When it comes to versatility in the kitchen, few fruits compare to lemons. They’re an essential ingredient in lemonade, lemon meringue pie, curds, tarts and they help balance out flavor in dishes.
A common question that pops up in cooking forums is how much juice is in one lemon? Not everyone uses fresh lemons so you’ll need to know this if you’re using bottled juice. We’re about to answer this question as well as some useful tips for getting every last drop of juice out of that lemon. Let's get started.
How much juice is in a lemon?
A medium-sized lemon, like the ones at the supermarket or fruit store, contains about two tablespoons of juice. This means you’ll need to use half a lemon if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of lemon juice. Keep in mind that you can get more lemon juice than this out of one fruit if you follow the lemon juicing tips further down this page.
Lemon juice summary
|Lemon Size||How Much Juice?|
|Small lemon||1 Tbsp|
|Medium lemon||2 Tbsp|
|Large lemon||4 Tbsp|
|Medium key lime||3 tsp|
How much zest comes from a lemon?
You will get about one tablespoon of zest from one lemon using a grater. A zester or microplane will help you to get more out of each lemon. If your fruits are store-bought, they’ll usually have a waxy coating which isn’t helpful. To remove it, simply hold the lemons under warm running water until the coating washes off. This will make zesting the skin easier.
How to zest with a grater
A common cheese grater is fine for zesting lemons; however, a microplane will do a better job so we highly recommend adding one to your kitchen tool collection. Whichever utensil you decide to use here are the steps to get the most out of your lemon:
- Hold the microplane over a cutting board or large bowl.
- In a downward motion, drag the lemon along the grater, taking care not to get your fingers in the way. Continue grating downwards until the white pith is revealed.
- Rotate the lemon and repeat the grating process. Continue rotating the lemon until all the yellow peel has been removed.
Got no grater?
If you don't have any specialist equipment to zest a lemon then you can still use a sharp knife which works perfectly well. A paring knife is easy to maneuver and will do the best job.
Hold the lemon in one hand and use the knife to carefully slice off strips of yellow peel. Ensure that you don't cut too deeply as you don't want the white pith. Now the strips of skin can be cut into fine slices, perfect for garnishes and cocktails. Or use a knife to finely mince the peel and use it in any sweet or savory dish.
6 tips for juicing lemons
The amount of juice extracted from a lemon can vary depending on your juice skills. Follow these tips for more juice:
1. Use heat
Briefly heat the lemon in a microwave for 10 seconds on high before slicing it open and squeezing. This will make the fruit softer and easier to squeeze and is especially important if you store your lemons in the fridge.
2. Slice the right way
The direction you slice the lemon before squeezing will impact how much juice you get from the fruit. It is best to slice the lemon lengthways rather than across.
3. Use technology
If you only squeeze one or two lemons a year then chopping them in half and squeezing them with by hand is fine. For those that regularly squeeze lemons, you may want to consider investing in an electric juicer to make life much easier. You can then squeeze large batches in one go and freeze the juice in an ice cube trace until you need it. At the very least, a manual juicer will be well worth the money.
4. Choose the right lemons
Lemons that are heavier tend to carry more juice so do a quick weight test in-store to make sure you choose the best fruit. You should also look for lemons that are a little soft; this is an indication that the fruit has ripened nicely and is packed with juice. Meyer lemons are an excellent variety for getting loads of lemon juice.
5. Freeze the lemons
If you've got lemons in the fruit bowl and they look like they're close to going off then a good option is to store them in the freezer. This causes the juice to expand, breaking the cell walls. Once thawed, the lemons will be much easier to squeeze. Frozen lemons can also be microwaved for around 30 seconds to maximize juice extraction.
6. Roll the lemons
Rolling lemons on the bench is another great option for breaking down the cell walls. Place the lemon on the kitchen bench and roll it back and forth whilst pushing down on the fruit. A few seconds of this process is all that's required.
Fast fact: Did you know that lemon trees can produce a whopping 600lbs of lemon in just one year? This is mostly thanks to the fact that they produce fruit all year round.
Lemon Juice Infographic
Recipes often call for the juice of a lemon to be used. This can lead to some confusion for those that get their juice from a bottle. From our tests, we found that two tablespoons of juice comes from one medium lemon, the size that’s commonly available in stores. An oversized lemon is likely to produce 3 tablespoons of juice and in extreme cases up to four tablespoons.
Keep in mind that when recipes use lemon juice, the amount often isn’t crucial to the success of the dish. For example, if you’re making lemon meringue pie, a little under or over isn’t going to ruin the dessert. When making sauces, add lemon juice in small amounts and taste test before adding more. This will avoid unpleasant sour-tasting food that is hard to fix.