6 Amazing Lime Juice Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Knowing how to use lime juice substitutes in cocktails and recipes is important when fresh limes aren’t available. Quite simply the juice extracted from limes, this tangy liquid is a basic ingredient in margaritas and other drinks, dips like guacamole, and many dressings and marinades.

Lime juice is also a common garnish for seafood dishes, and in Central American and South Asian cuisine. In addition to the flavor, vitamin C in lime juice can also act as a natural preservative, for example, to keep the avocados in guacamole from browning as quickly.

Lime juice substitutes are important because limes are a tropical fruit, and their availability in less temperate climates can be spotty. Extreme weather events and difficulties with shipping have also been known to restrict the availability of limes. Fortunately, there are many replacements for lime juice that are readily available.

Lime Juice Substitutes

The best and most popular lime juice substitutes include bottled lime juice, lemon juice, orange and grapefruit juice, citrus zest, vinegar, and white wine among others. Let us take a look at them in detail below.

A small glass filled with lemon juice

Squeezed lemon juice ready to use in cooking or skin care. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Bottled Lime Juice

Since it is more stable than fresh limes, the bottled lime juice is more widely available than fresh limes. While it is not as potent as freshly-squeezed lime juice, it will still give recipes the same distinct lime flavor.

Lemon Juice

The most similar to lime juice in flavor and acidity, fresh lemon juice can replace lime juice in nearly any application. Bottled lemon juice is also quite easy to find.

Orange & Grapefruit Juice

Although they tend to be sweeter, orange juice and grapefruit juices are also good substitutes for lime juice, particularly in cocktail recipes. Grapefruit juice makes a good garnish on seafood as well.

Citrus Zest

If a citrus taste is called for in a dish, the zest, or shredded rind, of lime, lemon, or other citrus fruit will be an effective replacement.

Vinegar

Distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar work well when the acidity of lime juice is more important than the citrus flavor, such as when you are preparing ceviche. Use a smaller amount of vinegar, as the acidity can be quite strong.

White Wine

Especially in marinades, dressings, and sauces, a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, or regular cooking wine, can be an excellent substitute for the tanginess of lime juice.

So which alternative are you using today?

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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