8 Clever Substitutes for Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a common ingredient in cooking and baking.
It adds a bright, citrusy flavor to savory and sweet dishes alike.
With a low pH level, it’s one of the most acidic natural ingredients available, providing structure to jams and jellies and helping baked goods rise properly.
However, other ingredients can perform the role of lemon juice if you don’t have any on hand or are allergic or sensitive to it.
Here are 8 substitutes for lemon juice.
1. Lime juice
Lime juice is the best substitute for lemon juice, as it can be used as a one-to-one replacement and has a very similar taste and acidity level.
In fact, when canning or preserving food, it’s the ideal substitute for lemon juice because it has a similar pH level. Other substitutes, such as vinegar, are less acidic and may result in preserves that are unsafe for long-term storage.
In desserts in which lemon juice is a key ingredient, lime juice imparts a slightly different flavor. However, the result will still be tart and citrusy.
2. Orange juice
Orange juice is a good one-to-one substitute for lemon juice in most recipes.
It’s less acidic, sweeter, and less tart than lemon juice. Plus, it has a different flavor profile. In recipes in which a large amount of lemon juice is needed, substituting for it with orange juice may significantly impact the flavor.
Nevertheless, it works well in a pinch.
Vinegar is an excellent substitute for lemon juice in cooking or baking when only a small amount is needed.
Much like lemon juice, it’s tart and acidic. In these recipes, it can be used as a one-to-one replacement.
However, vinegar has a very strong, pungent flavor and aroma and should not be used to replace lemon juice in dishes in which lemon is one of the key flavors.
4. Citric acid
Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid found in lemon juice, which makes powdered citric acid a great lemon juice substitute, especially in baking.
One teaspoon (5 grams) of citric acid is equal in acidity to about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of lemon juice. Thus, only a very small amount is required, and you’ll need to make recipe adjustments.
It may also be necessary to add additional liquid to your recipe to maintain the correct dry-to-wet ratio of ingredients.
In addition, using citric acid in baked goods may even prevent certain vitamins and antioxidants from being destroyed during cooking.
5. Lemon zest
If you have frozen or dried lemon zest on hand, it can serve as a concentrated source of lemon flavor and acidity.
It works well in desserts and recipes in which lemon is a primary flavor.
However, you may need to add additional liquid to the recipe for it to turn out correctly, especially when baking.
6. White wine
White wine is an excellent one-to-one substitute for lemon juice in savory dishes in which only a small amount is needed to brighten the flavor or deglaze the pan.
Both white wine and lemon juice are commonly used to deglaze pans, and their acidity intensifies the other flavors in savory dishes.
7. Lemon extract
Lemon extract is a highly concentrated lemon flavor that’s often available in the baking section of grocery stores. Only a drop or two is enough to add plenty of lemon flavor to a dish.
It’s a great substitute for lemon juice in desserts in which the lemon flavor is key. However, you may need to add additional liquid, as it’s highly concentrated.
8. Cream of tartar
Cream of tartar is an acidic powder sold in the baking section of most grocery stores.
Because it’s acidic, it can be used as a decent replacement for lemon juice when baking. Some websites suggest using 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar for every 1 teaspoon of lemon juice called for in a recipe.
Keep in mind that you may need to add additional liquid to account for the lack of liquid in the cream of tartar.
The bottom line
There are several ways to substitute lemon juice in cooking and baking.
That said, lime juice is the most ideal substitute, as it’s very similar to lemon juice.
Remember, when using a powdered or highly concentrated substitute for lemon juice, such as citric acid or lemon extract, you may need to add additional liquid to maintain the correct wet-to-dry ratio of ingredients.
The lemon juice substitutes above will ensure that you can keep cooking, regardless of whether lemon juice is an option for you at that moment.