Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Lemon Pickle in Instant Pot

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Lemon Pickle or lemon preserves are perhaps one of the most popular condiments in Indian cuisine. It’s popularly known as ‘Nimbu ka Achaar’ in the north. There are endless variations of this pickle. This is my father-in-law’s super-hit family recipe, that he inherited from his grandmother! It goes great with lentils, curries, biryani, rice pilaf, stuffed flatbreads, naan. Recently, I served it with my cheese platter, along with crackers and creamy brie- it was such a hit and so many of my friends asked me for this recipe. It is now a staple on my cheese plate appetizer!

Sweet'n'Spicy Lemon Pickle

Typically, lemon pickle is made in summer by brining lemons in their own juice, salt and a blend of spices, and sugar in some variations. The pickle is then matured in sunlight and this process takes a few weeks. This is my version, except this one got ready in 30 minutes!

Best Results:

This pickle tastes even more delicious as it ages. I make it and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before taking it out. It stays good in the refrigerator for a few months at least!

In this video, I have made this pickle in my programmable pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be made in a stove-top pressure cooker too by following the same directions.

Alternative Spice:

If you don’t have Panch Poran spice blend, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon methi seeds (fenugreek)  and 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds instead.
If you like your pickle more spicy and/or sweet, you can always add more during the sauté process.

Variation using Meyer Lemons:

Recently, I picked up a bag of gorgeous Meyer Lemons from Trader Joe’s. I decided to try this recipe using those instead. But, I made one change though. Since I was out of Panch phoran, so I used a combination of mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds instead. Meyer lemons are sweeter, juicier and have a thinner peel as compared to regular lemons. So, the pickle is naturally more sweeter, which was a plus 🙂 Since the peel was thinner and there was more juice and fibers in the lemon, the pickle is more like a chunky preserve, as you can see from the picture. This pickle with Meyer Lemons was a bigger hit in my house. My kids just loved it- they smeared it all over their Parantha (stuffed flat-bread) and enjoyed it! A keeper for us!

Sweet'n'Spicy Lemon Pickle instant pot

Sweet 'n' Spicy Lemon Pickle in Instant Pot

Print Recipe
Serves: 8 Cooking Time: 30 minutes




Wash and dry 6 lemons. Turn on the Instant Pot. Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot and place a trivet. Place lemons in a bowl and place on top of the trivet. Close the lid. Set the vent to Sealing position. Hit Manual (High Pressure) for 15 minutes.


In the meantime, roast the spice blend for grinding. Place spices listed under the "Roasting spices list" on a microwave safe plate and heat in microwave for 3 minutes in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Cool for 5 minutes and grind to a fine powder in a spice blender.


Wait for natural pressure release from the Instant Pot. Open lid and remove the lemons. Cut in halves and remove seeds. Turn on the Instant Pot on sauté mode and let it heat up, about 30 seconds. Add oil and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds begin to splutter, add lemons, salt, sugar and all spices. Stir well.


Continue to sauté for 4-5 minutes till the liquid reaches a jam like consistency. Turn off the Instant Pot. For best results, let the pickle rest in the refrigerator for 4-5 days before eating.


Sweet'n'Spicy Lemon Pickle, Pressure cooker Instant pot

SPICE CRAVINGS Store • Instant Pot Accessories • FAQs

Check out recommended kitchen gadgets & recipe ingredients at the SPICE CRAVINGS STORE


Spice Cravings is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Never miss a recipe

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    February 11, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Just tried to make some and it didn’t turn out well. The 15mins on high seem too long, so I did 10 mins and even then my meyer lemons are more mushier than I like. Somehow the sauce is also bitter. Tried to improvise my adding more brown sugar. Next time probably I will skip the instapot and just stir fry sliced lemons in the spices, sauce etc.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Bobby, Sorry to hear that it didn’t turn out well for you. I make this pickle on a regular basis and the only time I had a slight bitterness to the sauce, was when I left the seeds in before sautéing – was that the case with you by any chance? Another reason for bitterness could be that the peel wasn’t cooked enough. Most citrus will turn to mush if you pressure cook it, but that is what gives this pickle a jam-like consistency. Would love to hear how your experience is with the stir-fry method.

    • Reply
      February 15, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      Turned out my lemons were off or something. Took some juice from left over lemon and it had bitter taste. After 3-4 days in the fridge, the skin that I had thought was too mushy seems perfect. Wife is loving it.i am going to try again with fresh batch of Meyer lemons.

      • Reply
        February 15, 2018 at 9:00 pm

        Oh that is so good to hear! I am so glad that it worked out for you! Thanks for the update- appreciate it 🙂

    Leave a Reply