What Can I Substitute for the Flavor of Lime Juice?

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Limes have a distinctive, tangy, sweet flavor that is recognizable in most dishes. Lime juice works in marinades, drinks and baked goods, making it versatile. But if you’re out of lime juice and need it for a recipe, the substitutes for lime juice are just as versatile and offer a good amount of flavor that can complement your recipe.


Lime zest works in place of lime juice and still provides that refreshing, sweet flavor. If you’re out of limes, lemon or orange zest are suitable replacements. When using zest, wash the fruit thoroughly and use a grater or microplane. Substitute 1 teaspoon of zest for every 2 teaspoons of juice, because zest packs more flavor than juice.

Other Citrus

While lime juice has its own special flavor, you can substitute other citrus juices in its place. Lemon or orange juice bring the same sweet, tangy flavor as lime, so use these as your first option. Juice must be freshly squeezed to get the same flavor profile. Don’t use juice that has water, additives and sugar, because this can alter the taste and texture of your final product. Use juice in equal parts to the original amount of lime juice in the recipe. If you don't have juice, a concentrate will work. Concentrates are stronger than juice, so use 1 part of concentrate for every 2 parts of juice.


Pure lime extract is made from limes and lime zest. These have a powerful lime flavor and are suitable replacements for fresh lime juice. Use lime extract at a ratio of 1 part extract for every 2 parts lime juice. Don’t use imitation extracts -- these are made from artificial ingredients that can alter the taste of your recipe, especially in uncooked dishes.


If your recipe needs lime juice for its acidity, you can replace the lime juice with another acid, like white distilled vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is more potent than lime juice and doesn’t have the same sweetness. Use 1 part vinegar for every 3 parts of lime juice required in your recipe. Crushed up vitamin C tablets that have been dissolved in water are also citrus replacements. Vitamin C tablets work best if you’re replacing lime juice that is used to keep fruit or other food items from discoloring -- such as sprinkling lime juice over a fruit salad to maintain its color. Use the vitamin C tablets and water equal to the amount of lime juice called for in the recipe when adding it to fruit. The vitamin C tablets typically have a lemon or orange flavor.