The Best Substitutes for Lemon Juice in Recipes
If you need to substitute lemon juice in a recipe, you have quite a few options. Lemon juice has quite a unique flavor, so it might seem surprising that there are so many options to substitute it! There are several factors to consider: if the recipe calls for lemon juice in a baking or cooking recipe, how much lemon juice is required, and the pH levels of the ingredients, to name a few.
The list below organizes the lemon juice substitutes for you so you can quickly find what you need and describes why the substituted ingredients work for specific recipes.
The #1 Best Substitute for Lemon Juice is Lime Juice.
Lime juice is the winner for the best overall substitute for lemon juice because of its similar taste and acidity level (which makes a big difference in recipes). It can be used at a 1:1 ratio level. Lime juice will work for both savory and sweet dishes and in cocktails. If you plan to preserve something (to keep it fresh longer or for canning), substitute lime juice works well because of its similar pH level. Whereas another substitute that you’ll read below is less acidic, so it won’t preserve the food well enough.
Suppose you’re making a desert where lemon juice is a crucial ingredient, like lemon meringue pie. In that case, lime juice is an excellent substitute for lemon juice! It will give a different flavor, but the results will still have a citrus tart flavor.
What Else Can I Use as a Substitute for Lemon Juice?
While lime juice is the top choice, you still have others to choose from if lime juice isn’t available. There are some important things to consider when using these substitutes for lemon juice outlined below, so be sure to read carefully. For example, you don’t want to use white vinegar like you would lemon juice for certain recipes. White vinegar meringue just doesn’t sound very appetizing!
Orange juice is close to lime juice as a lemon juice substitute and can be used in most recipes in the same 1:1 ratio. Similarly, grapefruit juice is another great option. The reason it’s second to lime juice is that orange juice is still citrus but less tart and sweeter, which gives it a different flavor profile. So in recipes that call for a large amount of lemon juice, substituting it for orange juice will definitely change the flavor. But, it’ll still work in a pinch and taste great nonetheless!
In savory dishes where only a tiny amount of lemon juice is needed, white wine makes an excellent 1:1 substitute. Pinot grigio and sauvignon blancs are great options! White wine has a crisp, bright taste similar to lemon juice, and its acidity intensifies other flavors in savory dishes. And since you won’t need the whole bottle for your recipe, you can sip on the remaining wine while you cook. Sounds lovely!
This is another excellent substitute for lemon juice in recipes where only a tiny amount is needed. As I mentioned above, white vinegar is definitely not one of the things that would replace large amounts of lemon juice, particularly in drinks or sauces. It is, however, great for cooking or baking in small quantities. It’s tart and acidic, just like lemon juice. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio, just not as a replacement for lemon juice in dishes where lemon juice is a key ingredient.
If the lemon flavor is a key ingredient in your baking dish (think cake, muffins, frostings, pies), then using lemon extract is a great substitute. Lemon extract is a highly concentrated lemon flavor — made from the oil of a lemon, not the juice — that is bold and pure without tartness. You can find it in the baking section of grocery stores. Since it’s so concentrated, you may need to add additional liquid or just use a drop or two!
Frozen or dried lemon zest will work well as a concentrated source of lemon flavor. Why frozen or dried? If you had fresh lemon zest, you’d have fresh lemons, which means you wouldn’t need a substitute for lemon juice. It also carries the same acidity as lemon juice, which can be key for baking.
Cream of Tartar
This is an interesting substitute for lemon juice because it’s not a fruit or liquid (vinegar or wine), but instead, it’s an acidic powder sold in the baking section of grocery stores. Because it’s acidic, it makes for a decent replacement for lemon juice in baking recipes!
This suitable substitute covers the citrus and acidic bases needed for a viable lemon juice alternative. Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid in lemon juice. So powdered citric acid will replace the role of lemon juice in baking recipes. Important note: one teaspoon of citric acid is equal in acidity to about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of lemon juice. Since it’s such a small amount, you’ll need to make some recipe adjustments and add more liquid!
Is Lemon Juice in a Bottle the Same as Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice?
Nutritionally speaking, bottled and fresh lemon juice are the same. Both are high in vitamin C (although fresh contains much more), folate, and potassium, and low in calories and fat. But one thing that isn’t the same is the taste. Bottled lemon juice just tastes different. That’s because it contains additives and preservatives used to maintain the yellow color and protect against bacteria.
Fresh lemon juice is bright, tart and light. Whereas bottled lemon juice can be dull and bitter. It’s easy to make fresh lemon juice with a hand juicer, so going with the fresh stuff is always a good choice. But if you must use bottled (or perhaps you need quite a bit for a party-sized margarita mix), I love Santa Cruz organic pure lemon juice. It’s almost as good as fresh-squeezed!
What To Do With Fresh Lemon Juice
Now that you’re convinced fresh lemon juice is fantastic, here are some ideas for things to do with fresh lemon juice so you’ll always have some on hand!
- Squeeze a bunch of lemons and freeze the juice in silicone ice cube trays. This way, you’ll have freshly squeezed lemon juice on hand whenever you need it, without having to keep buying fresh lemons!
- Store freshly squeezed lemon juice in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use a glass mason jar in any recipe that calls for lemon juice (there are some ideas for you below).
- Mix a teaspoon of lemon juice with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and honey for a detoxifying drink!
- Zest is the best! Don’t let the zest go to waste if you’re squeezing lemon juice. Carefully remove the zest of the lemon (the yellow skin), store it in a glass mason jar, and keep it in the freezer. Use for any recipe that calls for lemon zest!
- Make salad dressings to keep in the fridge all week long.
- Use your frozen lemon juice cubes or leftover fresh squeezed lemon juice to make lemon water, a popular health drink. Lemon contains high amounts of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and reduces inflammation. You can also make lemonade!
Favorite Lemon Juice Recipes
- Lemon Turmeric Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Pancakes
- Easy Lemon Vinegarette
- Lemon Garlic Eggplant Mushroom Orzo
- Lemon Sweet Tea popsicles
- Easy Lemon Garlic Shrimp
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to give it a rating below and tag your photos @jar.of.lemons!
The Best Substitutes for Lemon Juice in Recipes
- lime juice
- orange juice
- white wine
- white vinegar
- lemon extract
- lemon zest
- cream of tarter
- citric acid
- Depending on the recipe, choose the appropriate substitute for lemon juice.
- Some of these substitutes use a 1-to-1 ratio, while others only require a small amount!