HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Do you use lemon and lime interchangeably?

pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 11:24 AM

I'm just curious, because I do. It just depends on what I have on hand.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Njchicaa RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 11:31 AM

    Not at all. They are 2 totally different things in my mind and aren't interchangeable.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Njchicaa
      scubadoo97 RE: Njchicaa May 16, 2013 02:45 PM

      I agree, they are both acids but different flavors. One can sub one for the other in a pinch but the dish will not be the same.

    2. s
      sedimental RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 11:36 AM

      Of course, it depends on the dish...but in general, I do.

      I haven't found too many things that taste great with one and disgusting with the other. However, I rarely actually follow recipes anyway, they are just suggestions to me ;)

      1. s
        Sal Vanilla RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 01:10 PM

        Sometimes. Not in drinks. Ever. If lime or lemon is the primary ingredient I certainly would not substitute. If it is one of many, probably would. I always have lemons. Used to always have key limes. Those are more interchangeable in my mind.

        1. j
          justme123 RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 01:18 PM

          Sometimes I do, but there are certain things I would never do that with. For example, I can't imagine chicken picatta tasting right with lime instead of lemon. On the other hand, I have marinated shrimp for the grill in either lemon and garlic, or lime and garlic, depending on what is in the fruit bowl!

          1. j
            jeanmarieok RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 01:26 PM

            Short answer is yes, for most things. There are exceptions. Like Mojitos - it would be something different without the lime.

            1. fldhkybnva RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 02:57 PM

              I don't I find that they are different flavors for me or at least I prefer to use them in different preparations even if perhaps that might actually taste the same if I mixed them up. For example with Asian-style soy sesame shrimp it's lime but garlic herb shrimp is lemon and never really pondered alternating it. If I want lemon garlic shrimp but we only have limes, I do something else but now that you've mentioned it perhaps I should just try it with the lime. I find lime to be quite tart and so prefer it in dishes when I expect that tartness usually Mexican or Asian.

              1. chowser RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 03:24 PM

                For sweets, yes.

                1. foodieX2 RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 03:32 PM

                  In a cocktail? No

                  In many food recipes, yes but in a pinch.

                  1. n
                    NaeShelle RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 03:41 PM

                    Texan here & I can most definitely say not on my life - in this one or the next.
                    Growing up, limes were for Mexican food & lemons ("the YELLOW ones") were for everything else. Being older I'm not as biased but I've kept the stringency - limes & lemons are not the same & should not be used as such. (It follows the "not all citrus is orange like not all berries are made of straw" rule my Granny made a mantra of).

                    1. i
                      Isolda RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 04:01 PM

                      Not unless I'm out of one in a recipe that calls for it. They taste totally different to me.

                      1. h
                        HillJ RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 04:14 PM

                        Sometimes..but sometimes I use them together (lemon-limeaid, Sangria, on fish, tacos and in ice water)

                        1. s
                          sueatmo RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 04:35 PM

                          More or less. I prefer the flavor of lime, and always have a lime or two on hand. So, when the recipe says 'lemon' I usually use lime.

                          But sometimes for a certain recipe I might buy a lemon.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sueatmo
                            nokitchen RE: sueatmo May 15, 2013 09:47 PM

                            I also prefer lime, so I'll sometimes substitute limes for lemons but not vice versa.

                          2. ipsedixit RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 04:56 PM

                            I use both simultaneously so that I never have to choose.

                            Life is complicated enough as it is.

                            1. Samuelinthekitchen RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 05:20 PM

                              No I don't. To my mind there's the difference in flavour which is huge, but also different levels of acidity and salts. That doesn't mean substitutions aren't possible, for example if i can't get limes for thai cooking (i usually wouldn't cook Thai without them) I will sometimes subtitute rice vinegar, but never lemons. But no, I keep them strictly seperate.

                              1. t
                                tastesgoodwhatisit RE: pagesinthesun May 15, 2013 09:34 PM

                                I do. Limes are easy to find, lemons much harder, so I use limes as the default sour citrus.

                                If I had easy access to both, I'd be more particular.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                  c
                                  cresyd RE: tastesgoodwhatisit May 16, 2013 01:24 AM

                                  Where I live, I have the reverse. Lemons are available all year round, and limes have a very very short seasonal availability.

                                  So when the choice is between bottled lime juice vs fresh lemon juice - it depends. Some dishes like a Thai influenced marinade aren't harmed by the bottled version - but in a cocktail or where the flavor is more pronounced, I'd never use the bottled.

                                  1. re: cresyd
                                    fldhkybnva RE: cresyd May 16, 2013 06:47 AM

                                    Reverse here as well and even when limes are available they are not very good quality. I can't get any juice out of a lime to save my life so have to buy more than I'd like when I use them.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                      c
                                      cresyd RE: fldhkybnva May 16, 2013 10:09 AM

                                      Exactly. I have a friend now who has his own lime tree - and I spend all of the end of summer/early fall begging for news of his limes. There are never very many, never much juice, etc.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                        juliejulez RE: fldhkybnva May 16, 2013 12:29 PM

                                        You need one of these: http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-... It gets every last bit of juice out of even more "dry" citrus. Both lemons and limes fit in it.

