Pickle & Preserve

So You Bought a Jar of Preserved Lemons, What’s Next?

March  8, 2018

So you bought that jar of preserved lemons because it seemed like a good idea. Or maybe that one recipe called for a slice or two for brightness and levity. Or maybe you were curious and saw it on the grocery store shelf and thought to yourself, Hey, I’ll try this! Either way, you’ve now got yourself a jar of the stuff sitting in your fridge and, if you’re anything like me, have no idea what to do with them.

For starters, preserved lemons are a condiment common in South Asian and North African cooking, made by canning wedges of the citrus in jars of salt mixed with their own tangy juice. The brine keeps the lemons sharp and zesty well into the off-season months. You can use bits of the rind and flesh in your cooking, or a dash of the acidic brine to breath lemony life into a sauce or dressing. And if you find yourself with extra lemons on hand, why not preserve some lemons at home? It’s a lot easier than you think.

Okay, now that you’ve mastered that—or picked up a jar at your grocery store—it’s time to get cooking. But how? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are all the recipes from our site that have a splash, dash, zest, or chop of preserved lemon in their ingredient list. Get going!

With Chicken

With Vegetables

With Seafood

Feeling inspired? What do you like to make with your preserved lemons? Tell us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amanda
  • foofaraw
  • Jennifer
  • witloof
  • Carla Fisher
    Carla Fisher
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Amanda March 9, 2018
You... let it expire because you don't know what to do with it and have to live with the shame? It happened to, huh, a friend. Your solutions sound better.
foofaraw March 9, 2018
Can I use lime instead of lemon to make preserved lime?
Jennifer March 9, 2018
Sure (if you're uncertain, Bon Appetit has a brief recipe: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/preserved-limes). With both lemons and limes, if you like, you can add various spices (peppercorns, coriander seed, etc.). But not necessary.
foofaraw March 10, 2018
Awesome thanks! I'll try that soon.
Jennifer March 8, 2018
If you make your own--or if you buy--organic is better. Remember, you're eating the peel. (Preserved/pickled limes are great too.) Along with use in actual recipes, I... chop them and add them to braised greens (reduce/eliminate other salt); or chop and toss with broccoli before roasting; or mash with garlic and cumin and olive oil and coat fish before baking/broiling/grilling... Really, once you get used to having them on hand, you'll use them all the time...
witloof March 8, 2018
I made a big batch of preserved lemons and agree that the pairing of preserved lemon with candied ginger is genius. I often mince up the two and add them to stir fried vegetables or to vinaigrette in salads.
Carla F. March 8, 2018
I made a jar from Paula Wolfert's recipe in Unforgettable. (Speaking of which, I borrowed it from the library based on the Food52 review and quickly realized I had to go out and buy it!) They were super easy and lovely to use in anything that calls for lemon zest. But my favorite use so far has been a preserved lemon buttermilk ice cream. Really wonderful!