How to Make Preserved Lemons

By Sally Cameron on August 10, 2015

Sauces and Condiments, Vegan

With three simple ingredients – lemons, salt and lemon juice – learn how to make preserved lemons. A traditional pickled condiment in Moroccan, North African and Indian cuisines, preserved lemons add a punch of  lemony flavor to many dishes.

preserved lemons |

How to Make Preserved Lemons

Recently, we toured the beautiful new Sub-Zero Wolf showroom in Costa Mesa, California. After the tour, we stayed for a fun cooking class highlighting the marvelous sunny flavors of the Mediterranean, taught by Corporate Chef Chris Harbrant.

A classic ingredient in Moroccan cooking, Chef Chris explained was how easy it is to make preserved lemons.  A woman in class tried to talk him out of the lovely jar. He smiled broadly, then politely declined. Much to my surprise, he gave me that treasured jar at the end of class.

preserved lemons|

What are Preserved Lemons

For thousands of years, people worldwide turned to fermenting and picking to preserve foods before refrigeration was invented. Think about sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso, pickles, yogurt, creme fraiche, fish sauce, vinegar, cheese, beer and wine. Preserved lemons are a fermented or pickled food. And fermented foods are flavored-filled and nourishing. With a unique taste and silky texture, preserved lemons bring delicious savory-tart flavor to meats, salads, sauces, and other dishes.

How to make preserved lemons|

How to Make Preserved Lemons

To make preserved lemons you need 4-6 lemons, sea salt, lemon juice, a sterilized jar and patience. It takes 30 days for the lemons to preserve (or pickle) while they sit on your kitchen counter.

Start with a sterilized, one pint glass jar. For how to sterilize jars, read here. Scrub 4-6 lemons clean. If there is a little nob on one end, trim it off flat.

How to make preserved lemons|

Some recipes add a bay leaf, (which I do) coriander seeds or other spices like cinnamon stick, clove or peppercorns. Chris adds little black nigella seeds (also known as black caraway, black onion seed, kalonji, or charnushka) to his preserved lemons.

After 30 days the preserved lemons are ready to use. Pull one out, rinse off the salt, and pick out the seeds. The entire lemon, peel and all, are edible. Be sure to use less salt in whatever recipe they are going in to.

Preserved Lemon Sauce

Lately I’ve been using my preserved lemons to make a creamy sauce for seared halibut, shrimp and chicken. Read here for the recipe.

Start a jar today. Actually, make two jars and give one away as a gift. The receiver will love you.

Here’s a post from The Kitchn with ideas on using preserved lemons

How to make preserved lemons|

How to Make Preserved Lemons

Tangy, silky and salty, this traditional Mediterranean condiment is great with fish, seafood, poultry and meats. It take 30 days to make and it’s well worth the wait.
Course condiment
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword lemons, preserved lemons
30 days


  • 1 pint Mason or Ball jar, sterilized


  • 4-6 lemons well scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 3 extra lemons for lemon juice
  • 1 bay leaf optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds optional


  • Ready the pint sterilized jar. Trim the end knob off of the lemons. Slice the lemons into quarters from top to bottom, about 3/4 of the way though. Pick out any visible seeds.
  • Pour 2-3 teaspoons of salt into the center of one lemon and place the lemon into the jar. Do the same with the rest of the lemons, pushing them down into the jar tightly, until the jar will hold no more lemons. The number of lemons used will depend on the size of the lemons. Pour any extra salt into the top of the jar.
  • Fill the jar until full with lemon juice. Cap the jar, label and date. Set it on the kitchen counter for 30 days. Turn the jar daily. After 30 days the lemons are ready to use.
  • To use, rinse off excess salt, pick out any seeds and enjoy, especially the peel. Dice, puree or chop into strips and add to many dishes. Use less salt in whatever recipe they are going into, and adjust the salt to your taste preference as needed.
  • Note – Preserved lemons will keep unrefrigerated for 6 months and up to a year refrigerated. I refrigerate mine.


Serving: 1g
  1. Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon - August 10th, 2015

    Great post Sally. These are delicious on a roasted chicken, and really boost the flavor of potato salad or chicken salad. I refrigerate mine just cause. 🙂

  2. Sally Cameron - August 12th, 2015

    Totally agree Madonna! A good idea! Bright flavors.

  3. Sally - August 11th, 2015

    Beautiful photos, Sally (and you look great!!) I love these–one of my favorite add-ins to tuna salad, to lift the mundane to the special.

  4. Sally Cameron - August 12th, 2015

    Great idea Sally. Chicken salad, tuna salad, so many things benefit from a little preserved lemon. I am experimenting more and more.

Leave a Comment