40 Best Lemon Recipes

Lemons are one of the most underrated ingredients you can have on hand in your kitchen. You can use many different types of lemons in your recipes, the most common being the all-purpose Lisbon lemon you can find in most major grocery stores, and the Meyer lemon, which has a slightly sweeter flavor and thinner skin. However, if you can find other types of lemons in the store or at a specialty market, it's worth trying to play with the different flavor notes of these niche varieties. 

Not only can you use the citrus fruit to garnish your baked fish or add a bit of acidity to your marinade, but you can also integrate the juice, zest, and even pulp into a ton of different recipes across many cuisines. Here are some of our favorite ways to use lemon to elevate dishes and beverages — from sweet to savory and everything in between. 

1. Lemon spaghetti

Although the classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe is quintessentially perfect, it can get a bit heavy. Instead, this recipe combines the pasta shape with a bright, zesty sauce made with lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, basil, and Parmesan cheese for a side dish you'll want to have on your table this summer.  The longer you allow your pasta to sit in the dressing, the more flavor will develop, and you can top it with a protein like grilled chicken or salmon to make it a well-rounded meal. 

Recipe: Lemon Spaghetti

2. Lemon posset

Lemon is the perfect flavor accompaniment for a dessert. It's light, fresh, and can elevate consistencies that would otherwise drown a dish out. This posset recipe utilizes only three ingredients — heavy cream, caster sugar, and lemons (for both the juice and the zest) — although adding fresh mint will help take it to a new level. Possets almost have the consistency of ice cream, but without being entirely frozen, so it is guaranteed to cool you off during the hot summer months.

Recipe: Lemon Posset

3. Homemade lemon rock candy

Rock candy isn't just for kids and science experiments. If you've never made any sort of candy making, rock candy is a simple, four-ingredient place to start. It's also a great party favor for weddings and showers. 

The major downside of this recipe is that you'll need to allocate at least three days to allow the sugar to solidify onto the string. But this candy lasts about a year if correctly stored, so you'll have a ton of lemon-flavored goodness waiting for you if you put the time into it. 

Recipe: Homemade Lemon Rock Candy

4. Lemon-glazed pound cake

Pound cake is a historically dense and weighty dessert, but adding a floral lemon glaze can help make it a little lighter and easier to devour. Although lemon is the staple ingredient in this recipe, it can also be substituted with another citrus, like orange. 

Another critical component of this recipe is sour cream, which helps make the pound cake more moist and soft. This dessert will stay at room temperature for up to five days or can be placed in the refrigerator for even longer. 

Recipe: Lemon-Glazed Pound Cake

5. Lemon meringue cupcakes

These cupcakes are as appealing to the eye as they are to the stomach. Each lemon-flavored cupcake is filled with homemade lemon curd and topped with a toasted meringue frosting — it's basically the pie converted into easy-to-eat cupcakes. 

Although this dessert has a fair amount of acidity, it is balanced with the sweetness and nostalgia of this classic dessert. If you don't have a blowtorch handy, you can use an oven grill to create satisfying toasted accents.

Recipe: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

6. Meyer lemon Tom Collins cocktail

This cocktail has all the components of a Tom Collins — gin, lemon juice, and club soda — but the standard lemons are swapped out with the less acidic and significantly sweeter Meyer lemon. It's also garnished with a sophisticated sprig of thyme or rosemary, which takes the turnout of the beverage to a new level. Serve your cocktail with a light Caesar salad or charcuterie board.

Recipe: Meyer Lemon Tom Collins Cocktail

7. Lemon gooey butter cookies

Lemon juice and zest are the two bright ingredients your cookies need. The batter for these cookies contains the same familiar ingredients and adds lemon extract for a bit of a more robust lemon flavor. 

When you're working with this kind of extract, it's crucial to be very diligent with how much you add; too much can make the cookies taste too artificial. Don't forget to roll the cookies in powdered sugar before baking to get the satisfying crackle effect. 

Recipe: Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies

8. Lemon mug cake

Sometimes, we all just need a single-serve treat at the end of a hard day. This lemon mug cake can be made in a microwave and is full of tangy lemon flavors. The cake is mixed, baked, and served in a mug, making it easy to make and devour. We love that this dessert is also finished with a decadent confectioners sugar and lemon juice glaze — which leaves the zingy flavor of lemon right on your tastebuds. 

Recipe: Lemon Mug Cake

9. Lemon-roasted fennel

Fennel is an under-appreciated ingredient in the kitchen. It's vegetal, with a tiny essence of licorice or anise. Roasting it with white wine, lemon juice, garlic, and sliced black olives brings out its herbaceous flavor and can be served warm as a side dish or cooled in a salad. 

The fennel works well with an abundance of proteins, including salmon, chicken, or steak, and is full of straight-from-the-garden flavors and nutrients. 

