7+ Simple Lemon Juice Substitutes That Actually Work

As a food scientist, let me share with you the best substitutions for lemon juice that really work, from lime juice and vinegars to more surprising ingredients. 

lemon in a glass with mint

Lemon juice is a mainstay ingredient in cooking and baking. Used in both sweet and savoury recipes, it adds a bright, citrusy acid component to the flavour profile of a finished dish.

Unfortunately, are allergic to real lemon juice, or don’t have any on hand when they need it (and running out to the store in the middle of a recipe is clearly an impossibility).

Luckily, there are plenty of options when you need the flavour or acidity (or both) of lemon juice.

Wondering what the best substitutes for lemon juice are?

As a food scientist, let me share with you these great substitutions for lemon juice that really work:

1. Lime Juice

Lime juice is always at the top of my list as the best across-the-board substitute for lemon juice.

Lime juice has the same tenderizing properties as lemon juice in marinades, adding a slightly different, though still pleasant citrus tartness to desserts, as well.

Easily substitute lime juice for a recipe that calls for lemon juice by replacing the lemon juice with an equal amount of lime juice to most closely match the taste and pH of the real thing.

Best Used In: 

  • Salad/Vegetable Dressings
  • Sautés
  • Desserts
  • Cocktails
  • Marinades
  • Deglazing

2. Lemon Extract

Lemon extract is a highly concentrated lemon flavour that’s often available in the baking section of grocery stores. Only a drop or two is enough to add plenty of lemon flavour to a dish.

It’s a great substitute for lemon juice in desserts in which the lemon flavour is key (but the acid isn’t necessarily needed).

Best Used In: 

  • Salad/Vegetable Dressings (with oil)
  • Desserts
  • Baking
  • Cocktails

3. Citric Acid

Naturally occurring in lemon, lime, and orange juices, citric acid is another great substitute for lemon juice in baking.

To substitute citric acid for lemon juice, mix 1 tsp of citric acid with ½ cup water, which will yield about ½ cup of lemon juice.

With citric acid, a little goes a long way.

Best Used In:

  • Salad/Vegetable Dressings
  • Marinades

4. White Wine

White wine is another good substitute for lemon juice.

White wine works especially well in savoury recipes which call for small amounts of lemon juice to brighten flavours, add acidity, or deglaze pans for sauces or soups.

To use white wine as a lemon juice substitute, simply swap out the lemon juice and replace with the same volume of wine.

Best Used In: 

  • Marinades
  • Sautés
  • Deglazing

5. Rice Vinegar

Vinegar is best used in small amounts as an acidity replacement, as the flavours are much stronger and very different than lemon.

Rice vinegar, aka rice wine vinegar, tends to be milder, and slightly sweeter, than plain or cider vinegars, making it a less noticeable substitution.

To substitute rice vinegar for lemon juice, use a 1:1 substitution – for every tbsp of lemon juice, add a tbsp of vinegar.

Best Used In: 

  • Salad/Vegetable Dressings
  • Marinades
  • Sautés
  • Deglazing

6. Cream of Tartar

To substitute cream of tartar for lemon juice, mix 1/4 tsp cream of tartar with 1 tsp of water for each 1 tsp of lemon juice your recipe calls for.

An acidic powder most often found with baking supplies, cream of tartar has many kitchen uses, from stabilizing egg whites for meringues to creating the light and fluffy scrambled eggs.

Cream of tartar and lemon juice both have acidic properties, but they’re used differently in cooking. Here are a few scenarios where you could sub cream of tartar for lemon juice:

Best Used In: 

  • Preventing Sugar Crystallization: In recipes like caramel or fudge, you can use cream of tartar instead of lemon juice to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
  • Baking: Lemon juice is sometimes used to activate baking soda, but you can also use cream of tartar for this.
  • Soufflés: If you want to stabilize the egg whites in a soufflé but don’t want the lemony taste, cream of tartar is a good option.

Remember, because cream of tartar is much more concentrated than lemon juice, you’ll need less of it. If a recipe calls for a tbsp of lemon juice, start with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar and adjust as needed.

7. White Wine Vinegar

Though slightly stronger than rice vinegar, and with more of a wine aftertaste, it’s still a perfectly acceptable substitute for lemon juice, used one-to-one, in small amounts to add some acidity to your recipe.

To substitute white wine vinegar for lemon juice, use a 1:1 substitution – for every tbsp of lemon juice, add a tbsp of white wine vinegar.

Best Used In: 

  • Salad/Vegetable Dressings
  • Sautés
  • Marinades
  • Deglazing

8. Mango Powder 

Also known as Amchur Powder, this super tangy Indian ingredient is made from unripe green mangoes. It makes a great substitute for lemon juice as it provides the tang as well as a fruity flavor.

To replace lemon juice with powdered lemon zest, start with 1 tsp of mango powder for every tsp of lemon juice that your recipe calls for and add more to taste.

Best Used In: 

  • Desserts
  • Savory recipes
  • Marinades
  • Baking

More Helpful Baking Substitutes

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substitutions for lemon juice

Last Updated on September 18, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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Martel
Martel
5 months ago

Thank you for these alternatives!

Aparna
Aparna
5 months ago

I’ve often found myself out of lemons, and now I know that I can turn to white wine or even mango powder for that citrusy kick. 

Jasmine
Jasmine
5 months ago

It’s great to know there are so many options when I run out of lemon juice in the middle of a recipe. Lime juice and white wine are now my go-to choices

Libby
Libby
5 months ago

So helpful! I never knew that cream of tartar could be used as a substitute for lemon juice.

Skye
Skye
5 months ago

I couldn’t believe how easy the substitutions for lemon juice were! As someone who has run out of an ingredient in the middle of a recipe and had to scramble to find a replacement, this list is a lifesaver. The white wine vinegar and rice vinegar were particularly surprising, haha..

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