What goes well with lemon? Learn the best ingredient pairings, meal ideas, popular flavor combinations, and other helpful tips.
Cooking is all about balancing the 5 basic tastes.
Like salt, lemon is a flavor enhancer, which is why you’ll often see that a savory recipe calls for a squeeze of lemon (or sometimes lime) to be added at the end. The acid enhances the overall flavor of the dish without making it taste like lemon.
However, if you were to add the zest of a lemon, it would add that true lemon flavor and aroma to whatever you’re cooking without the sourness.
Although there are many lemon varieties, these three are the most common:
Eureka – This lemon variety has a short neck, minimal seeds, dimply skin, and is commonly found at supermarkets.
Lisbon – These lemons have a pointed end (no neck), no seeds, smooth skin, and are also commonly found at supermarkets.
Meyer – This variety is unlike the other two. It’s a cross between a lemon and an orange. It has a more floral taste, is less acidic, and is slightly orange in color.
WHEN TO BUY
Lemons are in season year-round. Peep the seasonal produce guide to see what else is in season right now.
When stored at room temperature, lemons last about a week on the counter. After this time, move them to the refrigerator where they’ll last a few weeks.
If juicing several at a time, pull them from the fridge a little while before using. They’re easier to juice at room temperature.
What Goes Well With Lemon?
- garlic, ginger
- apples, apricots
- bananas, blackberries, blueberries
- cherries, cranberries
- gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, guava
- kiwi fruit
- papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums
- anise, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, oregano, poppy seeds
- basil, bay leaf, chervil, chives, lemongrass, lemon verbena, mint, parsley (flat-leaf), rosemary, sage, thyme
NUTS & SEEDS
- almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts
- butter, buttermilk
- caramel, cheese (goat, ricotta), cream, cream cheese
- sour cream
- beef, chicken, crab, duck, fish, lamb, oysters, pork/pork chops, poultry, shellfish, veal
- capers, chocolate: dark & white, coconut, coffee
- dates, dijon mustard
- maple syrup
- oats, olive oil, orange liquors
- pasta, prunes
- raisins, rice, rum
- salt: kosher, sesame oil, stock: chicken, sugar: brown, white
- wine: red, sweet, white
- vanilla, violets, vodka
Popular Lemon Pairings
- berries + whipped cream
- blackberries + honey + ricotta
What to Make With Lemon
Lemon is a common ingredient in Greek, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Moroccan cuisines. It’s often used in salad dressings such as fennel salad with lemon-mint dressing or simple shallot vinaigrette, dairy-free cheeses like this almond ricotta and sauces such as creamy lemon miso and pesto.