Here's What You Can Substitute For Lemon

Lemons are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, and because of their healing powers, they were considered a symbol of the rich in Rome (via Today, they are a versatile staple in the kitchen pantry and can add a tangy or sour twist to recipes, both sweet and savory.

Lemons are rarely peeled and eaten like their sweet citrus friend the orange, yet lemons are a culinary delight that stretch the imagination of both the cook and the baker, expert and novice alike. What do you do if you are making your favorite baked lemon butter tilapia, lemon pound cake, or guacamole and can't find one of these yellow fruits in the house? There are some surprising substitutions that you may have hiding in your cabinets that will pack a similar flavor and zing.

Healthline notes white wine and cream of tartar are two easy ingredients you can swap for lemon juice. White wine can be swapped as a one-to-one substitution for lemon juice in your favorite recipe, or can be used to deglaze a frying pan. Cream of tartar, which is a dry, acidic powder that is a byproduct of fermented grapes, is a baker's friend (via All Recipes). Its acidic nature makes it a great substitute for lemon juice, but because it is a dry ingredient, you will need to add some water or other liquid. Healthline suggests using 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar for every one teaspoon needed of lemon juice.

Use vitamin C tablets as a substitute for lemons

Perhaps one of the more surprising substitutions for lemon juice is vitamin C tablets. Tastessence suggests five vitamin C tablets dissolved in three cups of water can easily serve as a replacement for lemon juice. No vitamin C tabs in the house? How about a packet of dry unsweetened lemonade drink powder? Mix the packet with 8 ounces of water and you can use an equal amount of the drink to replace lemon juice in recipes like lemon bars, cookies, and salad dressings (via Tastessence).

Another lemon juice alternative is vinegar, as its acidic nature makes it a natural pick. Huffington Post recommends that for every 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, you can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, cider vinegar, or champagne vinegar. Whatever vinegar you might use, Tastessence notes that it works best to use when the recipe is not using lemon for its aromatic or flavor properties.  

Still, one of the easiest swaps for lemon juice is lime juice. LEAFtv notes that because the two fruits are so closely related, lemons and limes can be used interchangeably; however, you may need to change the quantity. 

While there's nothing quite like the real thing, there are definitely plenty of options if you find yourself without this favored citrus.