Lemon sugar is one of those things that’s so simple but so good. It not only makes your lemon recipes that much better, it’s also a great way to preserve lemons in the winter.
I love making lemon sugar. It’s when you rub lemon zest and sugar together until the zest releases all that wonderful lemon oil and you’re just swathed in this delightfully sweet, lemony scent.
I make fresh lemon sugar and use it when baking goodies like everyone’s favourite lemon buttermilk scones but I figure it’s time to have a jar of it all the time.
What is lemon sugar used for?
But first you might be wondering, what is lemon sugar used for apart from baked goods? The answer is a lot of recipes!
If you love baking like me, you can use it when making:
You can also sprinkle it on top of lemon ricotta muffins.
It’s also great when making lemonade and other citrus drinks (including tea). And if you’re making something a little boozy and a little fancy (margarita, anyone?), you can dip the rim of your glass in it.
But really, you can use lemon sugar in any lemon recipe that calls for granulated sugar. Explore and make your tastebuds sing!
How to make lemon sugar
For the detailed recipe, scroll to the bottom of the page to find a printer-friendly recipe card.
If you’re still not convinced of lemon sugar’s awesomeness, maybe the simplicity of making it will!
STEP 1: Combine granulated or regular sugar and lemon zest in a bowl.
STEP 2: Rub the mixture with your fingers until fragrant.
You can actually stop here and transfer your magic / secret ingredient to an airtight container. However, I find that if I know I’m not going to use it all up or plan on keeping a stash for future use, I like to dry my mixture in the oven first.
If you want to take this extra step, what you want to do is preheat your oven to the lowest setting; in our case this is the “stay warm” feature.
STEP 3: Transfer your lemon sugar mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly and keep in the oven for about 10 minutes. You don’t want to overdo this – we want the mixture dry, not caramelized.
STEP 4: Take out of the oven and break apart any clumps that may have formed before transferring to an airtight container.
Tips when making this recipe
Super easy, right? Here are some more tips to make it even easier.
Make sure to only use the lemon zest and not the lemon pith
The zest is the outermost portion of the lemon and where all the pure lemon flavour lives. The pith is the paler, white-ish portion, is very bitter and not pleasant at all.
So be careful when you’re grating — don’t go too deeply else you might get some pith in there. A microplane zester (affiliate link) is a great tool to use for this as opposed to a traditional grater.
Can I use a food processor to combine my mixture?
The risk when using a food processor is you have to use lemon peels instead of just the lemon zest. And the lemon peel most often includes the pith.
So I would personally not use a food processor at this stage but would use it later, after I’ve dried the mixture.
Try other citrus fruits
This recipe works well using other citrus fruits too so experiment! Winter is peak citrus fruit season so try it with oranges or grapefruits and make your own citrus sugar.
I love using Meyer lemons when they’re available in the winter but regular lemons throughout the year work great as well.
How long will lemon sugar keep?
This is a small batch recipe and usually gone in our house in a month. But lemon sugar should keep for a long time, as long as you keep it in an airtight container.
So next time you find yourself with an abundance of lemons you don’t quite know what to do with, or extra lemon zest from a recipe, make some lemon sugar!
It’s so useful to have and brings your lemony treats to a whole other level.
How to Make Lemon Sugar
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- zest 2-3 lemons
- In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of sugar and lemon zest by rubbing them together with your fingers until fragrant.
- Optional: To dry your mixture, transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread evenly. Place in oven pre-heated in the lowest setting (or set to "keep warm"). Keep in oven for 10-15 minutes until the lemon zest is dry. Take out of oven and break apart any clumps that may have formed.
- Transfer to an airtight container.
- If you’re drying your mixture, be careful not to overdo it. We want the lemon sugar dry, not caramelized.
- To make breaking clumps easier, you can pulse the mixture in your food processor a few times.
- See the post for more tips on making lemon sugar.
Did you make lemon sugar? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.