13 Tart Lemon Extract Substitutes

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Did you know that many options are available for a lemon extract substitute? We are going to look at several different options that work well, including these 5 Tart Lemon Extract Substitutes. The best option depends on your desired outcome for the food. Be sure to read about each of the options available to you, before choosing one. 

What Is Lemon Extract

Lemon extract is an oil or alcohol-based flavored liquid. The extract is made by soaking lemon peels in a clear, natural flavored alcohol such as vodka. This process allows the essential oils in the lemon peel to be released and then infused in the alcohol. After being soaked, the lemon peel is removed, and the alcohol distilled. This process that is used to create lemon extract, allows a deliciously flavored liquid to be created. This liquid has a wonderful lemon flavor without the acidic and tart flavor of lemon juice.

Lemon extract is included in all kinds of baked and cooking dishes, from main courses to side dishes to desserts. Many kinds of foods benefit from the use of lemon extract. Lemon flavoring often enhances the natural flavor of a dish, without being the center of attention. Lemon extract can also be showcased as the main attraction of a lemon-flavored dish such as a pie, or curd. Creating lemon cupcakes with lemon filling is one of my personal all-time favorite cupcake recipes.  

What Dish Are You Creating?

When looking at a substitute for lemon extract, it is important to take several different factors into consideration. Some of the things that should be considered are the taste, texture, and consistency of the food. Also consider whether your recipe has any dairy products in it. 

Consider Taste, Texture And Consistency Before Choosing A Lemon Extract Substitute

Consider how the dish you are creating should taste. Keep in mind that a substitute for lemon extract could impact the outcome of the intended taste. Next consider the texture of your finished dish. This is especially important when your ingredient list includes dairy products. Finally, be sure to consider the consistency of your finished dish. Some of these substitute options we are going to look at are not a one for one substitution and so the recipe should be adjusted accordingly. 

Examining the taste, texture, and consistency of the recipe you are making is important because what you choose to use as a substitute can play a part in how the dish turns out. Depending on your dish, you might also want to consider completely changing the flavor and substituting with another flavor of extract. 

Consider All Substitute Options For Lemon Extract

It is also a good idea to be extra careful what you substitute, as well as when it is added, if your recipe includes dairy products. For example, if you use lemon juice as a substitute, you will want to fold this into your recipe at the very end, to avoid your mixture curdling, because lemon juice is more acidic than lemon extract. Do not fear though, there are many substitute options. Just be aware that the inclusion of dairy could require extra consideration when choosing a substitute. 

Depending on what substitute you choose, you might need to slightly adjust your recipe. This is because some substitutes are not as potent as lemon extract, therefore you will need to add more of the substitute to gain the desired flavor. By adding more liquid, the composition of your mixture may be thrown off. This can be easily solved by holding back some of another liquid in your recipe. 

1: Juice Substitutes

A good substitute option for lemon extract is juice. This can be any kind of citrus juice, including lemon juice, lime juice or orange juice. It is best to use juice that has been freshly squeezed. Lemon juice specifically will give you a similar flavor to lemon extract, but the juice contains more acid and is less concentrated. However, lemon juice will allow you to keep the fresh lemon flavor. 

Lime juice and orange juice are also very good options. They will allow you to keep that delightful citrus flavor but taste slightly different than lemon. With any type of fresh squeezed juice, you will want to substitute 2 tablespoons of fresh juice for every 1 teaspoon of lemon extract. You may also want to reduce the other liquids included in your recipe, by a total of two tablespoons. This will help to make sure the consistency of your mixture does not become too runny. 

Difference Between Juice And Lemon Extract

The main difference between lemon juice and lemon extract is that lemon juice is created using the flesh portions of the lemon. Lemon Extract on the other hand is made using the skin. Because of the different parts of the lemon used to create each, the taste between the two is slightly different. Lemon extract will have a stronger smell to it, where lemon juice is usually fresher. Both are great options, it simply depends on how you are using them, as to which one works the best. However, one can be used as a substitute for the other.

If you are considering using a juice for your lemon extract substitute, be very careful if your recipe includes dairy products. The extra acid included specifically in lemon juice is more than is contained in lemon extract. By substituting lemon juice for extract, you potentially could cause the dairy in your dish to curdle. You can add juice by carefully folding it in as your very last step, however if you have another option, you might consider using those. Otherwise, juice can be a great substitute for lemon extract because it provides that fresh flavor. 

