Roasted Lemon Salsa Recipe

Roasted Lemon Salsa with its sweet-sour taste is a great salsa for lemon lovers!  Roasting a lemon softens its acidity and adds a toasty note.  If you love lemons – Give this salsa a try – it is addictive!

The original recipe is from the cookbook Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food From a Master Teacher, by John Ash.

John Ash says, “This is an unusual approach that produces a great condiment. as roasting a lemon softens its acidity and adds a toasty note.  This Roasted Lemon Salsa is a great topper for broiled or grilled chicken and fish.  For variation, you can add some finely diced green or black olives or chopped herbs, such as parsley or chives.”


Roasted Lemon Salsa


Roasted Lemon Salsa Recipe:
Prep Time
30 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Roasted Lemon Salsa Recipe
Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 large whole lemons (about 1/2 pound),scrubbed*
  • 2/3 cup olive oil, extra-virgin, divided
  • 1/4 cup shallots or green onions (white part only), finely-chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoons coarse salt or sea salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon Basil Pesto, prepared (either store bought or homemade pesto)
  • Black pepper, freshly-ground
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Cut the lemons in half and pick out the seeds and discard. Lightly coat the lemons with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place lemons cut side down in a baking dish and roast, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let lemons cool; discard any juice and oil from the bottom of the baking dish.

  3. Once the roasted lemons are cool, cut off ends of the lemons and then cut the lemons into a small 1/4-inch dice (make sure you capture and save all the pulp and juice that comes out of the lemons as you dice them).  NOTE:  I find it easier to cut the lemons into thin strips and then cut into the small dice.

  4. In a bowl, combine the lemons (with juice and pulp), the remaining olive oil, shallots, sugar, and salt; stir gently.  Cover and set aside for at least 3 hours so the flavors can marry and mellow.  NOTE: Initially, the lemons may seem harsh or bitter, but as they sit, their flavor changes markedly.  Taste a couple of times throughout the rest period, and you will start tasting the difference.

  5. Place lemon salsa mixture in the food processor.  Add basil pesto and process on grind setting (stopping and stirring mixture a few times).  Adjust seasonings with additional salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice (if desired).

  6. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

  7. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

Recipe Notes

*  Commercially grown citrus fruits are coated with a wax that gives it a nice shine and helps extend shelf life - fruits do not dry out as quickly when waxed.  Although it is food-grade wax, none of us needs to consume it.  The best way to remove it is to use a mild detergent solution and a clean pot-scrubber sponge and then rinse thoroughly.



Dips, Spreads, Pates & Terrines    Lemon Appetizers    Lemons    Salsa    Vegan Recipes   

Comments and Reviews

3 Responses to “Roasted Lemon Salsa Recipe”

  1. three feathers

    i’ve been making this salsa for a couple of years; it’s become one of my favorite condiments…thank you for sharing this

  2. Eileen K

    You mention in the recipe “combine the lemons (with juice and pulp), the remaining olive oil, shallots, sugar, and salt; stir gently”. However, in the ingredient list, sugar is not listed as an ingredient. You also have freshly ground black pepper, but don’t indicate when it should be added to the mixture, except at the end. Very confusing

    • Whats Cooking America

      Thank you for the catch! The sugar has been added back to the ingredient list. It’s 1 tablespoon of sugar or to taste. The black pepper is to add to taste at the end of preparing.


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