what to do with preserved lemons



How are those lemons looking? They should be glossy and soft, smell good and lemony, and there shouldn’t be any mold. Are we good? Did we make it?

Now try one. Just cut off a bit of the rind, and put it right in your mouth.

And that’s what you do with preserved lemons. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing with mine. That’s me in the corner of the kitchen, back turned, hunched over a jar. I’m the one with the entire lemon in my mouth.

Of course, like any new ingredient in the kitchen, it can be difficult to know how to use preserved lemons. If you cook Moroccan food regularly, then you’re all set. But I’ve been experimenting with the gold in my jar, and, as promised, I’ve got 3 recipes for preserved lemons to share with you. I’ve been loving all three, but I’ve got to tell you, the third (created out of a moment of inspiration from Joey) is a game changer. I’ll get there in a minute.


This next one came to me from my friend, India. She forwarded me an email that had been forwarded to her and on and on. That’s email for you- the game of telephone meets the good old recipe card.  It seems that the original creator of this gem is Phyllis. Thank you Phyllis, whoever and wherever you are.

We all devoured this dish. It has enough of the spirit of pasta alfredo that it even meets Rosie’s deepest desires, and the mixture of preserved lemons and roasted garlic is (as a good friend of mine puts it) so brilliant I want to dab it behind my ears.


I can’t even talk about this one. I just want to give you the recipe so you can make it right now.




Need more? Here are a few other preserved lemon recipes out there:

3 recipes for preserved lemons: Preserved Lemon Chicken with Chervil Gremolata; Parmesan, Preserved Lemon, and Thyme Wafers; Preserved Lemon Semifreddo with Basil Syrup (Serious Eats)

Baked Chicken with Artichokes, Cinnamon, and Preserved Lemons  (The Kitchn)

Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Salted Lemon Relish (Kitty Morse Moroccan Cuisine)

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash and Preserved Lemon (Epicurious)

And we haven’t even talked about cocktails! Another day then. Another day. Let me know if you discover one, and we’ll swap notes.


  1. says

    Alana, thank you, thank you, thank you for all these recipes! I have a jar of beautiful preserved Meyer lemons (from my friend’s garden:) that I ogle once a while, but they disappear so slowly, only one at a time, when I make something Moroccan:(
    Hummus? Salad with kale?? Pasta??? Yes!

  2. Shirley says

    wow! I’ve been put off from making preserved lemons because I had no idea what I would do with them afterwards, and this post has inspired me to actually go and preserve some lemons! That pasta and hummus have me drooling…

  3. says

    Oooh, I’ve been wanting to make preserved lemons (because they’re so very pretty!) but didn’t know what to do with them . . . Now, I’ll definitely make them and get to work on using them in your delicious recipes. Thank you!

  4. says

    I’ve been thinking about making these since your last preserved lemon post and now I am even more inspired. I will make it happen in the next few days! Thanks for the great ideas.

  5. says

    Oh, I absolutely love it. The hummus seems so common sense, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it!
    You never mentioned how you like the taste? I can just imagine plopping a whole one in my mouth. LOL
    I also had success with kumquats an key limes. The key limes turned olive green, but they sure pack a punch!

  6. says

    This is invaluable because so many times you see “they are versatile,” but a lot of people just don’t cook that way and need recipes. The couscous recipe from Epicurious is a David Leibovitz recipe that I have made a few times, and I can attest to its deliciousness. I wanted to try them in crab cakes last week, but I was unsure if they would be too out there for my guests’ tastes.
    I can buy preserved lemons at the Whole Foods olive bar, but when you make them yourself they have a much better taste! I made my first batch with too much salt, but it rinses off fine, and they are still much fresher tasting–of real lemon–than the store-bought ones.
    Can’t wait to try that Caesar dressing, thanks!

  7. says

    i just came home and i opened my e-mail and there was your post. i can’t describe how happy i am for these recipes. i have two more preserved lemons in the jar, the rest were used in a moroccan chicken stew and a salad of shredded turnips and beets and i keep searching and reading recipes with preserved lemons and couldn’t decide what to make next. but that sauce with garlic and the hummus are mouthwatering. and accidentally i already have chickpeas soaking in water for tomorrow.
    and the cocktails… can’t wait to hear about them.

  8. janet says

    I think I will make that pasta tomorrow and I am going to wash behind my ears to get ready. And MISO in the hummus. Cannot wait to try that.

  9. says

    Alana – you inspired me to get up off the couch, fill a jar with lemons and salt, and then wait impatiently for the required three weeks before the jar of joy was ready to go. I opened it last night and popped a chopped up slice of preserved lemon into risotto along with porcini and mozzarella – directing people to your site to make their own preserved lemons. Thanks for the inspiration, and perfect directions. I’m looking forward to your book!

