Yuzu Vs Lemon Compared – What’s The Difference?

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If you are not familiar with the types of citrus fruits, yuzu and lemons are all but the same fruit.

They are bright yellow when ripe and have a tart, sour taste.

However, despite these similarities, yuzu and lemon are entirely different fruits.

Yuzu Vs Lemon fruit
Yuzu Vs Lemon

What sets yuzu apart from lemons is its distinctive flavor and fragrance. Yuzu tastes like a combination of mandarin oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. Besides, yuzu has a strong taut aroma, unlike a lemon’s, which is relatively mild.

Read along to find more about the differences between yuzu and lemon, including their uses, nutritional benefits, and tips on the best way to store them.

What is Yuzu?

Yuzu is a citrus fruit native to East Asia. It is a crossbreed of a sour mandarin and a wild citrus fruit.

Yuzu is its Japanese name, but it is also known as Yuja in Korea, while the Chinese call it yòuzi.

Japanese Yuzu fruit sour
Yuzu fruit

On average, the fruit is usually 2-3 inches in diameter, slightly larger than a mandarin orange but smaller than a grapefruit.

The skin of yuzu is full of lumps which makes for an uneven texture.

As the Fruit Ripens – The relatively thick skin becomes soft, and the lumps puffy. The skin doesn’t cling to the fruit’s flesh, making peeling exceptionally easy.

Uses of Yuzu

Unlike most citrus fruits, yuzu is super sour, and it’s pretty tough to eat whole.

It is primarily used for its zest or juice extract.

The juice extract is concentrated, and you only need a few drops to season your food. You can add yuzu juice to your lemonades or cocktails for an amazing kick.

The zest has a wide variety of culinary uses. You can cook directly in protein dishes, especially seafood.

The Japanese use it extensively when making sushi or sashimi cuisines.

Alternatively, grate the zest onto fresh salads for seasoning or when making dough for pastries. Its fragrance and tartness will add a savory citrus flavor to your dish.

Yuzu fruit uses
Uses of Yuzu fruit

You can also combine the zest with other ingredients to enhance its flavor.

The most popular products are:

  • Yuzu Kosho
  • and Yuzu Ponzu sauce

Yuzu kosho is a mixture of fresh yuzu zest, salt, and green chili peppers, while Yuzu Ponzu is a dipping sauce from the yuzu zest and kosho.

Besides Cooking – You can also use it as an ingredient in medicines or a fragrant in bath products, air fresheners, and candles.

How to grow yuzu

Naturally, the thorny yuzu trees thrive in sunny places with well-drained, slightly acidic soils.

They don’t have intrusive roots and need shelter from strong winds. Remarkably, the tree can withstand extremely cold conditions.

You can also easily grow them indoors from its seeds or graft them on rootstocks.

Commercially, grafting is preferred since it has a shorter maturity and yields more fruits.

What is a Lemon?

Lemons (Citrus limon), like yuzu, are native to Asia but belong to the Rutaceae family.

It is a prevalent fruit globally, but its true origin is unclear. With a pH of around 2.2 due to the high levels of citric acid, the fruit has a sour taste.

Uses of Lemon fruit
Uses of Lemon

High? Yes. The citric acid level in lemons exceed those in lime and grapefruits and are about five times more than those in oranges.

Uses of Lemon

Lemons have a wide variety of culinary and non-culinary uses.

Lemon juice is the most common culinary use of lemons.

You can use it domestically to make:

  • lemonades
  • cocktails
  • salad garnishes
  • or as a meat tenderizer

Commercially it is used to make soft drinks and fruit juices.

The lemon’s zest, when ground, can be used to add flavor to your puddings, rice, meats, or dough when baking. You can also use the zest as an ant repellant.

Citric acid extracts from lemons are used in milk fermentation. Besides, you can use lemons to manufacture invisible ink as well as cleaning and bleaching agents.

How to grow Lemons

Lemons flourish in warm temperate conditions of around 45- 45 °F.

You can plant them indoors or outdoors as long as they have access to sufficient sunlight. Tender lemons trees require frequent watering, especially in the summer months.

Growing lemons in a pot
Tips for growing lemons

However, it would be best if you were careful not to make the soil soggy as it makes lemons susceptible to root rot.

Luckily – As the trees mature, they become more drought tolerant and can survive for extended periods with no or little water.

