    2 teaspoons sugar
    3 Thai chilli peppers, seeded and minced
    ½ cup chopped cilantro

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Season chicken with salt & pepper.
    Melt butter in large oven proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat.
    Sear chicken until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
    Remove extra fat from pan if using chicken with skin.
    In a large bowl, whisk coconut milk and corn starch and set aside.
    Add garlic and ginger to pan and cook a minute or two.
    Whisk in curry paste until well combined.
    Add onion and carrots, cook until onions just start to soften.
    Add peppers, sugar snap peas, lemongrass and mushrooms and cook for a minute or two.
    Add coconut milk mixture and creamed coconut and stir until well incorporated and mixture bubbles and thickens slightly.
    Add lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, Thai chilli peppers and cilantro and stir.
    Return chicken to pan (if you’re making a huge batch, you may need to use a big roasting pan) and place into oven and roast, uncovered, until chicken is completely cooked through (165 degree internal temperature) about 30 minutes.
    Remove lemon grass pieces before serving.
    Serve over jasmine rice.

  10. Patti Fasan says:

    Sure you could cook with it & I’ll try some of the great recipes posted. But seriously, use it to soothe those aching bones. Take 3-4 stalks chop them up & give em a whirl in the blender to release all the lovely oil & fragrance. Mix with epsom salts for the bath. Bonus idea: use all those old socks that mysteriously no longer have a mate! Or use the foot of old panty hose. Scoop 1/2 cup into the sock, tie it off & let the hot water run over it while filling your tub.
    No time for a bath? Soak your feet in the same concoction – lemongrass is also a deordorizer. Want a body scrub, take some of the blenderized stalks & mix with coconut oil. Pour the warmed mixture thru a sieve & add fine sea salt & scrub away (not your face) but all your other bits & bobs. It feels great, increases circulation & leaves you feeling lemony fresh.
    When Life gives you Lemongrass, indulge & treat yourself.
    Love your site Karen. I am also a first time commentor, but my son ( who uses lemongrass in so many recipes) kept leaving stalks of lemongrass in my fridge when he came over to cook. I never understood why they sell it in a bunch of stalks when every recipe calls for 1 mashed up stalk?? So this girl had to figure out some useful way to use up his leftover bounty. Now I buy it myself but you’ve inspired me to grow my own next year in the garden. They’ll never get me out of the tub NOW!

    • Karen says:

      That’s why I grow my own celery, lol. I’ve never ONCE used up an entire bunch of it. I use 1 or 2 stalks and that’s it. So now I just go pick what I need. Thanks for the ideas. ~ karen!

  11. Angelica says:

    I make asparagus with a shallot lemongrass vinaigrette. I take it as room temp appetizer to parties and it’s always a hit. I’ll share the recipe if you’re interested.

  12. Paul Sikkema says:

    I planted Lemongrass in 6 big pots around the patio this year. I can’t say it helped with the mosquitoes but I had to use a demolition saw to cut the root balls out of the pots! Don’t EVER plant lemongrass in pots that are globe shaped where the top is smaller than the middle of the pot…

  13. Jane Odum says:

    The very best thing about lemongrass is insects don’t like it, especially mosquitos and spiders!!!

  14. Annabelle Marais says:

    Count yourself lucky to have access to this wonderful ingredient. I know of one intrepid cook who smuggled some into the US in the 1960’s only to have her monther-in-law “weed” her garden for her while baby sitting the grandchildren.
    Thom Yum Goong or Thom Yum Kai are among the best uses of lemon grass. I have included a link to an excellent Nigella Lawson recipe from the New York Times (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/5198-tom-yum-soup) but there are many variations online with different levels of difficulty.

  15. Use the lemongrass stalks as skewers for some tasty chicken breasts.

  16. Sue in Fairfax says:

    Thai Larb salad. Yum! I use ground chicken or turkey. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/larb-chicken-salad-5680

  17. Mia says:

    I use it to make tea!

  18. Susan says:

    Just wondering if your Lemongrass survives Ontario’s winter. I grow mine in a pot and bring into a protected garage. Or do you start a new plant every spring?

  19. Susan says:

    Just wondering if your Lemongrass survives Southern Ontario’s winters or do you start new each spring. I grow mine in a pot and bring into my insulated garage in the winter. I am like you though, water the plant all summer and then usually bring it in and never use it once so will definitely try one of the recent posts from your followers.