    If you want to take a look at my risotto recipe using your lemons, check it out on my blog: http://eatsimplyeatwell.blogspot.com/2012/03/its-been-long-wait-risotto-with-porcini.html

  10. Diana says

    They are so good chopped up in tuna salad or shrimp salad. When people ask me what I use them in, I tell them they’re for use in Moroccan tagines, but really, I make them so I can have that wonderful, salty, intense, lemon in my tuna sandwiches.

  11. Leigh Anna says

    What kind of miso paste do you use in your hummus? Last time I went to but some at our local Asian market, there were so many different kinds, I had no idea which one to buy!

    • alana says

      I’ve actually used a bunch of different kinds- whatever I have in the fridge at the moment. A good basic red miso is a good bet, or if you live in New England and you can get South River Miso- that’s just great miso- any kind is wonderful. They’re here: http://www.southrivermiso.com/

  12. Diana says

    I am so in love with the dressing for the preserved lemon Caesar that I keep daydreaming of other recipes to use it in– some kind of grain salad with green beans and tomatoes from the garden? A grilled vegetable salad? I snatched up my daughters plate when she was done and ate the delicious, delicious bits of lemon left on it after the ones on my plate were gone. I want to evangelize and send the recipe to my friends who cook, but they don’t have preserved lemons. I , however, have a jar and a half left! Next I’m going to make that hummus– genius, putting miso and preserved lemons in hummus!

    • alana says

      Oh I’m so glad the dressing’s been such a hit! I love that one, too. And I have to say, preserved lemons make a mighty fine holiday gift to those near enough to deliver them too- perhaps start them off with a jar and then they’ll get hooked too…

  13. says

    Thanks so much for posting these recipes. I’ve been wondering what to do with these delicious morsels. Diana is correct that they are wonderful in tuna and egg salad. I’ve heard of a Vietnamese lemonade, but my attempts weren’t so great. Made a chicken stew with preserved lemons and kalamata olives that was wonderful. I had planned for leftovers for luch — but my family ate it all! In an Indian grocery I found a jar of “sweet lemons pickles.” They are black and gooey and much more bitter than the homemade preserved lemons. How should I use these? Do they need to be rinsed?

    • alana says

      Sweet lemons pickles- I’m sorry to say that I’m not as intimate with the wide range of Indian pickles as I’d like to be. But they sound right up my alley- anyone else out there have experience with these?

  14. says

    Mmmmm! Preserved lemons – I made some up myself about a month ago and just this evening, made myself an incredible dinner of Sea Bass with spices, vegetables and preserved lemon. I got the recipe from here: http://www.moroccanfoodlovers.com/?page_id=2043

    It was so good, and I thought I’d look for other recipes using these lemons. Your Caesar looks really good! And.. I’ve got some romaine in the fridge!

  15. Beth says

    I just found your gold mine googling what to do with preserved lemons. I’m so excited about these recipes. Just got my first ever lemons going. This should be so fun. Thanks for some great recipes to look forward to!

  16. Cara says

    So I made a few jars of these about a month ago had had them on top of the fridge. I just took them down to take to a food swap and I’m not sure if they are right or not. They taste okay and don’t smell moldy, but there is a little bit of thick stuff in the jar… could this just be something from inside the lemons? I don’t think I’ll take it to the swap and will instead figure something out on the fly, but I am not sure if I botched the preserved lemons. Anyone else had this experience?

    • alana says

      Hi Cara- What is the stuff like? And are the lemons entirely submerged in the brine? If there’s no mold, and everything tastes and smells ok- then my guess is you’re right- it’s a bit of pulp that’s gathered. But it’s hard to know without seeing the jar–if you’re still feeling uneasy, feel free to send more details and we’ll figure it out.

  17. Caitriona says

    I made the Hummous, its lovely but I found it very salty. I rinsed the lemons, just wondering if i left out the flesh would that make it less salty next time?

    • alana says

      Hello Caitriona! Yes- if your hummus was too salty for you, you can absolutely leave out the flesh, which tends to be saltier than the rind. Another option is just to reduce the amount of total preserved lemon, taste, and then add more if you feel it needs it.

    • alana says

      Store them in their sealed jar in the refrigerator. They’ll stay good for up to 6 months (or sometimes more!).

  18. Rachel W says

    Ok, so I made the preserved lemons (2 jars) and all looks fine, but when I go to use them, they fall apart! Complete mush. No rinsing of the lemon cause it’s a mushy mess! Is this right? Does this mean they’re bad? They taste like salty lemon no weird taste, so I’m just not sure I did it right… Thanks!

