How to Make Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons - not just for Moroccan food. How to make and use preserved lemons. @mjskitchen

What can I say about preserved lemons other than that they are my MOST favorite condiment. I’ve been making them for years, and always looking for more ways to use them. They are great with rice, pasta, poultry, lamb, a variety of vegetables, sprinkled in a salad or incorporated into dressings and sauces. You can make them the star of the show or so subtle that one hardly knows they are there.

Preserved lemons are very easy to make, but once you make preserved lemons, you are going to have to wait a few weeks (in most cases) before they’re ready. So start a jar today! Below are the instructions and a video for how I make preserved lemons.  If you don’t want to wait or just don’t want another jar of “something” sitting in your fridge for a few months, then you can make the Quick Preserved Lemons described in this post. These only take 24 hours and with one lemon you can make enough for one or two dishes.

How to Make Preserved Lemons

Instructional Video

Making Preserved Lemons from MJ’s Kitchen.

How to Make Preserved Lemons Recipe
20 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Preserved Lemons are very easy to make and are a very versatile condiment that you can keep in the refrigerator for almost a year.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Condiments
Yields: 1 pints (approximate)
Recipe Author: MJ
  • 5 to 6 large lemons, cleaned and scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup (approximately) Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1.5 pint steralized jar with rubber gasket or non-metal lid (The acid in the lemon corrodes metal over time)
  1. Cut about ¼” of the ends off of 4 lemons. Discard the stem end. Use the other end pieces to fill in the holes as you’re packing the lemons.
  2. Cut 4 of the lemons in half crosswise. For each half (starting with the cut side) cut into quarters, being careful not to cut all of the way through the base. Stop about ¼” from the base.
  3. Pour about ½ tsp. (~2.5 grams) salt into each of the “half” cuts and pack into jar.
  4. Continue this process with 4 of the lemons, packing lemons tight, squeezing some of the juice out of the lemons as you pack them. You should be able to get 4 to 5 lemons in the jar. To fill gaps in the jar you can use quarter pieces and end pieces.
  5. Once the jar is full, tap the bottom of the jar to dislodge the air bubbles.
  6. If the amount of lemon juice is below the top of the packed lemons, juice one of the extra lemons. Add enough juice to the jar to cover the lemons or about ½” (1.25 cm) from the top of the jar. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth and close the lid. (At this point, I rinse the closed jar under running water to remove any salt that may be on the outside of the jar.)
  7. Set in cool space for 4 weeks. Shake the jar everyday to redistribute the salt through the juice. If you trust the seal, you can turn the jar upside down after a couple of weeks for an hour or so.
  8. Place in refrigerator after 4 weeks. These lemons will keep up to a year (and probably longer, but I never have any left after a year).



Quick Preserved Lemons (in less than 24 hours)

Preserved lemon strips in 24 hours


  1. Juice 1 lemon and set the juice aside.
  2. Peel the zest off the lemon. Try not to get any of the white portion or pith.
  3. Cut the zest into narrow strips and place in a glass jar or bowl. Top with 1 tsp. (5 g) salt and the lemon juice.
  4. Stir to dissolve some of the salt.  If the juice does not cover the zest, add more lemon juice.
  5. Let sit on the counter for 24 hours.
  6. Both the zest and the juice can be used, but be careful about adding salt to your dish.  Preserved lemons are pretty salty.


Using Preserved Lemons

  • 30+ recipes that use preserved lemons
  • One or two lemon halves – stuff in the cavity of poultry when roasting.
  • One or two lemon halves with seeds removed – throw in the pot when braising.
  • Rinds – chop and add to salads, pasta, rice, and vegetable dishes.
  • Preserved juice – wonderful in sauces and salad dressings, as well as added to all of the above.

To reduce the amount of salt, you may choose to rinse the preserved lemon pieces before using.  I choose not to.  Instead, I don’t add any additional salt to the dish.


Preserved lemons - not just for Moroccan food. How to make and use preserved lemons. @mjskitchen

Crispy rice with preserved lemons

(This dish was originally made with rice leftover from Thai takeout.)

2 1/2 cups leftover rice (transfer to a bowl and break up with a fork)
1/2 cup minced onion
1 Tbsp. minced preserved lemon
1 cup chopped arugula
2 beaten eggs

  1. Mix everything together in a large bowl.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a non-stick 10″ skillet.
  3. Press the rice mixture into the skillet, cover, and cook over medium low for 15 minutes or until eggs are set. The rice against the pan will be crispy.
  4. Invert onto a plate and serve.


This Preserved Lemon Recipe has been linked to Overflowing with Creativity, Katherine Martinelli’s DIY Blog Hop, Whole Food Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday.  Click on these links to find many more tasty recipes.  It was featured on Clever Chicks Blog Hop, October 2012.