Recipe: Lemon-Roasted Fennel

10. Best lemon bars

Lemon bars should be on the top of your "make this summer" list. The buttery biscuit base contrasts the brightness of the lemon beautifully — and the recipe requires only a few ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. 

These desserts can be served with an afternoon tea or post-dinner treat. Dress the bars up with piped whipped cream or fresh raspberries, or stick with the classic icing sugar and dried lemon slice garnish.

Recipe: Best Lemon Bars

11. Zingy lemon buttermilk pound cake

One of the easiest ways to impress all of the guests at your next afternoon tea party or celebration is to serve this traditional pound cake recipe with a kick. It's made with buttermilk for added moisture and tang, along with sweet lemon syrup. 

After the cake has cooled, it's finished with lemony icing and a garnish of lemon zest. This cake stores well at room temperature for a few days — but it's so good, it will likely be gone before then. 

Recipe: Zingy Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

12. Roasted lemon chicken

Roasted chicken is the perfect food to meal-prep for the week because it's versatile; pair it with a salad, roasted veggies, or almost any starch. This roasted chicken recipe includes a lemon juice marinade and a roast with lemon slices. 

The skin comes out perfectly crispy and full of bright, zesty lemon flavor. Store your leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to three days, and you won't have to worry about what to make for dinner. 

Recipe: Roasted Lemon Chicken

13. Lemon cheesecake bars

Lemon is the perfect zesty accompaniment to a creamy cheesecake. This recipe takes the traditional cheesecake to a portable form and adds both lemon juice and lemon zest to the creamy cheese filling. 

The base of the cheesecake is crumbled graham crackers, but you can substitute another cookie, like a lemon Oreo, for a more flavorful crumb crust. Top your bars with lemon zest, powdered sugar, and lemon slices, and you'll have the perfect dessert to bring to your next dinner party or event. 

Recipe: Lemon Cheesecake Bars

14. Lemon garlic green beans

Lemon and garlic are a combination made in heaven. The acidity brings out the sharpness of the garlic — which is the perfect flavor boost for a rather bland, waxy vegetable like green beans. 

Just be sure not to overcook your green beans; you'll want to keep them firm rather than mushy. This side dish is ready to serve in under 10 minutes and is easy to make a big batch out of for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Recipe: Lemon Garlic Green Beans

15. Classic lemon meringue pie

A lemon meringue pie is a recipe all bakers should be able to master. It requires a perfectly crisp, browned crust (but we won't blame you if you substitute in a store-bought pie crust), lemon-flavored custard, and piped meringue lightly toasted with a blow-torch. This dessert never fails to impress guests, and its sweet, lemon-forward flavor will make you want to have it on your dessert table every time. 

Recipe: Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

16. Lemony hollandaise sauce

You need to upgrade your eggs benedict with this zingy hollandaise sauce. The mixture is thick, creamy, and a versatile ingredient to have in the kitchen. 

It takes only 20 minutes to make with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry: butter, egg yolks, lemon juice, water, and a hint of cayenne. That said, hollandaise sauce is best when served immediately, so don't delay spooning it over your broccoli or spinach. 

Recipe: Lemony Hollandaise Sauce

17. Easy lemon drop martini

Although you may be familiar with the lemon drop shot, a combo of vodka and lemon juice, this martini takes it to a whole new level. We recommend using Kettle One or Tito's vodka for this recipe, along with Cointreau, a French orange liqueur. 

Add the alcohol to a shaker with ice, lemon juice, and simple syrup, shake, and serve in a sugar-rimmed glass. It's a great cocktail for a girls' night and resembles a boozy, classy lemonade. 

Recipe: Easy Lemon Drop Martini

18. Meyer lemon soufflé

We can't say that making a soufflé at home is easy, but we can tell you that it's certainly worth it. This Meyer lemon soufflé is sweeter and more floral than one made with traditional lemons. 

Since this dessert is relatively finicky, it's important that you serve it within five minutes of making it. Otherwise, you risk the soft, puffy soufflé dome deflating and letting all of your hard work getting the perfect rise to go to waste. 

Recipe: Meyer Lemon Soufflé

19. (Naturally!) Pink lemonade

Summer is the season for Starbucks' iced lemonades and refreshers. But we can guarantee you won't be rushing out to their cafes for these summery beverages anymore after you've made this pink lemonade. Its pink (and almost purple, if you add more beet juice) hue comes from natural beet juice. 

There are no artificial dyes or coloring agents in this recipe — just your standard lemonade ingredients with a boost of bright color. You can make this beverage a few days ahead of your event and store it in your fridge for up to a week. 

Recipe: (Naturally!) Pink Lemonade

20. Lemon-thyme bars

The ingredient you didn't know your lemon bars needed is thyme. This recipe highlights the herbal flavor of thyme, along with a crisp shortbread crust for a dessert you'll remember forever. 

