What Is a Meyer Lemon, Anyway?

In Season, Learn, Primers, Spring

What Is a Meyer Lemon

Meyer lemons are a popular selection right now at supermarkets, especially as they’re coming into their peak season, which is late winter and early spring. But what exactly is a Meyer lemon, and what distinguishes them from other lemons you spot at the store?


Meyer lemons, or Citrus × meyeri, are a cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges. These aromatic fruits have a uniform, round shape absent of any protrusions around the stem, a thin, edible, smooth skin, glossy green leaves and a golden yellow hue that’s reminiscent of a fresh egg yolk.


Meyer lemons are a cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges.


The Meyer lemon is native to China, where it was originally used only as a decorative houseplant, thanks to its dwarf size, fragrant aroma and ability to grow indoors with ease. In the early 1900s, the fruit was brought to the United States by Frank Meyer, an agricultural explorer who worked for the Department of Agriculture, and eventually cultivated in citrus-growing states like California, Texas and Florida.


Partly because of their historical use as a decorative plant and partly because of their delicate stature—thin skins made them hard to ship—Meyer lemons didn’t reach the mainstream American food audience until the 2000s, when Martha Stewart began featuring the fruit in tarts, pastas and other recipes.


Meyer Lemon Squares


With sweeter juice, a thinner peel, lower acid and a more prominent aroma, Meyer lemons are incredibly versatile. (Because Meyer lemon peels don’t have a thick layer of bitter white pith, you can cook with them, too.) Use them anywhere you desire a lemon flavor without the lemon’s characteristic biting, sharp acidity—in drinks, vinaigrettes, pastas, braises, desserts and more.


Share your favorite use of Meyer lemons with us below!



27 comments about “What Is a Meyer Lemon, Anyway?

  1. 5 DIY Lemon Preserving Projects to Make at Home

  2. Lois Titherington

    Absolutely delicious when combined with melted but and the rind on chicken!!!

  3. Meyer Lemon Marmalade | Williams-Sonoma Taste

  4. Mary bancroft

    I’ve grown these for years when I worked in my aunts green house. She made lemon meirange pies with them I loved the fact they bloom in late winter and filled the green house with a delicious scent. And challenging because it took to the following January to have fruit. I failed at making meirange pies but did very well with lemon crumb pie as in fanny farmer cook book. Now every Christmas I make pies and lemon bread. This lemon excelled as a dessert lemon! Now 40 years later my brother owns the original tree. Which unlike the new improved Meyers lemon has bigger fruit. Thanks to Martha Stewart she has made a big deal over them and now I find them in my local stores just around Christmas.

  5. Melkat

    If one wants to make a delicious drink without needing a huge bag of these beauties, there are some delicious-sounding cocktails out there. This is my new favorite, a “sour”-style cocktail combining a little Meyer lemon juice (3.4 oz.) with elderflower liqueur (1 oz.) and gin (2 oz.).

    I used standard Tanqueray London Dry instead of the “recommended” Hendricks, and it was just fabulous.


    1. Melkat

      Sorry — that should say “3/4 oz.” of the Meyer lemon juice, NOT 3.4 oz.

      I only typed in the amounts myself in case the link to the recipe didn’t work or wasn’t allowed.

      1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
      2 ounces Hendrick’s gin
      3/4 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
      Meyer lemon twist, for garnish

      Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add the elderflower liqueur, gin, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously until the sides of the shaker are frosty, about 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with the lemon twist, and serve.


  6. Pat Sommer

    I have the BEST lemon meringue pie recipe ever! Originally, I found it in the Farm Journal Cookbook, circa 1964. The secret is a little meringue folded into the filling before putting it in the shell. Of course, one uses fresh lemons and 4 eggs and the usual other ingredients. Meyer lemons would work wonderfully for this pie. It is not throat-clutchingly tart; just wonderfully elegant.

  7. Sandra

    Would you publish your recipe? I have failed at making lemon pie and would love to try a new one.

    1. Mary

      Lemon crumb pie is in Fannie Farmer. I go on line to ind others as like William Sonoma.

  8. Try These 5 Lemon Preserving Projects at Home | Williams-Sonoma Taste

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