What Are The Differences Between Yuzu and Lemon?

Here are some of the common differences between these two fruits.


The skin of yuzu is lumpy and is much thicker than that of a lemon. A lemon is round, slightly elongated, and has a much finer texture.


The seeds of yuzu are larger and thicker than that of a lemon. Despite being succulent, the juice extract from yuzu is usually lesser than in lemons.

yuzu and lemon fruit trees
Differences between yuzu and lemon fruits


Naturally, yuzu has a highly distinctive fragrance, while for a lemon, you must cut it first to bring out a mild tart smell.


While lemon is tart and sour, yuzu is sourer, slightly bitter, and almost tastes like grapefruit.


Lemons are a hybrid offspring of the citron (crossed with bitter orange).

On the other hand, yuzu is a hybrid of mandarin oranges and papeda, a wild citrus fruit.

Growth conditions

As citrus fruits, their growth conditions are almost similar.

However, while yuzu can survive in cold winter conditions, lemons don’t share the same tolerance.

Lemons are extremely sensitive to cold and frost. They go into dormancy when the temperatures drop and may fail to yield fruits if the low temperatures persist.

Nutritional benefits?

Yuzu contains hesperidin that prevents inflammation of blood vessels.

Nutritional benefits yuzu and lemon fruits
Nutritional benefits of yuzu and lemon fruit

The fruit also has  and the stronger fragrance compared to lemons which makes Yuzu an effective stress reliever.

That said most of the nutritional benefits of lemons and yuzu are the same including:

  • Vitamin C – helps reduce inflammation, prevent gout, and improve immunity.
  • Antioxidants – slow cell degeneration and lower the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases
  • Citric acid – prevents the formation of kidney stones
  • Calcium – improves bone health
  • Dietary fiber – reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

Similarities Between Yuzu and Lemon

Since they are from one family, they have quite a few similarities which include:

  • Green when unripe but turn bright yellow when ripe
  • Thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soils
  • Require plenty of light to propagate and reproduce
  • Rich in vitamin C and Calcium

How Do You Store Yuzu and Lemons?

The fruits can stay fresh for about a week under room temperature before they are over-ripe.

You can refrigerate whole fruit for 1-2 weeks if you don’t plan to use them immediately.

However, the pungent aroma will begin to wane after a few days in the fridge for the yuzu.

Storing lemon and yuzu
Storing lemon and yuzu fruits

Freezing also helps to extend the fruits’ useful life. You can freeze it whole, peel the zest or extract the juice.

While you can freeze the zest and pulp for up to a month, the juice will maintain its tartness and freshness for a few months.

Like refrigeration, the more it stays, the less sour it becomes.

Typically – Commercial products will stay longer than natural extracts due to the use of preservatives. Before using processed fruit products, check the ‘Best Before’/ ‘Sell By’ labels to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

If you notice the skin has developed a powdery mold, it would be best if you discard the whole fruit immediately.

With yuzu, remember to check for the distinctive strong aroma.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the importation of yuzu banned in the U.S.?

The ban on importing fresh yuzu is a precautionary measure to protect the integrity of the billion-dollar U.S. citrus industry. Citrus diseases are portable and highly contagious.

A foreign disease strand will easily wreak havoc on domestic fruit trees before a remedy is found.

While importation of the fruit is prohibited, you find processed products such as Yuzu sauces and juice on online platforms such as Amazon.

Why is yuzu more expensive than lemon?

While different types of lemons are grown across the U.S., yuzu is predominantly grown commercially in California.

Moreover, with the import ban on fresh yuzu fruit, Californian production is not enough to sustain the demand. Consequently, the growing high demand against the low supply drives up the price of yuzu.

Yuzu and lemon cost
Yuzu and lemon price

Are yuzu and lemons fruits or berries?

Actually, they are both!

By definition, a berry is any fleshy fruit with more than one seed and has three distinctive parts; exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp.

As such, the fruit’s peel forms the exocarp, the pulp is the mesocarp, while the inner layer of seeds comprises the endocarp.


We hope this article has provided you with information about the differences between yuzu and lemon.  

These fruits might look similar however you can distinguish them based on their color, fragrance, and taste.

Essentially, Yuzu is more tart, has a stronger fragrance and its color is brighter.

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