Here’s everything you need to know about freezing lemon juice. Learn how to freeze and defrost it, and what are the most popular ways of using it.
Got some leftover lemon juice without any plans to use it? Can you freeze lemon juice?
Lemon juice freezes great. To freeze, pour the liquid into an ice cube tray, freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until the cubes are solid, and transfer them to a freezer bag to freeze for the long term. You can use it the same way you use fresh lemon juice.
That’s the takeaway from this article if you’re in a hurry.
Here’s what we cover below:
- freezing freshly squeezed lemon juice vs. freezing bottled
- freezing lemon juice step by step
- how to go about defrosting it
- popular ways of using lemon juice
Want to learn more? Read on.
Can You Freeze Lemon Juice?
Yes, you can freeze lemon juice, and it’s an excellent way to preserve it. Freezing lemon juice doesn’t affect its quality much, so you can use it pretty much the same way you use it before freezing.
Sure, there might be a tiny difference in taste between fresh and frozen and thawed lemon juice. But since pretty much everyone is using it in cooking and not to drink as-is, nobody will notice the difference.
Now, the fact that lemon juice freezes well doesn’t mean that you should put all your leftovers in the freezer right away. Let’s talk about differences between bottled and fresh lemon juice.
Bottled vs. Fresh Lemon Juice
Bottled lemon juice often comes with a shelf life of a year or more, and you can store it in the fridge for months after opening. That means there’s no rush in freezing it, and in most cases, you can leave it in the refrigerator until the next time you need it.
(Read the label to make sure.)
For freshly squeezed lemon juice, things are different. It only lasts a couple of days after extraction, so it makes sense to freeze any leftovers. That said, whole lemons last quite some time, so if you haven’t juiced yours yet, there’s no rush.
Now that you know when to freeze lemon juice, let’s talk about how.
How to Freeze Lemon Juice
Here’s how you freeze lemon juice:
- Make the juice. Juice the lemons if that’s not done already.
- Freeze the juice in an ice cube tray. Pour the juice into the tray and put it in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours or until the cubes freeze solid. Or leave the tray in the freezer overnight to keep things simple.
- Transfer cubes to a freezer bag. Take the tray out of the freezer, pop the cubes, and put them in a freezer bag. Squeeze out the air before you seal the bag. Add a label with the name and date to the bag if you like.
- Freeze for the long term. Chuck the bag with cubes in the freezer.
That’s it. Only a couple of minutes of active time, and now you have a bunch of lemon juice cubes in the freezer ready for use whenever needed.
Got some follow-up questions? Let’s answer some of the most popular ones.
How Long Can You Freeze Lemon Juice?
Try to use frozen lemon juice within six months of freezing for best quality. There’s no set period for storing it in the freezer, but the sooner you use the juice, the better.
That said, there’s no reason to rush things, and even if it sits frozen for over a year, it should still work perfectly fine in all sorts of dishes.
Ice Cube Tray vs. Containers
Freezing lemon juice in an ice cube tray is what I recommend because it’s the most flexible option.
Most recipes only need a bit of lemon juice (like a fourth of a cup or a few tablespoons), so if you’re going with the tray, you can easily defrost exactly as much as you need.
This approach has only one downside I can think of: it requires pre-freezing the cubes, so you can’t take care of the whole process in one go.
Another option is to freeze pre-measured amounts of lemon juice in a container or containers. This way, you skip pre-freezing and already have as much lemon juice as you need for a recipe.
The obvious downside is that you need to have an exact plan of how you’re going to use the juice at the moment of freezing. And if you’re like me, you don’t have one in place.
And if you’re thinking about simply freezing all the juice in a single container, that’s a pretty bad idea. You don’t want to be forced to defrost a cup of lemon juice just to grab two tablespoons.
(Plus, you’d have to deal with the leftovers.)
Now that we covered freezing, let’s talk about defrosting options.
How to Thaw Lemon Juice
There are at least three ways to go about thawing lemon juice:
- Skip it. You can skip defrosting if you’re adding frozen lemon juice cubes to a smoothie or something that you cook on the stove (e.g., you’re making lemon curd).
- Thaw in the fridge. Transfer as many cubes into an airtight container and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. The juice will be thawed in the morning, and all it needs before using is a quick stir.
- Defrost it on the stove. If you need the juice immediately and forget to place the cubes in the fridge ahead of time, the stove comes to the rescue. I typically put a small pot (with cubes in it) on medium heat for a minute or two and then take it off the heat. This way, the pot is warm enough to melt the cubes within a few minutes while I work on other parts of the recipe.
Now, what if you thawed a bit too much lemon juice?
That depends. If you’ve defrosted it in the fridge, you can just leave it there for another 2 to 3 days and use it in another recipe. But if you’ve thawed it on the stove, it’s probably best to discard any leftovers that you might have.
With that in mind, let’s talk about using frozen lemon juice.
Using Frozen Lemon Juice
Since lemon juice freezes perfectly fine, you can use it the same way you use fresh lemon juice. This means all sorts of foods and dishes are on the table.
Need an idea?
Here’s how you can use your frozen lemon juice:
- Make a smoothie. Lemon juice adds some extra acidity to counteract the sweetness you get from using a sweetener or a sweet fruit like a banana. Skip defrosting if your blender can handle ice cubes; defrost otherwise.
- Add to tea or make lemonade.
- Bake some cupcakes or muffins. Here’s a recipe for lemon cupcakes from John from Preppy Kitchen.
- Make lemon curd. While lemon curd doesn’t last that long, you can freeze lemon curd if you make too much. Here’s the recipe that I use.
- Bake a lemon cake or any other of hundreds of lemon-flavored baked goods.
- Use it in a salad or salad dressing.
- Bake some salmon. Lemon juice works well with fish dishes, and you can find hundreds of recipes online. Here’s a lemon pepper salmon recipe to get you started.
Of course, this list isn’t complete by any means, but it hopefully gives you enough options to get started.
All in all, finding a way to use frozen lemon juice shouldn’t be an issue, as it works in pretty much all possible settings.