How many lemons is a tablespoon of juice?

When cooking or baking with lemon juice, it’s important to know how much juice you can expect to get from a lemon. Understanding lemon juice yields helps ensure you have enough lemons on hand and helps convert recipe ingredients properly. So how much juice is in a lemon? And how many lemons equal a tablespoon of juice? Let’s take a closer look.

How much juice is in one lemon?

On average, one medium lemon yields between 2-3 tablespoons of juice. However, lemons can vary greatly in size and juice content. A small lemon may yield just 1 tablespoon while a large, juicy lemon could produce up to 4 tablespoons.

Here are some general juice yields for lemons of different sizes:

  • Small lemon: 1-2 tablespoons juice
  • Medium lemon: 2-3 tablespoons juice
  • Large lemon: 3-4 tablespoons juice

When life gives you lemons, be sure to roll them firmly between your palm and a hard surface before juicing them. This helps break down the interior membranes and allows more juice to flow out. Removing any large seeds also maximizes the amount of juice you can extract.

How many small lemons in a tablespoon of juice?

Given that one small lemon produces about 1-2 tablespoons of juice, you would need:

  • 2 small lemons for 1 tablespoon
  • 3-4 small lemons for 2 tablespoons

When a recipe calls for a tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 small lemons should yield sufficient juice. However, it’s always smart to have a couple extra small lemons on hand in case any produce low juice amounts.

How many medium lemons in a tablespoon of juice?

Since one medium lemon produces 2-3 tablespoons of juice, you would need:

  • 1 medium lemon for 1 tablespoon
  • 1 medium lemon for 2 tablespoons
  • 2 medium lemons for 3-4 tablespoons

When squeezing medium lemons, you can expect a tablespoon of juice from each fruit. Having one medium lemon when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of juice should be enough.

How many large lemons in a tablespoon of juice?

Given that one large lemon yields 3-4 tablespoons of juice, you would need:

  • 1 large lemon for 1 tablespoon
  • 1 large lemon for 2-3 tablespoons
  • 2 large lemons for 5-6 tablespoons

Since large lemons produce generous juice amounts, you only need one fruit for 1-3 tablespoons. When a recipe calls for a tablespoon of juice, one large lemon will be plenty.

Tips for getting the most juice from lemons

Here are some tips for maximizing the amount of juice you get from each lemon:

  • Roll the lemon firmly between a hard surface and your palm before juicing. This softens the lemon and breaks down interior membranes.
  • Juice lemons when they are at room temperature. Refrigerated lemons will yield less juice.
  • Use a wooden reamer or juicer when squeezing. Plastic juicers don’t extract as much juice.
  • Gently press the reamer multiple times while squeezing to continually break down pulp.
  • Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds or pulp.
  • Juice lemons end to end. Rotate the lemon while squeezing to maximize juice extraction.

How to substitute lemon juice

Don’t have enough lemons for a recipe? Here are some suitable lemon juice substitutes:

  • Lime juice – Replace lemon juice 1:1 with fresh lime juice. Limes have a similar acidity level.
  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar – Replace 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1 teaspoon vinegar.
  • Wine vinegar – Substitute 1 teaspoon wine vinegar for 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Citrus liqueur – Use 1/2 teaspoon citrus liqueur like triple sec or limoncello for 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

When substituting, you may need to adjust other ingredients like sugar or salt to account for differences in acidity and flavor.

How long does lemon juice last?

Properly stored, lemon juice can last:

  • At room temperature: up to 3 days
  • In the refrigerator: 5-7 days
  • In the freezer: up to 6 months

For long term storage, freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Thaw cubes as needed.

Signs your lemon juice has gone bad are mold, fermentation bubbles, or an off odor.

Nutrition facts for lemon juice

A 1 tablespoon serving of raw lemon juice contains approximately:

  • 6 calories
  • 1.5g carbohydrates
  • 0.2g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 1.2mg vitamin C (2% DV)
  • 31mg potassium (1% DV)

Lemon juice provides vitamin C, potassium, and some B vitamins. It’s an ultra low-calorie beverage perfect for detox water or adding flavor to dishes.

Common uses for lemon juice

Lemon juice has a wide range of culinary and non-culinary uses, including:

  • Making lemonade, lemon water, or adding flavor to tea
  • Creating citrus vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces
  • Providing acidity in baked goods like lemon cake
  • Tenderizing meat as a marinade ingredient
  • Brightening the flavor of fish, chicken, vegetables
  • Adding zest to smoothies
  • Making natural cleaners and disinfectants
  • Soothing sore throats when mixed with warm water and honey
  • Creating chemical-free beauty treatments to lighten hair or exfoliate skin

A simple squeeze of lemon can do so much! Keep lemons stocked in your kitchen to take advantage of their many versatile uses.

Frequently asked questions

Why does lemon juice yield vary between fruits?

Lemon juice content depends on the variety, freshness, size, and texture. More porous, thin-skinned lemons tend to yield more juice. Warmer weather and extended growing seasons also produce juicier lemons.

Can Meyer lemons be substituted for regular lemons?

Yes, Meyer lemons can generally be used 1:1 for regular lemons. They have a similar acidity level. However, they do have a milder, sweeter flavor.

How can you tell if a lemon is juicy before cutting it open?

Choose lemons that feel heavy for their size and have thin, supple skin. Gently pressing the tip can help gauge how much give the lemon has. Soft lemons with thin skin tend to be very juicy inside.

Why do lemons sink or float in water?

Floating lemons are older and have lost moisture, indicating less juice inside. Lemons that sink have good moisture content and will likely yield more juice.


Understanding expected lemon juice yields helps ensure you get the right citrus punch in recipes. On average, you can expect:

  • Small lemon: 1-2 tablespoons juice
  • Medium lemon: 2-3 tablespoons juice
  • Large lemon: 3-4 tablespoons juice

When a recipe calls for a tablespoon of juice, having 1 medium or large lemon on hand will suffice in most cases. Implement juicing tips like rolling, microwaving, and straining to maximize the amount of juice extracted from each lemon.

Lemons are a versatile kitchen staple that can elevate drinks, dressings, seafood, baked goods, and more. Keep a good stock of lemons and know how to make the most of them in your cooking!

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