Best Substitutes For Lemon Extract You Can Try

Find yourself in need of a substitute for lemon extract? The unique flavor and style of lemon extract is tough to reproduce. Yet, there is no need to worry. There are plenty of ways you can replace lemon extract in a recipe.

It’s worth remembering that lemon extract is somewhat of a rarity in cooking. Also, it isn’t the same as lemon juice. This is a concentrated substance that comes from lemon oil.

While it does have that lemony flavor, its production and use are different from lemon juice and similar, conventional products.

Top Substitutes For Lemon Extract For Your Cooking Needs

1. Lemon Zest

Lemon zest, or for that matter, any citrus zest will do the trick. Since zest is basically solid shavings, it doesn’t hugely alter the consistency of the dish. It won’t add extra moisture and it won’t negatively affect other (possible) ingredients like dairy. 

Using another alternative like lemon juice will curdle dairy. So, using zest is a better choice in these scenarios.

The substitution will see lemon zest in an equal amount to lemon extract. However, it’s better to do a taste check and add more zest if necessary. 

2. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is an acceptable alternative to lemon extract when you want a stronger lemon flavor. It works with most recipes, but avoid those that contain dairy, since the juice will curdle it.

Since lemon juice isn’t as strong as lemon extract, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to use more lemon juice. A good idea is to use twice the amount of lemon juice compared to the called upon amount of lemon extract. 

Keep in mind that using lemon juice will add more moisture content to the recipe and will present a slightly different flavor.

3. Lime Juice

Much like lemon juice, lime juice can be a stand-in for lemon extract in several recipes. When choosing to go this route, remember that lime’s flavor is sharper and more intense than lemon. However, it’s not the same as lemon juice or lemon extract.

As a substitution, add twice the amount of lime juice as compared to the lemon extract. A taste check would be a good idea to ensure you’ve got the right amount.

4. Orange Juice Or Orange Extract

As with other citrus juices like lemon juice and lime juice, orange juice can also work as an acceptable substitute to lemon extract.

Again, you’ll have to use twice the amount of orange juice, though be prepared for a change in taste.

Similarly, orange extract could work as well. This will bring a similar change in flavor, though the replacement quantity too will have to change.

You can start by replacing lemon extract with an equal amount of orange extract and add more if necessary.

It’s worth remembering that orange extract and juice are both sweeter than lemon extract, so some adjustments to the recipe might be necessary.

5. Lemon Essential Oil

Before we go any further with this one, be sure to check that the lemon essential oil is edible. A lot of essential oils contain additives or might be synthesized in a way that makes them unfit for consumption. 

Since lemon extract is a derivative of lemon essential oil, this substitution can work. However, the essential oil has a much more potent flavor, so careful use is important. Using 1/10 the quantity of lemon essential oil should be a good start for the replacement.

6. Vanilla Extract

When you can’t get hold of lemon extract, using an alternative extract will work as well. Vanilla extract is a decent replacement. Keep in mind that switching extracts will cause a clear change in flavor.

Also, you’ll have to check that the vanilla flavor can work with the dish you’re cooking. Balancing the flavors is important and should be carefully handled.

7. Almond Extract

Almond extract as a lemon extract replacement follows the same logic as vanilla extract. It can come in handy in a pinch, but there will be a distinct change in flavor.

Again, see if the switched flavors can be a suitable replacement for your recipe.

It’s possible to replace lemon extract with almond extract in a 1:1 ratio.

8. Vinegar

Vinegar, or rather, white vinegar can function as a decent substitute to lemon extract. However, its use is limited to specific cases and to recipes where lemon isn’t the highlighted flavor.

Vinegar as a lemon extract substitute is best employed for recipes that need a touch of tartness or acidic flavor. 

To use as a substitute, start with using vinegar in only half the amount as replacement for the lemon extract. You can increase the amount if necessary, though that’s likely to be unnecessary.

White vinegar can prove to be too strongly flavored for some palates or recipes. In such cases, it is possible to use white wine vinegar as a substitute.

9. Limoncello

Limoncello is a lemon-based liqueur that adds a nice touch of flavor and depth to recipes. The lemon and citrus-flavored Limoncello can work as a decent substitute. 

You’ll have to keep taste notes in mind when choosing this substitute. It tastes pretty sweet and almost candy-like. In the absence of Limoncello, other liqueur like Amaretto or Chambord can be used as well.

However, they have different flavors and might call for adjustment to the recipe.


How To Make Lemon Extract?

Making lemon extract at home can take several weeks, although the manual work required is only a few minutes. Here’s what you need for DIY lemon extract:

  • Knife
  • Peeler
  • Lemons (about 2 pounds)
  • Unflavored vodka (3 cups)
  • A jar with an airtight lid.

To start, use the peeler to carefully remove the skin from lemons. Try to peel the lemon as thin as possible. Lemon peels have a white layer called the pith as the last layer. This part is bitter and must not be included in the extract.

Once the peeling is complete, fill about ⅔ of the jar with the peels. Next, pour the vodka into the jar. Add enough vodka to completely submerge the peels. 

After this, close the jar with its lid and keep it in a cool, dry, and dark location. Visit it every week and give it a shake to keep things going. The process takes anywhere between four to six weeks, though I’ll suggest waiting the whole six weeks.

After this week is over, strain the mix into another jar and remove the lemon peels. The strained liquid is lemon extract!

Does Lemon Extract Go Bad?

Lemon extract has a very long shelf-life, thanks partially to the concentrated flavor and the alcohol content.

When stored properly in an airtight container away from heat and light, lemon extract will last for about 3-4 years. 

It might still be good to use after this time, but the extract loses flavor and might feel insipid after this time.


If you’re in a spot where you need substitutes for lemon extract, the options listed here can get the job done. When choosing a substitute, keep aspects like flavor, moisture, and texture in mind. 

It’s also possible to make lemon extract at home. Though the process can take several days, it doesn’t it doesn’t require a lot of manual labor to accomplish.

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