Can I Substitute Lemon Juice For Lemon Extract? (Answered)

I know I have said it before but I am going to say it again.  Baking is a science. Recipes are written to get a certain outcome and the ingredients in these recipes serve a certain purpose in getting these outcomes..  ”Can I substitute lemon juice for lemon extract?” Yes, you can but you need to keep in mind that lemon juice and lemon extract have different flavor strengths and consistencies and there are several considerations to consider when doing so.

Lemon Juice Vs Lemon Extract

We need to take a look at the differences between lemon juice and lemon extract to form a better understanding of when it is appropriate to substitute. And there is another option as well.  Lemon zest.  Lemon zest has a more concentrated lemon flavor as opposed to lemon juice. But then you will have to contend with the tiny bits that are present.  That might be fine in lemon muffins, but I’m not sure that I want those bits in my frosting, then again those bits could give you small bursts of lemon flavor:)  It’s all in your own preferences.  I do want to mention here that fresh lemon juice is better than using juice from a bottle. 

can I substitute lemon juice for lemon extract?

It’s important to note that lemon extract and lemon zest are usually used in smaller quantities compared to lemon juice due to their concentrated flavors. Additionally, lemon zest provides more aromatic qualities compared to lemon juice and extract.

Factors To Consider

When substituting lemon juice for lemon extract there are several things that you need to keep in mind.  And there will be some cases in which substituting just will not work because of the differences in the flavor strengths.


Lemon extract is made from the peel of the lemon soaked in alcohol for several weeks much like making homemade vanilla resulting in a much more concentrated lemon flavor.  Most of the lemon flavor comes from the peel or zest where the oil of lemon resides. The lemon extract has a strong, concentrated lemon flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Lemon juice is the acidic liquid extracted from fresh lemons and the taste has a tart acidic flavor. 

Lemon zest is the yellow portion of the outer lemon minus the white that is underneath.  When zesting a lemon be very careful not to get any of this white or pith.  The pith is very bitter.  Lemon zest has a stronger more concentrated flavor than lemon juice. It is also a solid so no added liquid.


Lemon juice and lemon extract are both liquids, the stronger the lemon flavor, the more lemon juice will be needed to achieve this.  Adding too much liquid to your recipe is going the throw the whole thing off.  A few drops of lemon extract vs several tablespoons of lemon juice can make a big difference.  

Lemon zest is a solid and when you need that intense lemon flavor but do not want to add more liquid to the recipe, it may be a better option to use both the lemon juice and lemon zest together.

When Substituting Is Not Recommended

 Making a lemon cake or lemon bars and you want that strong intense lemon flavor or making a lemon meringue where adding more liquid can ruin it, You may be better off going to the grocery store and getting some lemon extract. I mean after all the work you have put in to make a great dessert for your family and then not getting the results you are after can be pretty frustrating, to say the least. 

When To Substitute

In recipes where the lemon flavor is not the primary focus and a milder lemon taste is preferable or recipes that include other acidic ingredients such as vinegar or cream of tartar.  Say you want some muffins with just a touch of lemon flavor.  Lemon juice would be a great substitution for the extract.  The same goes for cakes, pancakes, frostings, or glazes.  Just remember to watch the liquid content and adjust as needed.

Substitution Ratios

Lemon extract has a more intense flavor, so when it comes to substituting, you will want to use more lemon place of the extract.  For example for every 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon extract you will need 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice.  You may have to play around with this a little, depending on how much lemon flavor you want.  Lemon zest has a more concentrated flavor, so if using this as a substitute, a 1 to 1 ratio will work.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to substituting lemon juice for lemon extract in baking, there are important factors to consider. Lemon juice and lemon extract have different flavor profiles and consistencies, making them more suitable for different recipes and baked goods. Lemon extract offers a concentrated lemon flavor from the peel of the lemon and alcohol, while lemon juice provides a tart acidic taste. Lemon zest, on the other hand, offers a concentrated lemon flavor with added aromatic qualities.

When deciding whether to substitute, you must consider the desired flavor strength and the recipe at hand. Lemon extract is recommended for recipes that require a strong, intense lemon flavor, such as lemon cakes or lemon meringue, where additional liquid could negatively impact the outcome. On the other hand, lemon juice is suitable when a milder lemon taste is desired or when acidic ingredients like vinegar or cream of tartar are also present in the recipe.

To achieve the desired substitution, it is important to adjust the quantities correctly. Due to its intense flavor, more lemon juice is needed to replace lemon extract, using about 2 to 3 tablespoons for every 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of extract. But a 1-to-1 ratio can be used when substituting lemon zest for lemon extract.

In the end, the choice between lemon juice, lemon extract, or lemon zest as a substitute depends on your personal preference and the specific requirements of the recipe. By understanding these differences and considering the factors discussed, you can confidently make substitutions to get the desired lemon flavor and consistency in your baked goods.

I hope you found this article helpful with your substituting dilemma. 

Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts

And As Always

Keep On Baking


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