The 7 Best Substitutes For Lemon Zest

Substitutes For Lemon Zest

You know when you’re baking and you’ve got the recipe in front of you, but then you realize something is missing? Maybe it’s a cup of flour or an egg, but whatever it is, you can’t finish your recipe until you find it.

It might be time for a trip to the store. However, if you don’t have any lemons on hand, what substitutes do you have?

I’m here to help! I’ve compiled a list of 7 suitable substitutes for lemon zest that are sure to make your cooking and baking successful.

What is Lemon Zest?

Lemon zest is the top layer of a lemon’s rind, which contains essential oils. It is often removed using a fine grater or fruit peeler.

You can add zest to numerous meals, from pasta to drinks to desserts and salads, for an extra kick of flavor and acidity. When you zest a lemon, you can tell by its strong smell that it is essential oil-rich.

If lemon zest is included in a recipe, for instance, the finished dish could taste a little sour.

Lemon zest is quite strong in taste and should be used sparingly. The vibrant yellow hue of this herb makes it a popular garnish and decorative element for many dishes.

The 7 Best Substitutes For Lemon Zest

Fresh Lemon Juice

Many dishes call for fresh lemon juice because of the acidity and brightness it adds to the dish. But lemon zest is often requested as well, particularly in baked goods.

It is possible to use fresh lemon juice instead of lemon zest, but it won’t have the same taste or scent. The most concentrated essential oils are found in the zest, the outermost layer of the lemon peel.

Because of this, lemon zest is far more flavorful than lemon juice.

To maintain its brightness, fresh lemon juice may be used in place of lemon zest in recipes, although only half as much is needed.

Lemon Extract

Lemon extract is made by steeping lemon peels in a strong alcohol. You can get a similar flavor using lemon extract, but it is much more potent, so use it with caution. Half a teaspoon of lemon essence is equivalent to one teaspoon of zest.

Lemon extract is often used in baking because it imparts a lemony flavor without acidity.

They share a common ingredient—lemon peel—and a manufacturing process, but they differ in the presence of acidic fluids. These pastries’ robust tastes blend well with other baked delicacies like lemon crumb muffins and pound cake.

Grilled lemon chicken and lemon garlic shrimp pasta are just two examples of delicious marinades in which lemon extract may be employed.

Lemon Oil

In comparison to plain lemon extract, the potency of lemon oil is much higher.

It’s a suitable substitute for lemon zest in all sorts of baked goods. Only meringues and other desserts made with egg whites are exempt.

Why? Egg whites are hampered in their capacity to foam due to the lemon oil.

You may also enjoy the refreshing scent of lemon in savory dishes.

A few drops of lemon oil, or 1/16 teaspoon, may stand in for a whole teaspoon of lemon zest.

Dried Lemon Peel

When you’re done making lemonade, save the peels instead of throwing them away. They may be dried in the sun, or baked at the lowest oven temperature for 30 minutes. Your lemon peel dehydrator will be ready in a flash. Without a doubt, this is the most suitable alternative to lemon zest.

Dried lemons have a more robust taste. It’s also spicier than fresh lemon zest. This is a great alternative to using actual lemon zest since both are dry limonoids.

A third of a teaspoon of dried lemon peel may be used to condense one teaspoon of lemon zest. Neither of them will influence the texture of your final product since they are dry.

Orange or Lime Zest

The zest of any other citrus fruit may stand in for lemon zest. Because of their sweetness, citrus fruits like oranges and limes are great substitutes for lemon zest.

The citrusy flavor of orange zest will complement the dish’s inherent sweetness. If you want a stronger citrus taste or some exotic undertones in a dish, lime is a great option.

Mandarin, tangerine, and kumquat zests can provide a pleasant sweetness and sourness to any dish. However, the sharpness of citrus fruits like pomelos or grapefruit may be overpowering.

It’s simple to swap out lemon zest for the zest from another citrus fruit, so long as you maintain the same ratio.

Lemon Marmalade

If you don’t have any fresh lemons on hand, lemon marmalade is a fantastic alternative for lemon zest in baked goods. The marmalade consists mostly of sugar and water, so adding it to the test won’t make much of a difference.

It’s easy enough to whip up in the kitchen, and you can always get it in local shops or order it online if you want. The marmalade’s sweetness may be adjusted to suit your tastes.


Stalks of lemongrass are often used in Thai and Chinese cooking. It smells fresh and zesty, with a flowery and somewhat grassy undertone.

Teas, sugar syrups, and savory recipes using meat, tofu, and/or vegetables all benefit greatly from the use of this herb. It’s also an excellent replacement for lemon in soups.

When you don’t have any lemon zest on hand, you may use fresh lemongrass. If using dried lemongrass, use just a quarter as much.


Keep the original recipe’s intended use for the lemon juice in mind when subbing in lemon zest.

Is it for the purpose of enhancing the flavor, many ways a pastry might benefit from a fragrant topping. Was it so that it would taste and feel more fresh and airy? Or was it just a secondary taste?

You may want to hold off on swapping out the lemon if its taste is the main attraction of the dish. Changing the predominant flavor in a recipe like lemon vinaigrette or lemon chiffon pie will result in a whole different meal.

Start with savory dishes when experimenting with spicy seasonings like Tajin and lemon pepper. In order to really appreciate their zesty citrus taste, try them with hearty ingredients like meat and vegetables.

It’s simple to have lemon zest on hand in the future whenever you may need it. Get some lemons zest and put it in a plastic bag that may be frozen. Just take what you need with a spoon and reseal the container, and it will be ready whenever you are.

The 7 Best Substitutes For Lemon Zest

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