Whether you consider yourself to be a novice in the kitchen or a self-proclaimed expert, chances are you’ve used lime juice in a recipe or two. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used it for baking, your cocktails, or a savory dinner, lime juice is one of those ingredients that can work well in any capacity. According to Healthline, limes — which have large amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants, and more — come in different varieties with the Persian lime (Citrus latifolia) being the most available type in the United States. And with a high number of nutrients that can help reduce your risks of heart disease, prevent kidney stones, boost your immunity, and more, it’s no wonder they are used in many recipes day in and day out.
But what recipes do people actually use them in, you ask? Martha Stewart notes that the year-round fruit can be used in recipes such as limeade, linguine, cookies, pie, and even egg nog. If you find yourself in a cleaning pinch, limes and lime juice can also be used as a natural cleansing agent, too. Convenient, right? Though limes can be easily accessible, sometimes, having them on hand may not be as easy. Whether you forgot them while out shopping or your store just happened to run out, we all know that things happen when we least expect them. That’s why having a good substitute in mind will work well in the moments you least expect. Not sure what you can use as a substitute for lime juice? Here are 10 of the best alternatives.
1. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is, naturally, one of the best substitutes that you can use for lime juice. This works especially well in baking and for cocktail recipes, as they are both citrus fruits and have similar levels of acidity and flavors. If for some reason you don’t want to use your lemon juice as the substitute, Better Homes & Gardens notes that you can opt for lemon zest instead. By doing this, you’ll still get the intense citrus flavor you’re searching for, though obviously not the liquid content.
To get the best results, A Couple Cooks recommends using the same amount of lemon juice that you would for lime. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon zest for every 2 teaspoons of juice.
2. Grapefruit Juice
For a similar reason that lemon juice works so well in the place of lime juice, grapefruit juice is another great, slightly less sour substitute. As The Kitchn notes, fresh juice is the best option, but if you don’t have access to it, bottled grapefruit juice will work fine, too.
It is best to substitute the same amount of grapefruit juice as you would lime juice since they are both sour citrus fruits. If a recipe calls for a full lime instead of a measurement of juice (like a teaspoon, tablespoon, or ounce), bear in mind that a whole grapefruit is much larger in size and adjust accordingly.
3. Orange Juice
Just like grapefruit and lemon juice, orange juice can be used as a substitute for lime juice. According to Taste Essence, orange juice works well because you’re still able to achieve the tangy flavor you’re searching for. It will also add the same liquid component to your recipe. It is important to note, however, that orange juice will be sweeter than lime juice in recipes, so the flavor of your dish will change slightly. As with lemons, orange zest can also work as a lime juice substitute in a pinch; use the same ratio, 1 teaspoon of orange zest for every 2 teaspoons of lime juice (via Spoon University).
If you choose to use orange juice as the substitute, you should do so based on the taste that is required of the recipe: start small and build up as needed. If you don’t mind the flavor swap, use equal amounts. If you are worried about it being too sweet, use a light hand.
4. White Wine Vinegar
Looking to substitute lime juice for savory recipes? Why not try white wine vinegar? According to A Couple Cooks, this pantry staple works well in place of lime for things like salad dressings because it adds the same "tang" as lime juice, without being overly citrusy or reminiscent of a particular cuisine. Just be careful when using this substitute in baked goods, as vinegar tends to react strongly with some ingredients (like baking soda) and could turn radically change your results (via Baking Bites).
For best results, you can use ½ tablespoon of white wine vinegar for every tablespoon of lime juice your recipe calls for.
Although white wine vinegar was already mentioned as a good option, other more flavorful vinegars will work as a substitute for lime juice, too. Spoon University shares that vinegars, like both apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar, can be used due to their acidity. You should remember, though, that they have a very distinct flavor, which can alter your recipe severely.
Wondering what works well with this substitution? The outlet suggests recipes such as salsa, guacamole, and ceviche as options that all deliver the same great taste with vinegar used in place of lime juice. We would not suggest using these vinegars in baked goods unless you are aware of all the ingredient reactions and are sure the flavor will work.
For this substitution, it is recommended that you use 1 tablespoon of vinegar for every 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
6. Tamarind Paste
Though you may not have tamarind on your mind when you think of good substitutes for lime juice, it can actually be one of the best. While tamarind of course has its own unique taste, The Spruce Eats shares the ingredient has a sour, citrusy flavor similar to limes. This substitute works well in more liquid recipes dressings, marinades, and, of course, drinks. Just dilute the pulp of the tamarind with liquid (like water or your cocktail) to achieve the flavor and texture you’re searching for.
To match the flavor and intensity of lime juice, swap 1 tablespoon tamarind paste for every 2 tablespoons lime juice.
7. White Wine
Out of citrus or vinegar? Don’t fret, white wine can work well as a lime juice substitute too! Though its acidic properties aren’t as high as what you’ll get from a lime (and of course the flavor will be quite a bit different), white wine will bring a similar flavor and texture to your recipe. Spoon University describes this swap as a last resort if you don’t have any other options and no time to run to the store.
Best for liquid recipes like marinades and dressings, use an equal amount of white wine to substitute your lime juice.