My recipe says 1 unit of lemon juice, what does that mean?

I am not sure if this recipe states that it is American or not but it is for a weight loss, eat healthy program and I do not understand what it is asking me.

  • 30
    What's the rest of the recipe? Without more context, "unit" will be very hard to guess!
    – Erica
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 0:49
  • 1
    Does the weight loss program have a concept of 'units' in terms of how much you're allowed / supposed to eat? (eg, 4 units of fruits, 1 unit of protein, 2 units of carbohydrates). If so, look up what's typically allowed for lemon juice.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


It is to show you the ratio of juice to water, but leave the quantity up to you.

This way you can make different amounts: for example 1 unit lemon juice to 3 units water. You could sub in pints or liters or gallons or hogsheads or whatever was appropriate for the amount of lemonade you wanted to make, according to the ratio provided.

The puzzler is how much sugar to add, which is dependent on the amount of fluid. My guess is that there is no sugar as this is a weight loss sort of thing, so really it will just be dilute lemon water.

  • 6
    This is partially accurate/helpful, but the ratio might not be juice to water. For example,my favorite margarita recipe is 1 unit of lime to 1 unit of tequila to 1 unit of orange liquor. To the OP: What is the rest of the recipe? A unit of lemon in relationship to which other ingredients?
    – moscafj
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 1:38
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    @moscafj the explanation of units in regard to ration stands regardless of the liquids involved. Willk gives water as part of an example, they are not instructing the OP to use water.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 11:55
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    @moscafj A unit of lemon in relationship to all the other ingredients that are measured in "units". Which ought to be all of them since mixing a unit of lemon juice with two units of ketchup and a teaspoon of salt will give very different results depending on how much you choose a "unit" to be. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 16:18
  • 2
    Now I just have to find a nice hogshead measure that can be hand-washed. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 17:22
  • @DavidRicherby: Often but not always. When an ingredient (or its ratio) is not inherently relevant to the recipe (e.g. the cocoa powder on top of a cappucino, or the ice in most cocktails), it doesn't particularly have to be expressed in function of the same units. In those cases, it's either aesthetic or largely subjective anyway.
    – Flater
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 8:24

it is for a weight loss, eat healthy program

These programs usually define their own "units". They try to simplify the calculation of calories, vitamins, and whatever they prescribe to you to eat, by saying that you should eat X units of this and Y units of that per day. The program then also publishes a list of how much of each food makes up one "unit". These definitions are specific to the program, and not shared with other programs or with any other widespread measurements.

So I suggest that you look up the material from that program, to see what their definition of units is.


The internet suggests that another possible meaning of one unit of lemon juice is the juice from one lemon. That is to say, two to four tablespoons of lemon juice.

If you have a bottle of lemon juice rather than a lemon, you can try two tablespoons and add to taste. Or if you have to make it all at once without tasting, try three tablespoons, which seems to be the middle of the range of possibilities. Two tablespoons would also be an eighth of a cup (one fluid ounce), if it's easier to measure that way.

Of course, the recipe might make this clearer. Is this a standalone amount (e.g. one lemon) or a ratio (e.g. one part lemon to four parts water)? Or something else?

For example, in this recipe, it is probably one lemon. I would also guess a glass is one cup of water, but it's not exactly clear on that either.

1 unit Lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chia seeds
1 tablespoon Honey
1 ½ glasses Water

  • 5
    Gaaah, why would anybody write "1 unit lemon juice" instead of just "The juice of one lemon"? Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 16:19
  • in the UK a glass is 10floz or 1/2 pint
    – WendyG
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 10:17

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