What Is Yuzu?

Get to know this tangy ingredient that brightens up desserts, drinks, marinades and more.

June 23, 2023
Japanese yuzu fruits on wooden table

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Japanese yuzu fruits on wooden table

Photo by: manbo-photo/Getty Images

manbo-photo/Getty Images

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By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

A versatile fruit that pops up everywhere from dessert toppings to cocktail recipes, yuzu has a distinctive flavor. To learn more about what yuzu is and how to use it, we consulted Eunji Lee, chef-owner of Lysée, a pastry boutique in New York City.

What Is Yuzu?

Yuzu is a fragrant, sour and tart citrus fruit the size of a tangerine with bumpy yellow skin. “Yuzu, or yuja in Korean, is a citrus that resembles a bright yellow mandarin,” Lee says. “Yuzu grows in Korea, Japan, some parts of California and the South of France.”

Yuzu is commonly used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cooking. Fresh yuzu is harder to come by in the U.S., however, so you’re more likely to find bottled yuzu juice or frozen yuzu zest for sale.

What Does Yuzu Taste Like?

Yuzu tastes like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It also has a light, floral sweetness. Lee describes yuzu’s flavor profile as sweet, sour, bright and citrusy.

Yuzu Marmalade

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Yuzu Marmalade

Photo by: kaorinne/Getty Images

kaorinne/Getty Images

How to Use Yuzu

Use yuzu juice and yuzu zest to add acidity, fruity freshness and brightness to desserts, drinks and savory dishes. Try whisking yuzu in salad dressing or marinades in place of lemon or lime juice, mix it with soy sauce to make ponzu, a classic Japanese dipping sauce, or employ it in cocktails to add a dose of acidity to balance sweet flavors. “At Lysée, we use yuja in many different ways, such as in a madeleine, loaf cake, seasonal juice and our seasonal tart,” Lee says. “We're making a yuja syrup with yuja juice to glaze our madeleines and loaf cakes, and also use the juice in our seasonal juice with fresh honey crisp apple juice and vanilla bean.”

Yuzu peels can be used to make yuzu marmalade, which can be incorporated into desserts like Lyseé’s seasonal apple-yuzu tart with yuzu cream and yuzu marmalade. Yuzu marmalade can also be used in savory applications, too. “In Korean cuisine we also use the marmalade to marinate beef instead of using sugar or honey,” Lee says.

Recipes with Yuzu

No-Bake Yuzu Cheesecake

No-Bake Yuzu Cheesecake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

The aromatic, citrusy flavor of yuzu juice works beautifully in this easy, elegant no-bake dessert.

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Photo by: Ryan Liebe ©Ryan Liebe - 2015

Ryan Liebe, Ryan Liebe - 2015

For this summer sipper, the sweet-tart notes of chilled yuzu juice plays off rum and mango nectar. It's the perfect complement to the spicy, chile-infused simple syrup.

Alex Guarnaschelli makes her Shrimp with a Yuzu Dressing, as seen on The Kitchen, season 30.

Alex Guarnaschelli makes her Shrimp with a Yuzu Dressing, as seen on The Kitchen, season 30.

For a dynamite dressing to accompany battered-and-fried shrimp, chef Alex Guarnaschelli mixes mayonnaise and yuzu juice into a bright, creamy base, and then whisks in mustard, paprika and lemon zest.

Bobby Flay's Grilled Salmon Steak with Hoisin BBQ Sauce

Bobby_Flay_Fit_Grilled_Salmon_Steak_With_Hoisin_BBQ_Sauce.tif

Bobby Flay's Grilled Salmon Steak with Hoisin BBQ Sauce

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The secret ingredient in chef Bobby Flay’s crowd-pleasing grilled salmon isn’t in the flavorful marinade—it’s the finishing touch. He drizzles yuzu juice over the miso-ginger marinated fish, adding a delicate, aromatic flourish.

Chef Ming Tsai combines yuzu juice, sweet maui onions, sesame oil and soy sauce in a food processor to create a sweet and citrusy dressing that’s ideal for a salad mix incorporating peppery mizuna and earthy tatsoi.

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