  20. Eileen says:

    oooohhhhh…now I remember what those weird straw things are in the back of the freezer!
    Time to replace with this year’s!
    Love all the tips from commenters – thanks everyone! And thanks Karen for instigating this.

  21. I’ve used it to make lemongrass syrup – which is just stalks boiled in water with sugar (simple syrup, plus lemon grass). Strain and use in cocktails. My favorite is one That combines it with coconut rum.

  22. Susan Claire says:

    Never mind the lemon grass-those Artemis shoes!

  23. Heather says:

    Add it to regular black tea.

  24. Cathy says:

    Troll restaurants and sell it. May not be rare like a truffle as it grows like a weed….

  25. Kari in Dallas says:

    Tom Kha Gai

    This is my go to winter soup (after Tuscan bean soup) and it is ridiculously easy. I serve it over rice. I could eat it for three meals a day.


    I think I’ll make some for lunch today!

    • Karen says:

      That does seem to be a favourite! I think I’m out of fish sauce but I’ll make sure to get some next time I’m at the grocery store so I can see if this recipe should be added to my winter soup rotation. :) ~ karen!

  26. Marna says:

    I use it to flavor teas and chicken dishes. I think it helps deter mosquitoes too (we have a lot including the types that carry diseases).

  27. kole says:

    Try searching for anything by James Wong (ethnobotanist), he does science with plants and his lemongrass stuff includes lip balm, lollies for sore throats, insect repellent, herbal scrub.

    And also the lovely Mark Diacono (Otter Farm) does a very quick and easy Limoncello

    “Happily, this can be made any time of year and in only a week you have a remarkable drink – it’s not one of those sloe gin sit-on-your-hands-for-months recipes.
    Add the zest of 4-5 lemons (depending on their size) to a litre of gin.
    Three days later, add a crushed stick of lemongrass.
    Four days after that, remove the zest and lemongrass, and add a sugar syrup – 750g each of water and sugar, warmed over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. As soon as it is cool, it is glorious.”

  28. charissa says:

    PPS I lub u. u r awesome. u make me laugh!!! u make me think. u make me think… i can do that too. u make me think… holy crap i am lazy and also… there is no way in hell i could do that😂. i luv coming here. even though i don’t comment a lot, please know i think these things all the time xoxo

  29. charissa says:

    I forgot to include “proof” of goodness. My lovely Vietnamese neighbor asked for the recipe after i shared some with his wife. Highest compliment ever😉

  30. charissa says:

    Forgot to include “proof” of goodness. My lovely Vietnamese neighbor asked for the recipe after I shared some with his wife. Highest compliment ever😉

  31. charissa says:

    https://www.marthastewart.com/351496/sloppy-bao. i know… this only has a 3 star rating… i can’t help if people are crazy!!! I have made this over a dozen time and everyone goes crazy for it (except my husband. he hates lemongrass. he also hates cucumbers, and basically all veg. See… cray cray.) no, it is not healthy, but u eat french fries and this is worth it. ps. i use whatever oil i am into at the time… not the safflower oil it calls for and definitely not olive oil. don’t. i tried it once.😯

  32. Tracy says:

    Lemongrass basil martinis. Simple syrup out of lemongrass and basil, fresh lime, lemon, and or orange juice, vodka. Delish!

  33. Dawn Scott says:

    I made Curry Kapitan this week from a Malaysian cookbook that I don’t have right now. It was delicious. Closest on line recipe is on the blog theboywhoatetheworld. Used anchovy paste and fish sauce instead of fermented shrimp paste. Thin and thick coconut milk from cans, and added fresh lime juice at the end. Actually had some fresh turmeric root in the fridge! Did not use galingal, fresh ginger instead. Took a few hours , mainly peeling the 15 shallots, and grinding up the curry paste with a hand blender which was very time consuming, but was definitely worth the effort. Love your blog.

  34. Christina Biles says:

    3 “recipes”

    Flavored water:
    Take lemongrass (the eaty part, not the sawtooth part)
    and fresh ginger cut into coins (I prefer skin off, but eh, whatever)
    Throw in a jar of water, put in the back of fridge, drink water after 24 hours+
    Also makes good hot tea, but the flavor develops better with longer steeping imo.

