1. Lime Juice
No lemon and lime are not the same. Limes are small, round, and green, while lemons are usually larger, oval-shaped, and bright yellow. Both fruits are acidic and sour, but lemons tend to be sweeter, while limes have a more bitter flavour . However, lime juice can be used as an identical replacement for lemon juice.
Substitute lime juice for lemon juice in equal amounts (1:1 ratio).
2. Orange Juice
Another go-to when you forgot to buy lemons from the store is orange juice. It is less acidic, sweeter, and less tart than lemon juice, and has a different flavour profile as well. If you want to use orange juice instead of the lemon juice where it is required in large amounts, there will be a difference in the end-flavour.
Substitute orange juice for lemon juice in equal amounts (1:1 ratio).
3. Citric Acid
Citric acid is a weak acid that is found naturally in all citrus fruits . The naturally occurring acid in lemon juice, in powder form, is a great lemon juice substitute. One of the benefits of using citric acid in baking is that it may prevent certain vitamins and antioxidants from being destroyed .
One teaspoon (5 g) of citric acid is equal in acidity to about ½ cup (120 ml) of lemon juice.
Note: As it is a bit more citric, only a small amount is required.
4. Lemon Zest
The difference between lemon zest and lemon peel is that zest is purely made of the very outermost layer of the citrus fruit, composed of flavedo (outer skin layer) and no bitterness . Frozen or dried lemon zest can serve as a concentrated source of lemon flavour and acidity. You can prepare lemon zest at your own home; all you need is a box grater and a lemon.
Substitute lemon zest for lemon juice in 1/2:1 ratio + replace the rest with water.
5. Lemon Extract
Lemon extract is a highly concentrated lemon flavour. It is available in supermarkets, and only a drop or two is enough to add a strong lemony flavour to the food. Lemon extract is exceptionally good as a substitute in desserts.
Substitute lemon extract for lemon juice in 1/2:1 ratio + replace the rest with water.
6. Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena is a plant that is commonly used in folk-medicine production . Lemon verbena offers a sweet, refreshing lemon flavour, and some say that it is hard to find a plant with a stronger citrus scent than lemon verbena . Culinary experts point out that when replacing lemon juice with a herb like lemon verbena, it is best to use your taste as a guide instead of strict ratios and measures.
Note: Adding this herb to your food will also bring along herbaceous notes.
7. White Wine
An excellent substitute for lemon juice in savoury dishes, white wine adds a strong acidic flavour to the food, which intensifies the other flavours in the dish .
Substitute white wine for lemon juice in 1/2:1 ratio.
Vinegar is another excellent substitute for lemon juice in cooking or baking (small amounts). It is tart and acidic, but unlike lemon juice, has a strong, pungent flavour and aroma. So, it is best to avoid using vinegar in place of lemon juice in dishes in which lemon is the primary flavour .
Substitute vinegar for lemon juice in 1/2:1 ratio.
9. Cream Of Tartar
Cream of tartar is an acidic powder that has many culinary uses. A primary ingredient in baking, cream of tartar is used to stabilise whipped cream, egg white foam etc. Due to the acidic flavour, it can be used as a replacement for lemon juice when baking.
Substitute cream of tartar for lemon juice in 1/2:1 ratio.
How To Use Lemon Juice Substitutes?
For cooking: When cooking savoury dishes, lime juice and orange juice make a good substitute for lemon juice. You could also substitute the lemon juice with half as much white wine or vinegar.
For baking: In baking recipes, lime or orange juice can be used as substitutes for lemon juice in equal amounts. Lemon extract (mixed with water) can also be good. Lemon zest may also work well.
For cocktails and juices: Substitute lime or orange juice for lemon juice in equal parts.
On A Final Note…
Lime juice wins the spot for best substitute for lemon juice because of its similar taste and acidity level. The next time you think of giving up on that dish because you forgot to buy lemons, remember to check your pantry for the lemon juice substitutes and if you can find one/any in there – don’t forget to thank us for salvaging your dish!