how to make lemon juice without lemons

The first step in making lemon juice is to use a juicer. The next step, if you're using fresh lemons, is to squeeze the lemon juice into a glass or jar. If you're using bottled or canned lemons,
how to make lemon juice without lemons

A guide for choosing the right substitute for lemon juice whether you are cooking, baking, making a cocktail, or canning.

Use lemon juice and lime juice interchangeably in our pico de gallo, lemon chicken piccata, Lemon Basil Chicken and Rice and a host of other main dish recipes.

A bowl of lemons with text overlay "Substitutes for Lemon Juice".

Are you in the middle of a recipe and suddenly realize you’re out of lemon juice? There’s nothing worse than running out of a vital ingredient just as you’re preparing a meal.

Whether you are cooking, baking, making a cocktail, or canning, there are many different substitutes for lemon juice you can try before making an unnecessary trip to the store. This article will help you choose the best lemon juice substitute for your needs.

a diagram of different substitutes for lemon juice

Substitutes for Lemon Juice:

Best Option: Lime Juice

Lime juice wins the spot for best overall substitute for lemon juice because of its similar taste (just a little sweeter) and acidity level. You can use it in both savory and sweet dishes, as well as cocktails.

  • Substitute lime juice for lemon juice in equal amounts (1:1 ratio)

If you are looking for more recipes to use lime juice, check out our Key Lime Pie or these Honey-Lime Chipotle Chicken Fajita bowls

What else can I use as a substitute for Lemon Juice?

  • Orange juice in equal amounts (1:1 ratio)
  • White wine (1/2:1 ratio)
  • White vinegar (1/2:1 ratio)
  • Lemon extract (1/2:1 ratio + replace the rest with water)
  • Lemon zest (1/2:1 ratio + replace the rest with water)
  • Cream of tartar (1/2:1 ratio)


When cooking savory dishes, lime juice and orange juice make a good substitute for lemon juice. Replace the lemon juice with lime juice in equal amounts (e.g. 1 teaspoon for 1 teaspoon). Or, you could substitute the lemon juice with half as much white wine or white vinegar. Keep in mind that vinegar is best if used to substitute for a small amount of lemon juice, since too much will give your dish a strong vinegar taste.


In baking recipes, lime or orange juice can be used as substitutes for lemon juice in equal amounts. However, keep in mind they may give sweet desserts a slightly different flavor. Use it in small amounts to add some acidity or to help your recipe to rise, but not in a dessert that is meant to have a strong lemon flavor.

Lemon extract (mixed with water) can also be a great substitute for lemon juice in baking. It is highly concentrated—you won’t need as much to get a yummy lemon flavor.

You can also substitute the lemon juice with half as much cream of tartar, which is an acidic, powdered substance found in the baking aisles at the store.

Lemon zest may also work well, especially if lemon is the predominant flavor of your recipe.

Note: If you are using lemon extract, cream of tartar, or lemon zest as a lemon juice substitute, you will want to replace the additional lemon juice with some additional liquid so the recipe doesn’t turn out too dry. For example, you would replace 1 teaspoon of lemon juice with ½ teaspoon lemon extract and ½ teaspoon water.


When making cocktails, substitute lime or orange juice for lemon juice in equal parts to get a bright, citrusy flavor. Orange juice is sweeter and less tart than lemon juice, so keep in mind if you are using a lot that it may turn out with a strong orange flavor.


Lime juice is also the best substitute for lemon juice when preparing fruits for canning. It has a very similar pH level to lemon juice that will help your canned goods to stay safe for long-term storage.

What can I substitute for lemon zest?

If your recipe calls for lemon zest and you need a substitute, replace each teaspoon of lemon zest with ½ teaspoon of lemon extract, or two tablespoons of lemon juice.

Here are some of our favorite recipes using lemon juice:

  • Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata
  • Easy Strawberry Lemonade
  • Lemon Meringue Pie
  • Perfect Lemon Bars

You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for more great recipes!



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