Can I Substitute Lemon Extract For Lemon Juice? Plus Other Alternatives

Last Updated on April 9, 2024

Fresh lemon juice is sometimes hard to find. But, can I substitute lemon extract for lemon juice? In short, you can, depending on the function.

Lemon extract is an excellent option if you need to substitute the lemon flavor. However, there are better substitutes if you need to make up for the acidity and the liquid volume in the recipe. You can use this guide for any recipe!

You can apply this to our Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes or our Lemon Sour Cream.

Can I Substitute Lemon Extract For Lemon Juice?

The short answer is yes. You can substitute lemon juice using lemon extract. But, there are a few things to take into consideration first.

You need to understand what each of these ingredients are, so that you can understand when they can be used as well as how they should be substituted.

Lemon juice comes in two forms; processed and freshly squeezed. Regardless of which you use or need to substitute, both come from lemons and are very acidic and slightly yellow liquid.

Lemon extract on the other hand is a much more concentrated form when it comes to flavor, however, it isn’t made from lemon juice. This extract is made by soaking lemon peels in a spirit like vodka or in a neutrally-flavored oil. Unlike lemon juice, it doesn’t have any acidity to it.

So, this means that lemon extract will only work as a substitute for lemon juice if you need a flavor substitute. However, if you are looking for a liquid volume or acidity substitution, you best look at some of our other options.

How can I substitute lemon extract for lemon juice?

You can substitute the lemon juice with lemon extract by using a 2 to 1 ratio of lemon juice to extract. Meaning, you use half the amount of lemon extract that the recipe calls for lemon juice.

So, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, you only need to use 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract.

To make up for the lacking volume (if you need to), you can add some water. If you need some acidity, you can make up the volume with vinegar.

lemon juice substitute

What To Use As A Lemon Substitute?

There are many substitutes for lemon juice that will have a very specific function. Some can add the liquid volume, the flavor, and the acidity, while others will only be able to do one or two of these. Nevertheless, we guarantee to help you find something that works best for you.

Substitute #1: Citrus juice and zest

So, this may feel like a very broad category of substitutes, and well, it is. Lemon is part of the citrus family and therefore shares a lot of characteristics with other citrus fruits. Lime juice is by far the best citrus substitution for lemon juice. It has a very similar taste, an intense acidic profile, and can match the volume you need for the recipe. You can substitute it in equal parts with the lemon juice.

Some other citrus fruits that will be able to give you the liquid volume and acidity include grapefruits and kumquats.

Orange will help you give the volume, but not a lot of acidity. It does however still have a slightly lemony flavor to it.

Substitute #2: Vinegar

Vinegar will make an excellent substitute if you only need to substitute a small amount of lemon juice. Obviously, it doesn’t have a lemon-like flavor, but it does have the intense acidity lemon juice has.

Do not substitute the lemon juice with vinegar if you need a definitive lemon flavor.

Also, never use red or brown vinegar as a lemon juice substitute. Only use white vinegar like white grape vinegar, white spirit vinegar, or white wine vinegar.

You can substitute lemon juice with white vinegar in equal parts.

Substitute #3: Citric acid

Citric acid is an already naturally occurring acid in acidic fruits, like lemons. This means that they will make a fantastic substitution if you need to substitute for acidity! It comes in a powdered form that will need to be incorporated into the recipe in some way.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to easily substitute the lemon-like flavor or the liquid volume the lemon juice has.

How to substitute the lemon juice with citric acid?

You only need 1 teaspoon or 5 grams of citric acid to substitute 1/2 cup (125 ml) of lemon juice. From this ratio, it is easy to calculate exactly the amount you need for your recipe.

If you need the liquid volume in the recipe (like in a salad dressing), you can simply add some water or increase the volume of another liquid ingredient.

Substitute #4: Cream of tartar

lemon substitute

This is another type of acidic powder that is often used in baking as part of a leavening agent or as a stabilizer.

While it is less acidic compared to citric acid, you can still use it to substitute the acidity of lemon juice, but unfortunately not the liquid volume or the flavor.

How to use cream of tartar to substitute lemon juice?

Like we have mentioned, cream of tartar is much less acidic than citric acid and has a closer pH to that of pure lemon juice. So, you can almost substitute it in equal parts.

We would recommend using a 2 to 1 ratio again. Use half the amount of cream of tartar than the lemon juice amount called for.

So, if a recipe needs 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of lemon juice, you only need 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cream of tartar.

Again, if you need to make up for some liquid volume, mix the cream of tartar with water.

Substitute #5: White wine

As a last resort, we would say that white wine is a great option. You can substitute it is equal parts and it will give you a slight acidity that is better than nothing. And, it will also make up the liquid volume function.

The Best Substitutes For Lemon juice

If you found this lemon juice substitute useful, please feel free to share it with your baking community and let us know in the comments below if you have some other substitute ideas!

Read more about How To Make Sour Cream With Lemon Juice.

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