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How to make Lemon Sugar

Homemade lemon sugar, in progress

Homemade vanilla sugar is one ingredient that I always like to keep in the kitchen. Specked with vanilla beans, the sugar can be used in place of regular sugar in most recipes and can really boost the flavor in a cake or a batch of cookies. It’s easy to make, but it’s not the only flavored sugar option out there. Another type of sugar I like to make is citrus sugar, and I’m a big fan of lemon sugar in particular.

All you need to make lemon sugar is a fresh lemon or two, some sugar and an airtight container. Pour the sugar into your container and zest a lemon right into the sugar. I tend to use one large lemon for about 2-3 cups of sugar, depending on the size of the lemon and how lemony I want my sugar to be. Zesting releases the natural oils of the lemon and those oils absorb quickly into the sugar. Stir well, then let the sugar mixture sit out for at least an hour to dry slightly. Close up the container, give it a good shake and then store it in your cupboard so that it is ready any time you need it. To refresh the mixture after you use some up, add in some regular sugar and stir everything around. You won’t need to zest in more citrus unless you use up almost the whole batch.

This can also be made using orange zest or lime zest, instead of lemon zest, if you’d prefer to keep a different flavor around. In addition to being mixed into recipes, citrus sugar is also great for making drinks. Lemon sugar tastes great in tea and lemonade, as does orange sugar. Lime sugar is delicious for rimming glasses for daiquiris, mojitos and other cocktails.

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  • Elyse
    February 19, 2009

    I love this trick! I actually just used orange zest in the orange chocolate cookie bars I recently posted about, and boy were they good! I love the how the citrus flavor shines through!

  • Chou
    March 2, 2009

    I love flavored sugars. Thanks.

  • Deborah
    May 5, 2011

    Leaving sugar to dry for an hour was a disaster for me, I figured that it could be the high temperature & humidity. The sugar got all sticky in clumps… 🙁 Any idea how to solve the problem?

  • Nicole
    May 10, 2011

    High humidity will definitely make the sugar clump, regardless of whether you’ve added lemon zest or not. Try turning the oven on to “Warm” or whatever the lowest setting is for about 5 minutes, then turning off the oven and placing the sugar on a baking sheet/oven-safe dish inside to dry. That will create a nice dry place for it!

  • Sharyn Dimmick
    January 23, 2012

    I’m so pleased to have found this in citrus season. I’ll make up a few different batches and see what I think: looks like a great way to bump up the lemon flavor in lemon bars, lemon pie, etc.

  • Natasha Parsons
    May 1, 2012

    Please advise how long this sugar would last for, would it have to be stored in the fridge?

    Many thanks!

  • Nicole
    May 2, 2012

    Natasha – The sugar will keep for months and does not need to be stored in the fridge. The sugar can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

    May 24, 2018

    Love the information. Never saw some of these ideas before. Thank you.

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