33 Fantastic Things to Do with Lemons

Things to Do with Lemons

Lemons are simply amazing. Not only do they have a bright and fresh scent, but there are simply so many things to do with lemons.

Some of those take advantage of the various nutrients that lemons offer, while others are all about the scent.

This list highlights a wide range of different options, including some surprising uses.

Put them in a Jar

Lemons in a jar

Here’s a simple trick. If you want your lemons to last longer, store them in a jar filled with water (in the fridge). The idea sounds silly but the water makes sure the lemons don’t dry out.

That’s much better than leaving them on the counter and hoping they don’t go moldy before you need them.

Food-Related Uses (and Recipes!)

Lemon curd preparation

Lemon is a perfect ingredient for many dishes. It creates this sharpness that contrasts so well with other flavors. You’ll often end up with a distinctive yellow appearance too.

Besides that, lemon contains a compound called limonene, which offers health benefits.

Check out some of our favorite ways to use lemons in food, along with some simply amazing recipes. Some of these rely on lemon juice, while others take advantage of the peel as well.

Lemon Water

Lemon water is meant to have incredibly health benefits, like detoxing your body and promoting weight loss. Most of these are exaggerated, especially as you don’t get all that much lemon juice in each glass.

Despite this, lemon water is powerful. It’s a very easy way to make water more enjoyable, while still ensuring that it is healthy.

You can take the process one step further and make infused water too. This often involves using an infuser bottle or jug and letting your ingredients sit in the water. Lemon is one common addition and there are many others too (as the video below shows).

Other Drinks

Of course, lemon water isn’t the only way to drink lemon juice. Many other recipes make use of lemons too. Some are high in sugar (like lemonade and lemon cordial), to balance out the acidity.

But, there are plenty of healthy recipes too, including some that are perfect if you have a cold.

Lemon is also common in alcoholic cocktails (as well as mocktails!). Many of these will use lemon zest as a garnish or a wedge of lemon. But, others will include lemon juice as an ingredient.

Sweets and Desserts

Lemon Cake

If you had just tried a lemon for the first time, you would never imagine that it might work in desserts. But, the sharp flavor is perfect. It helps prevent desserts from being excessively sweet – making them much more interesting as well.

You can even make candied lemon peels, which is a surprisingly enjoyable sweet treat. There is a good recipe at The Daring Gourmet that you can try.

Marmalade

Lemon marmalade (also called lemon jam) is another great way to use lemons, especially if you have many of them. The marmalade can be used directly on toast and many recipes will use marmalade as an ingredient too.

Marmalade has a long shelf-life. This makes it perfect if you have more lemons than you know what to do with.

You don’t just have to stick to lemon marmalade either. Many recipes include other fruits as well to create a more interesting flavor.

Lemon Curd

Let’s not forget lemon curd either. This tangy classic can simply be used as a spread or as a filling for tarts. Once again, you’ll find it featured in many different recipes. It’s very easy to make too, as the video below shows.

Ice Cream (and other frozen treats)

You’ll find lemon featured in many frozen foods as well. It’s a particularly good ingredient if you find that regular ice cream is too sweet – or if you just want something a little different.

The recipes below are all easy-to-make examples. Don’t worry, none of them rely on an ice cream maker.

Savory Dishes

Lemon also works well with many savory dishes. The flavor here is often more nuanced, especially when the lemon is roasted along with other ingredients. But, lemon is still a great way to make the meal taste more interesting.

One common example is lemon and chicken. There are plenty of great recipes that combine the two.

And, of course, we can’t forget lemon and fish. Even just squeezing lemon juice over fish can taste amazing. Many recipes rely on lemons as well. Some other examples of savory recipes with lemon include the following:

Dressings, Oils and Dips

You’ll also see lemon in various dressings. Recipes normally call for lemon juice, which adds a nice acidity to a recipe, helping to balance it out. Some will also rely on lemon zest to make things a little more interesting.

Lemon for your Hair and Skin

Lemon on the skin

We can’t forget the other benefits lemon offers to your body either. Lemon can be surprisingly effective at improving your skin and hair – and is used in a variety of ways.

Soothe Rashes and Sunburn

Lemon juice can help relieve the itchiness or pain that comes with rashes and sunburn. Just make sure you don’t have any open cuts, as the juice can sting.

Reduce Skin Dryness

You can mix baking soda and lemon juice to a paste, then apply it to your skin. This works especially well on elbows and other areas that often get dry and scaly.

Soothing the Skin

Another trick is mixing water and lemon juice, then rubbing it on your skin. The water reduces the intensity of the lemon juice, but you’re still helping your skin.

Improve Skin Appearance

Some people also suggest rubbing a cut lemon onto your skin directly, washing the juice off after about 10 minutes. This may help with age spots and acne.

Once again, be aware of any open cuts. Stay well clear of your eyes as well. Citrus juice also makes you more sensitive to the sun, so be careful if you plan to go outside straight after.

Brighten Your Nails

Your nails also benefit from the combination of lemon juice and baking soda. You need to combine these to create a paste and then massage them onto your nails

Make Your Own Skincare Items

Natural skincare with lemon

There are many different approaches for homemade skincare products, including ones that rely on cocoa butter, mango butter and/or shea butter.

Lemons aren’t a common ingredient in these but there are still some exciting recipes that use lemon. You might find some these more interesting than simply rubbing a lemon on your skin.

Get Stains Off Your Hands

Lemon juice also helps to get stains off your hands. Just wash your hands with straight lemon juice (no water added), wait a little, then wash with warm water and soap. You may need to repeat the process multiple times, but it will help to get rid of most stains.

