• Lemon delicious indeed. (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson
Lemon, lemon on the wall, who is the handiest fruit of all?
16 Sep 2021 - 11:01 AM  UPDATED 16 Sep 2021 - 11:05 AM

Lemons are one of the most versatile fruits around. This is just as well when you consider how prolific a backyard lemon tree can be. More than one glut of lemons a year is not uncommon.

Which is great news for anyone who loves a zingy recipe. Nothing puts the tang into food like a lemon can. It makes sweet things taste sweeter and sour things taste better.

If you find yourself with plentiful lemons (and even if you don't), give one of these recipes a whirl.

The seasonal cook: lemons
When life gives you lemons... the possibilities are endless. Rediscover this seasonal ingredient with chef O Tama Carey, plus get your mitts on four new recipes that all hinge on this glorious golden citrus.

Keep 'em for later

Rule of life #563: Never, ever let a lemon go to waste. They are just too precious and handy. This method of pickling and preserving whole lemons will add the 'wow' factor to your cooking, as any Middle Eastern foodie will tell you. Keep reading for recipe ideas to use your preserved lemons.

Cheat’s preserved lemons (or limes, or oranges …)

This is an instant version of preserved lemons I discovered in Anna Hansen’s The Modern Pantry cookbook and it’s a brilliant way of getting that potent, salty burst of citrus into dishes when you haven’t homemade preserved lemons to hand or you don’t want to shell out for the generally substandard and ridiculously expensive bought variety. And actually, I find this version brighter and more versatile – the juice is salty, but not overly so, and has an intense, citrusy flavour which makes it ideal in dressings or just drizzled over some fish or chicken to brighten it up. 

Sumac good

Preserved lemons add the tart to sumac's tang and together they make chicken wings fly.


A pile of school prawns dipped into a preserved lemon aïoli is exactly the kind of simple dish that lemons love so well. This is a dish that's made for eating with others, preferably in the sunshine.


Lamb stuffed with preserved lemon, caperberries, currants and pine nuts is about as good as a springtime meal gets. Served with extra lemon wedges to squeeze over the lot... lemon just gets lamb and the feeling is mutual.

Malloreddus, crab and preserved lemon butter

Known as Sardinia's gnocchi, malloreddus are a small pasta perfect for soaking up flavour as they do with this fresh crab cooked in a salty lemon butter.

Preserved lemon and pearl couscous salad

A warm, wholesome salad with tender couscous, chargrilled zucchini and a fresh lemon and olive oil dressing.

Chicken tagine with preserved lemon and olives

Although it takes a little while to prepare, all that fades when you bring the tagine to the table, lift off the conical lid and watch as your family and friends take a deep, satisfied breath. 

The whole and nothing but

Donna Hay's lemon pudding is what happens when you chuck an entire lemon (sans seeds) into your food processor and add the sugar, butter and eggs trinity. It's divine.

Fully shakin'

This delightfully crumbly lemon pie from Ohio's Shaker community also uses the whole lemon without the seeds. Lemon seeds are bitter and basically inedible, so that's a good reason to leave them out of everything you ever make.

Nothing fishy

Whole lemons are also grand when steamed with fish. Here a whole snapper goes into the steamer with lemon and blacked beans. The lemon steams through the entire fish, delicately flavouring it and keeping it super moist.

Skin in the game

Of course, preserving lemon rinds is also essential. You can throw them into any savoury dish that calls for lemons and they'll add an extra lemon hit. The salt is a bonus flavour enhancer.

Fittingly named

Lemon delicious indeed.

Someone once mentioned that they'd never eat a lemon delicious pudding (hadn't even heard of one, can you believe it!?) and we couldn't get the butter, sugar and lemon rind beaten fast enough. Their verdict: "where has this delicious pudding been all my life?"

Holiday zest

Carrots with dukka and preserved lemon

Put your preserved lemon skins to good use in an Egyptian carrot salad. One bite and you'll swear you're sailing down the Nile under a felucca sail at sunset.

Lemon marmalade

Orange often gets all the glory, but lemon doesn't mind. It knows it's sour enough already.

Lemon marmalade (melmelada de llimona)

This lemon marmalade is a perfect spread or filling for any number of pastries you might indulge in. Serve it with freshly baked croissants, ensaïmadas or just simply with butter on toast.

Pici with lemon mascarpone

The sauce doesn’t even need its own pan – it is simply warmed over the pot as the pasta is cooking – making for a simple meal that doesn’t require you to stand at the stove for long periods of time.

Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono)

There isn't much in the world that can beat a hot bowl of chicken soup, and in Greece it's served with a refreshing twist of lemon, and fortified with rice.

