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Savory Tweaks: 7 BEST Preserved Lemon Substitutes

Are you looking for ways to bring some zing to your dishes, while avoiding the classic preserved lemon taste?

Then look no further! Preserved lemons can be challenging to source and intimidating to use.

Thankfully, there are some great alternatives that you can utilize in even the most complex of recipes.

Whether you’re looking for a shortcut or something a little more flavorful than salt and pepper, these seven substitutes will brighten up any dish without overpowering it with too much citrusy flavor.

Keep reading for our top picks!

What’s Preserved Lemon?

Preserved lemons are a common ingredient in Moroccan cuisine.

They’re lemons that have been preserved in salt and lemon juice for weeks, sometimes months.

The result is a tangy, salty, slightly sweet lemon that can be used in a variety of dishes.

The origin of preserved lemons is unknown, but they’ve been used in Moroccan cuisine for centuries.

Preserved lemons are made by cutting the lemon into quarters, removing the pulp, and then packing the lemon with salt and lemon juice.

The lemons are then left to sit for weeks or months.

The taste of preserved lemons is salty, tangy, and slightly sweet.

The texture is soft, and the lemon peel is edible.

Preserved lemons can be used in a variety of dishes, including stews, salads, and pasta dishes.

To use preserved lemons, simply remove them from the jar and rinse off the salt.

The lemon can then be cut into slices or diced and added to your dish.

7 Best Preserved Lemon Substitutes

1. Regular Lemon Juice

If you don’t have preserved lemons on hand and need a quick substitute, regular lemon juice is your best bet.

It won’t provide the same salty, tangy flavor as preserved lemons, but it will still give your dish a tart and acidic boost.

Lemon juice is much more potent than lime juice, so you’ll need to use less of it to achieve the same flavor.

Start by adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for every tablespoon of lime juice called for in the recipe.

You can always add more lemon juice if you want a stronger flavor.

Lemon juice can be used in any dish that calls for preserved lemons, from tagines and curries to roasted vegetables and salads.

Just remember that you’ll need to use less of it since it is more concentrated than preserved lemons.

2. Lime Juice

Lime juice is a great substitute for preserved lemon.

It has a tart and acidic flavor that can really brighten up a dish.

It is also very versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

To substitute lime juice for preserved lemon, simply use the same amount of lime juice as you would lemon juice.

You can also add a bit of zest to really give your dish some extra flavor.

3. Orange Juice

Orange juice is a delicious and refreshing drink that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a recipe.

It has a tart, tangy taste that is perfect for those who enjoy a bit of sweetness in their drink.

While it is not exactly the same as preserved lemon, it can be used as a substitute in many recipes.

To use orange juice as a substitute for preserved lemon, simply add the same amount of orange juice to your recipe as you would preserved lemon.

You may need to adjust the other ingredients in your recipe to account for the different tastes of orange juice.

For example, if you are using orange juice in a savory dish, you may want to add a bit more salt or spice to balance out the sweetness.

Overall, orange juice is a great substitute for preserved lemon in both taste and nutrition.

If you are looking for a healthy and delicious way to add flavor to your recipes, give orange juice a try.

4. Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is a tart and tangy citrus juice that makes a great substitute for preserved lemons.

The taste of grapefruit juice is similar to that of lemon juice, with a slightly sweeter flavor.

If you’re looking for a way to add some acidity to your dishes without using preserved lemons, grapefruit juice is a great option.

To substitute grapefruit juice for preserved lemons, simply add it to your dish in the same amount that you would use for lemon juice.

You can also add the zest of grapefruit to your dish for extra flavor.

5. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a type of vinegar that is made by fermenting grains.

It has a sour, acidic taste that can be used to add flavor to food.

White vinegar can also be used as a cleaning agent and for pickling.

If you are looking for a preserved lemon substitute, white vinegar is a good option.

The acidity in white vinegar can help to mimic the taste of preserved lemons.

When using white vinegar as a preserved lemon substitute, start by adding a small amount and then adjust to taste.

You may also want to add some salt or sugar to balance out the flavors.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great alternative to preserved lemons.

It has a similar taste and can be used in the same way.

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apples and has a strong, tangy flavor.

It is also rich in acetic acid, which gives it its sour taste.

To substitute apple cider vinegar for preserved lemon, use it in the same proportion as you would lemon juice.

For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, use 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar instead.

You can also add a bit of sugar to offset the sourness if needed.

7. Verjus (unripe Grape Juice)

Verjus is a tart, acidic juice made from unripe grapes.

It has a slightly sweet taste and is used as a seasoning or marinade.

Verjus can be substituted for preserved lemon in recipes that call for a tart, acidic flavor.

Verjus is made by crushing unripe grapes and pressing out the juice.

The juice is then strained and bottled.

Verjus can be found in specialty stores or online.

To substitute verjus for preserved lemon, use 1 tablespoon of verjus for every 1/4 cup of preserved lemon called for in the recipe.


So there you have it, seven of the best substitutes for preserved lemon.

Each of these substitutes will give your dish a tangy, acidic flavor that will take it to the next level.

When choosing a substitute, consider the other flavors in your dish and choose accordingly.

As always, experiment to find what you like best.

7 Best Preserved Lemon Substitutes to Try

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • 1. Regular Lemon Juice
  • 2. Lime Juice
  • 3. Orange Juice
  • 4. Grapefruit Juice
  • 5. White Vinegar
  • 6. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 7. Verjus unripe Grape Juice


  • Select your favorite ingredient from the list above to use as a substitute.
  • Follow the instructions and use the exact ratio of ingredients as directed.
  • This will help to ensure that your dish turns out just as delicious as it would have with the original ingredient.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!