How to use preserved lemons in cooking and baking (recipe round-up)

I get asked so often how to use preserved lemons in cooking and baking, that I decided to expand my usual response into a post.

From what I have noticed, home cooks tend to purchase a jar of preserved lemons for a specific recipe – and then stuff the remainder in the back of the fridge for a year or two. Others get fired up over a DIY recipe, like my Spiced Preserved Lemons, but then don’t know what on earth to do with them afterward.

I use preserved lemons in practically everything. I should state from the beginning that I am a longtime devotee to preserved lemons and always have a jar or two in my refrigerator. Hopefully by the end of this post you are both inspired to stock your pantry permanently with preserved lemons and feel confident adding them to your cooking and baking.

Traditionally, salt-preserved lemons were a staple in Morrocan cooking, but now (similar to the recent popularity of harissa) chefs and home cooks alike are reaching for a jar to inject a zing of tangy lemon flavour into everything from pesto to pasta. Why, just this evening for dinner I finished a pea, pancetta and parmesan risotto with a spoon of minced preserved lemon.

Not only do the lemons add a little extra saltiness to a dish, but they also provide a musky fermented note that is almost umami and bring an intense lemon flavour that is unmistakable. In short, they are capable of completely transforming a dish for the better.

Back in my restaurant days, we packed five-gallon buckets full of salted lemons and let them transform in the walk-in refrigerator. When they were ready, we minced the rind and stirred it into couscous, topped salmon tartar and finished raw oysters with a tangy preserved lemon shaved ice. Delicious.

In my own kitchen I blend preserved lemon into frosty lassis, bake it into madeleines and add it to quinoa dishes. I  chop it and fold the lemon into avocado egg salad sandwiches. And that is just the start. My upcoming cookbook features preserved lemon in a herbacous potato salad and my next cocktail is going to be this preserved lemon sage gin & tonic. It seems I just can’t stop.

Okay, now you know the why, so here is the how. It’s very simple: remove a quarter of lemon from the jar and rinse under cold water. If you skip this step the salt on the lemon will overpower. Pat the lemon dry and separate the peel from the flesh.

The preserved rind of the lemon is the real prize here, although the flesh can be used as well. I mostly use the peel in my cooking and baking, diced or finely minced.

Now that you have your prized ingredient, let’s put it to good use: enhance salad dressings, liven up soups, add extra zing to chicken dinners and pastas. And when that gets old, fold it into quick breads, fruit pie filling and pancake batter.

Preserved Lemon Recipe Round-Up: Savoury

One last savoury idea…dice up the lemon and add a tablespoon or so into the filling for these Tangy Quinoa Spring Salad Cups. The flavours play very well together: jalepeno, avocado, cilantro, mango – and preserved lemon.

Preserved Lemon Recipe Round-Up: Sweet

Looking for more? My friend Alana has plenty more ideas for using preserved lemons, including a kale caesar salad recipe. Yes please.

Remember, a jar of preserved lemons can hold in the refrigerator for up to a year, so there’s no need to use it all up at once. Spread the goodness out, jazzing up dishes here and there throughout the week. I’d love to hear what you make, so leave a comment and share how you use your preserved lemons.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Didn’t know preserved lemons could be used in so many, many ways! Great collection, thanks:)

  2. Meghan O says

    OMGaaaaaahd my stomach was growling through this whole post! I have made preserved lemons for our family and also as gifts, and it’s great to see this post on non-tagine recipes! Thanks!

  3. McKenzie says

    WOAH you really delivered on this roundup. That is SO many good looking recipes and so many are veggie-centric!! Thank you, Aimee!

  4. What an exciting compilation. I have a jar in the fridge and I may as well just start at the top of this list. Thank you for including my chicory soup recipe! Sharing!

  5. We live in Morocco, and I have fallen in love with preserved lemons in cooking. Now when I grab a few from the guy with BARRELS of them at the market, I’ll grab some extra to try in baking. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Morocco is on my wish list of countries to visit and EAT. I can’t imagine those marvelous markets!! I’m happy to inspire you to bake with preserved lemons. Let me know what you make. 🙂

  6. Lemon tree laden, bay leaf taking over the garden – first step preserve the lemons, then work through ugh the recipes here. Thanks!

  7. Hello Aimee, i really liked your post. Please share some more

  8. Preserved lemons make lentil soup taste amazing! I make mine with lentils, chicken stock, onion, shredded carrot, chopped zucchini, chopped preserved lemon, curry powder and pepper. Yum!

  9. do you need to store them in the fridge or can they hang in the pantry till being used?

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