The thyme springs are infused into the lemon curd as it cooks on the stove, adding a herbaceous element to a zesty, lemony filling. Be sure to reserve a few extra sprigs for garnishing the tops of your bars, along with the powdered sugar.

Recipe: Lemon-Thyme Bars

21. Simple classic lemonade

Even if you're not planning on having a lemonade stand anytime soon, you should always have a good recipe for when the craving strikes. It will quench your thirst on a summer day and is much cheaper than buying lemonade from Starbucks. Although it's easy to drink on its own, you can also combine it with sweet tea for an Arnold Palmer or pop it in the blender with some ice cubes for a lemonade slushie. 

Recipe: Simple Classic Lemonade

22. Blueberry-lemon tapioca pudding

When was the last time you had tapioca pudding? If you can't remember, now is the time to try making it. Like chia seeds, tapioca pearls expand when they come into contact with water. It's why these pearls are used in beverages like the popular bubble tea. 

This recipe combines layers of blueberry jam with tapioca pudding and a lemon zest topping. This treat is light enough for breakfast or an after-dinner sweet treat. 

Recipe: Blueberry-Lemon Tapioca Pudding

23. Basil Meyer lemon Vodka Collins

Adding herbs to lemonade is one of the easiest ways to spice up its flavor. But have you ever considered adding it to your lemon-flavored cocktails, too? 

This Vodka Collins recipe includes a basil-infused simple syrup that brings a herbaceous, organic element to the beverage — and balances out the flavor of the gin. This tangy beverage is best served along with a seafood dish, like a shrimp cocktail platter or ceviche, and should be drunk before the ice melts for optimal flavor. 

Recipe: Basil Meyer Lemon Vodka Collins

24. Lemony roasted potatoes

Lemon is the ingredient that will help you liven up your roasted potatoes. The potatoes are marinated in a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, and cinnamon for a whole day before being roasted in the oven until perfectly crisp. 

Although our potato choice for this recipe is red potatoes, you can also substitute fingerlings, gold, or russet potatoes. Once your potatoes are cooked, serve them with your favorite steak or chicken recipe, or serve them as a side dish to barbecued burgers or hot dogs. 

Recipe: Lemony Roasted Potatoes

25. Lemony spinach pistou lasagna

You might only be familiar with a red-sauce lasagna packed with sausage and ricotta, but this new take on a lasagna recipe will impress any Sunday night dinner crowd and make you forget about traditional lasagna for good. 

Instead of a béchamel sauce, it's made with a lemon ricotta sauce that is both bright and complements the spinach well. This recipe uses the whole lemon — zest, juice, and pulp — so be sure to de-seed your lemon well before cooking. 

Recipe: Lemony Spinach Pistou Lasagna

26. Cheese ravioli with lemon-artichoke sauce

This is a dish you're going to want to save for when you have a lot of time to prep your pasta sheets, make your ravioli filling, and cook it to al dente perfection. Each pocket is stuffed with a lemon ricotta filling, which makes it very light, especially when paired with a pine nut and artichoke sauce. Although you can eat this pasta in a meal on its own, it tastes great when paired with baked fish or white wine. 

Recipe: Cheese Ravioli with Lemon-Artichoke Sauce

27. Greek lemon potatoes

This recipe for roasted potatoes uses a slightly different strategy for getting the spuds to soften up. The potatoes are braised in a mixture of chicken broth, lemon juice, oil, and seasonings and baked in a foil-covered dish until soft. 

Finally, the foil is removed, and the potatoes are finished in the oven until they are crisp. This recipe is best served with a garnish of lemon slices alongside your favorite entree. 

Recipe: Greek Lemon Potatoes

28. Air fryer lemon pepper chicken wings

Although it may not come close to buffalo seasoning in flavor and popularity, we can appreciate a good lemon pepper chicken wing once in a while. This recipe is made in your air fryer, which means you are only one kitchen appliance away from a delicious appetizer plate at your next tailgate. Each wing is glazed with lemony hot honey and garnished with a sprinkle of lemon zest and fresh parsley. 

Recipe: Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

29. Citrusy Haddock

White flaky fish, like haddock, benefit significantly from lemon juice — although other citrus varieties like orange or lime juice can also be used. This recipe uses lemon juice and zest to add some brightness to the fish before it is seasoned and baked until cooked through. 

Since haddock is rather delicate and thinly filleted, this dinner only takes 15 minutes to cook. It's ideal for a busy weeknight dinner, especially when paired with a salad or steamed veggies.

Recipe: Citrusy Haddock

30. Lemon-garlic baked salmon

Salmon's versatility makes it a powerhouse protein to keep in your fridge. Baking it with lemon and garlic requires very little prep, meaning you can slide it right into the oven for the 20-minute cook time and focus on your side dishes. The fish can be sliced and used in a grain bowl or a salad or served on its own with a side of vegetables and starch. 

Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Baked Salmon

31. Lemony sugar cookie icing

One of the reasons why sugar cookies can be tough to eat sometimes is because of how sweet they are. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the icing helps balance out the sweetness from the confectioner's sugar and gives the cookie a slightly acidic bite to it. Besides cookies, this recipe can be used to glaze cakes, muffins, or donuts — you might just have to tinker with the ratios to get the perfect consistency.

Recipe: Lemony Sugar Cookie Icing

32. Classic Lynchburg lemonade

Lynchburg lemonade is named after Lynchburg, Tennessee: the birthplace of Jack Daniel's whiskey. Besides Jack Daniel's (which can be technically substituted for any whiskey but would then defeat the purpose of the "Lynchburg lemonade" moniker), you'll also need Cointreau, seltzer water, and a homemade sour mixture. This essential ingredient is made from lemon juice, lime juice, and sugar, but it can also be substituted for store-bought lemonade in a pinch. 

Recipe: Classic Lynchburg Lemonade

33. Lemon chess pie

Chess pie is a staple in southern American cuisine. It's like a pecan pie without nuts; it includes staple ingredients like butter, flour, eggs, and cornmeal. This recipe rendition is made with both lemon juice and lemon zest in the filling, which adds an element of brightness to an otherwise hefty dessert. One of the best parts about the pie is that you can take some shortcuts, like using a pre-made pie shell, to save yourself some time and effort.

Recipe: Lemon Chess Pie

34. Lemon poppyseed cake

This lemon poppyseed cake is like transforming your favorite lemon poppyseed muffin recipe into a dreamy layer cake. Each layer of cake is filled with lemon zest and poppy seeds, and a delicious lemon curd is folded in between. 

After you've assembled the cake and piped the curd, it's finished with a light, lemony frosting, and poppyseed garnish that really ties the entire dessert together. Serve it with a warm cup of coffee with good company.

Recipe: Lemon Poppyseed Cake

35. Roasted red snapper with citrus and pistachios

Adding citrus to red snapper will help brighten up the fish's flavor and add an element of acidity to your meal. The diced Meyer lemon or preserved lemons are added to the glaze with other unconventional ingredients like capers, kumquats, and other citrusy elements like lime and orange slices. Before serving, finish your fish with pistachios and Aleppo pepper for crunch and an unanticipated heat element. 

Recipe: Roasted Red Snapper with Citrus and Pistachios

36. Lemon blueberry scones

Blueberry and lemon are a match made in heaven. This recipe incorporates fresh blueberries, although you could make this recipe more budget-friendly and opt for washed and dried frozen blueberries instead. 

The zest in the scone dough and a light lemon glaze help accent the sweetness of the blueberries and gives the scones a distinct tangy flavor. Serve your scones for breakfast or afternoon tea — just be sure not to make your scones too early because they don't tend to keep well.

Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Scones

37. Lemon rice pilaf

Rice pilaf is the perfect side dish for any season. It's filled with herbs, aromatics like garlic and onions, and in this case, accent ingredients like lemons. The citrus juice helps amplify the herby notes in the dish and adds a sophisticated touch to the recipe. 

Finish your pilaf off with lemon zest and fresh parsley and serve it alongside fish, chicken, roasted vegetables, or a holiday dinner. You can warm up your leftovers in the microwave, too, which makes this an excellent choice for workweek lunches. 

Recipe: Lemon Rice Pilaf

38. Red lentil soup with lemon

Lemon isn't an ingredient that should be just reserved for the summer. This red lentil soup recipe uses both the zest and the juice of a lemon to add brightness to a wintery meal. 

Simply add all of your ingredients to the pot and cook it on low for about 20 minutes. Serve your soup with a crusty piece of bread or a side salad for a nutritious, fiber-rich meal. 

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

39. Lemon blueberry pie

If you have an abundance of blueberries, make a blueberry pie. This dessert is made with a pre-packaged pie crust, so it couldn't be easier to make at home. Just mix and pour your blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the mold. 

After the pie has baked, be sure to let it cool and set for a little while, otherwise, your filling will gush out and soak your bottom crust. Serve each slice with a garnish of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and lemon zest. 

Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Pie

40. Spanish lemon polvorones

Polvorones are a Spanish almond cookie with a texture similar to shortbread. Although the standard polvorone is only flavored with almond flour and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon, this recipe utilizes both lemon zest and lemon juice to give these cookies a light, summery feeling. 

The cookies can also easily be made gluten-free by substituting the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free blend. These are one of the longer-lasting cookie varieties; if placed in an airtight container, they can last about a month. 

Recipe: Spanish Lemon Polvorones