How To Make Lemon Extract

Heather Dessinger

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How To Make Lemon Extract With Lemon Peel And Vodka

I’m always tempted to write “Liquid Sunshine” on my homemade lemon extract labels,  because that’s exactly what it reminds me of. The bright flavor is perfect for making poppyseed muffins or lemon bread with vanilla glaze, and it’s ridiculously easy to make.

Just combine two ingredients with a little time and voila! Sunshine in a bottle that’s perfect for baking and making homemade limoncello.

It also makes a beautiful gift for people who love food, either on its own or paired with homemade vanilla extract. So when life gives you lemons, don’t forget to put the rinds to good use.

Tips for Making Homemade Lemon Extract

  • Before you squeeze that lemon in your water, use a lemon zester to remove the precious rind from the outside. It’s much harder to remove once the lemon has been squeezed. Also, just remove the yellow part, not the bitter white pith underneath.
  • If you’re only using a lemon or two at a time, place the zest in a bag/container in the freezer and continue adding to it until you have enough to fill a small (or large) jar.

Savings Analysis

My favorite store-bought lemon extract costs an average of $3.76 per ounce, which is much more expensive than the recipe in this post. Here’s a cost breakdown:

  • Spirits – I used vodka for this batch. My cost was $0.49/ounce
  • Organic lemon peels – Free because I was already using the lemons.

Total store bought cost – About $45.12 for 12 ounces
Total homemade cost – About $5.88 for 12 ounces

A Note On Ingredients

Vodka, which is often used to make lemon extract, is sometimes made from genetically modified corn and/or enzymes derived from genetically modified organisms. Manufacturers say that none of the genetic material makes it through the distilling process to the final product, but to my knowledge that has not been independently verified.

Organic options are hard to find, but there are certain sources that are still likely to be GMO-free. Absolut says they’re non-GMO. Absolut is made from wheat, but the company says that the final product does not contain gluten. Potato-based vodkas are naturally gluten-free and non-GMO.

Want to make an alcohol-free extract?

Though alcohol-based extracts are most common, substituting food-grade glycerin is an option for people who don’t consume any alcohol. Glycerin-based extracts take longer to infuse than alcohol-based ones, but they also have a unique sweetness that some people like.

How To Make Lemon Extract
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Lemon Extract Recipe

Course Condiments
Calories 1926kcal
Author Heather Dessinger


  • 2 lbs organic lemons
  • 3 cups 80 or 100-proof vodka (or food-grade glycerin – add more if needed to cover the lemon rind)


  • Wash and dry lemons.
  • Using a vegetable peeler or zester, cut thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
  • Choose a jar that will be about 3/4 filled by the peels when they are placed inside, then add the peels to the jar and pour in vodka or glycerin. Add a lid and shake well.
  • Place the jar in a dark cabinet for 4-6 weeks. Shake every few days for the first week, then occasionally after that.
  • When the extract has reached the intensity you prefer, strain peels and pour extract into a clean jar. Remember that glycerin takes longer to ripen than alcohol, so it may need longer than six weeks depending on the ambient temperature of your home and how strong you want it to be. 
    When ready, store your extract in a dark cabinet or the fridge.


Calories: 1926kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 1252mg | Fiber: 25g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 480.8mg | Calcium: 236mg | Iron: 5.4mg

Here are some more recipes that incorporate leftover lemon peels. What’s your favorite way to use them?

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.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world.