Popular chef Samin Nosrat (who follows a flexitarian, part-time vegan diet) famously believes there are four key elements to delicious cooking. They are, of course, salt, fat, acid, and heat (hence why she has a Netflix docuseries and best-selling book based around these very principles). According to Nosrat, if you “master these four elements, [you] master the kitchen.” 

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Acid plays a very important role in cooking, as it helps to balance out flavor. It contrasts with other tastes, notes Nosrat, and in turn, helps to “heighten our pleasure in food.” There are many ways to increase acidity when you’re cooking, but adding citrus, in the form of zest or juice, is one of the best. Here are some of our favorite vegan recipes that demonstrate just how delicious cooking with citrus fruits, like lime, lemon, orange, and grapefruit, can be. But first: three easy ways to add these sour, acidic fruits to any dish.


3 easy ways to cook with citrus

Cooking with citrus can be done in many ways but here are just a few of our favorite ways.

1 Sprinkle in some zest

Lemon zest is a great way to add bright, citrusy flavor to a variety of dishes. Start by choosing some fresh, unwaxed lemons, after that, grate them to remove the outer layer of the peel. Once you’ve grated your zest, you can sprinkle it into your favorite pastas, risottos, salads, roasted vegetables, and much more, to enhance the flavor.

2 Add juice to marinades or sauces

There are two easy ways to add citrus juice to your marinade or sauce to balance out the flavor and add a little extra zing. The first one is obvious: take a lemon or lime and squeeze out the juice into the sauce or marinade you’re making (make sure to taste the sauce regularly to get a level of acidity you’re happy with). Alternatively, you can stock up on lemon juice in a bottle from the grocery store, which is a simple way to make sure you always have it on hand.

3 Slice and roast with vegetables

Another simple way to bring a little bit more acidity and citrusy freshness to your cooking is simply to slice up some citrus fruit and pop it in the oven with your ingredients. This works particularly well with roast vegetables, for example, because they often have a rich, caramelized flavor. The acidity from citrus helps to provide a perfect balance, cutting through the richness and adding a refreshing contrast.

How to cook with citrus: 11 vegan recipes to try

Below are 11 of the best vegan recipes to try with citrus.

VegNews.CreamyLemonPastaFrancesca Bonadonna

1 Vegan Buttery Lemon Pasta With Cashew Cream

A creamy cashew sauce, infused with lemon, is the secret to this deliciously indulgent tagliatelle dish. For extra zest, make sure to squeeze more lemon over the top before serving. And to take it even further, serve with a lemon wedge on the side, too.
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VegNews.StuffedSquashRoastSimon Smith

2 Vegan Stuffed Squash Roast With Cranberry-Orange Sauce

This festive vegan centerpiece stars a butternut squash filled with Christmas rice, glazed onions, sautéed mushrooms, and a vibrant, flavor-packed citrusy sauce made with orange juice and fresh cranberries.
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3 Vegan Angel Hair Pasta With Lemon, Kale, and Feta

This quick and adaptable vegan angel hair pasta recipe, featuring tomatoes, kale, and cannellini beans, features a kick of fresh lemon juice. It’s bright, light, and flavorful, perfect for an easy, tasty weeknight dinner.
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VegNews.GuacThe House of AIA

4 Leveled-Up Guacamole With Pomegranate and Cacao

This vibrant guacamole recipe uses a zing of lime to enhance the chunky blend of ripe avocados, serrano peppers, and cilantro. Pomegranate seeds and cacao nibs also provide sweetness and bitterness, creating a delicious dip for your next Taco Tuesday.
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VegNews.VeganScampi-2Alison Bickel

5 Vegan Scampi in Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce

Lemon juice, combined with garlic and white wine, creates a glossy, flavorful sauce for this tasty Italian-inspired dish. It also features a generous helping of linguine, of course, and delicious hearts of palm scampi.
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Greek Lemon Potatoes-40

6 Vegan Greek Lemony Roasted Potatoes

These roasted potatoes owe their irresistible crispiness and golden hue to the lemon-garlic Greek dressing. The tangy blend of lemon juice and zest, combined with mustard and agave, infuses flavor and helps caramelize the Yukon gold wedges to perfection.
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VegNews.IndianSpicedCauliflower2.VeganRichaVegan Richa

7 Zesty Roasted Cauliflower With Safflower and Radishes

In this delicious recipe, lemon juice adds a fresh kick to roasted cauliflower and radishes. The spice mix, which includes fennel, mustard, and nigella seeds, also helps to create a vibrant side dish that will pair well with many of your favorite Indian dishes.
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VegNews.StickyOrangeTofuPatricia Granek

8 Vegan Sticky Orange Sesame Tofu

Combined with soy sauce, maple syrup, and fiery ginger, orange juice helps to create a flavorful sauce for this ultra-tasty sticky sesame tofu recipe. It’s set to become your new dinner favorite, that’s for sure.
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VegNews.NoodleSaladBailey Ruskus

9 Vegan Rainbow Mandarin Warm Noodle Salad

Blood orange takes center stage in the dressing for this warm noodle salad. Combined with lemon juice, olive oil, and spices, the citrus fruit helps to take this lunchtime dish to the next level.
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VegNews.PocChucIgnacio ‘Nacho’ Urquiza

9 Vegan Poc Chuc (Grilled Pork) With Mushrooms

Sour orange brings a sharp, tangy flavor to this meaty mushroom dish, which is inspired by traditional Yucatan cuisine. It’s vibrant, flavorful, and set to become one of your new go-to dinner recipes.
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10 Saucy Vegan Pad Thai With Crisp Pan-Fried Tofu

Lime juice, vegan fish sauce, soy sauce, and tamarind combine to create a flavorful sauce for this traditional Thai noodle dish. Serve with an extra squeeze of lime, as well as a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, scallions, and peanuts.
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VegNews.MocequaRachel Ama

11 Vegan Brazilian Moqueca

Lime juice brings bright and citrusy notes to this flavorful vegan Brazilian moqueca. Traditionally a stew made with seafood, this Bahia-inspired dish calls for hearts of palm to replicate the meaty, fishy texture.
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