                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                          c
                                          cresyd RE: juliejulez May 16, 2013 01:50 PM

                                          I have something similar - but the limes I have access to are just only so capable.

                                          I guess it ultimately comes down to whether or not strict authenticity is worth so much to not be able to make dishes that classically call for lime.

                                          1. re: juliejulez
                                            foodieX2 RE: juliejulez May 16, 2013 02:50 PM

                                            Love this gadget!

                                            Can I I ask how you use yours? This was a (drunken) argument with a friend last time we had margaritas together. I put the cut side down, pushing down on the rind. She swears by putting the fruit rind down and pushing on the cut flesh.

                                            1. re: foodieX2
                                              suzigirl RE: foodieX2 May 16, 2013 02:53 PM

                                              I use it cut side down and turn the fruit "inside out"

                                              1. re: foodieX2
                                                juliejulez RE: foodieX2 May 16, 2013 03:54 PM

                                                Cut side down! I don't see why you'd do it the other way because the holes are on the bottom.

                                        2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                          juliejulez RE: tastesgoodwhatisit May 16, 2013 12:28 PM

                                          Where do you live where lemons are hard to find? Neither are grown where I live and I've never had an issue finding either. Didn't when living in CA (but they grew lemons there), or IL (neither grown).

                                        3. LMAshton RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 12:36 AM

                                          For most things, yes.

                                          In Sri Lanka, we could only rarely get lemons, but limes are always available and nearly always excellent. In Singapore, good limes are more difficult to find, but excellent lemons are always available. Gotta learn to adapt. :)

                                          1. lilham RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 12:55 AM

                                            Yes, most of the time. I usually use what is languishing in the fridge. But a lot of times, I have both in the fridge too.

                                            1. f
                                              Frizzle RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 03:50 AM

                                              No, I find they taste different and have different effects for me. Limes have a mouth-watering quality for me which I love in Thai/Vietnamese sauces and Bloody Mary's. Lemons seem more sour to me and work better with Mediterranean food. I once attempted to use lime instead of lemon in a tahini dressing as it was all I had at hand and the lime juice just couldn't get it sour enough.

                                              1. Veggo RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 04:38 AM

                                                The flavors are different but often interchangeable. The biggest difference is in the rind and how lemons zest so well.

                                                1. eLizard RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 12:26 PM

                                                  yes, with a few exceptions. i always have lemons, so if i have those on hand for a recipe that calls for lime i'll use it. i don't usually go the other way though.

                                                  1. juliejulez RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 12:33 PM

                                                    Not really because I keep both on hand pretty much. In a pinch I would probably substitute in something like a marinade, or just to "finish" a dish, but not if the dish relied on it... ie I wouldn't make "lemon chicken" into "lime chicken".

                                                    1. pinehurst RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 12:52 PM

                                                      Sometimes, as others have said, in a pinch. That said, to me, limes taste "saltier", so I tend to use those in a situation when I want a kick of salt without using too much salt....like on fish, in marinades, etc.

                                                      1. firecooked RE: pagesinthesun May 16, 2013 08:40 PM

                                                        I often use lemons instead of limes because there is a big lemon tree in my back yard.

                                                        1. DonShirer RE: pagesinthesun May 17, 2013 03:48 PM

                                                          They do have different tastes, and although in emergencies they could be substituted for each other, I prefer not to.

                                                          For one example that has not been mentioned yet, I like lemon in tea, but after one try, I found I don't like to add lime, even though I like limeade.

                                                          1. t
                                                            tardigrade RE: pagesinthesun May 17, 2013 07:55 PM

                                                            For some things, like ceviche, yes - but I have a lemon tree. Otherwise, they have completely different tastes - but so do Meyer lemons (which grow in my area) and Eureka lemons (which don't).

                                                            According to my Spanish teacher, they're both called "limones" in Central America.

                                                            1. Atomic76 RE: pagesinthesun May 17, 2013 09:15 PM

                                                              Not unless I'm really in a pinch and only a small amount is called for in a recipe.

                                                              They're not night and day different in terms of flavor imo, but distinct enough that I try to avoid substituting one for the other.

                                                              1. Shrinkrap RE: pagesinthesun May 17, 2013 11:17 PM

                                                                Lately I find myself thinking about where they grow when I am deciding which to use. It is my impression that limes thrive in hot, humid conditions while lemons need not so hot and maybe less humid. So Greek flavors seem to work better with lemon, but Jamaican and many south east Asian flavors seem to need lime.

                                                                Show Hidden Posts