Lemon juice adds a zippy, citrus flavor to many foods and drinks. However, not everyone likes lemons. Or, you might not feel like running out to the store. If that’s the case, there are lots of lemon alternatives you can try.
Ahhhh lemon juice. The Swiss Army knife of the culinary arts. So fresh. So fine. So sour. But what happens when life doesn’t give you lemons? Don’t get sour. We scoured the cookbooks, so you don’t have to.
The 11 zest, erm, best lemon juice substitutes are:
- Lime juice
- Orange juice
- Grapefruit juice
- Red wine vinegar
- Citric acid
- Lemon zest
- White wine
- Lemon extract
- Cream of tartar
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- Celery juice
Here are the deets on each.
Whether you want to try something new or just don’t feel like going to the store (we feel that), there’s a bushel of alternative options.
Can you substitute lime juice for lemon juice? Absolutely! Limes and lemons are often used interchangeably. They’re both tart, acidic citrus fruits and have similar nutrition.
Bonus: Limes also have the advantage of being easier to squeeze by hand. Key lime pie, anyone?
Orange juice — aka lemon juice’s Floridian friend — is another type of citrus fruit. A little sweeter and less acidic, OJ makes the perfect substitute for things like sweet sauces and salad dressings.
Just keep in mind, OJ has more calories, sugar, and carbs than lemon juice. But it’s also a better source of vitamin C and potassium. A 1 fluid ounce serving of orange juice has:
- Calories: 14 kcal
- Carbs: 3.22 g
- Sugars: 2.6 g
- Calcium: 3.41 mg
- Vitamin C: 15.5 mg
- Potassium: 62 mg
Consider grapefruit, lemon’s larger cousin. It’s juicy AF, and you can prob get a cup of liquid goodness from a single fruit.
Much like the orange, it’s prob best not to use this hefty fella in dishes that have a very lemony taste (e.g. lemon bars or lemon meringue pie). But it can def add a zesty kick to fresh salads or fruit dishes. We also love that grapefruit is a decent source of vitamin C and potassium.
BTW, it’s worth mentioning grapefruit can interfere with certain medications. They include some meds used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, allergies, and anxiety. So, you might want to double-check with your healthcare professional before going to town on these juicy fruits.
While red wine vinegar has a very different flavor profile than lemon juice, it’s great if you want a quick kick of something acidic. Additionally, red wine vinegar is low in calories, carbs, and sugar. It’s also a decent source of potassium. A 2-tablespoon serving of red wine vinegar has 5.66 kcal and 11.62 mg of potassium.
Just remember that red wine vinegar can be overpowering. That said, it might work best in dishes that require a decent amount of cooking time. The cooking process helps subdue the intensity.
P.S. Like lemon juice, you can use red wine vinegar to clean your house!
Citric acid is mainly used as a food preservative. But it can also mimic the acidity and bright notes of lemon juice. Because it lacks in lemony flavor, citric acid might work best in recipes that call for lemon zest, not lemon juice. You can buy it in powder form in health food stores or online.
FYI: Citric acid has 0 g of fat, sugar, and carbs.
Lemon zest gives you all the flavor of lemons without having to actually use any of the juice. It’s great for when you don’t have enough lemons to juice or accidentally used the lemon juice for something else.
White wine makes a great lemon juice alternative thanks to its acidity. You’re going to want to stick with the dry whites, though. Opt for sauvignon blancs, pinot grigio, or Vinho Verde.
While it has less nutritional benefits than lemon juice, white wine’s not entirely terrible when used in small servings. The average 1 fluid ounce serving of white table wine has:
- Calories: 24.6 g
- Carbs: 0.78 g
- Sugars: 0.288 g
- Calcium: 2.7 mg
- Potassium: 21.3 mg
Concentrate. No, seriously. Lemon extract is concentrated lemon juice. That means it’s the fab substitute if you want something that has that maximum lemon overdrive flavor.
One possible prob is that lemon extract is much less acidic than lemon juice. So, it might not work in recipes that require bright, acid-y tones.
Potassium bitartrate — P. Biddy, if you will — doesn’t bring a lot of flavor to the table. But it does pump up the party through the magic of chemistry. Cream of tartar can mimic lemon juice’s leavening effect. This can make it a great ingredient in cakes, breads, and meringues.
Potassium PSA: A 2-teaspoon serving of cream of tartar has a whopping 990 mg of potassium.
This versatile vinegar doesn’t bring much (or any) lemon flavor to the table. But what it lacks in lemon, it makes up for in a tang. ACV has a bitter, slightly sweet flavor. It works well in savory dishes like braised greens or baked beans. You can also mix some with nut milk as a vegan buttermilk substitute.
As an added perk, you can turn ACV into a GOAT DIY cleaning product. Just mix one part ACV with one part water and shake it up in a bottle. Then spritz is all over the sticky surfaces that need a good a scrub down.
A noted Gumby impersonator and the bane of children worldwide, celery experienced a surprising surge of popularity in recent years. Although much less acidic than lemon juice, celery juice has a similar so-fresh-and-so-clean taste. And sometimes that’s all a recipe needs to go from good to BAM.
Just in case you’re curious, here are the nutrition deets for a 1 fluid ounce serving of celery juice:
- Calories: 4.13 kcal
- Carbs: 0.87 g
- Sugars: 0.395 g
- Calcium: 11.8 mg
- Vitamin C: 0.914 mg
- Potassium: 76.7 mg
Lemon juice is a multitalented ingredient that’s used in tons of tasty deserts, drinks, and meals. While nothing can match its exact flavor profile, there are lots of alternatives that make great substitutes. They include other citrus fruit juices, lemon extract, vinegars, white wine, celery juice, and cream of tartar.
You might already have some of the 11 best lemon juice alternatives in your kitchen. But if not, you can also easily grab them at your local grocery store.