Home-cooked jam is an amazing way to show your loved ones you care.
But sometimes, you don’t have everything you need on hand to make the perfect batch of jam.
This is especially true when it comes to lemon juice—the acid in lemon juice helps keep homemade jam preserved and thickened.
Luckily, we’ve found 12 substitutes for lemon juice in jam recipes that will help you make the perfect batch of jam even when you’re missing this key ingredient.
But what’s the absolute best substitute for lemon juice in jam recipes?
The best substitute for lemon juice in a jam recipe is apple cider vinegar. Lemon juice is often used because it contains citric acid, which helps preserve the jam and keep it from spoiling. If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, you can use vinegar instead, but be sure to use a higher proportion of vinegar than you would use lemon juice.
Because vinegar can give the jam a sour taste, you should also add up to twice as much sugar as you would normally use when making jam with lemon juice.
12 Substitutes for Lemon Juice in Jam Recipes
If you love the idea of homemade jam but don’t have any lemons on hand, don’t worry!
Here are some alternatives:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful ingredient that has a tangy flavor and can be found in most grocery stores.
Try using apple cider vinegar in any recipe with lemon juice, and your jam will be perfectly lemony without having to add lemon zest!
2. Lime juice
Lime juice is a great substitute because it tastes like lemons and has a sour flavor, but it’s not quite as strong so it won’t overpower your recipe.
You can use either fresh lime juice or bottled lime juice – whichever works best for what you need at the moment (freshly squeezed will always taste better than bottled though!).
Just make sure not to add too much as this could result in an overly sour taste which isn’t what we’re aiming for here either…
3. White Distilled Vinegar
White distilled vinegar is a great substitute for lemon juice in your jam because it’s cheap, easy to find in the grocery store, and gives a great flavor.
It will help cut through some of the sweetness of your jam, so the balance of sweet and tart that makes a jam so delicious will be just right.
4. Citric Acid
This is an excellent alternative if you want to avoid citrus fruits entirely (it’s not actually derived from them).
It provides the perfect amount of acidity for most common types of jam, and can even help maintain the correct coloration.
Be sure to add it in after the jam is done cooking, as citric acid loses its effectiveness over high heat.
5. Grapefruit juice
If you want to go beyond the basics, try substituting grapefruit juice for your lemon juice.
The bitterness of the grapefruit will help balance out your jam’s flavor and give it a more complex taste that’ll keep people coming back for more!
I like to use about ⅓ cup of grapefruit juice for every ¼ cup of lemon juice in my recipe.
6. Lemon zest
The amount of zest from one lemon for every two tablespoons of lemon juice (depending on the recipe), adds a concentrated lemon flavor, and it has a high nutritional value, high antioxidants, and may even boost your immune system.
So why not benefit your body while sprucing up your jams?
Here’s how to use it: Grate or zest the peel of one lemon and add it to your jam mixture according to your recipe’s instructions.
Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that’s usually served after dinner as a digestive.
It has the same bright citrusy flavor of lemon juice but with a hint of alcohol—so it’s perfect for when you want your jam to taste a little bit fancier.
To use Limoncello as a substitute for lemon juice in jam recipes: simply replace the amount of lemon juice specified in the recipe with the same amount of Limoncello.
You can even use Limoncello as a substitute for vinegar when making pickles; just make sure you decrease the amount of sugar specified in your recipe by about 50%, otherwise your pickles will be too sweet.
Its major benefit—aside from its amazing taste—is that it aids in digestion, so it’s great for those times when you have overindulged.
8. Powdered pectin
Powdered pectin is naturally acidic, which means it’ll help your jam set properly, and even gel better than it would have otherwise.
And on top of all that, it has some incredible health benefits: pectin may improve blood sugar and blood fat levels, promote a healthy weight, and improve digestion(source).
What more could you ask for from one ingredient?
To use this substitute in your recipe, follow these steps:
- Measure out the amount of lemon juice called for in your recipe.
- Take the same amount of powdered pectin.
- Mix together to form a paste.
- Add this mixture to your jam at the appropriate time as specified in your recipe (usually at the beginning).
9. Orange juice
Orange juice is a great substitute—I use it all the time.
Orange juice can be used as a substitute because it tastes similar to lemon juice and has high acidity levels which help preserve the jam.
To use orange juice as a substitute for lemon juice in your recipe, just measure out the same amount of orange juice as the recipe calls for in lemon juice.
Then pour in your orange juice and get cooking!
I love using orange juice as a substitute because it’s really healthy.
Orange juice is high in antioxidants, and also contains micronutrients like vitamin C, folate and potassium that are essential for good health(source).
Your homemade jam will be delicious AND healthy, what could be better?
10. Lemon-Lime Soda
Lemon-lime soda makes such a great substitute!
It still gives you the citrus tang you’re looking for, but in a far more refreshing way.
Plus, it helps to mask some of the bitterness you’ll get from the added sugar in most jam recipes.
To use this substitute, simply take one cup of lemon-lime soda, and reduce it down until you have about ½ cup of liquid remaining.
This will help to concentrate the flavors even further, and give your jam that boost of zingy sweetness that can be hard to achieve without fresh citrus fruit.
11. Rose Water
Rose water is the perfect way to add an exotic twist to your jam recipe.
It’s an easy substitution that results in a more complex flavor with floral undertones, and it has great benefits too!
Rose water can soothe sore throats and contains antioxidants, so you can feel good about using it as a replacement in your most loved recipes.
And if that wasn’t enough, it also enhances mood, so you’ll be positively glowing as you go through the process of making your jam.
To use rose water as a substitute for lemon juice, simply measure out the same amount of rose water as you would have lemon juice and add it to your recipe instead.
The rest is up to you—happy cooking!
12. A combination of other acidic foods
A combination of other acidic foods—like orange or pineapple juice and vinegar—can also be used in place of lemon juice.
Just be sure to stick with the ratio of 1 tablespoon acid for every cup of fruit that your recipe requires.
Don’t forget you can add more sugar to balance out the flavor if needed!
12 Substitutes for Lemon Juice in Jam Recipes
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lime juice
- White Distilled Vinegar
- Citric Acid
- Grapefruit juice
- Lemon zest
- Powdered pectin
- Orange juice
- Lemon-Lime Soda
- Rose Water
- A combination of other acidic foods
- Pick your favorite substitute from this list to use in your jam recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Be ready to munch in no time!