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69 Responses to “How to Make Preserved Lemons”

  1. geet January 16, 2018 at 1:16 am #

    This is good! thanks for sharing
    I will try this out

    • mj January 16, 2018 at 9:44 am #

      Thanks for stopping by! Looks like you have plenty of lemons to use. 🙂

  2. Su Anne Armstrong December 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

    Just made my 4th batch of preserved lemons having added the last bit of the last batch to some sauteed spinach. Thanks MJ for what has become one of my “refrigerated” pantry basics. We go through a 3/4 liter jar of your preserved lemons faster than we do a small bottle of ketchup.

    • mj December 13, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

      Thanks so much Su Anne!! I’ve never added them spinach, but I have added to Swiss chard (close enough :)). You go through as many of these as I do if not more! There are SO many wonderfully creative ways to use them.

  3. Lisa LaRocco February 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    I feel like I hit the jackpot when I found this recipe. I didn’t know you could preserve lemons. I can’t wait to try this method. I love lemons and always seem to need one when I have just run out. This is the perfect solution.

    Also thanks for the hints on making a video. You are very generous to share this info.

    I also love the recipes on this website. Just reading them I can tell they are full of flavor.


    • mj February 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

      Thanks so much Lisa for your kind comments!!! I’m so glad you enjoy my recipes and hope that you find this one an easy method for making a wonderful jar of lemons! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. quest bars on November 6, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article.
    Many thanks for supplying this info.

  5. Bill October 30, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    Your video is very well done. The video and audio quality is quite good. Your narration and instruction is easy to follow. You should make more videos.

  6. How to Make Preserved Lemons | MJ’s Kitchen

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  8. drink lemon water May 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Made this last weekend. Took 6 pounds of Meyer Lemons for 2 1-quart jars and truth be told, I could’ve used more lemons for more juice. Not sure how the lemons will turn out.

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  10. Kathy, The Chicken Chick October 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    I had never heard of preserved lemons before, thanks for the great video!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  11. MoroccoDelights September 20, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    Hello MJ, your video looks great and i like the way you made the lemons. I have a video on how to make preserved lemons the Moroccan way (Traditional method). I am gonna try your method two. You can check out my video on : or by visiting my website at Looks there is a lot more to discover on your website. Keep up the good work!

    • mj September 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! Your video is great. Our methods our very similar except for the water and olive oil. I’ll have to try adding olive oil next time to so how it changes the flavors. Thanks again!

  12. Katherine Martinelli March 23, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    What a great post MJ! I have a jar of lemons being preserved right now and can’t wait to use them! I love your video. Thanks for linking up at my blog hop! Pinned 🙂

  13. Nisa Homey February 16, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Hi MJ, thank you for the visit and for the lovely comment. I loved your video sooo much, I have never preserved lemon though I make lemon pickles
    Your instruction are so simple and easy, I will be trying out this soon. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Blessings, Nisa.

  14. Suzi February 15, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    I see that I already saw this post but I didn’t make them. I have a few lemons right now so I am going to do the quick method to go with the rice dish. I also just saw a box here on the comments to check to get your post in my e-mail. I have been trying for months with the one at the top of the page but it wants me to use outlook or something. Now I can get them in my e-mail box. Have a wonderful day.

  15. sally February 13, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    I finally made these last night, and your instructional video was very helpful! I’m not sure I can wait 4 weeks to use them though. 🙂

  16. Sawsan@chef in disguise February 13, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    Thank you for the recipe MJ
    I love lemon and you just gave me a new twist to try

  17. February 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  18. January 9, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    I have to try this… Thanks for linking up! Check out my giveaway….

    XO, Aimee

  19. Su Anne December 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    I’ve made the pasta dish twice. The first time using lemon zest and juice in lieu of preserved lemons. It was good but… The second time was after my lovely jar of preserved lemons was ready. THE DIFFERENCE IS ASTOUNDING! I understand what you mean by this being your favorite condiment. WOW!

    Several of my favorite cooks are getting preserved lemons for Christmas, along with a copy of your pasta recipe and a referral to your website.

    The video is perfect. Great job. Beautiful hands.

    • mj December 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      You made my day Su Anne!!!!!!! Thanks!

  20. BigFatBaker December 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    So cool! I have been wanting to make these for a while. I think as soon as I get home for the holidays I’ll make some for my family and some to take back to school!

  21. Sharon | Chinese Soup Pot December 7, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Hi MJ, I just discovered this post from the 7 links post. I’m glad this recipe was highlighted because I finally learned what preserved lemons could be used for here! I’ve seen several recipes for making preserved lemons, but I didn’t know what they would be used for. So thank you for providing some ideas. Great video too!

    • mj December 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      Sharon – I hope you give these a try. They are so very versatile! Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Ramona December 3, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Mj, I love both methods here! Thank you for doing this one. I am definitely saving it. 🙂

  23. ginny lee September 27, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    yay! opens up a whole new bunch of dishes I can make since to find them here would be difficult.

    • mj October 3, 2011 at 9:43 am #

      I always had a hard time finding them as well, that’s why I started making them! Enjoy!

