How to Make Lemon Extract

How to Make Lemon Extract

By Erin Huffstetler | 06/27/2017 | 12 Comments

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Lemon extract is a delicious addition to pound cakes and many other baked goods, but it can be a bit on the pricey side. Learn how to make your own, and you’ll never have to settle for the imitation stuff. Here’s what you do.

How to Make Lemon Extract

Prep Time:

5 minutes

What You’ll Need:

Vodka (the cheapest bottle you can find)
(2) small, organic lemons (or one large lemon)
A vegetable peeler
A pint canning jar
Brown glass bottles

What You Do:

Lemon Zest

Zest your lemons. You want the outer peel, but as little of the white pith as possible.

Combine Lemon Peels and Vodka

Stick your lemon zest in the bottom of a canning jar (or another glass container), and pour a cup of vodka over top of it. Make sure the zest is fully submerged. Screw the lid on the jar, and store it in a cool, dark place for at least two months (longer is even better).

Finished Lemon Extract

Here’s a finished batch.

Free Printable Lemon Extract Labels

Printable Lemon Extract Labels

And here are some printable labels that you can use to label your lemon extract.

They’re designed to print to full-sheet shipping label paper. Use Avery 8165, if you have an inkjet, or Avery 5265, if you have a laser printer.

I like to print my labels on vinyl sheet, since it’s both waterproof and dishwasher-safe. This makes it easy for me to reuse my bottles again and again. It’s available for both inkjet and laser printers.

Many web browsers have their own built-in PDF viewers, but they tend to be buggy. If you’re having trouble printing or editing one of our printables, click here for help.


  • Stick with organic lemons, since you’ll be using the peel
  • Prefer to use alcohol-free extracts? Just replace the vodka with three parts food-grade liquid glycerin and one part water
  • Homemade lemon extract makes a great gift. Make an extra batch (or several) to share with your friends and family
  • Save the brown bottles from store-bought extracts, and refill them with your own extracts
  • You can also make your own orange, vanilla and peppermint extract.


Homemade Lemon Extract

Lemon Extract

Follow these simple steps to make your own lemon extract. Makes a great gift.


  • 2 small organic lemons, or 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup vodka


Zest lemons. Try not to include the pith; it’s bitter.

Place zests in a jar, and cover with vodka.

Screw the lid on the jar, and store in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks (longer is even better).

Transfer your finished lemon extract (minus the zest) to brown glass bottles.


  • Make non-alcoholic extract, by swapping out the vodka called for with three parts food-grade liquid glycerin and one part water.

This video shows you how to make several types of extracts, including lemon, vanilla, peppermint and orange.

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  1. Hi, how much homemade extract do I use in a recipe? The same as a shop bought one? Is it the same amount of extract for the vanilla too? Much thanks. Nicola

  2. Do you know how long the lemon extract lasts once bottled? Being alcohol I wouldn’t have thought it would be an issue, or is it the flavour which becomes weaker? Also, have you tried leaving the lemon peel in the alcohol? What is the reason for removing it? I’ve had vanilla essence with the beans left in the jar and thought to do the same with the lemon. Thanks for your seasoned advice! 🙂

    • Hi Rachel,
      With the alcohol content, it’ll pretty much keep forever. I usually strain the peels out just because it makes it easier to use, but you can certainly leave them in. It won’t hurt a thing.

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