Candy hit

There's the salt-preserved lemon zest, and then there's the candied version. This stuff is seriously addictive, in that 'sour lollies' way that makes your mouth pucker and your eyes water. Eat it straight from the jar if you dare, or add it to many recipes that call for lemon zest for added punch.

Sliced right

A lemon slice is exactly the right way to use lemon zest. A lemon drizzle icing and extra zest top things off nicely.

Zesty potatoes

Potatoes soak up lemon zest like the ocean soaks up the sun. The result is potato kibbeh, comfort food that slaps you back onto your feet in no time.

Lemon taralli (taralli al limone)

These soft, sweet, ring-shaped taralli are typical of Sicily (in particular, Palermo). This version is fragrant and lemony.

Orecchiette with Ligurian olives, cauliflower, capers and lemon zest

I think orecchiette, translated as "little ears", is my favourite short dried pasta. I love the chewiness of it and I also love the often oily and slightly drier sauces that it is traditionally paired with. This is an excellent quick flavourful pasta dish that has that excellent combination of salty and oiliness.

Ocean trout with tomato and lemon zest

Ocean trout is a favourite of mine because it is boldly coloured, strongly flavoured and almost as good for you as salmon. Here I’m enhancing its flavour and colour and balancing its plumpness with sharp acidic ingredients. The Italian title of this dish ends with the word for spring, but you can make it any time. Serve it with green beans.


Juice it up

A Bombay lemonade is just what the doctor would order if that doctor was boiling hot and needed a cool down. It's the most refreshing way to dress up lemon juice.

Makrut lime and lemon cordial

This recipe makes plenty, because you’ll want to have it as your drink of choice for a fortnight – it keeps well in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

Lemon drizzle

Many irresistible cake recipes allow you to pour sweet, sweet lemon syrup over the top for flavour and moisture. This is one of those cakes.

Lemon favourite

Lemon chicken

Lemon chicken is like the spaghetti bolognese of China. This is to say that everyone loves it and every home cook is happy to tackle it because it's such a family favourite.

Neapolitan semolina and ricotta cake (migliaccio)

A staple during Naples' Carnival festivities, migliaccio is the region's rustic semolina and lemon cake which is made rich and moist with the ricotta.

Easy hummus

It's impossible to think about Middle Eastern food without drooling over the thought of fresh, homemade hummus.

Lemon and garlic roasted chicken

Two small chooks cook faster than a bigger one, getting this delicious lemon roast on your table in no time.

Peak lemon

This Belgian lemon teacake brings the juice and zest together in the most lemony of lemon curds you're ever likely to crave. The combination of shortcake and curd means you will not make this stunning cake only once. As every lemon lover knows, it pays to end of a sweet note.

Pick some lemons
A Greek family tradition: Yiayia's Sunday roast with lemony potatoes
Nick Makrides grew up in a food-driven Greek household. Inspired by his family's love for cooking, he became a baking enthusiast.
Yoghurt and lemon ice-cream

Standing somewhere between ice-cream and frozen yoghurt, Shane likes to pair this frozen dessert with a slice of sweet, crispy m'hencha.

Banana muffins with lemon glaze

There’s nothing quite like a good banana muffin especially when flavoured with coconut, studded with pecans and drizzled with a tangy lemon glaze like these ones – they will definitely stand out from the crowd!

Haloumi wrapped in kataifi with honey and lemon dressing

As if haloumi wasn't amazing on its own, we wrap it in stringy pastry, deep-fry it, then slather on a divine honey, pine nut and lemon dressing.

Oven-baked chicken thighs with olive, tomato and lemon

A simple, quick dish of chicken with olives, cherry tomatoes and lemon. It takes just 5 minutes to prepare, then you set and forget in the oven.

Forever-roasted pumpkin with lemon pepper butter

This super-simple recipe needs no preparation. Literally. Just put it in the oven. That’s it.

Grilled clams with sumac and preserved lemon

An easy seafood mezze grilled with garlic oil and dressed with parsley. Mop up all the delicious sauce with good bread.

Lemon poppy seed squares

These are like a lemon poppy seed loaf met a lemon square, and became best friends!

Preserved-lemon chicken with ras el hanout

This is truly a wonderful party dish, a simple farm chicken is transformed into a chic meal thanks to taste-bud tingling dried fruits, delicious nuts and of course our homemade ras el hanout.

Lemon, lime and bitters drizzle cake

Lemon lime and bitters is such a great flavour combination and it works especially well with this twist on the classic lemon drizzle cake.