Substitutes for Lemon Juice

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Wine, like lemons, contains an acid that gives it some sourness, allowing you to substitute it in a marinade to tenderize chicken or fish. But, you would never substitute wine for lemon juice in lemonade. Other acidic ingredients and liquids work in the same manner, becoming acceptable substitutes for lemon juice for some recipes, but not for others. Whether you have run out of lemon for lemon juice, or you just want to experiment, you have plenty of options for substitutions.

Orange juice and zest substitutes for lemon juice in baked goods.
Orange juice and zest substitutes for lemon juice in baked goods. (Image: Denira777/iStock/Getty Images)

Other Forms of Lemon

When you really want the flavor of lemon baked into cakes or muffins or as a glaze for desserts, both lemon zest and lemon extract provide the taste you want without affecting the texture. In a cake, add the zest from up to three lemons to the batter so it permeates the cake. Wash the lemons thoroughly under running water before zesting them, and freeze leftover zest for up to six months. Use as much as 2 tablespoons of potent lemon extract in a cake and smaller amounts for less lemony flavor.

Other Citrus Juices

Any citrus juice adds fresh, fruity and tangy flavors to baked goods, frosting, glazes, custards and curds, changing the flavor of the dish, but without causing any other effects. Substitute the juice of oranges, limes, grapefruit or tangerines on a 1-to-1 basis with lemon juice for those recipes. Maximize the amount of juice you get for any of these fruits by juicing the fruit at room temperature and rolling it on a countertop before juicing to break apart the juice sacs.

Vinegars of All Kinds

Vinegar, like lemon juice, helps brighten the taste of both sweet and savory dishes, and it also balances sweetness with acidity, giving foods depths of flavor. You won't taste the vinegar directly as you would lemon juice, but it will make all the other flavors taste better. Instead of adding a splash of lemon juice to sugared strawberries for dessert, add a splash of balsamic vinegar. And, instead of lemon juice in risotto, use 1/2 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar for each 1 teaspoon of lemon juice called for in your recipe.

Other Forms of Acidity

In some recipes, powdered citric acid from the grocery substitutes for lemon juice when you make jams and jellies to help fruit set and give a tang to the final product. Use 1/8 teaspoon of citric acid instead of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for each cup of fruit. A similar product, citric salt, adds tart flavor when you sprinkle it sparingly on soups, such as borscht or risotto, instead of lemon juice.

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