Fruits Like Lemons (8 Substitutes That Look and Taste Similar)

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fruits like lemons

Sour, juicy lemons have a truly magnificent flavor: bitter and jaw-clenching, but with a whisper of sweetness in their aftertaste. Their juice and rind can be used in savory dishes as well as sweet to good effect. If you love lemony goodness, you’ll be delighted to discover these 8 other fruits like lemons you can enjoy as well!

1. Citron

citrons bitter

Did you know that “citron” is French for “lemon”? Citron fruits are native to the Mediterranean and have been grown in France for centuries. These fruits are some of the ancestors to all modern citrus fruits, and share standard lemons’ bittersweet flavor.

Citrons are a bit more bitter than the lemons you may be used to. Try using them in sweetened dishes like sorbet or lemon curd, or in baked goods like muffins. In fact, the next time you have company coming over, try baking this vegan lemon drizzle cake for dessert.

Read This Next: Complete Citrus Fruit List

2. Yuzu


Japanese yuzu fruits look like round lemons, and taste like a cross between lemon and grapefruit. Yuzu juice is similar to very bitter yellow grapefruit, but their skins are extraordinarily fragrant. In fact, their skins are used in cooking and baking more often than their juice for exactly this reason.

If you can get your hands on some yuzus at Asian grocery stores, grate their rind into your next cake or pie. Alternatively, see if you can find some Yuzuri liqueur. It would be amazing in a vegan lemon pannacotta recipe like the one found here.

3. Buddha’s Hand

Buddha's hand

This fruit only grows in and around Asia and is quite dry rather than juicy. Buddha’s hand might look like a creepy yellow Halloween decoration, but it’s actually a citrus-like lemon. Because of this trait, it’s the fruit’s rind that’s grated and used as a culinary flavoring, rather than its liquid aspect.

Try grating its rind into salt or sugar to flavor it. The salt is great as a garnish, while the sugar is lovely to rim cocktails or to finish delicate desserts. Alternatively, you can just plunk it onto your dining room table when relatives come over to spark conversation.

4. Meyer Lemon

meyer lemonade

Meyer lemons are what happens when you three-way cross lemons with tangerines and pomelos. They’re sweeter than standard lemons, and have orange-yellow rinds rather than pure yellow. They’re some of the most fragrant fruits like lemon you’ll come across, and their juice is mellow rather than terribly acerbic.

If you’re a fan of lemonade, try to get your hands on Meyers instead of standard ones. You’ll have the most delicious lemonade you’ve ever tasted in your life.

Further Reading: Where to Buy Meyer Lemons

5. Etrog


If you live anywhere near Israel or India, see if you can get your hands on some etrog fruits. Their bitter flavor is somewhere between lemon and grapefruit, and their skin is as warty as a toad’s.

These incredibly bitter fruits are as fragrant as Buddha’s hands, however. If you like a strong lemony note in baked goods, then grate some of the etrog rind into your breads, cakes, and muffins.

6. Hyuganatsu


You’re unlikely to find these fruits outside of Japan. Hyganatsus have been cultivated in a small region in Japan since the 1800s, and are known for their delicate flavor and fragrance. If you’re lucky enough to live there or will be visiting there any time soon, try to get your hands on some of these.

Not only are they lovely to eat raw, they make even better desserts. If you’re fond of decadent sweets, whip up a batch of this vegan lemon custard using hynanatsu fruits. Then use it to fill choux pastries, and prepare for toe curling.

7. Chinotto


If you’ve ever tasted Italian Brio soda, then you probably already have an idea of what chinotto fruits taste like. These small, round citrus fruits resemble little oranges, but taste like incredibly bitter lemons.

Although Chinotto juice is too bitter to consume on its own, it’s used to flavor aromatic bitter drinks. You can also add chinotto into almond biscotti

You May Also Enjoy: Fruits Like Mandarin

8. Persian Lime

Persian lime

These fruits may look like dark green limes, but they’re actually a cross between key limes and lemons. They’re a more recent citrus species and were first cultivated in Iran, hence their name.

Persian limes have an extraordinary flavor that lends beautifully to drinks, savory recipes, and desserts alike. Use their juice in sauces for couscous dishes, or to add fragrance to flaky desserts. Alternatively, try a Persian lime vodka cocktail on a hot summer day.

All of these fruits like lemons can be used interchangeably for any recipe imaginable. Try one of them to flavor Thai vegan chick’n and vegetable stir fries, or sweet lemony dessert bars. Whichever you choose, enjoy the lucious lemony-liciousness whenever possible.