How to Make Preserved Lemons

5 Ingredients or Less, Canning & Preserving, Cook, How-To, Learn, Make, Try This at Home, Weekend Project

A staple in the pantries of the Middle East and North Africa, preserved lemons are a lemon lover’s dream! Follow these steps to make your own, then scroll down for ways to use them. Tip: they also make wonderful gifts.


Preserved Lemons


10 firm, slightly underripe lemons

12 Tbs. kosher salt

3 cups fresh lemon juice, or as needed


Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.


In a large nonreactive saucepan, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Meanwhile, scrub each lemon thoroughly under c0ld running water to remove any dirt or wax. Add the lemons to the water, return to a boil and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.


Cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters, leaving them attached at the stem end. Gently spread apart the quarters and sprinkle 1 Tbs. salt into the center. Place 1 Tbs. salt in each jar and pack the lemons into the jars. Pour in enough lemon juice to cover the lemons, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Seal the jars tightly.


Store the lemons in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks, turning the jars occasionally to distribute the lemon juice and salt evenly. Preserved lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Makes 2 one-quart jars.




Look for organic, unwaxed lemons, and scrub them thoroughly. Be sure to buy extra lemons for juicing. If Meyer lemons are available, use them for slightly sweeter preserved lemons.




After you’ve made preserved lemons, you’ll have to hold yourself back from trying to incorporate the bright, tangy peel into every dish you make. Add minced peel to vinaigrettes and marinades, or stir the peel into stews. Tuck preserved lemon quarters into a chicken cavity before roasting it.


Need more ideas? Try these recipes:




If desired, you can further punch up the flavor of preserved lemons by adding any one of the following flavorings, or a combination, to each jar: 2 bay leaves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp. peppercorns, 4 whole cloves and 1 or 2 tsp. coriander seeds.

6 comments about “How to Make Preserved Lemons

  1. Mary Tibbetts

    Thanks for sharing this…wonderful idea, and one I will definetly use…

  2. Jan

    Made this last weekend. Took 6 pounds of Meyer Lemons for 2 1-quart jars and truth be told, I could’ve used more lemons for more juice. Not sure how the lemons will turn out. They have been on my counter now for 6 days. I will add another comment once I start using the lemons.

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  4. Annette Donelson

    About 20 some years ago I had a preserved lemon recipe. I rarely, if ever, see Meyer lemons here in the Great Southwest so I just go with the plain off-the-tree-in-the-backyard variety. Works fine. Just for the curiosity of it, I left one quart jar in the refrigerator for over a year. (Well, I did have my own lemon tree!) They did get a little mushy over time but the flavor got stronger and worked well for roast chicken. Glad to have this new recipe as mine has gotten “lost” in the mists of time.

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