What Is Yuzu?

updated Aug 26, 2022
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No, this funny-looking, seed-packed fruit isn’t a deformed lemon or a discolored orange. Instead, it’s another exotic citrus that you should be on your radar.

What Is Yuzu?

About the size of a tangerine, yuzu is an incredibly fragrant citrus fruit, but since it’s super sour and tart, it’s not eaten as-is. Instead, its zest and juice are used for flavoring in recipes.

Yuzu is cultivated mainly in Japan, Korea, and China, and is not exported to the U.S., so it can be hard to track down Stateside. It’s possible to find the fruit in U.S.-based Asian grocery stores from September to November, when a small amount of yuzu is harvested in California. You’ll have a much easier time picking up packaged yuzu juice or frozen zest, which are readily available in Asian grocery stores year-round.

How To Use Yuzu?

Here are a few great ways to make the most of yuzu juice and zest:

Whisked into a Salad Dressing

Just like lemon or lime juice adds acidity and freshness to dressings, yuzu juice does the same. Swap it in for either in a recipe — its delicate floral aroma gives any dressing a unique twist.

Shaken in Cocktails

Perhaps the most popular way to feature yuzu at the moment is in cocktails. The juice is so tart and strong that you only need a little to add a punch of flavor. Try it in a Shiso-Yuzu “Mojito.”

Added to Dipping Sauce or Marinade

The classic way to use yuzu juice is in ponzu, an all-purpose Japanese citrus and soy sauce that’s great in a marinade for chicken or fish or used as a dipping sauce for grilled meat. While it’s easily available to buy, it’s also simple to make ponzu at home.