Skip to main content

Get instant access to everything. 2-Week Free Trial

Make 2021 the year of “Why not?” in the kitchen with Digital All Access. Get all our recipes, videos, and up-to-date ratings and cook anything with confidence.

Get Free Access ▸

How to Buy, Prep, and Store Lemongrass

By Steve Dunn Published

Learn how to make the most of lemongrass with the following tips.

The citrusy, floral flavors of fresh lemongrass, with its hints of mint and ginger, have long been used to add complexity to the soups, curries, marinades, sauces, and stir-fries of Southeast Asia. It’s a key component in dishes such as Malaysian chicken satay (satay ayam) or Thai hot and sour soup with shrimp and noodles (guay tiew tom yum goong), but it can also bring aromatic flair to a slew of nontraditional applications, including tea, seltzer, cocktails, baked goods, and even ice cream. If you’ve never known exactly how to work with the stalks you see at the supermarket, here’s a handy guide.

How to Shop for Lemongrass

Lemongrass plants can grow up to 6½ feet tall, but in the supermarket you’ll find them cut down to size without their leaves. They resemble fat scallions, with a pale yellow-green stalk that fades into a tough white root. When shopping for fresh lemongrass, look for stalks that are green, firm, and fragrant and with outer leaves that aren’t too desiccated (indicating a longer time in storage).

How to Prep Lemongrass

Before you can cook with lemongrass, you must first trim about an inch from the hard, woody base and enough of the stiff green top to leave about 6 inches of stalk. Next, peel away the tough outer leaves (usually three or four layers) to reach the tender, pale inner core.

Whether you then mince this inner core or leave it whole depends on the application. 

When lemongrass will be removed before serving (including in soups and broths): Crush prepped stalk with meat mallet, side of knife, or bottom of pan to release essential oils; cut into lengths.

When lemongrass will be consumed in dish (including in marinades and spice pastes): Mince prepped stalk or slice thin.

How to Store Lemongrass

These hardy stalks store well in both the fridge and freezer. You can even turn them into a paste to keep frozen and have at the ready. 

  • TO STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR:

Wrap untrimmed stalks tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store for up to 2 weeks. 

  • TO STORE IN THE FREEZER: 

Whole: Trim green tops from stalks, wrap stalks in plastic, then seal in zipper-lock bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw briefly before using.

Ground: Make paste in mortar and pestle or food processor and freeze in 1-tablespoon mounds on plate. Transfer frozen portions to zipper-lock bag. No need to thaw before using.

Equipment Review Mortars and Pestles

A good mortar and pestle is the perfect tool for grinding fibrous lemongrass to a paste.

Other Good Things to Know About Lemongrass

  • YOU CAN GROW MORE FROM A LEFTOVER STALK

It’s easy to do by sticking the root end of the stalk in water. The new shoots grow rapidly, and we found that their flavor was just as potent and fragrant as the inner parts of the stalk that we usually use. Learn more

  • DRIED LEMONGRASS CAN BE AN ACCEPTABLE SUB FOR FRESH

Besides the fresh stalks, lemongrass can be found in a dried form in jars in the spice section. Though we don't find the dried lemongrass as complex, it’s an acceptable sub for fresh in dishes that have a lot of other flavors going on. Learn more. 

Recipes Featuring Lemongrass

Recipe Grilled Chicken Satay

This grilled chicken dish is deeply aromatic, gorgeously charred, fast to cook, and paired with a peanut sauce you'll want to eat by the spoonful.

Recipe Guay Tiew Tom Yum Goong (Thai Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp and Noodles)

This version of tom yum soup features hot, sour, salty, and sweet flavors, with shrimp and tender rice noodles to make it a meal.

Recipe Grilled Beef Satay

Thai beef satay features tender pieces of meat grilled on skewers so that they develop a lightly charred crust.

Recipe Double Lemon-Lime Soda

Intense lemon-lime flavor in an easy-to-use syrup.

Leave a comment and join the conversation!

0 Comments
Read & post comments with a free account
Join the conversation with our community of home cooks, test cooks, and editors.
First Name is Required
Last Name is Required
Email Address is Required
How we use your email?
Password is Required
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.