Sometimes there are no lemons to hand or we simply want to mix up our salad dressings. If you are looking for an ingredient to substitute for lemon juice in salad dressing then this article has a list I’ve put together.
I usually have access to fresh lemon juice, but sometimes I’m caught out when preparing a salad dressing that needs that acidic element. You’ll be happy to know that there are several ingredients you can use as substitutes to give your salad dressing that tart tanginess.
Using vinegar technically makes it a vinaigrette – what else is in a proper vinaigrette?
For each substitute, I’ve given suggested ratios to use when substituting, some details on what works best with different flavor combinations, and a tasty dressing recipe as an example.
9 Substitutes For Lemon Juice In Salad Dressing:
- Lime juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Orange juice
- Grapefruit Juice
- White Wine
- Wine Vinegar
- Lemon Zest
- Lemon Extract
1. Lime Juice
The easiest way to replace lemon juice in a recipe is to use a similarly flavored citrus juice. Lemon has a distinctive sharp, sour taste, and lime juice will be the closest approximation to this. Lime juice is generally more bitter and less sour than a lemon; you may have to adjust additional ingredients to taste.
You can substitute lime juice in the same ratio and amount as lemon juice in a recipe.
Try this Simple Lime Salad Dressing Recipe.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
This delicious and tangy vinegar doesn’t have any citrus or lemon flavor but brings a punch of tart, fruity flavor that works very well as a substitute for lemon juice in salad dressings. Of the various kinds of vinegar, apple cider is milder and works exceptionally well with delicate flavors where you don’t want robust taste competing.
Lemon juice and different kinds of vinegar can often be swapped and substituted in recipes like coleslaw and other salads.
You can substitute cider vinegar at the same ratio, and the tart and acidic flavor will work well.
Try this Apple Cider Vinaigrette Recipe.
3. Orange Juice
Orange juice is much sweeter than lime or lemon, and will change the taste of the salad dressing. This sweetness is not necessarily bad, and the flavor of orange juice goes very well in sweet dressings and sauces. You can make a delicious orange vinaigrette with orange juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey, but don’t use it in dishes that call for a strong lemon taste.
One trick is to replace the lemon juice with a mix of half orange juice and half vinegar to get a more sour taste. Be aware that the higher sugar count in orange juice also means the calories are higher.
Try this Orange Vinaigrette Recipe.
4. Grapefruit Juice
Grapefruit juice is a little more tart than orange juice but still won’t give you a sharp lemon taste, so avoid using it in salad dressing that needs a strong lemon flavor. Grapefruit juice goes amazingly with olive oil and honey to make a delicious vinaigrette.
Grapefruit juice has been known to interfere with certain medications, so check beforehand if this is an acceptable substitute in your salad dressing. The FDA requires that all OTC drugs taken by mouth must include a warning if they interact with grapefruit.
Use grapefruit juice in the same quantity as the lemon juice, but remember, it will taste sweeter.
Try this Grapefruit Vinaigrette Recipe.
5. White Wine
You can use a dry white wine in salad dressings as the acidic ingredient to cut through the oil. It works great mixed with egg yolks, olive oil, and garlic in a caesar salad dressing and can replace lemon in similar recipes.
Use twice as much white wine as you would lemon juice as it is not as strongly acidic. Whisk the dressing vigorously to thicken it by making an emulsion with the oil – drizzling more oil in will thicken it further while whisking.
6. Wine Vinegar
Another excellent tart replacement for lemon juice in a salad dressing is wine vinegar which will give you a tart, tangy taste without sweetness like orange juice. White wine vinegar is best but red will work too. It’s a product many of us have on hand in the pantry, which makes it a fantastic go-to as a lemon-juice substitute.
Use white wine vinegar in the same ratio as you would lemon juice, and you can try adding lemon flavor with a drop of lemon essence or dried lemon zest.
Try this White Wine Vinaigrette Recipe.
One mild replacement for lemon juice in salad dressing that you might not have thought of is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented black tea drink and has a slightly sour-sweet taste, depending on how it was made.
Substitute kombucha for lemon juice on a 2:1 ratio as it is mildly acidic. It works very well in Asian-style dressings with soy sauce and sesame oil.
8. Lemon Zest
If you don’t have lemon juice but have some dried or frozen lemon zest on hand, this is a fabulous way to add the zesty tang of lemon flavor to your salad dressing. Add zest to your vinegar, kombucha, or citrus juice substitute for an extra lemon flavor kick.
A teaspoon of lemon zest will give you the same burst of flavor as 2Tbsp lemon juice.
9. Lemon Extract
Lemon extract is often a pantry standard. Though we usually use it for baking, it can make a great way to add lemon flavor to a modified salad dressing that uses vinegar as a substitute.
You can infuse an equal amount of water with lemon essence to substitute for your lemon juice. You’ll only need a small amount of lemon essence to get the same flavor.
Hopefully, you now have some ideas to substitute lemon juice in salad dressings.
If you dislike the taste of lemon juice in your salad, you can use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, kombucha, or other citrus juices as substitutes. To add lemon flavor to a dressing, you can add lemon essence drops or use frozen or dried lemon zest in addition to your vinegar or juice. Lime juice is one of the best substitutes for lemon juice in terms of flavor and works very well in most salad dressing recipes.