    Simple syrup (1:1 water:sugar) simmered on the stovetop, add lemongrass. (You can use the not eaty bits as easily as the eaty bits) Use in tea, on pancakes, as a brush on for cakes/cookies, dribble a bit on fresh strawberries or peaches or apples. Also tasty as a base for cocktails or a sorbet. Combines well with ginger, or lavender, or rosemary.

    Chicken soup:
    Make your favorite chicken soup and add some lemongrass. Alternatively, if you make broth from a chicken carcass, throw in some lemongrass leaves or use them to tie up an herb bundle.

  35. Robert says:

    Honestly all I do with it is tea so I can’t help you with this one

  36. Angela Nett says:

    Tom Kha soup!
    Coconut milk
    Chicken broth
    Soy sauce
    Sliced Galengal root chunks
    Lime leaves
    Chili flakes
    Simmer the above ingredients until fragrant and you can taste the flavors of the spices
    Then add any combination of:
    Thin sliced chicken
    Easiest soup ever and my favorite way to enjoy lemongrass 💜🐸

  37. Bianca says:

    I have similar feelings towards lemongrass when it comes in my CSA box. I’ve made a semi-pho/Asian style soup that brews lemongrass in the broth beforehand. Here’s the recipe… https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/lemon-grass-chicken-soup. Most of the time I get sick of it being in my fridge so I slice it up and let it dry out on some towels on the counter, and then I use it in tea with ginger for tummyaches. Good luck on your lemongrass adventures!

  38. Trinity Mallimaci says:

    Ok. Super easy recipe. I promise.
    1 cup basmati rice (rinsed til water runs clear)
    1 can coconut milk plus water to equal 1.5 cups total
    I stalk lemongrass, whacked with flat of knife to smash and release yummy flavor
    1″ piece of ginger, peeled

    Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and cover. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and enjoy!

  39. Ella says:

    This is my basic go to stir fry for one with some leftovers for the next day If you’re making for more than one, increase the marinade and sauce amounts incrementally. This is just a base…from here make it to your own taste :)

    Scrape out the pulp from two or three stalks of lemon grass and chop briefly until you have about 1-2 tbsp. Grate an equal of fresh ginger (or scoop it out of a bottle). Ditto for chopped garlic. Dump it in a ziplock. Add your protein of choice (cubed chicken, pork, tofu or whole cleaned shrimp). Shmoosh around to make sure everything is coated and toss in the fridge for a while. When ready to make your stir fry combine all this in a bowl: about 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you like a stir fry) and about 1tsp sesame oil. Add chili flakes (lots) if desired. Mix this all up. Heat a neutral oil (not olive) in a wok or large skillet until shimmering. Dump in your protein and stir fry until cooked. Remove and set aside. Now you can choose to chop fresh veggies or just use one of the excellent frozen “Asian” blends which is what Indo – about half a small package.. Dump those in. Stir fry until hot, cooked through and bright. Add back in the protein, add in your sauce, stir it all around until the sauce thickens a bit and everything is hot and delicious looking. Serve over rice or Asian style noodles. Top with chopped cashews and a little cilantro if you wanna get fancy. Really yummy the next day too.

    Oh and in my experience mozzies could care less about lemongrass so I would sat hype.

  40. Sharman says:

    Thai Coconut Curry Sauce

    In a blender or mini food processor put:

    1 stalk chopped lemon grass (tender bits)
    Half a small onion
    3-4 cloves garlic
    Thumb size of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    2-3 Tbsp fish sauce
    1 tsp. Coriander
    1 tsp. Cumin
    1 tsp brown sugar
    Couple of handfuls fresh green coriander with stalks (cleaned)
    Juice and zest from a lime
    Small hot chilli peppers 1-4, depending on how hot you like it. Or use Sambal Oelek from a jar and save getting in your eyes.

    Whiz until it’s a paste.

    Heat a pan, add a little oil, add paste and fry a little.

    Add a can (14 oz.) of conut milk, the higher the fat content the better.

    Heat to a simmer.

    Now, add chopped raw chicken breast, or raw shrimp, or chunks of white fish, plus some quick cooking veg, like chopped red pepper, zucchini, green beans, etc.

