What To Do With Old Lemons; 29 Ways To Use A Lemon

Twenty-nine fantastic ways to use your old or leftover lemons.

This fruit truly gets a bad rap for its name! The sour taste can leave a bitter aftertaste in our mouths.

 As they say, “There is always a bad lemon in the bunch.”

If you purchase a car that ends up in the shop often, we call it a “lemon” or a bad relationship that has gone sour.

Well, good news!  Lemons are a great citrus fruit that has a lot to offer. This small bright yellow fruit is full of possibilities.

From baking, cleaning, and decorating your home, to even a soft body scrub in the shower. 

Here are more than 29 ways to utilize one of nature’s most versatile fruits!

lemons-a picture of sliced lemons in a flower arrangement

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There are several varieties of lemons, but the three most commonly found are Meyer lemons, Eureka, and Lisbon.

The largest producers of this versatile fruit are India, Mexico, and the United States, and luckily for us consumers, you can find them in supermarkets year-round.

Household uses for expired or extra lemons

Beyond cooking, which we will get to, there are many uses for this amazing citrus in the kitchen.

29 things to do with your extra lemons-lemons sliced on a cutting board

  1. Put a few slices down the garbage disposal; it smells good, and the citrus juices clean the disposal for you.
  2. Cut a lemon in half and wipe down your cutting board with a bit of lemon juice.
  3. Make citrus zest- Using a zester, grate the rinds of the fruit and freeze the zest in a freezer bag to use later.
  4. Make pure fresh lemon juice and freeze it using ice cube trays.
  5. Use the juice of a lemon to remove hard water stains on shower doors.
  6. Make ice cubes by mixing 1 cup of water to 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Add small pieces of citrus peels for best results.
  7. Steam clean your microwave. Start with a bowl of water. Add several sliced lemons, a few tablespoons of vinegar, a few drops of lemon oil, and a sprig of rosemary. Turn the microwave on for 5-10 minutes. When the microwave is off, do not open the door. Let the mixture steam in the microwave for 30 minutes. Then wipe down the inside for a fresh, clean microwave.
  8. Use a lemon to remove underarm stains on your white clothes.
  9. Preserve your lemons for later like my friend Mary @lifeatbellaterra, she even has a fabulous post with a recipe on how to use them.
  10. Make a homemade cleaning solution.
salt on lemons for how to preserve them
fresh lemons getting cut and squeezed to make lemon juice

Supplies for homemade cleaning solution 

  • One one-gallon glass jar .
  • Lemon halves that have been squeezed  (enough to fill the jar).
  • White distilled Vinegar, enough to cover all of the leftover rind in the jar.
  • I like to zest my lemons, juice them ( to freeze the juice) then put the halves in a jar to make the my cleaning solution. This way, I get three different uses out of the citrus.

Pack the lemon half rinds into the jar and cover with white vinegar. Set in a sunny spot for two to three weeks. They look so pretty in the jar, so I left mine in a sunny spot on the kitchen counter to enjoy them while they marinate.

Instructions for the homemade lemon cleaning solution

hand in yellow glove holding a bottle of cleaner
Re-Purpose your Spent Lemons- 29 ways to use old lemons - lemon halves in a jar soaking  in vinegar
29 things to do with your extra lemons-jar of cut up lemon rinds soaking in vinegar
  • Strain the vinegar, and discard the peels.
  •  Pour 1/2 cup of the vinegar mixture into a spray bottle. Add two cups of cold water,  one teaspoon of Castile soap, and 15 drops of pure lemon essential oil ( this is optional )
  • Shake the mixture well, spray onto the surface, and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
  • Do NOT use this cleaner on natural marble, stone countertops, or stone tile.

Watch this video of how I put fresh lemons on my front door

What to do with lemons while cooking in the kitchen

This could be a very long list! I can think of so many yummy treats and dishes using my favorite citrus fruit, but here are just a few of my favorites. 

1. Make a quick and simple salad dressing. Combine 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 cup good olive oil, one teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  This is so quick, easy, and delicious. 

