Lemon Pickle (Nimboo ka Achar)


This lemon pickle is sweet, salty, and tangy! The best thing about this recipe is that you can continue to add to it any time you have lemons!

lemon pickle

This lemon pickle recipe is a great way to use up leftover lemons. Whenever you have an extra lemon, add it to your lemon pickle jar and keep the pickles flowing!

A great way to use up leftover lemons!

Whenever I need a single lemon to make a recipe, I almost always end up buying a big pack thinking I’ll find a way to use them up. But then I end up with a lot of leftover lemons that sit in my fridge.

Rather than throwing them away (because food waste is the worst), I add them to my little jar of lemons. Lemon pickle is also known as nimboo ka achar in Hindi, and while there are many variations of this Indian pickle, my recipe is made with just a few spices and is pickled in its own juice.

This pickle gets tastier as it ages and is used as an Indian home remedy to aid digestion.

lemon pickle

A family recipe passed down through generations:

My great grandmother did this with her leftover lemons in India, and it’s a little secret that has been passed down from mom to daughter through the generations.

My mom tells me stories about how my great grandmother would keep her lemon achar around for 10 years, if not longer. If someone in the family had a tummy ache, she’d give them a spoonful of this pickle to help them with digestion. After many years, this pickle will dry out and turn brittle – mom says she’d eat it like candy when this would happen.

These are pictures that I took back in 2014 – you can really see the difference between lemon pickles that have had time to ferment/age and newly added pickles.

this Indian lemon pickle (achar) is a great way to use up your leftover lemons - myheartbeets.com
this Indian lemon pickle (achar) is a great way to use up your leftover lemons - myheartbeets.com

This preserved lemon pickle tastes better the longer it ages – as it ferments naturally.

In India, they usually use thin-skinned lemons for this pickle. You can use Meyer lemons or regular lemons – it’s hard to find organic Meyer lemons where I live, so I usually use whatever I can find.

When you add your lemon, first squeeze the juice into the jar. Add the lemon wedges and coat well with salt and sugar. I also add carom seeds (aka ajwain, aka bishop’s weed) to the jar – you don’t have to do this every time you add more lemon – add a pinch whenever you think it’s necessary. These seeds will add a spicy flavor to this tangy pickle.

Nimboo ka achaar – An Indian Pickle

Carom seeds have a pungent taste… I described them in my gluten-free Indian Biscuit (mathi) blog post as “like thyme… on speed.” Similar to thyme, ajwain contains the chemical thymol, known for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Research shows that ajwain/thymol can help control a variety of fungal infections and destroy disease-causing organisms. I just like the way tastes in this pickle.

Eat this Indian pickle as a condiment. Also, feel free to use limes!

lemon pickle

Lemon Pickle (Nimboo ka Achar)

lemon pickle

Lemon Pickle (Nimboo ka Achar)

5 from 7 reviews
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Cuisine Indian


  • 2 organic lemons sliced (thin-skinned/meyer lemons are ideal but not necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon carom seeds ajwain, optional


  • Cut lemons in half and squeeze out all the juice into a glass jar.
  • Slice or chop the lemon up and place those pieces into the jar along with salt, sugar, and carom seeds.
  • Cover the jar with an air-tight lid and give it a good shake to mix well.
  • Store the jar in the pantry and continue to give the jar a shake every now and then.
  • Continue to add lemon, lemon juice, and spices as needed.


If you don't like the taste of carom seeds, you can make this with just salt/sugar.
You can start eating this pickle after two weeks but it’ll taste better the longer it ages.
Keep refilling whenever you have extra lemon and stir the jar every now and then. Make sure to always coat the lemons with juice, sugar and salt. Limes work too!
Make sure you eat this pickle as a condiment - in moderation. A small spoonful before or alongside a heavy meal will go a long way.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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this Indian lemon pickle (achar) is a great way to use up your leftover lemons - myheartbeets.com

Disclaimer: I’m not a scientist or a doctor and so I can’t give you any expert health or medical advice. My “qualifications” end at being a foodie and everything on my blog is just my opinion. The information on my blog should not be construed as professional medical advice (obviously?). Talk to your doc, folks.

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Anna K says

    The best and simplest lemon pickle I’ve ever had! Worked like a charm. Will be recommending this to everyone I know. No need to dry lemons in the sun; just add lemons and mix.

  2. Senna says

    5 stars
    For those looking for a sugar substitute: I did some research and it seems like erythritol is a good substitute for sugar in a pickle recipe because erythritol will inhibit bacterial growth better than sugar will.

  3. Kathy L. says

    Hi Ashley, You can disregard my last question. I just tossed it and I am going to start over and this time use maple sugar. Thanks for all your recipes, Kathy

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