How to Make Preserved Lemons

CondimentHow ToMoroccan CuisineLemon

Preserved lemons recipe. Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

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

Preserved Lemons on Simply Recipes

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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48 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Robert

    super easy, and they taste fantastic in a yogurt sauce served with a salad of feta, kale and BBQ chickpeas.


  2. Ken

    Bought a Meyer’s lemon tree, and at 3′ tall I have over 20 lemons. I’ve been looking for ideas, so this sounds great!

  3. Dave In London

    I have been preserving lemons for many years using the above recipe with success!
    I use them in tagines, adding X factor to many yummy middle eastern dishes!
    Go for it if you want the real taste of yummy!

  4. Dave Puffett In London

    I have preserved lemons, chillies and limes for many years now and have kept to the above mentioned method.
    Great in tagines and lemon rice and citrus cous cous yummy!
    So tasty, healthy and X factor

  5. rl

    I gave some to a friend, and she put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer. They don’t take up much room, and likely an infinite shelf life. I am considering making a change in the next batch.

    Juice all lemons
    quarter the skins
    remove all seeds
    put all of the juice and pulp over the peels
    Proceed as per normal recipe.

    Advantage, I usually add these to stews or condiments, peel, pulp, juice and all. It is all the salt I need, but the seeds are a detriment to the taste, and are hard to separate out. I am also planning on using a little citric acid with water to make extra liquid so all the peels or quarters are covered. A gallon jar will need about a pint of this acidified water, and will not dilute the ph of the lemon juice.

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How to Make Preserved Lemons