2. Have you ever heard of a lemon sponge? This recipe was my grandmother’s and one of my family’s favorites. 

If you love a sweet and tart dessert, you will love this!

During the baking process, the batter separates. The top becomes like a cake, and the bottom is a custard.

This dessert is straightforward and makes a beautiful presentation on the table.

lemon  sponges, dessert on a wooden tray- uses for lemons

Make lemon curd

3. My friend Missy @sonatahomedesigns makes the best lemon curd. It is the perfect addition to your fresh morning scones. You can see the full recipe here

lemon curd- uses for lemons

4. Another favorite of mine is lemon chiffon, and nobody makes it better than Brooke @farmhouse1820. She has perfected her recipe and will teach you about macerated berries and the best way to make them.

lemon chiffon with berries in a glass parfait dish

5. While cooking, pour yourself a glass of water or a cup of hot tea with fresh lemon slices. (always keep sliced fruit in an airtight container in the refrigerator for easy access). 

Lemon chicken

6. Lemon chicken is another one of my favorites. I recently tried this recipe from Lynn @livinglargeinasmallhouse, and it was delightful. It was quick and easy, which made it even better.

emon chicken cooking in the skillet. lady squeezing lemon on the chicken as well.

7. Make a fresh pitcher of homemade lemonade. A simple recipe of:

  1. 1 cup of hot water
  2. 1 3/4 cup of white sugar
  3. The juice of 10 lemons
  4.  7.5 cups of ice-cold water

Add hot water and sugar in a small saucepan, bring the liquid to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  (This makes simple syrup)

Juice your fruit and strain until you reach 1 1/2 cups of pure juice.

Pour 7 1/2 cups of cold water into a pitcher, and add the lemon juice and simple syrup to taste.

Add ice and serve.

8. Make a batch of homemade Limoncello. This is a family recipe shared by my friend Susan @henandhorsedesigns. This delicious Italian liqueur can be sipped or mixed with soda water for a refreshing cocktail.

9. Make a lemon meringue pie.

Decorate with whole lemons

Not only are lemons useful, but they are very pretty. Their bright yellow skin can add a pop of color to a room for a fresh look.

  • Gather a fruit basket or bowl and fill it with whole lemons! Now, wasn’t that an easy way to decorate?
29 things to do with your extra lemons-A bowl of lemons on the kitchen counter
29 things to do with old lemons - add lemons to a wreath and hang it on your front door wreath on door with lemons and a black and white bow
  • Make a fresh lemon wreath to hang on your door. I do this every year, adding a special touch to my front porch.
  • Add a dough bowl of whole fresh citrus for a pop of color during winter.
  • Make a fresh lemon floral arrangement to decorate your table.
29 things to do with your extra lemons- lemons in a wooden bread form sitting on a kitchen counter with a cypress tree
A table set with blue and dishes that have lemons on them with a bowl full of whole fresh lemons
29 things to do with your extra lemons-a floral arrangement in a wood box made using whole and sliced fresh lemons

Another good idea is to decorate a cake with citrus and blueberries. This is always a hit in my house, even though the cake is fake. Shhh, don’t tell my family.

29 things to do with your extra lemons-cake decorated with lemons on a green cake stand

  • Make candles like @hometalk; This DIY candle project is perfect for salvaging expiring lemons or using those that you have squeezed for fresh juice! They smell wonderful & clean while adding a pop of color to your home decor!

Make a Flower vase with sliced citrus

Check out this flower vase. This is one of my favorite things to do and it is so easy! You can read the full blog post here.

sliced lemon flower vase

Add some citrus to your beauty routine

Do you know all of the health benefits of this amazing fruit? 

They are full of vitamin C, potassium, and Vitamin B6. They aid in heart health. Lemons also help prevent kidney stones, boost your immune system, and help you to maintain your weight.

Using this yellow citrus is a natural way of cleansing and moisturizing our skin as well. Here are a few suggestions you can try at home.