Odors Too

You can do something similar to get rid of odors, including intense ones. Here, you just need to wash your hands with soap and lemon juice.

Lighten Your Hair

The site Totally the Bomb offers one recipe that you can use to lighten your own hair. It’s very easy to make and use. The idea takes advantage of how lemon juice reacts when exposed to sunlight.

This is also why you need to take care about going outside with lemon juice on your skin.

Treat Dandruff

Lemon juice can also be used to reduce dandruff. You just need to massage the juice into your scalp and rinse it off. Around two tablespoons is a good amount.

Like most dandruff treatments, you should do this daily until you see results.

Disinfecting Wounds

You can also use a little lemon juice on a cloth to clean small cuts or scrapes. This can help prevent infection. But, be warned, the process will sting.

Cleaning with Lemons

Selection of lemons on a table

Lemons are fantastic for cleaning. They make whatever you’re cleaning actually smell good – something that most other cleaning products don’t achieve. They also have antibacterial properties, which is another major advantage.

The scent of lemon is also a mood booster. So, these approaches may help make cleaning feel a little bit less like a chore. 

Cleaning your Microwave

One simple trick is to squeeze the juice from a lemon into a bowl half filled with water. Add the rinds in too. Then microwave the bowl for roughly four minutes.

You can then just wipe down the microwave. It will smell great too.

A Simple Way to Clean Toilets

This is an easy one. Just add lemon juice (roughly half a cup) into the toilet bowl and leave it to sit. It should be easier to get stains off with a toilet brush after that.

… And Showers

Lemon works wonders for removing water stains that often end up on shower doors. Simply cut up a lemon and dip one half in baking soda. You can rub that on the door, then rinse and dry it.

Using salt instead of baking soda works too. This also makes scrubbing a bit easier.

Dusting the Home

The combination of lemon peels and white vinegar is a great trick for dusting. The site One Good Thing by Jillee has one interesting approach that you can follow. Her instructions show you how to setup multiple dusting cloths at once.

Make Aluminum Shine

You can make aluminum pots and pans look new again with lemon. Simply rub half a lemon over your pots and pans, then use a cloth to wipe them. That’s all there is to it.

Clean Your Copper

Lemon also helps to make copper look great. One trick is to mix lemon juice (a few tablespoons) with baking soda (one tablespoon). You can then rub this in and polish it off once the grime starts to shift.

Another option is lemon and salt. Here, you combine the two until you get a paste. This is rubbed over the copper and then rinsed off. The salt approach is less harsh but both can be effective.

Get Rid of Cutting Board Stains

Stains on cutting boards are tough to remove. Lemon juice can help with this, partly because of how it reacts in sunlight. All you need to do is rub the board with lemon juice (simply run half a lemon over it for a while) and then leave it out in the sun.

When you rinse the board off later, you should notice that most (or all) of the stains are gone. The reaction between lemon juice and the sun basically bleaches the board – without any nasty chemicals.

You can also do something similar with any plastic containers that have been stained or discolored.

Lemons around the House

Cut lemons on a board

Lemons also have countless other uses around your home. Some of them are obvious, others are less common.

Masking Odors

Lemon peel has a strong scent. Simply add the peels to your garbage or even down the garbage disposal. Both approaches will mask unpleasant odors.

  • You can also simply cut up lemons and leave them around the house. This idea isn’t as effective and many people use essential oil instead. But, in some situations, it can work well.
  • This works for cat litter too. For example, you can put some cut lemon near the cat litter box
  • You can also absorb odors in your fridge. A simple way to do this is to soak a cotton ball in lemon juice and place it in your fridge. Leave it there for a few hours and your fridge should smell much better

Stop Fruit and Vegetables Browning

If you’re boiling cauliflower or potatoes, adding a little lemon juice to the water can stop them from going brown.

Lemon juice is good for apples too. You can prevent browning by soaking apple segments or slices in water with some lemon juice. A good place to start is one tablespoon of lemon juice for each cup of water.

Washing Your Produce

Lemon juice can also help you wash any fruits and vegetables. Simply add lemon to water and leave the produce to soak for a little. Then rinse and dry, as usual. This is more effective than just water.

Stop Bugs

Many insects don’t like the smell of lemon. You can simply leave lemon peels (or lemon juice) anywhere that insects could enter. That includes windowsills and any holes.        

Make Dried Lemon Peel

This is an unusual idea. Dried lemon peel has many of the same advantages as a whole lemon, while also being much more practical. For example, dried lemon peel will last much longer and can be used in various different ways.

In fact, many of the techniques in this list would work with dried lemon peels instead of fresh lemons. The end result is edible too – making it a simple way to add lemon flavor into recipes.

The site One Good Thing by Jillee offers details about how to make and use these lemon peels.

Kill Weeds

Lemon juice will work well on many weeds too. You can simply put the juice in a spray bottle and spray on plants. No other ingredients are needed. Weeds will typically shrivel within a few days.

What About Lemon Essential Oil?

We’ve just been talking about lemons as a fruit. But, you can also turn to lemon essential oil. Essential oils contain many powerful compounds from the plants they rely on, along with the scent

Lemon essential oil is a great way to get the refreshing scent of lemon, which is perfect for improving concentration and your mood. It is a common component of diffuser blends and is in various skincare recipes and homemade cleaning products.

The oil is particularly useful if you don’t have fresh lemons at hand.

Final Thoughts

Cutting a lemon

Honestly, this list barely scratches the surface. There are countless different ways to use lemons and many variations of each individual approach.

This versatility is one of the greatest things about them. You can always find something to do with lemons, even if you have an excessively large number of them.

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Want to Improve Your Health?

Turmeric Smoothie

Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use. 

Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started. 

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