Orange Zest Substitute: How to Use Lemon Zest Instead

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When a recipe calls for orange zest but you’ve run out or don’t have any to hand, don’t panic! The good news is that there are a number of great options for an orange zest substitute. One of the best substitutes that many home cooks swear by is lemon.

We’ll discuss how to use lemon as your substitute for zest, and explore other alternatives you might have around your kitchen. So, next time you’re in a pinch, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Understanding Orange Zest

Orange zest is the flavorful, bright citrus exterior part of the orange. It’s a key ingredient in a variety of dishes, from savory recipes to sweet dishes. The zest adds a unique flavor profile and citrusy aroma to your cooking that is hard to replace. However, there are always alternate options available, and knowing them can be a life saver!

Close up image of an orange with its zest finely grated, revealing the fruit underneath.

Why Lemon as an Orange Zest Substitute?

Lemon is a great substitute for orange zest because of its similar flavor profile. Not only is it a versatile ingredient that is readily available in most grocery stores, but it also imparts a tangy flavor and citrusy scent that closely mimics that of orange.

And the best part? You can use the same amount of lemon zest in place of orange zest.

A vibrant, fresh lemon with its zest finely grated, revealing the fruit underneath.

Grating the Lemon

The best way to use lemon as an orange zest substitute is to grate the outer part of the orange peel. A box grater or a cheese grater is perfect for this. Make sure to avoid the bitter white pith beneath the outer layer as it can introduce a bitter taste to your dish.

A small amount of zest can go a long way, so be careful not to overdo it!

A bowl of fresh lemons ready to be zested and juiced.

Using Lemon Juice as an Orange Zest Substitute

When you don’t have much zest to work with, fresh lemon juice can be a suitable substitute. It has a different flavor profile, but still brings a bright citrus flavor. Keep in mind, though, that lemon juice has more liquid, so you need to adjust your recipe to avoid making it too wet.

Other Citrus Fruits as Substitutes

If you’re out of lemons too, other citrus fruits like limes or grapefruits can be used as a substitute. Lime zest and grapefruit zest both offer a different, but still enjoyable citrusy flavor. The key is to experiment with different combinations until you find what works best for your specific recipe.

These other citrus fruits also work well in things like our Orange Swizzle {non-alcoholic summer drink} Recipe. You might also be interested in our 8 Lemon Juice Substitutes or Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes.

Other Alternatives to Orange Zest

There are other alternative options to orange zest that don’t involve citrus fruits. Dried orange peel, orange juice, orange essential oil, and pure orange extract can all serve as substitutes. They can provide that orange flavor without the need for fresh oranges. Each has its own unique flavor profile, so it’s a good idea to try different ones to see which you prefer.

Different orange zest substitutes, including dried orange peel, orange juice, orange essential oil, and pure orange extract, displayed on a table.

Final Thoughts on Using Lemon as an Orange Zest Substitute

So there you have it! Lemon is a fantastic orange zest substitute, and it’s a great way to save your recipe when you’ve run out of zest. Whether you use the lemon peel or juice, or even try out lime zest or grapefruit zest, you can achieve that desired citrusy flavor.

So, the next time you find yourself in a zest-less situation, remember: when life gives you lemons, make zest!

Need more recommendations? See all our substitution suggestions here.

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