Preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan cuisine, but they can be expensive or hard to find. Following this preserved lemon recipe, you can make your own for pennies using just two ingredients — lemon and salt. The preserved lemon rind can be used in all kinds of dishes, including entrees, salad dressing and sides.
I have a wonderful recipe for Moroccan Chicken that is a packed with flavor and makes a great weeknight meal, even though it sounds very exotic. However, there’s one ingredient that can be hard to find — and expensive when you do — preserved lemons.
The preserved lemons give the dish a zip and a zing that it lacks if you skip them or substitute regular lemons. So after using up the last of the jar I purchased, I decided to make my own.
Turns out, these are really easy to make, and they last a long time, too — up to six months in the fridge. So, they also make a good food gift. (Hint: Pin this recipe,, then make a batch for neighbor gifts and teacher gifts next Christmas.)
Ingredients to Make Preserved Lemons
You need only two ingredients to make preserved lemons — lemons and salt. Some preserved lemon recipes call for sea salt and others call for kosher salt. You can use either one for this recipe.
You’ll also need some sterilized jars, but you don’t have to process the preserved lemons like other foods you can.
The only downside to this preserved lemon recipe is you have to be patient. It takes a month for the lemons to be ready to use. So, make some now and you’ll be able to plan a very special meal in a month!
If you’re trying to eat healthier, preserved lemons are a great staple to have in your refrigerator. They add such wonderful flavor to your recipes, without the addition of calories and fat.
This article from NPR has some great ideas for using preserved lemons.
How to Make Preserved Lemons
To get started, I gathered my ingredients — lemons and salt — and tools I would need. I sterilized some canning jars and lids in the dishwasher, but you can also boil them in a pan on your stovetop.
I washed each lemon and quartered it, being careful to leave the stem end intact.
Next, I stuffed each lemon with a tablespoon of salt, being careful to coat each quarter. Then, I stuffed the lemons into jars.
And by stuffed, I really mean stuffed. Wrestle as many full lemons into a jar as you can. I ended up consolidating my lemons into two jars. A wide mouth jar is essential or you’ll squirt yourself in the face with lemon juice and make a mess of the kitchen.
Once the jars are filled, seal them and set them aside in a cool place for three or four days.
On the third or fourth day, open the jars and push the lemons down to release the juice. Your goal is to have the lemons covered in juice. You may need to add juice from some freshly squeezed lemons to accomplish this.
Seal the jars and store them in a cool place. Then wait at least a month before using them.
When you remove a lemon from the jar, remove the pulp and rinse the peel to remove the salt. You’ll use the preserved lemon rind in recipes. If any of the peel was not covered with juice, it may develop a whitish mold on it. The recipes I consulted said this is harmless, and it can be washed off.
Preserved lemons are used primarily in Moroccan cuisine, but Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn has a list of great ideas for using preserved lemons in your cooking. You can also find a list of 31 dishes that use preserved lemons at Food.com.
Moroccan Preserved Lemons
- 4 lemons quartered, plus additional lemons for juicing
- 4 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
- Thoroughly wash four lemons. Quarter them, being careful to leave the stem end intact.
- Stuffed each lemon with a tablespoon of salt, being careful to coat each quarter. Squeeze the salted lemons closed and stuff them tightly into sterilized jars.
- Once the jars are filled, seal them and set them aside in a cool place for three or four days.
- On the third or fourth day, open the jars and push the lemons down to release the juice. Your goal is to have the lemons covered in juice. You may need to add more juice from some freshly squeezed lemons to accomplish this.
- Seal the jars and store them in a cool place. Then wait at least a month before using them.
- To use the preserved rind, remove a lemon quarter from the jar, remove the pulp and rinse the peel to remove any salt or white coating.
Pin This! Moroccan Preserved Lemons Recipe
I have been making these for a couple years now. I contemplated for so long fearing I would poison myself or others, but after copious reading I decided to make them. They are just wonderful and such a flavor booster. Yours look delicious and your jars look like a gift anyone would want.
I almost forgot – I came from Debbie’s at Confessions of a Plate Addict.
Yvonne @ StoneGable
Oh, YUMMY! I adore preserved lemons! They are wonderful to cook with. Thanks for the puckery recipe!
Atta Girl Amy
Yvonne, I’d love to know how you use preserved lemons. Do share any recipes you have!