38 Sweet and Savory Lemon Recipes
Whether you’re in the mood for a sunny cake or a bright pasta, there are so, so many things you can do with lemons—and in this roundup, we celebrate the fruit in all its glory, from the zest to the juice. Some of our favorite recipes include summer crab carbonara with lemons and capers, spring pea chaat with lemon raita, and homemade limoncello. As for dessert? There’s lemon cake with cream cheese frosting, lemon curd-swirled strawberry custard, and so many more. Read on to find out how to make them all.
Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Layers of delicate flavors from lemon, honey, and extra-virgin olive oil—which helps keep the cake moist and imparts mild fruitiness—come together in this one-bowl batter. Stacked with a fluffy and rich lemon–cream cheese frosting, this easy layer cake is a keeper. Be sure the butter and cream cheese are softened for the smoothest frosting.
Glazed Lemon-Ginger Scones
Aimee Olexy’s lemony, cream-based scones are light, moist and laced with pieces of chewy candied ginger.
Lemon-Pickled Carrots and Beets
In this golden salad from chef Biju Thomas, beets and carrots marinate in fresh lemon and Korean red pepper flakes. The lemon perks up the sweet, earthy vegetables with acidity, while the gochugaru adds just the right amount of sweet heat and color.
Lemon and Rosemary Granita
An icy treat for a warm summer evening, this granita gets an unexpected boost from the bold flavor of rosemary. You can put the hot lemon mixture directly into the freezer rather than chilling it first, but the freezing time will be longer.
Green Beans with Preserved Lemon
At Thanksgiving, F&W’s Justin Chapple serves these green beans because they can be made the day before and served either chilled or at room temperature.
Lemon Ripple Cheesecake Bars
For the best results, slice these cheesecake bars with a warm knife, wiping off the blade between cuts.
Squid and Summer Vegetable Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing
This seafood salad from Provence, by chef Cyrille Chaussade, combines simply poached squid, a piquant dressing and a mix of super-thinly sliced vegetables made extra crisp thanks to a soak in an ice water bath.
Spaghetti with Shrimp, Lemon, Mint and Pecorino
Roman chef Angelo Troiani riffs on the classic spaghetti ajo, ojo e peperoncino (garlic, oil and chile), embellishing it with shrimp, lemon, pecorino, almond and mint. It's simple, delicious and crowd-pleasing.
Frozen Strawberry Custard with Lemon Curd Swirl
To make this custard really special, Andrew Zimmern suggests using fresh cream, fresh butter and fresh strawberries.
Crisp Pan-Roasted Chicken with Anchovies, Capers and Lemon
In this riff on chicken under a brick, chef Chris Cosentino flattens the bird before roasting it. He finishes off this deeply savory dish with a luxurious pan sauce. Weighting down a butterflied chicken with a heavy pan makes it cook much faster; pressing the chicken into the hot skillet also yields crisp, crackling skin.
Lemon Curd Toasts with Coconut
Olive oil and cocoa butter make this lemony curd extraordinarily creamy and luscious. Spread on baguette toasts, it becomes a fantastic dessert.
Lemon-Pepper Roast Turkey
All you need to make this Thanksgiving turkey (besides the turkey itself) is unsalted butter, lemon zest, kosher salt, black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, and garlic.
Grilled Lemon Pizzas
Topping the pie with pre-charred, thinly sliced lemons means the citrus practically melts by the time the pizza’s ready.
Grilled Lamb Ribs with Quick Preserved Lemons
Michael Symon, who grew up in a Greek and Sicilian family, often adds Greek accents when he cooks. He seasons lamb ribs with oregano and coriander before grilling and serves them with tangy, quick-preserved lemons.
Lemon filling highlights the nuttiness of buckwheat flour in these shortbread cookie sandwiches from Nina Compton.
Grilled Carrots with Lemon and Harissa
At Maydan restaurant in Washington, D.C., these carrots are cooked directly in the coals of their massive hearth. Grilling over charcoal until charred gives a similar result. A blend of roasted and dried peppers and chiles give the harissa sauce fruity, smoky depth. Use the leftovers to season roasted chicken or vegetable soup.
Grilled Whole Flatfish with Lemon-Herb Butter
To make the lemon-herb butter for this recipe, you’ll need unsalted butter, one small shallot, fine sea salt, parsley, dill, thyme, lemon zest, and black pepper. Be sure to have lemon halves on hand for serving as well.
Lemon-Almond Cake with Roasted Rhubarb
This tender, lemon-scented almond cake is topped with roasted rhubarb, but is equally delicious with any kind of fresh or roasted fruit, like roasted strawberries, fresh orange segments, or roasted plums.
Chicken Freekeh Skillet with Warm Feta-Lemon Relish
“It’s garlicky, a little spicy, herby, and full of surprises,” Ann Taylor Pittman writes of the relish in this dish. “First, it includes firm feta cheese that gently warms to the point that it becomes soft and almost gooey—which is the way I always want feta from now on. The relish also gets a brazen hit of citrus from chopped lemon sections, which offer tart, juicy bursts that are way more forward than lemon juice would be. The effect is an unsubtle finishing touch that balances out the nutty grains and meaty chicken.”
