Preserved Lemons

This is the recipe we used at our riad in Marrakech.

Preserved lemons are the salty /pickled ones they have in Morocco and you need these in a lot of recipes- especially the yummy chicken tagine with green olives and lemons.

Last updated Jun 17, 2021 at 8:05AM | Published on May 17, 2021

lemons in the Marrakech souks

It´s so easy to do, and everyone knows how, so I didn´t think to picture it every time. I even had a video of our hotel receptionist that just took a quick break to featured in a video so I could send it to a guest to show how to do it ! I´ll share when I find it –  can´t believe I can´t find my old Morroco pictures right now. They´re either lost forever or in a storage box somewhere.

Until I find them, I have this beautiful plate of lemons I found in the souks near our house in Marrakech, and finally,  a picture of the oldest ones we made further down the page. They´re not off, they just get more brown and dull looking – but more delicious.  

And I have just one picture at the end, of my own preserved lemons made in Gran Canaria from locally grown lemons I was gifted. Funny how the Moroccan tiles are very commonplace there too – well it´s closer to the N.African coast than Europe after all !

aged preserved lemons

In Morocco, they use lemons preserved for different numbers of months or years for different recipes – the longer they are left the darker and tastier they are.  These ones are the oldest we had – the taste is more mellow but unctuous !

Try them after 2 months, 4 months, 6months to see the difference. You´ll have to make several jars though to build a collection because it´s hard to resist using them once you´ve made it. 

Kitchen tools


A Chopping board like this simple long lasting one
A Sharp Knife like this simple chef knife
mason jars (like the picture above) to keep them in, or multi-purpose, wide neck ball jars like these pictured below. 
wide mouth mason jars for hand blending in , sous vide cooking, canning, freezing etc

Essential ingredients

  • 3 lemons
  • 5-6 teaspoons salt
  • An extra lemon for extra juice
  • Water that has been boiled and cooled (sterile)


Step 1

You can make however many preserved lemons you like, but you need to fit as many as you can in a jar ( usually 3 will do ).

Step 2

Thoroughly clean the lemons. Organic is recommended.
If you can’t find organic, let the lemons sit in some vinegar water for a few minutes, then rinse.

Step 3

Put one teaspoon of salt into the cavity of each lemon.

Step 4

Place one teaspoon salt into the bottom of the jar.
Put a lemon in the jar, cut-side down, pressing firmly to squish out the lemon juice.
Put a teaspoon of salt on top of the lemon.
Firmly press the second lemon down on top of the first lemon.
Repeat with the third lemon, pressing down firmly.
Add a teaspoon of salt on top of the lemon.

Step 5

The jar should be halfway full with lemon juice by now.
If needed, squeeze some additional lemon juice into the jar to bring it to the halfway point.
Don’t waste that lemon; slice it and stuff the slices into the jar.
Pour the boiled/cooled water into the jar to fill it to the top.

Step 6

Screw the lid on and let it sit at room temperature for 3 days, shaking it and rotating the jar upside-down/right-side up a few times a day. After 3 days transfer the jars to the fridge and let them sit for at least 3 weeks before using.

Step 7

Store in the fridge once opened.

Step 8

Remember,  it’s the peel that is used, so before using you can discard the pulp and wash the peel to remove excess salt.

my preserved lemons

Recipes using the preserved lemons.

I love to use them simply to boost a quinoa dish, or with some wilted greens like spinach or chard – top with some toasted nuts and seeds.

They also brighten up a green or puy lentil salad. I love puy lentils topped with some roasted carrot with cumin, a sprinkling of finely chopped preserved lemons. and keep layering if you´re hungry with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some roasted nuts and seeds.

In the same way as you would use anything salty like black olives, caper, anchovy, just think of using the preserved lemons in the same way. In fact I often see recipes using both preserved lemons and capers together.

Finally, try mixing a finely chopped preserved lemon skin with a tablespoon of ras al hanout to make a nice paste to spread on a whole chicken skin, then roast- yum ! Speaking of rubs and spice mixes….

Lemon Chermoula

Go further and try making your own ´chermoula´( blend of spices) to add to vegetables, fish or white meat. One of my favourite chermoula is a lemony chermoula when it´s rubbed on whole fish and grilled. Mix the herbs( parsley, coriander), with cumin & paprika. Then add some preserved lemons and olive oil and seasonings to make a paste and marinate the fish before cooking. You could add a little spice too if you like. Enjoy.

SImplest moroccan food Memories we want to share next… so come back soon


Bessara, Fava bean everything !

I´m licking my lips as I remember this one. I´ll send this recipe out in the email newsletter this weekend.

Msemen, pancakes to die for

Not so simple when you don´t know how ! I haven´t made these myself yet. But when I do you´ll probably see me drizzling honey on them first on Instagram !

Kefta tagine, with a fried egg

Easy and fast to make…  mince beef tagine

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Thank-you to Tengyart from Russia for this sad to mad eggs image.

Eggs can be the most difficult things to cook well, and I feel this image represents all the emotions from cook to chef.

Makes us giggle.


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