Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (2024)

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by Todd + Diane

Looking for a new cucumber to grow or devour? Try lemon cucumbers! They’re adorable and refreshing little yellow orbs for Summer.Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (1)

What is a lemon cucumber?

Lemon cucumbers are a fun and refreshing addition to your garden and Summer kitchen recipes.
Like little balls of sunshine, these round, striped vegetables are, oddly enough, cucumbers. Thinking that these are un-edible gourds is more believable than being told that they’re actually edible!They look like lemon colored gourds with cucumber features in the center. These round cucumbers are too unique and interesting to pass up.

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (2)

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (3)

What do Lemon Cucumbers Taste Like?

Though they have no lemon flavor, the overall size and color is what gives these lemon cucumbers their recognizable name. They have the same distinctive cucumber flavor and texture that we’re familiar with. Only exception is that the skin is slightly thicker. Also, the center is more seedy as the fruit stays on the vine longer. Eat them when they’re more younger with a lighter yellow color so that’ they’re more crisp and tender.

Watch Video Cucumber with Pesto Recipe:

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (4)

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (5)

We had never seen them at the markets before when we were first researching them in 2008. We were fascinated and since seeing is believing, we decided to grow these for ourselves. After a visit to the nursery and two lemon cucumber plants later in our whiskey barrels, their crazy, twining, serpent vines were stretching beyond the barrels and tangling on to anything that crossed it’s path! If you are growing them here’s a warning:Lemon cucumbers vines grow and crawl like serpents! Start with just one plant and give it plenty of room!

Pesto with Cucumbers

With some good draining soil, frequent watering and a good stretch of warm weather, these vines are proliferating with yellow balls of beautiful round cucumbers! They are so easy to grow and before we knew it, we’ve got enough lemon cucumbers to last us the whole summer. All you cucumber loving gardeners will just love adding this to your vegetable patch. Lemon cucumbers are super crunchy and sweeter than their regular long green counterparts. Perfect for salads or just munching on, these cute little cukes are a great conversation piece too! They really do look like yellow gourds and round meyer lemons but when you bite past the yellow peel, you’ll see that they’re all cucumber on the inside: juicy, crisp and sweet.

We made a pesto from our garden basil to top off these refreshing basket of cucumbers, but didn’t have an more of the required pine nuts. Our pantry was empty on the nuts, something we need to re-stock on ASAP. Our simple garden pesto was made from basil leaves crushed in the mortar pestle, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Parmesan and a little garlic. It was still a delicious topping to this Summery lemon cucumber pesto dish!

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (6)

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (7)

Check out more of our Summer heirloom tomato recipes.

This “What is a lemon cucumber” post and recipe was originally published in 2008 and updated in 2019 with new photos and recipe.

Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (8)

Lemon Cucumber & Pesto Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes mins

Total Time: 20 minutes mins

Lemon cucumbers have no lemon flavor and their skin is slightly thicker and the center is more seedy as the fruit stays on the vine longer. Eat them when they’re more younger with a lighter yellow color so that they’re more crisp and tender.

For the pesto, adjust the amount of parmesan cheese according to your preference. The more parmesan you use, the rich the pesto will be, however it will also become lighter in color. Adjust the amount of oil depending on your personal preference for how thick you like your pesto.

5 from 3 votes



  • 3-4 medium (3-4 medium) lemon cucumbers
  • 2 cups (72 g) fresh Italian basil leaves
  • 1/2 - 1 cup (50-100 g) grated parmesan cheese (see head note)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) toasted nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanuts)
  • 1 tablespoon (10 ml) lemon juice , optional
  • 2 cloves (2 cloves) garlic , or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil (approximately)
  • pinch (pinch) red chili flakes (optional).


  • Slice or chop cucumbers. If the skin is too tough, peel the skin and if the seeds are too hard, remove the seeds.

  • In food processor: combine basil leaves, parmesan, nuts, garlic, optional lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. While blending, gradually add the olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning to personal preference and blend again if needed.

  • If using traditional mortar and pestle: add basil leaves a few at a time with the garlic. Crush and grind the all the leaves and garlic until well combined. Add the nuts and cheese and continue combining into the basil mixture until a paste forms. Add the optional lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir and slightly grind until the everything is incorporated into the pesto.

  • Taste the pesto and add additional salt/pepper to taste. If you want some spice, add a pinch of red chili flakes.

  • Dress the pesto over cucumbers.

  • Leftover pesto can be stored sealed and refrigerated overnight.


Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 248kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 517mg, Potassium: 204mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 565IU, Vitamin C: 5.6mg, Calcium: 122mg, Iron: 1mg

Course: Salad

Cuisine: American

Calories: 248

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Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (9)

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55 comments on “What are lemon cucumbers and Lemon Cucumber, Pesto Recipe”

  1. Jeremy August 27, 2022 @ 4:20 pm Reply

    I am sorry to say but you all are very incorrect. Lemon cucumbers originally DID have a lemony flavor; not just shape and color. (I ate them that way my entire life until a few years ago when the lemon flavor disappeared!) Do some in-depth research and you’ll see I’m right. Nothing personal, I am on a mission to restore the historical integrity of this amazing flavorful vegetable! Go LEMON CUCUMBERS! 🙂

  2. Jen R August 10, 2020 @ 3:34 pm Reply

    Though I haven’t made this recipe yet~it sounds delicious! I had never tried a lemon cucumber, but overheard my neighbor talking to her daughter about not forgetting to purchase seeds after their garden was prepared. I asked her about them, & she told me they’ve been her favorite for years.
    My 93yr old Grandma moved into my parents home 6yrs ago, & I sold my home & moved into hers a little over 3yrs who. My biggest excitement over the move was to finally have a large backyard along w/a huge garden. The same garden which my Mom worked in as a child, as well as myself for as long as I could remember. Unfortunately I didn’t take notes back then documenting exactly what my Grandparents did! I turned to the Internet, & that’s when I realized I probably could figure this out.
    I went to my local nursery & purchased 2-6packs of starts, & planted them w/my other cucumbers. I found last year planting them around wire fencing that is joined to form a circle works unbelievably well. As they start climbing I use plant ties, then move the ties farther up. Now they are at the top of the fencing, along w/my other 25+ cucumbers.
    This season is my 3rd garden I’ve ever attempted, & unfortunately I’ve over purchased way too many starts & seed packs. I used every spare inch of this garden, & the abundance of produce I have shared w/family, friends, neighbors, people at my Drs office, husbands coworkers, etc. The joy I’ve found being able to produce my own food, & being able to share w/others is unmeasurable. & now finding an amazing recipe to try to better utilize all of these lemon cucumbers has truly made my day! Thank you so much!

    • August 10, 2020 @ 9:08 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. There is just something special about growing your own food and then being able to share it with others.

  3. Dave October 1, 2019 @ 5:49 pm Reply

    I ended up with 1 lemon cucumber in my garden. It took over the whole garden. I just started a straw bale garden 4 bales this year. This strange cucumber grabbed on to everything with in reach. It was a prolific producer with lots of fruit.

  4. Lilia August 29, 2019 @ 7:02 pm Reply

    I never would have thought of eating these with pesto sauce. This is my current favorite snack! Your pesto sauce was perfect. Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (12)

  5. Barbara Roberti August 28, 2019 @ 5:13 pm Reply

    I live in Australia and never heard about this vegetable, anybody can tell me if we have them here or if I can plant them.

    • August 29, 2019 @ 8:10 pm Reply

      Hoping a reader in Australia will be able to help you find them Barbara!

    • Phil January 28, 2020 @ 6:03 pm Reply

      Yes they grow vigorously in Eastern NSW. My neighbour planted from seed and the vines have clmbed everywhere. They are surviving 40++ heat very well

  6. Mariya Zafirova August 28, 2019 @ 1:31 pm Reply

    Wow! I’ve never even heard of this!

    Mariya | https://www.brunetteondemand.com/why-you-shouldnt-settle-for-less/

  7. Gemma August 28, 2019 @ 12:00 pm Reply

    Thanks for introducing me to my new favorite thing… LEMON CUCUMBERS. They’re soooo good!Lemon Cucumber Recipe with Pesto: What is Lemon Cucumber? (13)

  8. moureen bass April 24, 2016 @ 9:09 pm Reply

    We bought what we thought were cuke plants, and as they grew they looked like summer squash.<long thin and yellow, When we cut into them we were amazed that they smelled and tasted like cukes but milder. As I rule I don t eat cukes because I get to taste them for days later, but these never did that. I was delighted and got my fill of them last summer. Now am having a problem finding them. And to top it off, the place we bought the plants from says he never had them.

  9. JerryP June 1, 2014 @ 5:44 pm Reply

    Try lemon cucumbers pealed, when they have no yellow on their skin. Yellowing means they are over ripe and good for maturing for seeds. Light pearly green lemon cucumbers are great, once you’ve had them you’ll save the yellow ones for seed.

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