2: Zest Substitutes

Zest from citrus is another great Substitute for Lemon Extract. Zest is the name for the fine shavings, created by using a grater or zester on the outside of citrus peeling. Because zest is created from the outside of a fruit, we suggest first washing off the food under cold water. 

The zest can be from lemons, oranges, or limes; they all work well. The key to using zest in a recipe is to use a microplane to create your zest. Then, while you are zesting, make sure that you don’t include the white layer that is under the skin. This part will give you an unwanted bitter flavor. 

To substitute lemon, lime, or orange zest for lemon extract, you can use the exact same amount that the recipe called for to start. Using zest is a 1:1 ratio. From there, you might choose to add more zest if you desire a bolder flavor. Taste your mixture as you go to determine if you need more zest or if you are satisfied with the flavor. 

If you have fresh citrus on hand to use for zesting, this is the best substitute for lemon extract. It keeps the consistency of your recipe the same, and does not change the taste or texture of your finished product. The best part is that it is an equal substitute, meaning that if one teaspoon is called for in your recipe, you can add one teaspoon of zest. If desired, you can always add a bit more zest to make the flavors more pronounced. Out of all the Lemon Extract Substitutes, this is the best option if you are able to use it.

3: Extract Substitutes

Other flavored extracts can also be used as substitutes. Be sure to consider the dish you are making before you move forward with your decision. Other flavored extracts, such as orange extract is a good substitute for lemon flavoring. Depending on your dish, vanilla or almond might work as well. This will really depend on what you are making, and how well the flavor will go with the rest of the ingredients. To substitute other extract flavors, use the same amount as originally called for in the recipe. 

4: Food Safe Essential Oil Substitutes

Some essential oils can be used for substitutes for lemon extract. However, before going any further, it is of the utmost importance that you stop and check the label of your oil to BE SURE THAT IT IS FOOD SAFE. Some are not okay to be ingested, so make sure the kind you have can be eaten in food. Lemon essential oils, or other citrus oils work well as substitutes, but they must say that they are food safe. If they do not say they are food safe on the label then do not use them. Instead choose from the other substitutes. 

If the essential oil is labeled food safe, you can place a few drops in your mixture. Remember that a little bit goes a very long way with essential oils. A good estimate is 1/8 teaspoon of lemon essential = 1 teaspoon lemon extract. If you want more flavor, try adding one drop at a time until you are satisfied with the flavor. 

5: Essence Substitutes

Lemon essence is another substitute idea. This substitute has some great benefits, including a longer shelf life, a bright yellow color, and being quite affordable. One downer about it is that some brands have more of an artificial flavor than others.  

Lemon essence is made using artificial color, flavoring, and chemical ingredients. Whereas lemon extract, is taken directly out of a lemon.  Because it is an artificial flavor, every brand will have a slightly different taste to it. To substitute, begin by putting equal parts lemon essence as what the recipe called for lemon extract. From there the flavor can be adjusted by adding more if you desire.  

Substitute Measurement Guide

Below we have provided a chart for you, displaying the different Lemon Extract Substitutes types and their corresponding amounts needed. Some of the substitute ideas require more of the new ingredient than your recipe will require for lemon extract, and some will require less. 

Quantity Substitute for every 1 tsp of Lemon Extract

SubstituteAmount Needed
Lemon juice2 tablespoons
Lemon zest1 teaspoon, additional as desired
Lemon essence1 teaspoon, additional as desired
Lime juice2 tablespoons
Orange juice2 tablespoons 

6: Dry White Wine Substitute 

We want to point out that lemon extract is made by placing peels into unflavored alcohol. Lemon or citrus flavored wines or other alcoholic beverages make great substitutes for lemon extract as well. White wine contains a light and citrus like flavor, which makes a great substitute. Be sure to choose the right one, so that it does not overpower the sweet side. Look for something that is very acidic as well. To substitute, start off using equal amounts dry white wine, equivalent to what the recipe calls for lemon extract. You might need to add more. 

7: Brandi & Liquor Substitutes

The last substitute idea for lemon extract is less common. Brandi and liquor can also be used as a substitute depending on the recipe. This would depend on what kind of dish you are making but could be a viable substitute option for some. 

8: Lemon Verbena Substitute

Lemon verbena is another possible substitute. This substitute does not offer any additional acidic flair, so if you are looking for this in your dish, it might be wise to choose another option. Lemon verbena is a herb that has a sweet lemony smell and taste. It provides a nice sense of lemon, without the acid of a lemon. Lemon verbena is often used as a garnish in foods. If you desire to substitute it for lemon extract, we recommend that you start off with a little bit and use the taste as your guide. 

