Should you freeze lemons whole?

Lemons are a versatile citrus fruit that can be used in a variety of dishes and drinks. Their bright, tart flavor pairs well with seafood, poultry, vegetables, and baked goods. Lemons also add flavor to water, tea, and cocktails. With lemons, you can make lemonade, lemon curd, lemon bars, lemon chicken, lemon meringue pie – the list goes on and on!

It’s handy to have lemons in your freezer so you can use them anytime a recipe calls for lemon juice or zest. But what’s the best way to freeze lemons – whole or sliced? In this article, we’ll compare freezing whole lemons versus sliced lemons and provide tips to freeze lemons properly.

Benefits of Freezing Lemons

Freezing lemons allows you to:

  • Preserve leftover lemons instead of letting them go bad
  • Buy lemons in bulk when they are on sale or in season
  • Always have lemons on hand for recipes, drinks, and other uses
  • Maintain lemon flavor and juice for several months in the freezer
  • Avoid last minute runs to the grocery store when you need a lemon

As long as frozen properly, lemons can be kept frozen for up to 6 months before they start to degrade in flavor and texture.

Should You Freeze Lemons Whole or Sliced?

You can freeze lemons whole or sliced into wedges – both methods work well. Here’s a comparison of the pros and cons of each approach:

Freezing Lemons Whole


  • Keeps lemons fresh for use over several months
  • Prevents oxidation that can damage flavor
  • Lemons retain more juice when kept whole and frozen


  • Takes more time to thaw whole frozen lemons before juicing
  • You’ll need to slice lemon before using if recipe calls for slices or wedges
  • Whole frozen lemons take up more freezer space

Freezing Lemons Sliced


  • Ready to use slices or juice as soon as thawed
  • Takes up less space in the freezer
  • Convenient for dropping into recipes or drinks that need lemon


  • Exposes more surface area and leads to oxidation
  • Loses more juice than whole frozen lemons
  • Slices may stick together in freezer

Overall, freezing lemons whole seems to have more advantages over freezing sliced. But either way can work fine. Now let’s look at how to properly freeze lemons.

How to Freeze Lemons Whole

Follow these simple steps for freezing whole lemons:

  1. Wash and dry lemons thoroughly. Inspect for any soft spots or damage.
  2. Place whole lemons in a single layer in a freezer bag or airtight container. Squeeze out excess air.
  3. Label bag with contents and freeze-by date (approx 6 months from freezing date).
  4. Place in freezer. For best results, freeze at 0°F or below.
  5. To use, remove desired number of lemons and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before juicing or zesting.

Tips for best results:

  • Choose fresh, firm lemons without blemishes
  • Freeze lemons when fresh – don’t wait until they are overripe
  • Use freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn
  • Squeeze out air before sealing to prevent iciness and freezer burn
  • Label with freeze date and use within 6 months
  • Don’t refreeze thawed lemons

How to Freeze Lemons Sliced

To freeze sliced lemons:

  1. Wash and dry lemons. Slice into rounds or wedges.
  2. Spread slices in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours.
  4. Transfer frozen slices to an airtight freezer bag or container.
  5. Squeeze out excess air and seal.
  6. Label with contents and freeze-by date. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  7. Remove desired number of slices as needed. They will be ready to use immediately after thawing.

Tips for best results:

  • Select fresh, firm lemons
  • Slice lemons uniformly for even freezing
  • Freeze slices in single layer on baking sheet before bagging to prevent sticking
  • Use freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn
  • Squeeze out excess air before sealing
  • Label with freeze date and use within 6 months

How Long Do Frozen Lemons Last?

Properly stored whole and sliced frozen lemons maintain quality for:

Frozen Lemons Freezer Storage Life
Whole frozen lemons 6-12 months
Sliced frozen lemons 6-9 months

Lemons that have been continually frozen can be safely kept for these time periods before quality decline. Signs that frozen lemons are past their prime include:

  • Dry, wrinkled skin
  • Mushy or spongy texture
  • Loss of tart flavor and acidic taste
  • Mold or freezer burn

For best quality, use frozen lemons within 6-9 months. Always inspect lemons before using and discard any that show signs of spoilage.

Can You Refreeze Thawed Lemons?

It is not recommended to refreeze thawed lemons. When lemons thaw, their cell structure begins to break down. Refreezing will cause further deterioration. The lemon flesh may become mushy in texture and lose its signature bright flavor.

Instead of refreezing, you can:

  • Juice thawed lemons and freeze the lemon juice.
  • Use thawed lemon slices/wedges immediately in your favorite recipes.
  • Place leftover thawed lemon pieces in an airtight bag in the fridge for 2-3 days.

But for best quality and food safety, avoid refreezing thawed lemons. Only refreeze if lemons are still partially frozen and icy.

How to Use Frozen Lemons

Frozen lemons can be used in place of fresh lemons in a variety of applications:

  • Beverages: Add thawed lemon slices or juice to water, iced tea, lemonade, cocktails
  • Baking: Use thawed lemon zest or juice in cakes, cookies, tarts, pies, scones
  • Marinades and Dressings: Mix into vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, dips
  • Seafood: Brighten up shrimp, fish, salmon, and more with frozen lemon
  • Poultry and Meat: Use lemon juice and zest in chicken, pork, lamb dishes
  • Desserts: Make lemon curd, bars, tarts, mousse with frozen lemon juice
  • Vegetables: Squeeze lemon over greens, broccoli, asparagus and more

Rinse off any ice crystals before zesting or slicing thawed frozen lemons. Otherwise use them the same as you would fresh lemons!


Freezing lemons is an excellent way to save seasonal lemons or always have them handy for recipes. While you can freeze lemons whole or sliced, whole lemons retain more juice and avoid oxidation.

For best results, choose fresh, firm lemons and freeze in airtight bags or containers. Label with the freeze date and use within 6-9 months for optimal quality. Avoid refreezing thawed lemons. Frozen lemon juice, zest, and slices can be conveniently dropped into a variety of dishes and beverages.

With proper freezing and storage techniques, frozen lemons can brighten up recipes for months to come.

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