7 Easy Lemon Zest Substitutes for Tasty Recipes

Lemon zest is an excellent method to add tart, citrus-like taste without being bitter. It’s usually found in the fruit’s other components.

If you don’t have any lemon zest, there are a few alternatives you may try.

What Is Lemon Zest?

Lemon zest is the outermost layer of a lemon’s peel. This versatile ingredient adds a distinct tangy taste to both sweet and savory dishes.

To make long strips of lemon peel, zest lemons using a citrus zester. If you don’t have this specialist kitchen instrument, you may produce tiny shavings with the lemon peel using a cheese grater.

To remove the wax covering that commonly covers fresh fruits, you may need to boil your lemons.

Best Lemon Zest Replacement

If you have a recipe that asks for lemon zest but don’t have any on hand, there are a few substitutes you may use.

1. Orange or Lime Zest

The zest of another citrus fruit is the simplest approach to substitute lemon zest. Oranges and limes are wonderful choices since they have the same sweetness as lemon zest.

Orange zest will provide acidic elements to your meal while emphasizing the sweetness. If you want a robust citrusy taste or to add exotic nuances to a dish, lime is a better option.

For a sweet and tangy taste, add the zest of a mandarin, tangerine, or kumquat. Citrus fruits such as pomelos and grapefruit, on the other hand, may be overly bitter.

Because you may preserve identical proportions, replacing lemon zest with the zest of another citrus fruit is simple.

2. Berries

Berries are a great replacement for lemon zest since they have varied tastes that vary from sour to sweet. By substituting lemon with cherries, you may highlight the acidity that lemon brings to a dish.

If you want sweet and somewhat acidic flavors, blueberries are a great choice, while ripe blackberries may lend tanginess to a dish. Raspberries are the ideal blend of tart and sweet, while strawberries will sweeten your dish while providing a subtle sour note.

The beautiful thing about berries is that you can combine them with other fruits to create new tastes. A preparation with two parts strawberries and one part cherries, for example, will balance the sharpness of the cherries with some sweet overtones.

Berries are also a good source of vitamins and antioxidants.

Berries perform well as a replacement for lemon zest in desserts. You may simply substitute a handful of berries for lemon zest in recipes that call for it as a topping.

If your recipe asks for lemon zest, your best choice is to cut the amount in half and replace it with berry puree.

It should be noted that incorporating berries will bring a semi-liquid element into your recipe. To compensate, you may need to lower the amount of liquid components you use.

Depending on the amount of berries you’re using, consider lowering your liquid component proportions by 5 to 10%.

3. Lemon Pepper

Lemon pepper is a condiment made using lemon zest and peppercorns. It’s a traditional spice for seafood, but it’s also a versatile component used in meat rub recipes and other foods.

If you’re low of lemon zest, lemon pepper is a good replacement since it includes dried lemon zest.

Because the peppercorns provide a spicy flavor, the end product will be somewhat different. You may use the same amounts if you don’t mind the peppercorn’s spiciness, or use two-thirds of what the recipe asks for to keep the peppercorn from overwhelming your dish.

4. Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a citrusy flavoring that may be used in place of lemon zest. It’s a typical addition in herbal teas to lend a citrus taste.

It’s also a popular component in Thai and Chinese cuisine, and replacing lemon zest for lemongrass may add a fun Asian-inspired touch to your cooking.

Lemongrass is available as a dried spice, but it may also be cooked using fresh lemongrass. After removing the plant’s outer leaves, cut the bulb and discard it.

The highest stalks should also be removed. Slice the plant’s center and process it into flakes in a food processor.

The lemon zest may then be replaced with lemongrass flakes. It is OK to use the same amount.

If you want to give your meal a kick, add the top stalk to your recipe and stew it for a bit over low heat. The stalks will give your meal a fresh and zesty scent, and you may remove them before serving.

5. Tajin

Tajin is a spice that is often used in Mexican recipes. Lime, salt, and chili peppers are the major components.

