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How much is the juice of half a lemon?

Lemons are a versatile and healthy citrus fruit that can add flavor and nutrition to many dishes and beverages. When a recipe calls for lemon juice, it’s helpful to know how much juice you can expect to get from lemons of different sizes. In this article, we’ll explore how much juice is in half a lemon and how that amount compares to whole lemons and common lemon juice substitutes.

Determining Lemon Juice Yield

The amount of juice you can get from a lemon depends on several factors:

  • Size of the lemon – Larger lemons tend to have more juice than smaller ones.
  • Thickness of the rind – Thicker rinds mean less flesh and juice.
  • Juiciness – The moisture content of the lemon affects how much liquid can be squeezed out.
  • Seed content – More seeds usually means less juice.

As a general guideline, here’s how much juice you can expect from lemons of various sizes:

Lemon Size Juice Yield
Small (2-3″ diameter) 1-2 tablespoons juice
Medium (3-3.5″ diameter) 3-4 tablespoons juice
Large (over 3.5″ diameter) 5-6 tablespoons juice

As you can see, a medium lemon will yield about 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons of juice.

So how much juice can you expect from half a lemon? Let’s take a look:

Juice Yield from Half a Lemon

Since most lemon juice recipes call for the juice of 1 whole lemon, knowing how much juice is in half a lemon is useful for adjusting recipe yields.

If we split a medium lemon in half, each half lemon will yield approximately:

1.5 to 2 tablespoons juice

That’s not a huge amount of juice, but it can provide nice lemony flavor to vinaigrettes, marinades, and other recipes in small batches.

To get a visual sense of how much juice is in half a lemon, here’s a photo showing 2 tablespoons of juice squeezed from an average medium lemon:

Photo of 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

As you can see, the yield from half a medium lemon is about 1-2 tablespoons, or enough to lightly coat the bottom of a tablespoon measure.

Lemon Juice Substitutes

What if you need lemon juice but only have half a lemon available? Here are some convenient substitutes:

  • Bottled or reconstituted lemon juice – 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice can stand in for the juice of half a fresh lemon.
  • Lime juice – Lime juice has a similar flavor profile and can be used in equal amounts.
  • White vinegar or rice vinegar – Add a teaspoon to provide acidity.
  • Citrus zest – Grated lemon, lime, or orange zest adds fresh flavor.
  • Sumac – This tart, lemony spice can be used instead of lemon juice in Middle Eastern dishes.

You can also supplement half a lemon’s juice with other flavor boosters like lemon extract, lemon pepper, or lemon herb seasonings.

When You Might Use the Juice of Half a Lemon

Here are some situations when knowing the juice yield from half a lemon can come in handy:

  • Making a single serving of lemon water or other lemonade beverage
  • Adding lemon flavor to a single portion recipe like chicken piccata or lemon curd
  • Making a mini vinaigrette or dipping sauce for one
  • Seasoning half a portion of fish or vegetables
  • Creating lemon garnish for a cocktail or mocktail
  • Brightening up a small smoothie, sauce, or dressing recipe

The juice of half a lemon can provide enough bright, citrusy flavor for many mini recipes. Keep in mind you can also freeze leftover lemon halves for up to 3 months.

How Much Juice in a Whole Lemon?

For reference, let’s compare the juice yield of half a lemon to a whole lemon:

Lemon Juice Yield
Half a medium lemon 1.5-2 tablespoons
1 medium lemon 3-4 tablespoons

As shown, you can expect roughly twice as much juice from a whole medium lemon compared to half a lemon.

Here are some common uses for the juice of a whole lemon:

  • Vinaigrettes, marinades and salad dressings
  • Lemon curd, lemon bars, and other lemon desserts
  • Lemon water or lemonade
  • Seasoning for fish, chicken, vegetables
  • Some cocktail recipes like lemon drops

When a recipe calls for the juice of a whole lemon, it’s usually to provide bold, bright citrus flavor and acidity.

Tips for Getting the Most Juice from Lemons

To maximize your lemon juicing yields, here are some helpful tips:

  • Roll the lemon on a hard surface before juicing to break down some of the pulp.
  • Juice lemons when they are at room temperature, not cold from the fridge.
  • Use a reamer or juicer tool to extract more juice than squeezing by hand.
  • Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove pulp and seeds.
  • Before slicing, microwave lemons for 20 seconds to soften them up.

Proper storage is also key – keep lemons on the counter, not in the fridge, for the best juice content.

Uses for Leftover Lemon Parts

Aside from juicing, lemons have lots of other great uses, so don’t let any part go to waste! Here are some ways to use up lemon peels, pulp, and seeds:

  • Candied lemon peels
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • Lemon zest for baking
  • Lemon extract from the peels
  • Lemon peel in dressings or sauces
  • Seeds preserved in salt or sugar
  • Lemon peels or pulp in soaps and skincare

Get creative with leftover lemons – they can add flavor, nutrition, and aesthetic appeal to many DIY recipes and projects.


Half a lemon yields roughly 1-2 tablespoons of fresh juice. This amount provides bright, citrusy flavor that can enhance vinaigrettes, marinades, beverages, seafood, baked goods, and more in single portion recipes.

While not a huge quantity, the juice of half a lemon can provide a nice lemony kick. Supplement it with other ingredients like zest, spices, or bottled juice to round out the flavor if needed.

Knowing the juice content in half versus a whole lemon allows you to better substitute amounts in recipes. And with some handy usage tips, you can master lemon juicing and get the most out of each lemon.