  24. Kathy September 25, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    A Star is Born! Loved the video! Chuckled while reading the tips about making the video.

    • mj October 3, 2011 at 9:43 am #

      Thanks Kathy! 🙂 🙂

  25. Foodiewife September 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    This was your first video? It’s great! I’ve always wanted to make preserved lemons, and you’ve made it look so easy! Question– using Mason Jars would work fine, too. Right? How long do the preserved lemons last? I assume they are stored in the fridge?

    • mj September 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      Mason jars are fine. Just don’t turn them upside down because if any of the acid from the lemon leaks out it will corrode the metal ring and may cause it to stick to the jar. My lemons usually last a year before I use them all up, but I’ve read they can last up to 2 years. And yes, after the 4 week preserving period, put them in the fridge. Happy preserving!!!!! Thanks for the comment on the video!

  26. Suzi August 27, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Hi MJ, your lemon preserves look inspiring and not too difficult, I will have to try this. Thanks! Very nice video.

    • mj September 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      Thanks Suzi!

  27. Lynne August 25, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    Great recipe for the preserved lemons. Your hands look beautiful in the video. Also, you have some delicious looking food in your posts.

    • mj August 25, 2011 at 8:39 am #

      Thanks Lynn! I appreciate your comments!

  28. bonnie at sweet life August 23, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    thanks for the vid, a very helpful tool! I have always wanted to make preserved lemons. thanks for the recipe, great site!!

    • mj August 23, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      Thanks for the nice comments Bonnie, and for stopping by!

  29. Peachie August 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I didn’t know that preserved lemons could be used in making so many dishes! I actually thought that it was only used in Moroccan tagines. Silly me!!! So now I shall have to try some preserved lemons dishes out!

    • mj August 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      Please do! It’s funny – I was using them in rice and pasta dishes long before I even heard of tagines. I’m not done with the possibilities! 🙂

  30. mj August 22, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks Manu! It’s easy when you have a professional behind the camera! 🙂 I thought it would be easy having been a teacher for so many years, but … it’s different! And you know – software can always take out the green. 🙂

  31. Manu August 22, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    Ohhh that’s a GREAT POST! And congrats on the video! I have taken very short videos but nothing like yours. I don;t think I am ready for that!!! I am a bit shy and would turn green if I had to speak in front of the camera!!! hehehe

  32. Nami | Just One Cookbook August 22, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    I always admire people who make video clips. I also never preserved anything…. It looks like that’s what all the foodies enjoy. It’ll be a fun activity with the kids, I think. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • mj August 22, 2011 at 10:14 am #

      My mother was from the country and my granddad was a farmer, so I grew up preserving, canning, making jams and jellies and freezing stuff. I always thought that’s what everyone did. 🙂 I’m now moving into be more adventurous with it and it’s fun! Thanks for your comments!

  33. Spoon and Chopsticks August 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Hi, you have a great website with interesting recipes. I have bookmarked it.

    Feel free to visit mine at

    • mj August 22, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Thanks for stopping by! I just checked out your site and it’s wonderful! I will be returning!

  34. Madonna August 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Sorry, just re-read your instructions. I feel like Gilda Radner – never mind.

    • mj August 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

      No Problem! I usually set my jar in the corner of the kitchen counter away from the oven or stovetop and the coolest spot in the kitchen.

  35. Madonna August 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    By cool place do you mean the refrigerator for 4 weeks? Great video.

  36. purabi naha August 21, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Hi, thanks for dropping a comment on twitter and now I am here, in your wonderful space. Wow, what a great blog, with so much info on everything! I loved your sense for detail!! Loved this post.

    • mj August 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      Thanks for your nice comments! Drop by anytime!

  37. sally August 21, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    What a great post! I am definitely inspired to make some preserved lemons now.

    • mj August 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      You’ll definitely find them worth the effort! Thanks!

  38. wok with ray August 21, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Love that professional-looking video there, MJ! Thanks for the hints on how to make instructional videos but I don’t think I can do it as well as you did. You have a nice speaking voice, and very nice hands, too! 🙂 If I will do the video for my blog, it will turn out to be a horror video and not an instructional one. I’ll stick with still photography, haha.

    Have a great weekend, MJ!

    ~ ray ~.

    • mj August 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks for the nice comments Ray! Hum – a food blogger’s horror film – sounds interesting. 😉

  39. Bev Pawlowski August 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Love the video! This is a great idea. Will be making soon! 🙂

    • mj August 20, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      So glad you plan to make them! I hope you love them as much as I do.

  40. Giulietta @ Alterkitchen August 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I never made or use preserved lemons, but you inspired me… as soon as I get my hands on some organic lemons I’ll make them and use them!
    Thanks a lot for sharing.. this is totally new to me 🙂
    PS: The video is very useful … and nice 🙂

    • mj August 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

      Thanks Giulia! I think you’ll like them. They might even work well with braised rabbit. 🙂


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