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Can you freeze lemons without the peel?

Freezing lemons is a great way to preserve them for longer term storage. It allows you to have lemons on hand whenever you need them, even when they are out of season. But what about freezing lemons without the peel? Is it possible and how can it be done?

Can You Freeze Lemons Without the Peel?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze lemons without the peel. The peel contains essential oils that can become bitter when frozen, so removing it first is recommended. The leftover lemon flesh can be frozen on its own.

Steps to Freeze Lemons Without Peel

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Wash and dry the lemons thoroughly.
  2. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the outer peel. Try to remove as little of the white pith as possible since it is very bitter.
  3. Cut the peeled lemons into rounds, slices, cubes, or even juice them first. Whatever form you want to freeze them in.
  4. Place the peeled, cut lemon pieces in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours.
  5. Transfer the frozen lemon pieces to resealable freezer bags or airtight containers. Squeeze out excess air.
  6. Label with contents and freeze for up to 6 months.

Tips for Freezing Lemons Without Peel

  • Wash lemons in hot water before peeling to help remove any microbes or wax coating.
  • Avoid freezing extremely thin slices of lemon as they can turn mushy when thawed.
  • Freeze in juice form for the most versatile lemon product. Thaw as needed for recipes.
  • Add a bit of lemon juice to any other frozen fruit to prevent browning.
  • For long term freezing, use plastic freezer bags rather than glass containers.
  • Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the cut fruit to prevent oxidation while freezing.

How to Use Frozen Lemons Without Peel

Frozen peeled lemons are great for:

  • Adding bright flavor to drinks, smoothies, and lemonade
  • Seasoning fish, chicken, vegetables, grains
  • Baking – add to cakes, cookies, muffins, scones
  • Making sauces and salad dressings
  • Infusing vinegar, oil, syrup, etc.
  • Garnishing desserts

Simply thaw what you need and use just like fresh lemon. The possibilities are endless.

How Long Do Frozen Lemons Last?

Properly stored frozen lemons can last up to 6 months before quality begins to decline. They will still be safe to use after that point but may become watery and lose some flavor.

For best quality, try to use within 4 months. Portion the lemons into the amounts you will use at one time before freezing.

Can You Refreeze Thawed Lemons?

It is best not to refreeze thawed lemons. When they are thawed the first time, ice crystals rupture some of the cell structure. If frozen again, they can turn mushy with diminished flavor.

However, if the thawed lemons are incorporated into a recipe then the whole dish can be frozen again.

For example, you can freeze lemon curd, lemon sauce, or lemonade again after thawing first.

Signs of Frozen Lemon Spoilage

Here are some signs that frozen lemons have been stored for too long and may be spoiled:

  • Unusual softness or mushiness
  • Translucent look
  • Lemon juice separates and is watery
  • Mold visibly present
  • Off odors
  • Unpleasant bitter taste

When in doubt, throw it out. Frozen lemons that display any of these characteristics should be discarded.

Storing Thawed Lemons

Thawed lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Keep them in a covered container and use as you normally would fresh lemons.

The cut faces exposed to air will slowly deteriorate over time. For maximum freshness, try to use within 3 days.

Can You Substitute Fresh Lemons With Frozen?

Frozen lemons can be substituted for fresh in most recipes, but a few adjustments may be needed:

  • Use about 20% more frozen lemon to account for moisture lost
  • Thaw first or add 5 extra minutes to baking if adding frozen
  • Add extra sugar if using for drinks to compensate for less sweetness
  • Increase thickening agents like cornstarch if using in pie fillings
  • Do not substitute for lemon zest, use fresh zest instead if needed

Test the substitution in small batches at first to get amounts right.


Freezing peeled lemons is simple to do and provides a handy stash for use any time a recipe calls for lemon. Just remember to remove the outer peel first since the oils turn bitter in the freezer.

With proper storage in airtight containers, frozen lemons can stay fresh for up to 6 months. Thaw what you need as you go to have fresh tasting lemon on hand all year long.