The best substitutes for lemon extract are fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, bottled lemon juice, bottled lime juice, reconstituted frozen lemon, lime or orange juice, lemon zest, and lime zest.
Let’s discuss in detail how these substitutes can be used.
1. Fresh Lemon Juice
The best substitute for lemon extract in any recipe is fresh lemon juice. In fact, fresh lemon juice with just a small amount of lemon zest will almost exactly duplicate the tangy taste of lemon extract.
Since lemon extract is concentrated, it takes significantly more fresh lemon juice to duplicate its flavor. In fact, it takes about 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to provide the same flavor that is provided by 1 teaspoon of lemon extract. Since 2 tablespoons is equal to 6 teaspoons, this means that lemon extract is 6 times stronger than fresh lemon juice.
Substitution Rate: Substitute 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice for 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.
Pro Tip: The amount of lemon juice that can be obtained by squeezing one lemon depends on the size of the lemon, but, on average, there are 3 tablespoons of juice in a medium lemon and 4 tablespoons of juice in a large lemon.
2. Fresh Lime Juice
Fresh lime juice is another good substitute for lemon extract even though lime juice is a little more tart than lemon juice. The two citrus fruits have the same pH and can be substituted for each other without a significant flavor change.
Substitution Rate: Like fresh lemon juice, simply use 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice for every teaspoon of lemon extract called for in your recipe.
Pro Tip: On average, two tablespoons of lime juice can be extracted from 1 fresh lime.
3. Fresh Orange Juice
Fresh orange juice can be substituted for lemon extract, but although they are both juices from a citrus fruit, the taste will be significantly different because orange juice is much sweeter than lemon or lime and doesn’t have the tartness that is associated with lemon or with lime.
Substitution Rate: As with fresh lemon or lime juice, fresh orange juice can be substituted for lemon extract by using 2 tablespoons of orange juice for each teaspoon of lemon extract called for in your recipe.
Pro Tip: There are several variables that determine how much juice can be extracted from one orange, including type of orange and size, but, on average, you can expect to get between ¼ cup and ⅓ cup of juice from each orange, which means 4 to 5 tablespoons.
4. Bottled Lemon Juice
Bottled lemon juice is a good substitute for lemon extract and is one of the substitutes that most folks keep on hand at all times. It lasts a long time and is one of those convenient items that we can just grab from the fridge anytime we need it.
Even though bottled lemon juice has a flavor that is a little different from fresh lemon juice, it is used in the same way that fresh lemon juice is used. The taste difference is a result of preservatives and other additives that are added at the time the lemon juice is bottled. Not only do the additives and preservatives change the flavor of bottled lemon juice, but after the bottling process, the lemon juice no longer has that “freshly-squeezed” taste.
Substitution Rate: To substitute bottled lemon juice for lemon extract, use 2 tablespoons of the bottled lemon juice for each teaspoon of lemon extract that is needed.
5. Bottled Lime Juice
Bottled lime juice can be used as a substitute for lemon extract in most recipes. Even though limes have a more bitter taste than lemons, there will not be a significant change in the taste of any dish you are preparing.
Substitution Rate: To use bottled lime juice instead of lemon extract, simply add 2 tablespoons of the juice for every teaspoon of lemon extract required.
6. Reconstituted Frozen Lemon, Lime, Or Orange Juice
Reconstituted frozen lemon, lime, or orange juice can also be used as a substitute for lemon extract if you happen to have one of them on hand. After they have been thawed and reconstituted, the reconstituted juice can be used in the same way that fresh juice can be used and will provide the same flavor as that of freshly squeezed. Simply measure the previously frozen juice and use it as though it were freshly squeezed, and it even saves you the time and effort it takes to squeeze the fresh fruit to obtain the juice.
Substitution Rate: Reconstituted frozen lemon, lime, or orange juice can be substituted for lemon extract by using 2 tablespoons of the previously frozen juice for every teaspoon of lemon extract needed in your recipe.
