Replacement for Lemon Juice: Best Substitutes to Use in Your Recipes

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When life doesn’t give you lemons, what do you do? You find a replacement for lemon juice, of course! In the culinary world, lemon juice is revered for its acidic flavor that can brighten both sweet and savory dishes. However, sometimes, you may find yourself in the middle of a recipe, only to realize that you’ve run out of fresh lemons. The good news is that there are numerous substitutes that you can readily use in place of lemon juice.

Some of our most popular recipes are lemon based. This Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars is at the top of the list, followed by this yummy Lemon Jello Cake. So many great ones! In fact:

πŸ‹πŸ‹πŸ‹ Celebrate LEMONS with us in this roundup of our best LEMON DESSERTS! πŸ‹πŸ‹πŸ‹

A variety of citrus fruits on a kitchen counter, including oranges, grapefruits, and limes.

πŸ‹ RELATED: How Long Do Lemons Last in the Fridge? πŸ‹

Lime Juice: The Closest Substitute for Lemon Juice

When it comes to a suitable substitute for lemon juice, lime juice is your best bet. Lime juice has a similar tartness and acidity level to lemon juice, making it an almost identical replacement in most recipes. Whether it’s salad dressings or savory dishes, lime juice can provide the citrusy flavor that your recipe calls for. You can use equal amounts of lime juice in place of lemon juice.

Fresh limes and lime juice in a glass jar on a wooden table.

Orange Juice: A Sweeter Alternative to Lemon Juice

For recipes that require a splash of lemon juice for a slightly different flavor profile, orange juice can be a great substitute. It has a less acidic and sweeter flavor than lemon juice, which makes it ideal for sweet dishes like lemon meringue pie or lemon bars. However, because the flavor is not as strong as lemon, you might need to use a bit more orange juice to achieve the desired taste.

A glass of fresh orange juice next to a bowl of juicy oranges.

Vinegar: The Pantry Staple

Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar can be a good substitute for lemon juice, especially in savory recipes. Vinegar has a similar acidity to lemon juice, but it has a different flavor profile, so use it sparingly. For every teaspoon of lemon juice needed, use half a teaspoon of vinegar. For a more nuanced flavor, you can opt for white wine vinegar or even red wine vinegar.

Various types of vinegar in glass bottles, including white vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

White Wine: For Cooking and Baking

If your recipe calls for a small amount of lemon juice, dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio can be a suitable substitute. The acidity of lemon juice can be mimicked by white wine, giving your dish a similar taste. However, keep in mind that wine will add a bit of its flavor, so it’s best used in dishes that can benefit from a wine-y undertone.

Citric Acid: A Non-Liquid Substitute

Also known as sour salt, citric acid is a naturally occurring acid found in citrus fruits. In its powder form, it’s an excellent substitute for lemon juice, especially in recipes that require the juice’s acidity but not its liquid content. For each teaspoon of lemon juice, use about half a teaspoon of citric acid. You can usually find citric acid in the baking section of grocery stores or online.

A small bag of citric acid powder placed next to fresh lemons and limes.

Other Citrus Juices: Grapefruit and Pineapple Juice

Other citrus juices like grapefruit juice or pineapple juice can also serve as a replacement for lemon juice. Grapefruit juice, with its similar acidity and slightly sweeter flavor, can be used in equal amounts as lemon juice. Pineapple juice, while more tropical in taste, can bring an interesting twist to your recipes. However, it’s best used in recipes where a hint of pineapple flavor would be welcome.

Freshly squeezed grapefruit and pineapple juice in glass jars.

When to Avoid Substitutes for Lemon Juice

While finding a replacement for lemon juice can be fairly easy, there are instances where substitutes might not work as well. Recipes that rely heavily on the flavor of lemons, such as lemon bars or Homemade Lemon Curd, might not turn out as expected with a substitute. Similarly, if a recipe calls for a large amount of lemon juice, replacing it with a substitute might alter the end result significantly.

A freshly baked lemon bar on a cooling rack with a fresh lemon in the background.

Have a look at our other ingredient substitution recommendations:

Sage πŸŒ± Orange Zest πŸŒ± Jalapenos πŸŒ± Mint πŸŒ± Cashews πŸŒ± Paprika πŸŒ± Mango

Conclusion: Choose the Best Substitute Based on Your Recipe

In conclusion, when looking for a replacement for lemon juice, consider the role of lemon juice in your recipe. Is it for the acidity, the lemony flavor, or both? Once you’ve determined that, you can choose the best substitute.

Remember, while these substitutes may not perfectly replicate the taste of fresh lemon juice, they can certainly help you out in a pinch and potentially introduce you to new and exciting flavors.

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