How to Make Preserved Lemons

Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. It’s quite easy to do, though takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use.

How to Make Preserved Lemons

  • Prep time: 20 minutes

We use Meyer lemons for making preserved lemons because we grow them and because they are milder than Eureka lemons (the regular lemon you buy at the store), they work beautifully preserved this way.



  • 8-10 lemons (Meyer if you have them)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of kosher salt
  • Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
  • Sterilized quart canning jar


1 Put 2 tablespoons of kosher salt at the bottom of your canning jar.

2 Rinse and scrub clean the lemons. With each lemon, cut off any stems. Cut off 1/4-inch from the tip of the lemons. Cut the lemons lengthwise in half, but keep the lemon attached at the base, do not cut all the way through. Then make another cut the same way, as if you were cutting the lemons into quarters, but not all the way through.

preserved-lemons-1a preserved-lemons-1b

3 Gently pull open the lemons and sprinkle well with kosher salt, inside and out.

4 Put the prepared lemons in your canning jar and press them down so that their juices come out and rise to the top. Pack the jar with lemons, making sure that they are covered with juice. Add more juice if needed, and add a couple more tablespoons of kosher salt to the top.

5 Close the lid to the jar and let it sit at room temperature on the counter for a few days. Turn the jar upside down every so often. After a few days put the jar of lemons in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks, until the rinds of the lemons soften. Turn the jar upside down occasionally while storing in the refrigerator.

6 To use preserved lemons in cooking, remove one from the jar and rinse it to remove the salt. Discard any seeds. Remove the pulp. Thinly slice or chop the preserved lemon rind to use in a recipe.

Preserved lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.


Experiment with adding spices to the preserved lemons—cardamom, vanilla, cloves, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, peppercorns.

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Sam's preserved lemons recipe

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Showing 4 of 46 Comments

  • Tammy

    Facsinating! I’ve never had preserved lemons, what do they taste like?

    Note from Elise: lemony and a little salty, but not acidic

  • Michele

    I was just reading about this exact technique on Messy Cucina a couple of weeks ago, they sound delicious! Now I just have to locate a source for Meyer lemons around here.

  • Beth Owen

    What can you use these preserved lemons for, it sounds interesting, but cannot think how I would use them.

    Note from Elise: Our Moroccan chicken recipe is one idea for using them.

  • Carol

    Immediately I think of dipping sauce for Artichokes. Also a great fish sauce (instead of tartar), and some pasta dishes. YUMMY idea! thanks….

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