Can I Use Lemon Essential Oil in Place of Lemon Juice?

Lemons are a super fruit! from herbal benefits to cooking, all the way through to beauty products such as face masks, and also to add a lift to our spring clean! an added bonus is they are a great source of Vitamin C. 

However, with many so many different varieties of lemon products available such as lemon essential oils, pure lemon juice, lemon extract, and others, it can be a little confusing as to the best type to use! 

In this article, we will concentrate on whether lemon essential oils can be used as a substitute for lemon juice. Hopefully, I can clear up any confusion! 

Let’s start with the brief answer first, before we get into the details. 

Can I use lemon essential oil in place of lemon juice? Lemon essential oil can be substituted for lemon juice, but it won’t give 100% similar flavor. Lemon essential oil is made using the lemon rind, lemon skin, and alcohol, so it has a strong concentrated aroma and flavor. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is taken directly from the fruit and has a fresher taste and aroma. 

So now we’ve looked at the short answer, let’s start to look at the differences between these two beautifully aromatic and distinct lemon products. 

Lemon juice and Lemon essential oil have different properties 

Let’s start by looking at the most obvious differences between these two aromatic heavyweights. 


Lemon juice is the fresh lemon juice squeezed straight out of the fruit. Whereas lemon essential oil is the extract taken from the lemon rind and skin. 

Lemon rinds 

The natural oil found in the lemon rind is how the essential oil is made. It takes a whopping 3000 lemon rinds to make 1kg of lemon essential oil! 

So because lemon essential oil is directly taken from the rind and the skin, the scent, flavor, and aroma they can give are much stronger than the natural lemon juice. 

This is also why lemon essential oil can smell more like lemon zest, rather than actual than lemon juice – with a stronger flavor. 

On the other hand, lemon essential oils are a combination of oil and alcohol with less water than lemon juice. This also makes lemon essential oils more concentrated than lemon juice. 

lemon essential oil is directly taken from the rind and the skin,
the scent, flavor, and aroma they can give are much stronger than the natural lemon juice.”


So now we’ve got started with some basics, let’s find out if lemon essential oil is a good substitute for fresh lemon juice in terms of its flavor. 

Does lemon essential oil substitute lemon juice flavor and aroma? 

In a nutshell, the short answer is that both lemon juice and lemon essential oil can give a lemony flavor to your baking, stir-frying, grilling, or BBQ. 

However, the concentration, depth, and acidity levels of the two types of lemon products differ quite remarkably. This is one of the reasons why many don’t recommend substituting lemon juice with lemon essential oil. 

A great replacement for lemon zest 

Although lemon essential oil cannot 100% replicate or duplicate the acidity of lemon juice, it is a great substitute for lemon zest. This is because lemon essential oils are made primarily from lemon skin and rind. 

So for any recipe that calls for lemon zest, such as cakes, loaves, and other types of baked goods, lemon essential oil work well. 

Obviously this relates only to taste and aroma and won’t work for recipes that call for flecks of lemon rind to be a main focal point of the recipe, such as a garnish or decoration. 

It’s also worth noting that with many types of products that add aroma or flavor, the cooking process can mute the overall intensity of the lemon essential oil or lemon juice in its ore-cooked state. 

Lemon essential oil may also give a slightly more bitter taste than the fresh lemon juice. So it’s worth taking this into account for the kind of flavor profile you are looking for. 

“the concentration, depth, and acidity levels
of the two types of lemon products differs quite remarkably”

Ok so now we’ve seen that lemon essential oil can be used successfully as a substitute for lemon rind and also where lemon juice is needed albeit, with the slight change in aroma and flavor, you might be wondering how much to use. (2)

Read on and find out. 

How much lemon essential oil do I need? 

Lemon essential oils have a beautiful intense flavor and especially the aroma. This is mainly because it isn’t diluted with the liquid in the fresh lemon juice. 

This means that a little lemon essential oil can go a long way! 

So make sure you don’t substitute the same amount of lemon essential oil as you would lemon juice. This is really important to remember! 

  • In general 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil equals around a teaspoon of lemon juice. Adding any more will depend on your own preference, but only add one drop at a time until you are happy with the final taste. 
  • In terms of natural zest flavor, one teaspoon of lemon essential oil equals 2 teaspoons of freshly grated lemon zest. 

By those measurements, it’s pretty clear to see that lemon essential oil is a really intense lemon hit giving a very strong lemon flavor and aroma.  

So with that measurement set up, since most recipes don’t call for lemon essential oils, it’s always good to know when to add them while cooking. 

Since essential oil has more aroma than acidic content, it’s always recommended to add lemon essential oil at the end to preserve most of the flavor and aroma. If you can’t add it at the end like for desserts, add it to the batter before baking. 

“In general 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil equals around a teaspoon of lemon juice.”

If you think may become a little heavy-handed with simply using a bottle to dispense your lemon essential oil, its always best when you only require a few drops of oil, to use a dropper wherever possible.

Too much lemon essential oil will not only give your baking or food a sour taste, but it will also give a quite bitter flavor. So that you have a good handle on the taste of both lemon juice and lemon essential oil, its worth trying a little of both to more fully understand the different flavor profiles.

And finally… 

So if you are cooking up a storm in the kitchen and have run out of fresh lemon juice, or need lemon juice and want to substitute it using lemon essential oil, it will be perfectly ok as long as you remember not to use the same amount of essential oil as lemon juice and also remember the flavor will be more like that of grated lemon zest. 

Don’t forget to go check out my other helpful articles if you want to know if Orange oil or Lime oil can be good substitutes for fresh juices and don’t forget to pop by my other articles for more citrusy oil info!

This content has been checked and verified by a medical professional or aromatherapist The article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

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