Recipe Spotlight

How to Make Quick Preserved Lemons Overnight (Not in Eight Weeks)

You can skip the waiting game with this quick recipe.

Published Apr. 1, 2021.

Preserved lemons are tender, salty, sweet, and sour all at the same time. They’re a staple ingredient in North African dishes such as Moroccan tagines but can also be a great addition to seafood, condiments, and other sauces

But it’s not something you can snap your fingers and have: Traditional preserved lemons can take up to eight weeks to ferment in your fridge. Luckily, if you’re in a pinch, our test cooks came up with a quick recipe that gets you many of the joys of long-preserved lemons in only 24 hours.

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This comes from a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen at Home, Tagine and Hummus, where Julia Collin Davison made our Moroccan Fish Tagine recipe using these quick preserved lemons. 

Julia uses a few ingredients that are untraditional to preserved lemons: sugar and olive oil. After slicing the lemons, she mixes them with sugar to mitigate the acidity and offset the bitterness of the fruit. After adding some salt, she adds olive oil, an important component to speed up this recipe. The olive oil helps soften the skins overnight, the key to preserved lemons.

24-Hour Preserved Lemons

Makes 1 cup
10 minutes, plus 24 hours curing

What You'll Need:
3 lemons, rinsed
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons table salt
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Slice lemons thin crosswise.
  2. Toss lemons with sugar and salt in bowl. Stir in oil.
  3. Transfer lemons to bowl or pack into jar, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.
  4. To use, chop or mince lemon as desired.

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