9: White Vinegar Substitute

Vinegar can be used as a substitute for lemon extract; however, it should not be used in just any dish. Vinegar should only be used in dishes where lemon is not the featured flavor. If lemon is the main flavor of your dish, you’ll want to choose a different substitute. 

Vinegar is a staple in many kinds of recipes and has a lot of great uses. It can be found in little bottles or gallon sized bottles. You can find it at the local grocery store, and it is relatively low in price. 

When replicating the tart and acidic components of lemons, vinegar can make a nice substitute. It should only be used in place of lemon when the dish does not focus on lemon flavors. To substitute, begin by adding ½ part vinegar to substitute one part of what the recipe called for with lemon. More vinegar can be added if you desire more tartness in your dish, but if you start with less, vinegar will not overpower the flavor of your dish. 

10: White Wine Vinegar Substitute 

White wine vinegar, like white vinegar should only be used if lemon is not the intended main flavor of your dish. If it is, you should choose a different substitute. White wine vinegar is highly acidic and will provide a great tartness to your dish. This option has a calmer flavor than normal white vinegar, and so can be a better option.  To substitute, begin by adding a lesser amount than is called for in your recipe. If your recipe calls for one teaspoon, try starting off with ½ teaspoon of white wine vinegar. If you desire more, then add small amounts until you are happy with the flavor. 

11: Cream of Tartar Substitute

Cream of tartar is also a good substitute for lemon if you are looking for the acidic component that lemons contain. It comes in a powder form that is available in most grocery stores. 

This amazing little powder has many different uses in your kitchen. It is often used to stabilize egg whites that have been whipped so fast they foam. 

Due to the large acid contents, cream of tartar can be used as a replacement for lemon. However, it should not be used if lemon is the main flavor of your dish. To substitute, for every teaspoon of lemon called for, use ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. 

12: Citric Acid Powder

A common question is if citric acid powder can be used as a lemon extract substitute. While it does a good job of imitating the acid content of lemon extract, it does not do very well copying the lemon flavor. We would not recommend using it if you have other options available. However, if you do not have other substitutes available to you, citric acid powder can be used as a substitute by adding ¼ teaspoon of citric acid for every 1 teaspoon of lemon extract. 

13: Make Your Own Lemon Extract As A Substitute

Did you know that it is possible to make your own lemon extract? If you are in a hurry, this will not be an option for you. But it is fun to try making your own. It is quite a simple process with few ingredients.

Homemade lemon Extract Step 1:

To start, you will need a peeler or a knife. Begin by peeling as much of the yellow skin as you can. As you peel, remember to try to avoid the white portion below the skin. This is called, the pith. It will add a bitter taste to your extract if it is included, so try to avoid it as much as possible.  

Homemade lemon Extract Step 2:

Place your lemon peels in a jar. You will want to fill the jar 2/3 of the way full with your lemon peels. Address about 2 to 3 cups of unflavored vodka, or enough to fully cover your lemon peels. Secure the lid, and place the jar in a cool, dark location, such as a pantry or inside a cabinet. Allow it to sit for four to six weeks, shaking it once a week. After the six weeks have passed, remove the skin and place liquid into a fresh jar. Use your fresh lemon extract as desired. There you have your very own homemade Lemon Extract Substitutes!

Summary: There are many different options when you are looking at a lemon extract substitute. Today we looked at 13 Tart Lemon Extract Substitutes ideas. Most consist of citrus flavorings, whether in juice, zest, or other flavors of extract. Other options will work well but can potentially change the flavor of the dish. To decide what to use, consider what you are making, and what your desired outcome is. 

What is your all-time favorite recipe incorporating lemon flavoring? 

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5 from 1 vote

Homemade Lemon Extract

Resting Time42 d
Total Time42 d
Keyword: extract, homemade extract, lemon extract

Equipment

  • peeler
  • knife
  • jar and lid

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lemons washed and peeled
  • 3 cups unflavored vodka 80 or 100-proof 

Instructions

  • Peel your lemons by removing the yellow skin. Avoide including the white portion of skin below known as the pith.
  • Place your lemon peels into a jar
  • Fill the jar 2/3 of the way full with your lemon peels
  • Pour in about two to three cups of unflavored vodka, or enough to fully cover your lemon peels
  • Secure the lid, and place the jar in a cool, dark location
  • Allow it to sit for four to six weeks, shaking it once a week
  • After the four to six weeks have passed, remove the skin and place liquid into a fresh jar
  • Use your fresh lemon extract as desired

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