Lemon juice adds a tangy, citrusy flavor to food and drinks and boosts flavor without the need to add table salt. Not everyone likes lemon juice, though, and even when they do, running out for fresh lemons or juice may not be an option in the middle of making a recipe. There are a number of suitable lemon juice substitutes available.

When choosing a lemon juice substitute, it is advisable to consider any health or nutritional needs.

For example, some people do not want to use lemon juice because it is very acidic and may cause heartburn or intensify symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Others may want something slightly less sour or a quick and easy substitute when the refrigerator is bare.

This article discusses suitable lemon juice substitutes that ensure a recipe tastes right even when a person does not have time to go to the store.

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Lime juice offers the flavor most similar to lemon juice, though it is slightly more bitter. It works well in a 1–1 ratio, but people sensitive to bitter flavors might consider diluting the lime juice.

A 100-gram (g) serving of lime juice contains:

  • 25 calories (kcal)
  • 1.69 g sugar
  • 14 milligrams (mg) calcium
  • 8 mg magnesium
  • 117 mg potassium
  • 2 mg sodium

ACV offers the same bitter, tangy taste as lemon with a slightly salty flavor. The end product will not have a strong citrus flavor. ACV should substitute lemon juice with a 1–1 ratio. That means if the recipe calls for a cup of lemon juice, a person should instead add a cup of ACV.

ACV is an increasingly popular home remedy for a variety of health conditions. If a person avoids lemon juice because of heartburn, ACV may be a suitable alternative. While no recent research has tested the role of ACV in fighting heartburn, plenty of anecdotal evidence on message boards and blogs suggests that some people find relief using it.

A 100 g serving of ACV contains:

  • 21 kcal
  • 0.4 g sugar
  • 7 mg calcium
  • 73 mg potassium
  • 0.2 mg iron

Orange juice offers a sweeter flavor than lemon juice, making it an ideal choice for people who like the freshness of lemon but not the bitter aftertaste. A person should use a 1–1 ratio, adding the same amount of orange juice as the recipe states for lemon juice.

A 100 g serving of orange juice contains:

  • 45 kcal
  • 8.4 g sugar
  • 11 mg calcium
  • 200 mg potassium
  • 0.2 mg iron
  • 1 mg sodium
  • 50 mg vitamin C

Grapefruit juice provides the same bitterness as lemon juice but without as much sour flavor. A person should substitute the lemon juice with grapefruit juice in a 1–1 ratio.

People should be cautious when using grapefruit juice as a substitute if they are preparing a meal for other people, especially individuals who take medication for a chronic illness. Grapefruit contains an enzyme, CYP3A4, which can cause people to absorb too much medication, changing the way it works in the body.

An 8 ounce (oz) serving of grapefruit juice offers:

  • 90 kcal
  • 1.6 g fat
  • 19 g sugar
  • 350 mg calcium
  • 317 mg potassium
  • 0.1 mg iron
  • 4.8 mg sodium
  • 53 mg vitamin C

For people who like the fresh, crisp lemon juice flavor but dislike bitter or sour notes, celery juice is an appealing alternative.

Celery is higher in sodium than most other lemon juice alternatives, so people on a low sodium diet should be mindful of this fact. Individuals can replace lemon juice with celery juice at a 1–1 ratio.

A 100 g serving of celery juice contains:

  • 14 kcal
  • 1.34 g sugar
  • 40 mg calcium
  • 0.2 mg iron
  • 260 mg potassium
  • 80 mg sodium

White wine vinegar offers the bitterness and acidity of lemon juice, as well as a bit of sourness. It is also a key ingredient in many recipes, which means a person may already have it in their cabinet. People should replace lemon juice with white wine vinegar at a 1–1 ratio.

White wine vinegar has almost no nutritional value, though the specific nutrition facts vary by brand. Most small servings contain a few to no calories, no vitamins, and no minerals. Some brands may be higher in sodium than others.

Replacing lemon juice in a recipe will slightly change the flavor. So if the problem is a shortage of lemons or lemon juice, not an issue with the way lemons taste, getting as much lemon into the recipe as possible will preserve its flavor.

For example, a person with some lemon juice but not enough could try zesting the peel of the lemons they do have and mixing the zest into any lemon substitute.

For people who dislike the taste of lemon, there are several alternatives, including:

  • lime juice
  • ACV
  • orange juice
  • grapefruit juice
  • celery juice
  • white wine vinegar

To get the best results, people can try experimenting with different alternatives. Making a note of the recipes the alternative work best in can make it easier to use a suitable substitute next time an ingredient is missing.