    Simmer until everything is cooked.

    Taste and add salt/sugar/lime until the balance suits your palate. Serve with rice or noodles.


  41. Bev out west says:

    If you put some stalks in olive oil for awhile will the o.oil taste lemony? But different than if leaving lemon peel in it? I’ve never thought of growing lemongrass, I wonder if deer would eat it. I’d like to try, because the stuff at the local grocery is never fresh, looks and tastes like straw, can’t get a decent herbal tea from it, so no point trying to cook with it. I think properly fresh it should be quite nice as an addition with thinly sliced ginger to whatever vessel for cooking rice.

    • Karen says:

      I’ve always found it easy to grow. Stick it in the dirt and wait. But I ran into a friend of mine at the grocery store yesterday and he said his never comes to anything. So I’m not sure what the trick to growing it is. Ignoring it? ~ karen!

    • Joi Lin says:

      I have mule deer cruising through my back yard all the time, and they eat my tomatoes and lots of other things in my garden but always leave the lemon grass alone.

  42. karen tomlinson says:

    That is so funny – because I always have a plant growing – then cut it for my neighbors and tell them how wonderful it is in their coconut rice (which I have made exactly once). I read that you can dry the greens, chop them up and make tea. Another wonderful thing I won’t do.
    The scent – and the fact that my neighbors think I am a better cook than I am – are worth the effort growing it.

  43. Debbie says:


    Have not tried any of these recipes but I don’t think they contain eyeballs in any of them.

    You can always boil two cups of lemon grass in four cups of water. Boil for 5 minutes. Steep for an additional 10 minutes. Strain the stalks from the liquid and add 1/4 cup of sugar. Serve either hot or iced. Garnish with lime slices. Iced, it is refreshing on a hot day or it is good for colds and flu served hot.

    • SundayCooking says:

      I add a few slices of fresh ginger, too. Sweetened to taste, it’s great hot or cold.

    • Lita says:

      I really only use mine for making tea as well. But I really do love the tea. Hot in the winter and iced in the summer. Sometimes with mint from the garden, or dried lavender flowers added. I just rinse off the dirt, mangle the woody root area a bit, wrap the leafy bit around until I have a bundle and plop it in the water. It’s very easy to use this way, and the iced tea tastes like lemon drops.

    • Mary W says:

      I will now try to grow some – this sounds right up my back fence alley. Thanks

  44. Amanda says:

    Hi Karen,
    Do your lemongrass plants act as a natural insect repellent at least? I see a lot on Pinterest about planting lemongrass to deter mosquitos. Complete hype or could there be something to it?

    • Karen says:

      Nope. They do nothing of the sort, lol. Maybe if I sat right in the middle of the lemongrass bush the mosquitos couldn’t find me, but other than that … nope. ~ karen!

      • Amanda says:

        Hi Karen, do you plant this from seed? Cheers, Amanda

        • Karen says:

          I buy the plants started in the spring and they’re VERY very small. Just a few upright leaves really. You’d never think it would grow to the size it does by the end of summer. ~ karen!

    • Celia says:

      I had a lemongrass plant on my patio for several years. Only had two mosquitoes seek me out in all that time.

  45. Bethany Jones says:

    I think you’re best off making soap.

    Soap is what everything I’ve ever made with lemongrass tastes like. Yum!

    • KimS says:

      Too funny I ordered a soup I had never had at a local Thai restaurant—had lemongrass in it… my husband said it tasted like dish water I think that was the soap thing coming out !

    • Ooh, I make lemongrass soap I call it Here Comes The Sun after a young girl picked up a bar and proclaimed, Mommy, this soap smells like sunshine!

  46. Raymonde says:

    Take a look at Ricardo’s lemongrass recipes, simple and always tasty!

    • Ttturbo says:

      I love Ricardo for recipes, sadly, a good amount of these lemongrass ones seem to fall into the “897 ingredient” and four day category. Well, except for the fruit. In my world, three cans of fruit and a piece of whacked lemongrass.

    • Karen says:

      They look great, I bookmarked a few. The Thai sauce seems like it would be drinkable!! ~ karen

  47. Open up a bottle of vodka. Insert lemongrass stalks. Wait a dignified amount of time – oh, say 2 weeks – drink up!

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