Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Lemon Pickle in Instant Pot | Nimbu ka Achaar

August 7, 2017 (Updated: September 9, 2019) By Aneesha |

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A quick and easy Instant Pot recipe for a Sweet & Spicy lemon pickle, also called Nimbu ka Achaar in Hindi. This preserved lemon condiment is extremely popular in India and goes great with Indian dal and rice.

Instant pot sweet and spicy lemon pickle served in a glass bowl

There are endless variations of this pickle and almost every family has their own spin on it. This recipe is inspired from my father-in-law’s delicious family recipe, that he had inherited from his grandmother! It is an Instant Pot pressure cooker adaptation of his recipe.

Quicker and Easier than Traditional Recipe

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 45 minutes!

In this recipe, I made this sweet ‘n’ spicy lemon pickle in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be made in any programmable or even a stove-top pressure cooker.

What to Serve with Lemon Pickle

Lemon pickle is one of the most popular condiments in Indian cuisine. It goes great with lentils, curries, vegetable biryani, rice, stuffed flatbreads and naan. I personally love it with Dal tadka and Cumin Rice.

Recently, I served it on my cheese platter, along with crackers and creamy brie and it was such a big hit.  So many of my friends asked me for this recipe.  It is now a staple on my cheese board!

Sweet 'n' Spicy Lemon Pickle | Nimbu ka achaar by Spice Cravings. Sweet-n-Spicy-lemon pickle, or 'Nimbu ka Achaar' is a super popular condiment in India. This quick & easy version takes 30 minutes using the Instant Pot. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian

Pro Tips for the Best Lemon Pickle

This pickle tastes even more delicious as it ages.  I make it and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before taking it out. This time allows all the flavors to marinate with each other and the flavor intensifies as it sits.

Life of Instant Pot Lemon Pickle

When stored in an air-tight container, this pressure cooked Lemon pickle stays good in the refrigerator for a few months at least! Always use a clean dry spoon to scoop out the pickle, this prevents any cross contamination and prolongs its life.

Sweet 'n' Spicy Lemon Pickle | Nimbu ka achaar by Spice Cravings. Sweet-n-Spicy-lemon pickle, or 'Nimbu ka Achaar' is a super popular condiment in India. This quick & easy version takes 30 minutes using the Instant Pot. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian

Instant Pot Lemon Pickle- Variation

In this recipe, I use brown sugar to sweeten the pickle. Brown sugar also gives it a gorgeous dark color. You can also use Jaggery instead of brown sugar.

Jaggery is evaporated cane juice powder, which has a deep color and a distinct floral sweet smell. It works equally well in this recipe. I use the same quantity as brown sugar, but you can adjust it to taste and add another tablespoon or two, if you like your pickle sweeter.

A jar of Indian spiced lemon pickle on a table
Instant Pot Lemon Pickle made with jaggery instead of brown sugar

Lemon Pickle 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!  Definitely a keeper for us!

Indian spiced Meyer Lemon Pickle in a glass jar
Lemon Pickle made with Meyer Lemons

More Jams and Preserves from my Kitchen

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A bowl of sweet and spicy lemon pickle made in the Instant Pot

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Lemon Pickle in Instant Pot | Nimbu ka Achaar

A quick and easy Instant Pot recipe for a Sweet & Spicy lemon pickle, or, Nimbu ka Achaar. This preserved lemon condiment is extremely popular in India and goes great with Indian dal and rice. 
4.6 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
NPR: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 37kcal


  • 6 medium lemons

Roasting Spice mix- (see instructions on how to roast and grind)

For Tempering


  • 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.



  • Cook time= Time to set for pressure cooking.
  • For best results, refrigerate the pickle in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. 
  • Variation: You can use jaggery instead of brown sugar. 
  • If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.


Calories: 37kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 7mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Indian lemon pickle, Instant Pot Lemon Pickle, Lemon pickle recipe
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!


Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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  • Reply
    Vidya Pradhan
    March 17, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Hi, thanks for the recipe. I too felt that the cooking time could have been reduced a bit. And the fenugreek seeds are quite bitter and can be reduced a little. But it is a super easy recipe and I can’t wait to see what it’s like after a few days.

    • Reply
      March 18, 2020 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Vidya, The end texture is a personal preference. You can cook it a few minutes less next time. I made it similar to my father-in-law’s recipe in which the lemons have a jam-like consistency. As for fenugreek seeds, their taste dulls down in a few days. But if you still find them bitter, feel free to skip them next time. Methi seeds do have a subtle bitter aftertaste. I hope you enjoy it after a few days.

  • Reply
    May 10, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Can this be made with regular lemons instead of Meyer ones?

    • Reply
      Aneesha | Spice Cravings
      May 10, 2019 at 10:46 pm

      Hi Aiman, Absolutely! I’ve used Meyer lemons a couple of times, but mostly use regular lemons. The latest version with jaggery was with regular lemons. Hope you try and love it!

  • 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 🙂

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