Lemons are a versatile citrus fruit that are used in a variety of dishes, drinks, and household cleaners. Their uniquely tart and zesty flavor comes from the acidic lemon juice inside. When a recipe calls for lemon juice, it’s useful to know approximately how much juice you can expect to squeeze from a lemon.
What Determines Lemon Juice Yield
There are several factors that affect how much juice you can get from a lemon:
- Size – Larger lemons tend to have more juice than smaller ones.
- Variety – Some lemon varieties are juicier than others. Meyer lemons tend to be thinner skinned and juicier than Eureka or Lisbon lemons.
- Freshness – Fresher lemons produce more juice than older ones. As a lemon ages, the juice starts to evaporate.
- Temperature – Room temperature lemons yield more juice than cold ones straight from the fridge.
- Rolling/Pressing – Rolling a lemon on the counter or pressing with your palm before juicing releases more juice from the pulp.
With all these variables, the exact juice yield can vary quite a bit from lemon to lemon. However, there are some general averages that can provide a helpful guideline.
Average Juice Yields from a Lemon
Here are some common juice yield ranges for an average, medium-sized lemon:
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml)
- 1-2 fluid ounces (30-60 ml)
- 1/4-1/3 cup (60-80 ml)
- 2-3 teaspoons (10-15 ml)
Based on this, you can expect an average lemon to produce somewhere around 1-3 tablespoons or 2-5 teaspoons of juice.
Factors That Increase Juice Yield
You can get the most juice out of a lemon by:
- Selecting large, fresh lemons – Choose lemons that feel heavy for their size with thin, flexible skin.
- Storing at room temperature – Let refrigerated lemons come up to room temp before juicing.
- Rolling/pressing before juicing – This ruptures more of the pulp.
- Heating briefly – Microwave for 10-15 seconds or soak in warm water to soften pulp.
- Juicing multiple lemons – More lemons = more juice!
Using these tips can help increase the juice yield from each lemon.
How Many Lemons for a Cup of Juice?
If you need a full cup of lemon juice for a recipe, how many lemons will it take? Here are some estimates:
- 4-6 medium lemons
- 3-4 large lemons
- 6-8 small lemons
On average, expect around 3-5 medium-sized lemons to make 1 cup of juice. However, results can vary based on the size and juiciness of the lemons.
Juice Content of Common Citrus Fruits
How does lemon juice yield compare to other citrus fruits? Here is the approximate juice content of some common citrus varieties:
|Citrus Fruit||Average Juice Yield|
|Lemon||2-3 tbsp (30-45 ml)|
|Lime||1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml)|
|Orange||1/3-1/2 cup (80-120 ml)|
|Grapefruit||1/2-3/4 cup (120-180 ml)|
|Meyer Lemon||3-4 tbsp (45-60 ml)|
As you can see, lemons fall somewhere in the middle in terms of juice content when compared to other common citrus fruits.
Tips for Getting the Most Juice From Lemons
Here are some helpful tips for maximizing the amount of juice you can get from lemons:
- Select fresh, firm lemons that feel heavy for their size.
- Roll lemons on a hard surface before juicing to help break down pulp.
- Let refrigerated lemons come up to room temperature before juicing.
- Press or microwave lemons briefly to soften them before squeezing.
- Use a wooden reamer or juicer that presses and twists.
- Strain the juice through a sieve to remove any remaining pulp or seeds.
- Juice the lemons by hand rather than using an electric juicer.
- Slice lemons in half before juicing to expose more flesh and pulp.
- When a recipe calls for zest, zest the lemon before juicing to get the most from each one.
How Much Juice in Specific Lemon Varieties
In addition to size, freshness and juicing method, the specific variety of lemon also affects juice yield. Here’s how much juice you can expect from some popular lemon types:
- 2-4 tbsp (30-60 ml) juice per lemon
- Oval shape
- Medium thick rind
- Few seeds
- Sour juice, acidic
- 2-3 tbsp (30-45 ml) juice per lemon
- Textured, rough skin
- Very juicy
- Thin skinned
- Less acidic than Eureka
- 3-5 tbsp (45-75 ml) juice per lemon
- Thin, smooth deep yellow skin
- Sweeter, less acidic juice
- More floral, perfume-like aroma
As you can see, Meyer lemons tend to yield the most juice, while Lisbon and Eureka varieties produce comparable amounts.
Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?
Freshly squeezed lemon juice can last up to:
- 3-4 days in the refrigerator
- 6-8 months in the freezer
To extend its shelf life, store lemon juice in an airtight container and freeze any excess. Signs that lemon juice has gone bad are mold, fermentation bubbles, or sour smell.
Uses for Leftover Lemon Juice
If you end up with extra lemon juice, here are some ways to use it up:
- Add to salad dressings or marinades
- Mix with olive oil as a dip for bread
- Squeeze over steamed vegetables
- Blend into lemonade, ice tea, or cocktails
- Mix with honey or maple syrup as a sweetener
- Add to scrambled eggs or pasta dishes
- Use for cleaning and disinfecting
- Freeze in ice cube trays for later use
Leftover lemon juice adds brightness and acidity to both sweet and savory foods. Its antimicrobial properties also make it a natural cleaning booster.
Can You Substitute Bottled Lemon Juice?
In a pinch, you can substitute bottled lemon juice for fresh. However, there are some important differences:
- Bottled juice has often been pasteurized, removing some flavor.
- It lacks the aroma and brightness of fresh squeezed.
- The juice may contain preservatives.
- It can have a slightly bitter, artificial taste.
When substituting, use a bit less bottled juice than you would fresh and add a pinch of zest or sugar to offset bitterness. Shake the bottle before using to disperse ingredients.
How Much Juice in Lemons of Different Sizes?
As a general guideline, here is how much juice you can expect from lemons of varying sizes:
|Lemon Size||Average Juice Yield|
|Small||1-2 tbsp (15-30ml)|
|Medium||2-3 tbsp (30-45ml)|
|Large||3-5 tbsp (45-75ml)|
|Extra Large||5-6 tbsp (75-90ml)|
Larger lemons produce more juice, but juice yield is also determined by variety, freshness, temperature, and juicing method.
The amount of juice in a lemon can vary quite a bit based on size, variety, and juicing technique. However, on average you can expect around 2-3 tablespoons or 4-6 teaspoons of juice from a medium lemon. To maximize your yield, select fresh, firm lemons, bring to room temperature, roll before juicing, and use a quality juicer or reamer. With some trial and error, you’ll get a feel for how many lemons you need for different recipes.