7. Lemon Zest
Lemon zest can be substituted for lemon extract and will provide the closest substitute for the taste provided by lemon extract. Simply use 2 teaspoons of lemon zest for every teaspoon of lemon extract called for in your recipe.
Substitution Rate: Substitute 2 teaspoons of lemon zest for each 1 teaspoon of lemon extract needed.
Pro Tip: One average size lemon will yield 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
How Can I Zest Citrus Fruits Without A Zester?
If you do not have a zester in your kitchen, you can still zest citrus fruits whenever you need to. Simply get out your grater, whether it is a box grater or the flat type, and use the finest grating surface to zest citrus fruits. Just grate them lightly so that you are only grating the zest and not the white pith underneath the zest.
8. Lime Zest
Lime zest is another good alternative for lemon extract if you are in need of a substitute. Simply zest the lime and use twice the amount of zest as a substitute for the lemon extract needed for your recipe. Using lime will slightly alter the flavor of the food you are preparing, but it will not be a significant change in taste from using lemon extract.
Substitution Rate: Substitute 2 teaspoons of lime zest for each teaspoon of lemon extract required.
What Is The Best Substitute For Lemon Extract?
The best of the substitutes that can be used to replace lemon extract in any recipe would be another version of lemon: either fresh or reconstituted frozen lemon juice, bottled lemon juice, or lemon zest. By using lemon in any other form, you can be assured that the taste of the recipe you are preparing is as close as you can get to the recipe when prepared with lemon extract.
Substitution Rate: The substitution rate of the forms of lemon to be used as flavorings are as follows: 1 teaspoon of lemon extract = 2 teaspoons of lemon peel = 2 tablespoons of fresh, reconstituted frozen, or bottled lemon juice.
Related The 10 Best Limoncello Substitutes.
Can I Make My Own Lemon Extract?
Yes, you can make your own homemade version of lemon extract quite easily. Just follow these basic steps:
You will need:
- Fresh Lemons
- Vodka (any brand)
- Canning Jars or Glass Bottles with Lids
- Wash your lemons well and peel thin strips from the zest.
- Wash your glass canning jars or glass bottles well with hot soapy water and sterilize.
- Add lemon zest to the jars or bottles until they are ¾ full with the strips of zest. Do not pack the zest. Just leave it loosely settled within the jar.
- Fill the jars or bottles with vodka.
- Add the lids to the jars or bottles and let them sit for at least 6 weeks to reach the maximum flavor.
- At least once per week, gently turn the jars or bottles over several times to mix the ingredients.
- After 6 weeks, enjoy the lemon extract!
Homemade lemon extract and other flavorings make excellent gifts as well as providing you with your own homemade extracts for your personal use.
Here is a video where I made vanilla extract. The process is pretty much the same for lemon extract:
Do Homemade Extracts Have To Be Canned?
Homemade extracts do not have to be canned, nor do they have to have the lids sealed to keep them shelf stable. The alcohol that is used in making the extracts will serve as a preservative and will keep the extracts from spoiling.
What Exactly Is Lemon Extract?
Lemon extract and all other extracts are made similarly by combining things like fresh lemons or vanilla beans with some sort of alcohol, usually vodka, and letting them soak for several weeks. The result is a liquid with a concentrated flavor that we use sparingly in our baking and other recipes to provide the lemon, vanilla, or other flavorings that we often use.
Non-alcoholic versions of these flavorings can be made by substituting food-grade liquid glycerin for the vodka.
Lemon abstract, along with vanilla extract, are two of the most widely used flavorings for many cooks and most bakers. This is why it is a little disturbing to find that your bottle of lemon extract is either empty or has only a drop or two left. But luckily, there are several substitutes that can be used instead of lemon extract. However, if you have ever tried to substitute lemon juice for lemon extract on a 1:1 basis, then you know that there are differences in the ways extracts and fresh juices must be used. They can be used as substitutes for each other, but there must be adjustments made to the amounts in order for them to work in what you are making and to provide the taste you are seeking.
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For more, don’t miss How To Extract Juice From Fruits To Make Jelly: A Detailed Guide.
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