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How To Make Lemon Extract

Affiliate Disclosure | in Recipes | by | with 29 Comments

When life gives you lemons, squeeze every last drop of goodness out of them!  This recipe takes FIVE minutes of hands-on time and it will save you 75% over store bought brands. Here's how to turn those useless peels into a delightful flavoring for lemon sugar cookies, mousse, poppyseed muffins and more.   It takes FIVE minutes to put together but will save you 75% over store bought brands.

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

Put those little bursts of sunshine to work! Here’s a little tip to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of your batch: Before you whip up classic lemonade, use a lemon zester to remove the precious rind from the outside. Today I’m going to show you how to make lemon extract with it. 

That way when you’re laughing at the universe later on, you can do it while eating lemon sugar cookies, lemon poppyseed muffins, raspberry lemon semifreddo,  lemon mousse, or coconut-lemon macaroons.

Like homemade mint and vanilla extracts, it also makes a beautiful gift for the foodies in your life.

Saving Analysis

Store-bought lemon extract costs an average of $1.98 per ounce. Here’s the breakdown for this recipe:

  • Spirits – I used vodka for this batch. My cost was $0.49/ounce
  • Organic lemon peels – Free because I was already using the lemons. (If you don’t use 6 lemons all at once, you can squeeze the juice to use as needed)

Total store bought cost – About $23.76 for 12 ounces

Total homemade cost – About $5.88 for 12 ounces

A Note On Ingredients

The main spirit used to make lemon extract – vodka – is now often made from GMO-plants and/or enzymes derived from genetically modified organisms. (source)

Organic options are hard to find, but there are certain sources that are still likely to be GMO-free. Here’s one optionThis one looks good, too.

When life gives you lemons, squeeze every last drop of goodness out of them!  This recipe takes FIVE minutes of hands-on time and it will save you 75% over store bought brands.

How To Make Lemon Extract


  • Rind of 6 large organic lemons
  • 1 cup vodka


  1. Wash and dry lemons.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. (Or if you have a zester, use that!) Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
  3. Place peels in a jar and cover with vodka. Shake well.
  4. Place in a dark cabinet for 4-6 weeks. Shake every few days for the first week, then occasionally after that.
  5. When the extract has reached the intensity you prefer, strain peels and pour extract into a clean jar. Store in a dark cabinet or the fridge.


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29 Responses to How To Make Lemon Extract

  1. Karise says:

    What is the percentage of the alcohol that remains? How much would you use in a recipe to flavor something? Will it taste of vodka or is it covered by the lemon? I would love to do this but don’t want to make sth for people who don’t drink only to find out it tastes of vodka 😉

  2. Karissa says:

    What a fun gift idea! Where do you find the little glass bottles with the cork toppers?

  3. Rachel in Oklahoma says:

    This is how you make limoncello, too, except without the simple syrup.

  4. Becky says:

    With vanilla extract, you can just leave the shriveled vanilla pods and keep topping it off with vodka. I wonder if you could do that with the lemon peels. :)

  5. Kellie says:

    Fabulous! Thank you!

  6. Laura says:

    I’m living in a country that doesn’t grow lemons, so I’m pretty sure the ones we have in supermarkets have been sprayed with who-knows-what-chemicals. Normally I peel the lemons I use and that makes me feel a bit more secure, as I imagine that those chemicals don’t penetrate such thick skin. How much do you think I need to clean or what should I use to clean the lemon skins to make sure I don’t ingest those chemicals later on?

  7. How To Make Lemon Extract says:

    […] How To Make Lemon Extract […]

  8. jordan says:

    You can fill up you sink with lukewarm water and a cup of white vinegar and then leave your fruits and vegs in the there for a few mins to clean them

      • A says:

        pesticide and herbicide are inside the food not just on the outside they are in the water used on the seeds and the soil so therefore the entire plant has pesticide and herbicides inside and out of it. while you can scrub some but never al of them from the conventional produce you will never be able to get it out of them. pesticides can get on your feet and then be tracked into your home on to your floors or rugs and live for up to a yr even if professionally cleaned all the while contaminating you

      • Lynn burgen says:

        I have cooking wine. Will that work with lemon zest to make extract?

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  12. Ruth James says:

    I have made vanilla and lemon extracts and made enough for Christmas gifts. This year I want to make almond extract……………………anyone????? I need to start soon!!!!

  13. How To Make Homemade Lemon Extract | Herbs and Oils Hub says:

    […] How To Make Homemade Lemon Extract […]

  14. Andy says:

    I was just wondering……what if you honestly can’t stand vodka? Could you use rum instead, like you can for the mint and vanilla extracts?

  15. jennifer says:

    is there an alternative to using alcohol, or is that the only way to make extract?

  16. Lauren says:

    I like the flavor of Ketel One vodka, so I researched it a little ( I did not ask the company). It’s made with wheat, but apparently gluten is mostly removed during the distilling process (, although some people apparently do react to it ( Anyway, the latest information I could find is that there isn’t GMO wheat out commercially in the world, so wheat based liquors should be GMO-free :) I’ll probably try Ciroc too, because it’s made with grapes, so I think we would be safe on both fronts, because I don’t think GMO graphs are available, yet, either.

  17. Keri says:

    Just FYI for all you wheat and gluten free people…..we buy luksusowa vodka. It’s made from potatoes. We use it for all our homemade extracts.

  18. Helen says:

    can lemon extract go bad ? I cannot make it as I need it NOW?

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