Romaine Salad with Cracked Olives and Salted-Lemon Yogurt
Marinating the lemon flesh with salt mellows its acidity while intensifying its fragrant citrus pop. It takes the creamy yogurt dressing in chef Biju Thomas’ refreshing salad to an entirely new level of deliciousness. You also can use store-bought preserved lemon rind in a pinch.
Creamy Lemon Pasta
Chef Andrew Zimmern mimics the sweet, fragrant lemons of Italy’s Amalfi Coast with Meyer lemons in this beautifully bright and creamy pasta. The dish originated at L’Antica Trattoria in Sorrento, where lemon juice is tossed with just-cooked pasta until absorbed. Supremes of lemon add a juicy, tart pop that cuts through the cream in the sauce.
If you want to get a head start on these cookies, the dough can be made and frozen up to three weeks in advance.
Salmon Tartare with Pistachios and Lemon
Spoon salmon is the meat that’s scraped from the carcass of a freshly butchered fish. It would normally go to waste, but its rich flavor and silky texture make it perfect for this lemony, pistachio-studded tartare.
Grilled Lobster Tails with Stelline and Lemon
“Paired with smoky grilled lemon halves, the lobster is exceptionally delicious over small, pebbly pasta like stelline (star-shaped pasta typically served in broths), which provides a tender contrast that’s fun to eat and soaks up the buttery juices,” Paula Disbrowe writes.
Lemon Meringue Pie with Marcona Shortbread Crust
“I like lemon pie so much that I want even more of the bright, sunny lemon flavor to come through, so there’s less sugar and more lemon juice in this filling than you’ll find in most recipes,” Ann Taylor Pittman writes. “It’s assertively—but not aggressively—lemony, and is balanced by the fluffy meringue topping, which has the perfect sweetness and density to complement the tarter-than-usual filling.”
Layered Blackberry-and-Turmeric Lemonade
This spritzy, summery drink from Julia Momose is a showstopper with its distinct pink and yellow layers.
Lemon-and-Lavender Gin Fizz
Leopold’s Summer Gin brings a smooth, floral flavor to this botanical cocktail with notes of cucumber, sage, lemon, and lavender.
Lemon Curd Tart
To make a simple topping for this elegant dessert, add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to the leftover egg whites and whip to stiff peaks to make a meringue. Garnishing the tart with mixed citrus segments adds a natural sweetness to balance the rich, tart lemon curd filling. Read Jamila Robinson 's essay about this recipe, Romancing the Stove.
Sweet Potato Fritters with Lemon-Tahini Sauce
The barely-there binder in the batter makes for incredibly lacy, crispy fritters. Be sure to cook them gently over medium heat so they cook through and crisp up without burning.
Sheet Pan Hanger Steak and Bok Choy with Lemon-Miso Butter
“You may notice that this recipe makes more miso butter than one could conceivably dollop onto a single dinner,” Leah Koenig writes. “That leftover butter stores well in the fridge and enhances everything it touches, from grilled fish and pasta to warm biscuits and popcorn.”
Grilled Artichokes with Herby Lemon Aioli
“Artichokes are at their best—and easiest to prepare—when cooked quickly over a hot fire, particularly when served with luscious lemon aioli made with the smoky juices and pulp of grilled lemons,” Paula Disbrowe writes.
Spring Pea Chaat with Lemon Raita
This fresh and crunchy chaat stars a trio of spring peas punched up with a tempered mixture of whole cumin seeds mustard seeds, chiles, and ginger. The tart lemon raita brings a welcome cooling element; spoon the extra over rice, naan, or fresh fruit.
Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon-Zest Glaze
This one-bowl loaf cake is exceptionally easy to make. Since the batter calls for oil instead of butter, there’s no need for a creaming step—just quickly beat together the ingredients until smooth, then fold in the blueberries. Thanks to plenty of sour cream and minimal leavener, the cake bakes up rich and tender, ready for the final touch of a puckery lemon glaze topped with plenty of fresh lemon zest. To enjoy it as a breakfast cake, just skip the glaze.
Grilled King Salmon with Meyer Lemon Relish
Floral and lightly acidic salsa brings out the buttery, rich flavors of grilled King salmon. Salmon is meaty enough to stay intact on a grill and gets meltingly tender as it cooks. Serve leftover salsa with grilled lamb, chicken, or pork.
Roast Chicken with Lemons
The ingredient list for Marcella Hazan’s roast chicken recipe is super simple: just a chicken, salt, black pepper, and lemons.
This homemade limoncello boasts rich lemon flavor without being too boozy or sweet. Look for unwaxed organic lemons, or be sure to give the whole citrus a good scrub before peeling.
Summer Crab Carbonara with Lemons and Capers
Chef Douglass Williams’ method for carbonara allows you to hold the cooked pasta before adding it to the garlic–oil–pasta cooking liquid emulsion. It makes for a simple, creamy carbonara without the stress.
Sorghum and Albacore Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon
Preserved lemon is a popular North African condiment made by pickling the fruit in salt and its own juice. The bracing lemony flavor adds a salty kick to this olive-, onion-, and fresh herb–laden tuna salad.