Many recipes call for lemon juice, but how much juice is in one lemon? And what’s the best way to get the juice without making a mess?
There are about 2-3 tablespoons of juice in an average-sized lemon (average being approximately 2-3 inches in diameter). So, of course, how much juice there is in a lemon depends on its size. Larger lemons can hold closer to 5 tablespoons of juice, whereas older lemons have less because they’re drier.
Lemon juice is an essential ingredient for cooks of all experience levels.
And whether you’re just starting out or have many years in the game, you need to know your citrus!
Sure, you could grab a bottle of concentrate and call it a day. But you won’t get the same bright flavor.
So, when life hands you lemons, zest them, juice them, and make something delicious.
How Much Juice Is in One Lemon?
It can be hard to follow certain recipes.
They ask for a cup of onion, a handful of basil leaves, or a tablespoon of lemon juice without really explaining how to measure it.
Luckily, you can save yourself the guessing and use this guide to help!
Most regular lemons have about 2-3 tablespoons of juice. But it’s best to assume that one half holds about 1 tablespoon of juice. Though, if the fruit is heavy, it likely has more. Smaller lemons, like Meyers, yield only 1-2 tablespoons, where large lemons can hold more than a quarter cup of juice.
Pick heavy fruits for maximum juice, and pay attention to the quality. If it seems shriveled or hard, it’s probably older and dried out a little.
Therefore, it’ll have less juice.
I recommend getting a couple of lemons and measuring how much juice you get.
That way, you’ll see firsthand how big the fruit is and can aim for similar sizes in the future.
Though, lemons aren’t overly expensive and will last quite a while in the fridge. So, err on the side of caution and get more than you need.
How to Juice a Lemon
While there’s no wrong way to juice a lemon, it’s good to have some tricks in your back pocket.
So, here are some tried and true ways to make sure you can squeeze out every last drop:
- Before cutting, roll the lemon on the counter with moderate pressure. This will help to release the juices, making it easier to juice.
- Cut the fruit in half, between the stem and blossom. This exposes the seeds in the center, so they can easily be removed.
- Use a manual juicing tool. They have handles and tapered ends with ridges to press out the juice, right to the rind.
- If you juice a lot of lemons, invest in a juicer. They rotate when you press half a lemon on the top, and some even strain the juice for you.
What About Lemon Zest?
I’m a firm believer in minimal food waste. So if a recipe calls for lemon juice, you can almost always add the zest too.
It’s loaded with flavor and oils and adds a nice pop of color too. You just have to remember to not cut them too deeply (more on that below).
Lemon zest is essentially fine shreds of the peel. And it’s actually much more fragrant and flavorful than the juice.
In general, a medium-sized lemon will yield about one tablespoon of flavor-packed zest.
How to Zest a Lemon
Before you zest any fruit, make sure to wash and dry it. Use warm water and a vegetable brush to remove any wax coating or pesticides.
From there, the easiest way to zest a lemon – which you should always do before juicing – is with a microplane.
This is a long, steel tool that kind of looks like a boxy knife. It has small holes over the surface that act like a grater. Only the result is a much finer shred.
Just run the lemon carefully over the plane, stopping just as you start to see white.
We can’t talk all about lemons without featuring some of my favorite lemon recipes!
Here are some terrific ways to use up zest and juice:
- Lemon Blueberry Muffins – There’s zest in the batter for the perfect amount of lemony flavor. And the glaze has juice mixed with powdered sugar.
- Lemon Sour Cream Cake – My go-to cake for family gatherings! This recipe also uses lemon zest in the cake and lemon juice in the glaze.
- Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breasts – In the mood for something savory? Add lemon zest and juice to a blend of wine, garlic, and herbs. Then, pour it over some chicken and bake!
- Starbucks Lemon Loaf (Copycat Recipe) – There’s lemon juice and lemon pudding in the cake, making it moist, tart, and delicious!
- Lemon Crinkle Cookies – A great springtime cookie, you’ll add zest and juice to the dough for maximum citrusy goodness.
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