  1.  Cut a lemon in half, rub it over your face for 3 minutes, rinse with warm water, and moisturize. 
  2. Lighten your hair. Cut a whole fruit in half and squeeze the juice directly onto your hair. Next, sit in the sun for a few hours.
  3. Add lemon juice to some baking soda to form a paste. Rub this paste onto any rough skin patches you may have. Rinse thoroughly and moisturize.
  4.  Make a salt scrub like my friend Chas @chascrazycreations. You will love this! Not only is it lovely in the bath, but it makes a very nice gift.
salt mixture in a bowl to make a body scrub

So when life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade – use them to create something new and exciting. Be creative and resourceful with your spent fruit. Thanks for reading, and I hope this post inspired you somehow.

signature with lemon
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  1. I pinned this for later. I love lemons, but I normally can’t use them all. These are great ideas.

    1. Wendy McMonigal says:

      Thank you Susan. I hope this gives you some more ideas on how to use them before they go bad!

  2. So many great ideas Wendy! I’m going to try the cleaning solution. It sounds so easy!

    1. Wendy McMonigal says:

      Thank you Cindy. It is very easy to make and there’s nothing quite like the fresh smell of lemons!

  3. Thank you for all these wonderful ideas! I love lemons, but sometimes I end up with too many. I’m going to use some of these suggestions.

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  4. So many ideas to use lemons Wendy, I had no idea. I love the sound of the lemon chicken and also freezing the juice in an ice cube tray – definitely doing that.

    1. Thank you so much, Anita. There are just so many things you can do with a lemon.

  5. Wow Wendy, I had no idea there were so many ideas to use with lemons! Thank you for sharing. My husband loves lemon desserts so I may need to give one of these a try. I tried lemon curd for his birthday a few years ago, and I cannot say I was the best at it. tee hee… thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Cara, I have to say the lemon sponges are my absolute favorite. They are quick and easy and the results are amazing. I love how the custard and cake separate. Let me know if you try them.

  6. Love lemons in any form used in recipes.
    I visited you via FARMHOUSE FRIDAY 298!
    If you are not already part of SSPS, this is a personal invite to hop over and come and share your posts with us at Senior Salon Pit Stop, every Monday to Saturday, and share your awesome post/s with us as well.
    See my entries: 48+49 and then navigate to the bottom of my page for the Senior Salon Pit Stop linkup, we hope to meet you there virtually.

    1. Thank you Esme! I have linked up to your party and added you to my party list.

  7. We have a Meyer lemon tree in the back yard so II’m always down for new ideas to use our bounty. We give away tons but still have so many. I love the steaming the microwave idea! Thanks for the inspo. XO- MJ

    1. Yeah! How lucky you are to have a Meyer lemon tree. They are my favorite lemons. I have a small Meyer lemon tree in a pot, but I only get a few lemons a year. Maybe it is time to plant it in the ground.

  8. Such a great collection of ideas. I usually use the juice and grated rind of tired old lemons for cakes so it’s good to have some different options.

    1. Thank you, Julie. There are so many options you can use them for. Emjoy

  9. I love all of these ideas Wendy! I’ll be trying out the lemon chicken and lemon curd recipes this week.
    Thank you for sharing our family limoncello recipe.

    1. Thank you, Susan! I will try your limoncello this summer too! can’t wait. I hope you are having a wonderful vacay.

  10. Oh so many great ideas! From cleaning to decorating to eating, I love everything lemon and you have given me some great ideas! Thanks for including my lemon curd recipe!

    1. Thank you Missy~ so happy to share your yummy lemon curd.

  11. I love all of these ideas using lemons! And the recipes! I’ll be making the lemon curd this weekend, and the lemon chicken is going to become a weeknight meal staple!

  12. Great ideas. I love lemons, as well. I’m glad that you are feeling better. Hugs to you.

    1. Thank you, Renae, I love to try different things with lemons. Thank you for the well wishes too.

  13. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

    Thanks for sharing my lemon chicken recipe. It’s so good and so easy, we eat it almost every week.

    I just love all the other ideas.

    1. Thank you Lynn! I love your lemon chicken. I need to remind hubby to make it this week.

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