5 Ways to Use a Jar of Preserved Lemons

Ingredient Spotlight

Pin it button big

So you thought preserved lemons sounded like a cool ingredient and you got yourself a jar! ...Now what? There are only so many Moroccan chicken tagines a person can make, after all. Here are a few ideas for using up that whole jar.

First of all, know that preserved lemons will keep for quite a while in the fridge. They are preserved, after all. Kept refrigerated, these lemons will keep for about a year, so don't feel that you have to rush to use them up before they go bad.

You eat the whole lemon, rind and all — though I'd recommend removing the seeds first. Rinse them quickly under cool water to remove excess salt and then chop them up for your dish. Under the influence of salt, the intense bitterness of the rind and pith mellow out and develop a sunny lemony character. Try a piece of the preserved lemon on its own and you'll understand what I mean!

You can find preserved lemons at almost any specialty food store or you can order them online. Want to try your hand at making your own? Here's how:

Now onto how to use those lemons once you have them. Here are five ideas:

1. Grain Salads: This is my favorite. There's something about tender little nubs of preserved lemon in a bite of farro salad or barley pilaf that makes me hum with happiness. Any time you'd normally add some lemon zest or a squeeze of juice, you can swap in some preserved lemon with confidence in the result.

2. Salad Dressings and Sauces: Chopped pieces of preserved lemon make a fantastic addition to a salad, but I really like to whizz them into my salad dressing. You can also experiment with blending preserved lemons into pesto (as Emily did in this recipe for Socca Flatbread) or into a sauce for grilled fish or meats. (Bonus tip: preserved lemons and fish are total best friends forever.)

3. Salsas and Dips: Want something new to spice up your salsas and dips this summer? Yup, preserved lemons will serve you very well. Just chop them up into little pieces and add them to your normal recipes. Guacamole, hummus, spicy salsas — it's all fair game. And all delicious.

4. Pasta Dishes: A really simple pasta dish with good olive oil, some garlic, and slices of preserved lemons is a beautiful thing. Top it with seared chicken breast or fish for a full meal.

5. Tagines and Other Stews: Chicken tagine with preserved lemons is certainly the most well-known dish for these lemons, but there's a great big world of tagines out there. I love preserved lemon in chickpea stews and anything with lamb. Even if your tagine or stew doesn't call for preserved lemons specifically, I fully support a little recipe tweaking.

How do you use preserved lemons in your cooking?

Related: Need a (Vegan) Boost of Umami? Add Preserved Lemon!

(Image: Emma Christensen)