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Easy Lemon Pickle Recipe

This recipe of homemade Indian lemon pickle really is the best as they are made with homegrown lemons and simple pickle spices. They are flavorful, aromatic, tangy pickle you have ever tasted. You won't believe how easy it is to make lemon pickle from scratch and it is better than store brought pickle!
Prep Time12 d
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time12 d 10 mins
Course: Condiments, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, karnataka, South India
Keyword: dairy free, Homemade, lemon, Pickle, side dish, Spices, Vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 500 gm of pickle
Author: Pavithra M Adiga


  • Mixer grinder or blender
  • Mixing bowl




  • This is a small batch recipe of 500gm, you can scale up if you like lemons. However, you will have to refrigerate them and use within a few months.
  • Number of lemons for 500gm depends on size of lemons. So, if you are using small lemons, then you get more lemons.
  • The important preparation in lemon pickle making is choosing good quality fresh lemons.
  • Try to use lemons which are not brown or having any patches on lemons. Do not use half rotten lemons. Try not to use unripe or overripe lemons.
  • Wash the lemons well before using it. Wipe them with a cloth and keep them dry before chopping them.

Chopping lemons:

  • Use a sharp knife to chop the lemons, this minimizes the loss of juice from lemons while chopping.
  • Second important point to note is remove the seeds simultaneously as we are chopping.
  • Thirdly reserve small amount of juice that comes out while chopping lemons.
  • Cut the lemons into two halves horizontally. Take one half of lemon and chop it again. Some juice from lemon comes out while chopping. Do not throw this and store it in a bowl that can be used later. Lemon juice also helps to bring down the bitterness from peel when added to the pickle.
  • Take the small quarter and chop again into two pieces. This way we are chopping the lemon into eight pieces.
  • The number of pieces depends on size of lemons. The lemons I have used are big sized so chopped them into eight pieces. However, if you choose small lemons, go for fewer pieces.
  • The smaller the pieces, they become soft and gets easily blended with pickle masala.
  • At once chop all the lemons and keep aside the juice as well.

Salting the lemons:

  • In this recipe brined lemon pieces are used for pickling.
  • For salting select a ceramic barani or glass airtight jar which is clean and dry before use. Wash it well, wipe and sun dry for two to three hours. Salting helps in reducing the bitter taste of lemon peel.
  • If using ceramic barani, use a cloth and thread to close the lid tight. Using airtight jar is important for proper salting.
  • Since we keep lemon pieces and salt for 12 to 15 days. If the lid is not tight, there are chances of fungal growth in the brined lemons. So we need to take care of it.
  • Let’s see how to salt the lemons
  • The best method I follow for salting the lemons is, adding alternate layers of lemon pieces and salt.
  • We add alternate layers so that its easy to mix salt and lemon pieces over time.
  • First add few lemon pieces to bottom, next add salt. Again, add lemon pieces, next add few spoons of salt. This way add all the chopped lemon pieces and remaining salt. Fill up the entire jar.
  • Close the lid, make it airtight. Keep this mixture aside.
  • Set aside for 12 to 15 days. Every three days, shake the jar slowly, so that salt and lemon mix well.
  • After 15 days, you see that the salt has dissolved, and the mixture has become saucy. Lemon pieces become soft and salty.
  • This is ready for mixing with pickle masala.

Frying pickle masala spices:

  • The next step is frying pickle masala. While we are fermenting or incubating, we can prepare the pickle masala.
  • For pickle masala powder we are using mustard seeds, cumin and red chilies. We are going to dry roast all these individually.
  • Heat a thick bottom pan on medium heat, start frying mustard seeds. Fry on medium heat, until they slightly become light in colour and few of them start spluttering.
  • Remove them from pan and allow it to cool.
  • Next roast cumin seeds, until you get nice aroma. Cool them and keep aside as we roast red chilies next.
  • Next add red chilies and dry roast them well. Cool all roasted pickle spices.

Powdering pickle masala and mixing:

  • After roasting and cooling the pickle spices, we must powder them. Use a spice blender or high speed blender to powder them fine. I prefer to make a fine powder, so have used high speed blender.
  • This pickle spice blend can be stored for a month or more.
  • After 15 days of salting, lemon pieces would become soft and saucy. Take this salted lemon pieces in a mixing bowl.
  • Next add powdered pickle masala to the salted lemon. At this point we can adjust the quantity of pickle masala powder added to the lemons.
  • We can also adjust salt at this point. After adding pickle mixture, you can do a taste test and add salt if required.
  • Mix the pickle mixture using a clean dry spoon. Do not use wet spoon at this stage. This decreases the shelf life of pickle.


  • After mixing pickle spice with lemon pieces, we will do tempering. It gives a nice aroma to pickle and helps in extended shelf-life.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida on low heat, fry well for few seconds.
  • Cool this and pour the tempering on pickle mixture. Use a dry wooden or stainless steel spoon and mix everything well. Now the pickle is ready.
  • After mixing the pickle, pour this back into one big airtight glass jar. Make it airtight and serve it after 3 to 4 days.
  • Keeping the pickle for 3 to 4 days, this will help the pickle spices to blend well with the salted lemon.

Storing suggestions:

  • It is always suggested that pickle is stored in glass jar or ceramic jars for keeping it healthy and plastic free.
  • The glass jars or ceramic jars should be well cleaned with water to remove any stains. Wiped with a clean cloth and sun-dried for a day. This way you can keep it clean and dry from moisture. This is the method I follow to sterilize the glass bottles used for storing pickles.
  • Pickle can be stored in small bottles instead of storing them in large glass jar. However if you store in large bottles, make sure to take out a little quantity in small bottles for serving. This way the stock batch remains fresh and free from getting spoilt. Use a clean dry spoon every time you serve the pickle.
  • If you follow all the above steps, lemon pickle lasts for many weeks or months. If refrigerated can be stored for 6 months.
  • The other trick to preserve the lemon for a very long time is add some extra oil on top of the main pickle bottle. This prevents spoilage and formation of mould on the surface. Increases the shelf life of pickle.

Serving suggestions:

  • South Indian dishes are never complete without pickle be it a festive spread or function ceremony. It adds a great flavour to any dish.
  • Few favourite ways to serve them and best combinations are dal-rice or rasam rice with lemon pickle. Any kind of vegetable paratha with pickle makes a great combination.
  • Its great side dish for train journeys to be served with any Indian flatbread, dosa. Tastes best with curd rice and khichdi as well.
  • When you don’t have any dish cooked for your weekday lunch or dinner, just make some hot rice and add coconut oil with lemon pickle. Gently mix everything and eat, it tastes delicious. Its taste perfect with cooked hot brown rice.




Adjust salt and red chilies as per sourness of lemons. 
Use fresh lemons for pickle making. 
Use dry ingredients and equipment while making pickle. 
Always store pickle in dry airtight glass jars. 
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