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

  4. Kathy Lowery says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley, I had a question. I made your lemon pickle. It was ready yesterday so I took a little taste out today and tried it, yum. Unfortunately I used the same spoon to push some of the lemon back under the juice. Do I need to throw it out now do to contamination?

  5. K Marie Tyler says

    Is this meant to be refrigerated or on the counter?
    Ps, I so love all your recipes. As I have mentioned before, you make this incredible food accessible to the average person. I feel so accomplished as everything I make of yours is successful. I too love the onion masala.

  6. Pramothini says


    Thank you for this wonderful blog. My take out meals and Uber eats have reduced significantly after I tried your recipes. The onion masala is a life saver 😀

    I tried this lemon pickle and ended up with a layer of fungus on top. What can I do to prevent this?

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi Pramothini, I’m so glad you’re enjoying my recipes! As for this pickle – oh man, just to be sure, were you shaking it every now and then? I’m guessing it could use more liquid from the lemons and more salt too. I hope that helps for next time!

  7. mini says

    5 stars
    Hello ,
    Love this recipe of yours
    Love pickles
    And this i a great diy

    Just had one question .. Can i use whole jeera aka cumin seeds instead of ajwain ?

  8. Nina says

    Hey there
    I’m about to put the lid on, and shake. Do I seal the lid tightly, or do I loosen it a little, like other lactofermentation recipes state? Does this count as lactofermentation?

  9. Tessie says

    Angel, I have recently discovered your website. Hooray!! Made the 3 ingredient naan bread and had to make a 2nd batch straight after. The 2 left over were gone when I got home next day. Eaten by my regular-eating mum. She had warmed them up and sprinkled sugar and lemon juice on, like a regular pancake. She does not like coconut milk but knows its a good food. Just made the lemon pickle today. Will be getting some ajwain seeds to add to it. It is one spice I dont have. Looking forward to a tasting in a couple of weeks.

  10. Angel says

    I found an Indian Market and was able to talk to a very nice lady who gave me Ajman Seeds to use. She said the names Ajwain or Ajman or Carom are interchangeable. So I have my lemons going now.

  11. Nise says

    This recipe looks scrumptious. Thank you for this. I too, like Bee in an earlier post am on a sugar free diet, would stevia work as a substitute for sugar? — On another note, I am so happy to have found your blog. I adore Indian food and am happy to see “paleofied” Indian dishes. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this blog. 🙂

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Nise! Truthfully, I’m not sure about stevia – I’ve only tried this with sugar. Please let me know how it turns out for you if you use stevia! I’m glad you found my blog too – I hope you like all of the recipes that you try! 🙂

  12. Bee says

    I’m on a completely sugar free diet and I’m wondering what happens to the sugar you put in with the lemons. Is it a similar process to some fermented foods where the sugar is used to feed the good strains of bacteria.?

    It looks delicious and I would love to try it. Thanks!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Robyn, I say that because it’s meant to be eaten as a condiment; the carom seeds make it spicy and also aid with digestion so eating too much may not be the best idea/very appetizing. As a pickle/condiment, it’s great – especially alongside an Indian meal 🙂

  13. Becky says

    No way! In the PANTRY? I am intrigued, but will be sorely tempted to put it in the fridge, which would probably ruin it. And can I use coconut sugar, as I have no cane sugar?

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