There are several options if you can’t use lemon juice! Here are the best substitutes for lemon juice in savory recipes, cocktails, and baking.
In the middle of making a recipe and don’t have a lemon on hand? Or have an allergy or flavor aversion to this bright yellow citrus fruit? We’ve got your back. Lemon adds a brightness and tangy undertone to anything it touches. While fresh lemon juice is hard to replace, there are a few things you can do in a pinch.
Best substitutes for lemon juice
Note that how these options work depend on the type of recipe and how the lemon is used.
1. Lemon zest.
The best substitute for lemon juice to bring a zing to a recipe? Lemon zest. (Here’s how to zest a lemon.) It adds a brightness that’s even more powerful than the juice itself. This is especially good in baking recipes. What’s the conversion? 1 tablespoon lemon juice = ½ teaspoon lemon zest
2. Lime juice or orange juice (in baking & cocktails).
The next best substitute for lemon juice? The same amount of lime juice or orange juice. This is especially useful in cocktail recipes, and also works well in baking. It can work in savory recipes too, but keep the following in mind:
Be aware: Lime has a strong connotation with Latin and Asian flavors, whereas lemon is mostly Mediterranean. It would not make sense to add a squeeze of lime juice to your mushroom goat cheese pasta or arugula Parmesan salad. So make sure to think through the flavors of your dishes to see what makes sense. In both cases, a better option is…keep reading.
3. White wine vinegar (in savory recipes).
White wine vinegar is a great substitute for lemon juice in savory recipes and salad dressings! It’s not as useful in baking because the flavor can be overpowering. White wine vinegar works well because it adds a tang without a specific cuisine connotation.
Be careful with this one because the flavor is vinegary, not citrus — but it does brighten the flavor of foods similar to lemon juice. In general, don’t use this trick in sweet recipes. What’s the conversion? 1 tablespoon lemon juice = ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring lemon juice: