What can I substitute for lime juice?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “what can I substitute for lime juice?”. Moreover, we will discuss what are the benefits and nutritional components of lime juice and its substitutes.

What can I substitute for lime juice?

In case of shortage of lime juice, it can be substituted with lemon juice that may be in baking or cocktail form, orange juice, lime zest, white wine vinegar, citrus zest, vinegar, black lime, bottled lime juice and also juices of some other citrus fruits.

India, China, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are the world’s principal lime producing countries, and were together responsible for 60% of global production in 2009–2013 (1).

Lime juice

Limes are rounded, bright in colour, and are a type of citric fruit. These are referred to as a powerhouse of nutritional components such as antioxidants, Vitamin c, and other nutritional components (2,3).

Their liquid part is extracted which is termed lime juice.

Lime is a versatile fruit that is produced in a different variety as Persian lime, Key lime, desert lime, and makrut lime, these all require different areas for growth that’s why it has a different aroma, tastes and also its availability varies (3).

Lime Nutrition

This small rounded fruit is mostly enriched with Vitamin C, but some other nutrients are as follows,

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Fat content: 0.1 grams
  • Protein: 0.5 grams
  • Fibre: 1.9 grams
  • Vitamin C is 22 per cent of the reference daily intake (RDI)
  • Iron is 2 per cent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6 is 2 per cent of the RDI
  • Calcium is 2 per cent of the RDI
  • Potassium content is 1 per cent of the RDI
  • Thiamin content is 2 per cent of the RDI

Lime also consists of some other nutritional factors like niacin, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate.

Best substitutes for lime juice

Following are some of the substitutes of lime juice, 

Lime Zest

Lime zest is a good alternative to lime juice. It gives more brightness than the juice. It is mostly recommended in baking goods. It should be used when lime is available but not the juice. One tablespoon of lime juice is equal to half a teaspoon of lime zest.

Lime zest is slightly bitter. The compounds responsible for this bitterness are polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavanones, flavanol, and flavones, of which lemon peel is an abundant source. Ferulic acid was quantified as a major phenolic acid and caffeic acid as minor in peels of citrus fruits (lemons, oranges and grapefruits) and their levels were significantly larger than those of peeled fruits (4).

Orange juice

The taste and flavour of both orange and lime juice are not quite similar but they can be used in place of lime. It can be used as a substitute for lime juice one by one.  Orange juice contains substantial amounts of several micronutrients such as vitamin C, folate and polyphenols (e.g., hesperidin which is a flavanone). Data obtained from a representative sample of the French population showed that fruit juices contributed to 31% of the daily vitamin C intake of children and to 16% of the daily vitamin C intake of adults (5).

White wine vinegar

White wine vinegar is a good alternative to lime juice but only in the case of savoury recipes and dressings of salad. It is not recommended to use in baking because in baking its flavour and taste can be overpowering. The flavour of white wine vinegar is very strong. So, it should be used carefully. 

 Acetic acid is the predominant flavourer and antimicrobial part in vinegar. Vinegar is used as a food additive. It is also used in the different physical abnormalities as a medicine. The different medicinal uses of vinegar are as an Antimicrobial, as an Antioxidant, as an Antitumor, as a Antiobesity agent, it reduces the cholesterol level, it also maintains body weight. It also reduces Diabetes. (7).

One tablespoon of lime juice is equal to half a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. It can be used as a substitute for lime juice in marinades. White wine vinegar is recommended to use as a substitute when all other substitutes are not available and white wine vinegar is the last option.

Lemon juice (in cocktails and baking goods)

Lemon juice is one of the perfect substitutes for lime juice. Lemon and lime both are citric fruits having approximately equal acidity and flavour.

It should be used in the same amount. Lemon juice as a substitute for lime juice is mostly beneficial in cocktail recipes like mint margarita also tastes as amazing as lime juice. Lime pie can have a good alternative in the form of lemon.

Lemon juice is also a complete substitute for lime juice in savoury recipes.

Lime acts as a key flavour in Mexican cuisine and Latin. Lemon can work as an alternative having a quite similar taste but it can’t fully replace the zing of lime.

Due to the presence of citric acid and ascorbic acid, lemon juice is acidic (pH= 2-3) in nature, and thus it works as an acid catalyst in organic reactions. Lemon juice obtained from lemon is sour in taste. The juice is used to control high blood pressure, arthritis and rheumatism, asthma, and prevent kidney stones (6).

Other Fruit juice

If lime is not available, we can use other citric fruits after squeezing their juice. This citric fruit can be grapefruit and orange. However, citric fruits are less acidic and sweeter than lime. So, their quantity and function depend upon the recipe.

In contrast with other types of citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits, lime has a higher percentage of citric acid than of sugar content (2).


Vinegar is an excellent substitute for lime juice. Vinegar of any type such as apple cider, white wine or red wine vinegar, etc. can be used. Vinegar has a subtle sweetness and is more potent. 

So, it is always recommended to use 1:2 for vinegar and lime juice. Vinegar is a good alternative in some of the recipes like salsa, ceviche, and salad dressings.

Vinegar bacteria, also called acetic acid bacteria, are members of the genus Acetobacter and characterized by their ability to convert ethyl alcohol, C2H5OH, into acetic acid, CH3CO2H, by oxidation as shown below; Anaerobic Aerobic

  2C2H5OH →2CH3CHO → 2CH3CO2H + 2H2O

It is a good source of antioxidants that gives protection against various free radicals which are responsible for many disorders like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (7).


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “what can I substitute for lime juice?”. Moreover, we have discussed what are the benefits and nutritional components of lime juice and its substitutes.


  1. Donkersley, P., Silva, F.W.S., Carvalho, C.M. et al. Biological, environmental and socioeconomic threats to citrus lime production. J Plant Dis Prot, 2018, 125, 339–356.
  2. Mohd-Hanif, Hani, Rosnah Shamsudin, and Noranizan Mohd Adzahan. UVC dosage effects on the physico-chemical properties of lime (Citrus aurantifolia) juice. Food sci, 2016, 25, 63-67.  
  3. Khan, M. Mumtaz, Rashid Al-Yahyai, and Fahad Al-Said. 1 Introduction and Overview of Lime. The Lime. 2017.
  4. Singh, Balwinder, et al. Phenolic composition, antioxidant potential and health benefits of citrus peel. Food Res Int, 2020, 132, 109114.
  5. Chanson-Rolle, Aurelie, et al. Nutritional composition of orange juice: a comparative study between French commercial and home-made juices. Food Nutr Sci, 2016, 7, 252.
  6. Pal, Rammohan. Fruit juice; A natural, green and biocatalyst system in organic synthesis. Open J. Org. Chem, 2013, 1, 47-56.
  7. Sankpal, Avinash A. An overview on types, medicinal uses and production of vinegar. Pharma Inn Jl 2019; 8, 1083-1087.