Ingredient Intelligence

The Sweetheart Citrus: Meyer Lemons

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

They may not look that different from regular old dime-a-dozen lemons, but Meyer lemons have a little secret: these soft-skinned fruits are significantly sweeter and less acidic than their super-sour cousins. Once hard to find outside California, Meyer lemons are becoming a more common find in grocery stores, particularly right now in mid-winter as they start coming into season. What do you like to do with Meyer lemons?

Meyers get their signature sweetness from a bit of mandarin orange in their family tree. This is also what gives Meyer lemons their deep golden color, roundness, and smooth rind. Despite being sweeter, you still won’t want to eat a Meyer lemon whole. They’re sour but they lack the eye-tingling wallop of acid that regular lemons have. On the whole, Meyers are more subtle, perfumed, and aromatic.

When buying Meyer lemons, look for fruits that are plump and deeply yellow all over. If you see any hint of green, the lemons are under-ripe and probably not worth the extra pennies. If you are able to touch and smell the lemons, make sure they feel heavy for their size and smell fragrant when you gently rub the skin.

Back home, use Meyers almost anywhere you’d use regular lemons. If you only have a few and want the full on Meyer lemon experience, squeeze the juice and use it in cocktails, lemonade, or salad dressings. If you have a few more lemons, make lemon curd or lemon bars. Still have lemons?! Use them in chicken dishes, toss them with pasta (like the recipe below), make lemon sorbet or ice cream, or bake a lemon cake. And don’t forget to use the zest, too!

How do you like to use Meyer lemons?