    • alana says

      Hi Rachel! Total mush, really? I have never had this issue with lemons, but I have with sauerkraut. The culprit there has always been a hot kitchen. Did you leave them somewhere where they would be really warm? Without seeing and smelling them, it’s hard for me to gage their safety, but my personal experience is that unless they’re moldy or smell funny, they are okay.I’d say- go with your intuition if it’s pulling you in one direction. Also, if you used meyer lemons, they can get mushier quicker because of their thin skin. Has anyone else out there ever had a full lemon mush issue? Do pipe in if so!

      • alana says

        Hi Rachel, More and more now I think there wasn’t quite enough salt in the mix– I’d say that, along with possibly a hot kitchen (?) was probably the culprit.

  19. Hannah says

    Had the salad and the fettucine last night for dinner. Two excellent recipes! They are going in my permanent files! The hummus I will try today. Don’t suppose you could come up with more vegan options? So glad I found your site.

  20. Carole says

    Thank you for all the receipes. I have a lemon tree and there are so many lemons I don’t know what to do with them all. This year I am going to preserve them and use them in your receipes and keep a look out for for. thank you!

  21. says

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  22. says

    oh, alana, I’m so tickled to find you! i was hunting for recipes to make with some preserved lemons i received as a gift, and i can’t wait to use your inspiration. your writing style sucked me right in, and i’ll be back to visit again. thanks for sharing!

  23. FeistyChick4U says

    I already had roasted garlic I’d made and put in a jar in the refrigerator and preserved lemons I made in September. I didn’t try anything with them yet, then I discovered your recipes. I have made the pasta and it was DIVINE! Next day it was even more tasty!! The hummus got rave reviews from my Arabic friend from Jordon and I loved it also! Nom! Nom! It sets up a bit solid when cold, so thin it well in the blender with a touch of water beforehand. I ate it with sea salt pita chips. I am adding these to my recipe box for sure! Preserved lemons with a recipe card attached is a great, inexpensive Christmas gift also. Thanks for these delicious recipes!!

  24. Marie says

    Hi Alana have just discovered your website as I had made a jar of preserved Lemons over a month ago and had no clue what to do with them.
    Will be trying out your recipes today especially the hummus mmmmm sounds amazing☺️ Will let you know how I go & look forward to following more of your recipes. I’m having an experimental day today in my kitchen hmmmm
    Oh well here goes. Thank you ☺️

    • alana says

      Oh, lucky you! I think you’ll be surprised by how useful they are. Happy experimenting, and let me know what you think!

  25. says

    I work for a small scale food producer in Vancouver Canada and love your post.
    We make preserved lemons and your ideas are right on the mark to tell our customers about how to used these Gems in a Jar.

  26. Corinne says

    I’ve been making preserved lemons and limes for some time now but decided to puree them up after they fermented. I just don’t add extra salt to whatever I put them in. Found it is easier to use them this way (Also, just for fun use pureed salted oranges for a face mask)

  27. Sandra says

    oooooooohhhhhhhh I’m so excited!! I never heard of preserved lemons before! I grew up in Central America, where you eat lemon/limes on anything. I grew up taking a knife and a saltshaker and gingerly climbing a lime tree, sitting down and eating limes with salt. Talk about yum. So now i’m living in America and my in-laws had a ton of citrus fruit brought in from Pheonix and I was searching for ideas on using all my lemons. I came upon this 3 weeks ago and I AM SO EXCITED!!! I just opened my jar and proceeded to eat 2 slices and my mouth is watering so bad. I am disciplining myself not to eat the whole jar!!! I made mine slightly different, with a Central American twist. Paprika, bay leaves and homemade mango habanero sauce. YUMMMMM.

    But I have one question. Can I use the juice? Why do some preserved lemon recipes say to wash off the lemon before you eat the flesh? I love the saltiness and don’t want to wash it away! would love to hear your take on why you must wash them. Oh, and i read correctly that you eat the rind and all, right?


  28. JP Colter says

    Preserved lemons can be used on almost any seafood – salmon, crab, clams and muscles, scallops, lobster, and are great in shrimp dishes. I make them and use them fairly quickly. Love them!

  29. Jo says

    1 can salmon, drained
    Slightly less than 1/2 package cream cheese, softened
    about 6 olives chopped
    about 2 TBL red onion minced
    about 2 TBL preserved lemon, chopped fine
    1 package True lemon

    Mix together, serve on crackers or as mini rollups using white flour tortilla.
    I preserve my own lemons with half sugar, half salt. Rinse the preserved lemon to remove some of the salt or with the olives, it can be a little too salty.


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