Lemon is at once pervasive and underappreciated. It appears as a garnish on countless plates, its juice flavors countless dishes. Always a bridesmaid, lemon seems destined to play a supporting role, albeit an important one. But we think it’s time for lemon to take its place at the altar and prove that its bright, tart flavor can star in a dish. From complex Moroccan tagines to zesty potato salad to creamy lemon curd, we’ve rounded up our favorite lemon recipes.
Lemon’s bright acidity makes it great for cutting through rich, creamy foods. Lemon curd is an eggy, sweet-tart spread that is delicious on toast or as an ingredient in other desserts. It serves as the filling for lemon bars and as a frosting for our lemon layer cake, which also uses lemon zest in the batter and lemon syrup between the layers.
Like with desserts, lemon can cut through creamy savory dishes with ease. Our lemon mayonnaise smashed potato salad is rich without being heavy. Try cooking up a creamy batch of orzo and flavoring it with sweet Meyer lemons and earthy mushrooms.
Preserved lemons are a staple of North African cuisine. You can make them at home with lemon juice, salt, bay leaves, and seasonings like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns. One of our favorite uses for preserved lemons is Moroccan tagine, where we combine them with chicken, green olives, and spices.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of lemon recipes.
Use leftover dough from the butter crust of this creamy lemon custard pastry to make decorative cookies to adorn the outside.
Egyptians love tart flavors like the bracing, floral herb sumac, which is rubbed all over this juicy chicken.
Get the recipe for Sumac Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic »
Lemon and salt—powerful on their own, but even better when combined and let mature into preserved lemons, a North African pantry staple.
Like a frozen lemonade, this refreshing dessert is achieved with little more than lemon juice, sugar, and time.
Get the recipe for Lemon Granita »
At New York’s
Milk Bar, Christina Tosi makes this towering cake every spring, when sweet and tiny tristar strawberries are in season. This is by no means an everyday cake, but it’s worth the work that you’ll put in, and worthy of a special occasion. Get the recipe for Strawberry Lemon Cake »
Simmering orzo slowly with butter, shallots, and chicken stock and enriched it with cream yields a silky, risotto-like texture.
Avgolemono, a simple Mediterranean soup of eggs, lemons, and chicken broth, is the Mediterranean equivalent of chicken noodle soup.
Get the recipe for Avgolemono »
Lemon bars are a light, brightly-flavored dessert, best served with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Get the recipe for Lemon Bars »
This is a pasta dish of strong flavors: Dark, earthy kale is offset by bright lemon cream and a warm, aromatic heat from crushed red chiles and garlic.
A quintessential muffin recipe combines the nutty flavor of poppy seeds with a generous hit of fresh lemon zest.
In this take on a traditional Sephardic Jewish dish,
culupidia frita con limón, cauliflower are coated in a flour and egg batter, fried, and then bathed in lemon juice. As a side or a snack, it’s crunchy, tender, and brimming with fresh, tangy flavor. Get the recipe for Lemony Fried Cauliflower »
Homemade lemon mayonnaise adds zesty flavor to these tender, coarsely mashed potatoes.
Get the recipe for Lemon Mayonnaise Smashed Potato Salad »
Simple roasted baby potatoes with whole garlic cloves are the perfect foil for a zesty lemon and olive oil emulsion.
This recipe for whole fried fish with garlic, fiery chiles, lemons, and earthy spice originated in Yaffa and came courtesy of
The Gaza Kitchen
Creamy and bright-tasting, lemon parmesan dip makes for an excellent accompaniment to a chip or crudité platter.
There is something about a souffle—a magical blending of eggs, air, and acid—that turns any meal into an unforgettable event.
Get the recipe for Lemon Soufflé »
Chopped whole lemon and spicy fresh ginger lend brightness to hearty roasted vegetables including sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and carrots.
Green Beans with Lemon and Capers
Peppery arugula and zesty red onion are an ideal garnish for this flavorful, light, lemon-pepper tuna salad.
Get the recipe for Lemon-Pepper Tuna Sandwich »
Herbed Lemon Quinoa
A salt and spice cure transforms fresh citrus into tart, briny pickles that perk up many Indian meals. Smita Chandra uses them as a condiment to punch up soft naan flatbreads and steamed white rice.
Sweetened with ripe persimmons and dates, and coated with a tart, toothsome, lemon-sugar glaze, these bars are a wonderful celebration of late-fall fruits.
Get the recipe for Lemon-Glazed Persimmon Bars »
Roast chicken is a classic dish all over the world. In this beautiful version from Spain, the bird is rubbed with musky, floral saffron and stuffed with bright lemons and fresh rosemary before being popped in the oven.
Get the recipe for Roast Chicken with Saffron and Lemon »
Rosemary-infused honey gives this dish a sweet and aromatic flavor.
Get the recipe for Salmon Glazed with Rosemary- and Lemon-Infused Honey »
Complement this dish’s intense lemon flavors with a hefeweizen served with a lemon wedge.
Lemon extract, juice, and zest permeate a rich and moist loaf to create what really is is the best damn lemon cake we’ve ever had.
This thick, tangy spread is great spooned on toast and as a filling for tarts and cakes.
Get the recipe for Lemon Curd »
Garlic, lemon, and rosemary enhance simple, juicy roast chicken.
These grilled lamb chops are simply grilled with nothing more than olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper.
This creamy lemon pie with homemade candied lemon peel is a delicious frozen treat.
Get the recipe for Lemon Icebox Pie »
Lemon infuses this layered masterpiece in three ways: zested into the batter, in a tart syrup that get drizzled over the cakes, and in a thick lemon curd frosting.
This rich, silky mousse brightened with tangy lemons makes an elegant end to a meal.
Tagine, the Moroccan stew, shares its name with the terra-cotta pot it’s traditionally cooked in, whose neat conical lid promotes convection and even cooking. There are many versions; maybe the most classic is braised chicken, green olives, and lemons in a sauce fragrant with ginger and coriander.