How to counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe? (+5 ways)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe?”. We will discuss different ways that will help you counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe. 

How to counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe? 

If you have added too much lemon juice in a recipe and are desperately searching for ways to counteract it, do not fret, here we have prepared a long list of ways to help you counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe, and to make it suitable to serve.

  • Neutralize with baking soda
  • Add sugar or honey
  • Add some salt to offset the bitter taste 
  • Add some fat (cheese/oil/butter) 
  • Dilute the recipe
  • Add something starchy

Argentina is the largest lemon producer in the world, followed by Spain (1.15 million tons in 2018/19). Italy (424 000 tons in 2018/19) is the second largest lemon producer in Europe, with 88% of the overall production located in Sicily, followed by Greece (88 258 tons), and Portugal (16 000 tons) (1).

Different ways to counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe

Too much lemon in a recipe can make your dish taste too acidic, sour, bitter, and tart. Try any of the following methods to cut the lemon flavour in your recipe.

Neutralize the acidity with baking soda

Lemon juice is an acid while baking soda is an alkaline base.

To neutralize the taste of lemon juice in a recipe, mix both of them together. The baking soda will neutralize the lemon juice, taking away the bitter flavour of lemon juice by decreasing the acidity of the dish. 

This method is really effective in solving the problem at its core. You only need a little bit of baking soda. A quarter tsp of baking soda per 1 cup of liquid is enough to counteract the bitter taste of lemon juice in a recipe.

If you add more than this, your dish will start to taste like soap, which is definitely worse than too much lemon. 

Just as you add the baking soda to your dish, the reaction starts. You might even get to observe some bubble formation. This indicates that the reaction is working.

To ensure the reaction occurs uniformly all over the dish, sprinkle the baking soda over the entire surface instead of just dropping it all at one point. Stir well until the bubbles have mixed well and then taste.

When an alkaline ingredient, such as sodium bicarbonate is dissolved in water, it ionizes and forms HCO3− ions which then react with H+ ions from the acids. Its use in food is because of their nature to react with acids such as vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and bacterial acids forming carbon dioxide (2).

Add sugar or honey to neutralize the sour taste 

The sour taste of lemon juice and the sweet taste of honey and sugar mix well to make a new exciting flavour. 

Sugar will work great in hot recipes as it will be able to dissolve, whereas honey will work great in cold recipes

Add sugar gradually, tasting after every addition to make sure that your meal does not get extra sweet. Sugar gives a well-balanced flavour profile, thus regarded as a good choice for saving your dish.

Suppression or partial masking of sourness regularly occurs in complex food systems. It is well known that sweeteners constitute one of the most effective masking agents for sourness. Sweeteners are combined in the formulations of acidified foods to achieve optimum taste, while maintaining the desired pH (3).

Add some salt to offset the bitter taste 

Salt helps to counteract the bitterness of lemon juice by intensifying the sweetness of the other ingredients.

You can also add salt and sugar together to balance out the taste.

When two compounds are mixed, there is potential for one compound to interfere with taste receptor cells or taste transduction mechanisms associated with another compound. For example, this type of peripheral interaction occurs between sodium salts and certain bitter compounds. Sodium salts suppress the bitterness of selected compounds (4).

Add some fat (cheese/oil/butter) to even out too much lemon 

If you have mistakenly added too much lemon juice to your pasta or salad, you can counteract it by adding cheese such as parmesan. The fat in the cheese will absorb some of the acidity and give a more well-balanced flavour to your recipe.

Mixing the oil or fat with the acid (acetic acid from the vinegar or the citric acid from the lemon juice), an esterification reaction occurs between the acid and the mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids present in the oil or fat (5).

Another option is to add olive oil that contains fat. It will also help fix too much acidity due to lemon juice, particularly in salads. 

You can also add butter as well as creme fraiche, cream, yoghurt or sour cream.

Dilute the recipe

You can quickly fix over-acidic broths or liquid dishes by adding more of the other ingredients. This will help neutralize the excess lemon juice, helping you save your dish. 

You can add more chicken stock, extra oil, extra water, and everything that makes up the base of your recipe.

This method has the added benefit of making an extra amount which you can separate and save for another day. 

You may need to re-season your dish with some herbs and fresh spices after diluting to have a well-balanced flavour.

Add something starchy

You can also add a starchy ingredient to your dish that can help absorb the excess lemon juice. 

Potatoes, beans, lentils, and rice are all starchy ingredients and will absorb some of the excess lemon juice. According to studies, starches react with citric acid to form esters. This reaction changes the physicochemical properties of the starch, increasing its swelling power, solubility in water, as well as decreased viscosity (6).

Throw in a few raw potato slices into your acidic dish for 15 to 20 minutes over low flame. The potato will absorb the excess acid and distribute starch into the dish, diluting it further. Discard the potatoes once tender and serve your meal as if nothing happened. 

Other FAQs about Lemon that you may be interested in.

Can you eat lemon seeds?

What can I substitute for lemon zest?

Can you eat lemons while pregnant?


In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “How to counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe?”. We have discussed different ways that will help you counteract too much lemon juice in a recipe. 


  1. Ciriminna, Rosaria, et al. The case for a lemon bioeconomy. Adv Sustainab Sys, 2020, 4, 2000006. 
  2. Madeswaran, Sathyasree, and Sivakumar Jayachandran. Sodium bicarbonate: A review and its uses in dentistry. Ind J Dental Res, 2018, 29, 672.
  3. Savant, Lotika, and Mina R. McDaniel. Suppression of sourness: a comparative study involving mixtures of organic acids and sugars. Percept psychophys, 2004, 66, 642-650.
  4. Keast, Russell SJ, and Paul AS Breslin. An overview of binary taste–taste interactions. Food qual prefer, 2003, 14, 111-124.
  5. De Leonardis, A., Macciola, V., Iftikhar, A. et al. Antioxidant effect of traditional and new vinegars on functional oil/vinegar dressing-based formulations. Eur Food Res Technol, 2022. 
  6. Kapelko-Żeberska, Małgorzata, et al. Effect of Long-Term Potato Starch Retention with Citric Acid on Its Properties. Molecules, 2022, 27, 2454.