Chili peppers may provide a strong fruity or grassy flavor to a meal that would not ordinarily be enhanced by lemon zest. The lime, on the other hand, will offer a zesty scent that works well as a replacement for lemon zest.

Tajin will add spice to your dish, but the end result might be fascinating. You may also use sugar or a dairy product of your choosing to temper the spiciness of tajin.

Serving your meal with sour cream, for example, may assist to balance out the spice’s spiciness.

Because tajin is considerably stronger than lemon zest, the proportions should be adjusted. Add one-third of the amount you would use for lemon zest and adjust to taste.

6. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are an excellent source of acidity and tanginess in a recipe. Furthermore, numerous tomato varietals have distinct tastes and properties.

If you’re seeking for sweetness, cherry tomatoes might be a good option. A variety like Brandywine has an unrivaled balance of sweetness and acidity, but red heritage tomatoes like the Druzba have higher acidity.

Costoluto tomatoes are also excellent for tartness.

The biggest disadvantage of using tomatoes as a replacement is that they add water content to your dish. Furthermore, certain kinds may taste bland or provide a unique texture to your food.

Instead, use sun-dried tomatoes to prevent these possible concerns. You may make flakes with a cheese grater and use the same amount as you would with lemon zest.

7. Tartar Sauce

Tartar sauce is often made using mayonnaise and components such as pickles, dill, and tarragon. The end product is a tart sauce that complements fish.

Tartar sauce may be used in place of lemon zest in savory dishes. The use of mayonnaise as a basis imparts a sour and somewhat acidic taste to the tartar sauce, while the pickles and herbs provide acidity.

You may offer tartar sauce as a condiment and let visitors select how much to use, but you can also substitute half a tablespoon of lemon zest for one tablespoon of tartar sauce.

Can You Substitute Lemon Juice for Lemon Zest?

Lemon juice may be an excellent substitute, but keep in mind that lemon juice is more acidic than lemon zest. Acidity often overpowers the acidic tones, and you won’t obtain the subtle sweet notes that lemon zest would in your cuisine.

If you primarily want to utilize lemon zest to create a strong citrusy taste, lemon juice is a simple solution.

If you don’t want too much acidity, use a comparable amount of lemon juice or cut it in half. To lessen the acidity, you may also add some sugar or honey.

Can You Substitute Dried Lemon Peel for Lemon Zest?

Dried lemon peel is a good substitute since it is practically the same as lemon zest. Drying the peel, on the other hand, may bring out the bitterness of the citrus fruit.

However, drying lemon peel is a simple process. You can zest a lemon and store the peel in an airtight jar for up to three years.

Keeping some dried lemon peel on hand guarantees that you never run out of lemon zest, even if the flavor is somewhat different.

Because dried lemon peel has a stronger flavor than fresh lemon zest, try adding sugar or honey to your dish.

Can You Substitute Lemon Oil for Lemon Zest?

While lemon oil offers several health advantages when used topically, it is not a perfect alternative for lemon zest.

First and foremost, be certain that you are utilizing food-grade essential oil. These oils are more expensive and might be difficult to get. The majority of producers sell oils that are suitable for aromatherapy but not for cooking.

Second, lemon oil is extracted from the fruit’s peel. The whole skin, including the outer layer and the white pith, is used by manufacturers.

Because it is exceedingly bitter, the pith is not utilized in cooking. As a consequence, lemon oil may have a harsh flavor that is difficult to cook with.


What can I use if I don’t have lemon zest for a recipe?

Replace with Lemon Zest
12 teaspoon lemon essence for every teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of lemon.
Another citrus zest, such as lime or orange zest.

What is a substitute for a tablespoon of lemon zest?

Juice of lemon

Lemon juice may also be used in place of lemon zest. While it may not provide the same texture as zest, it will provide the required taste to your dish. Substitution amount: For every tablespoon of lemon zest, use a teaspoon of lemon juice.

How much lemon juice can I substitute for lemon zest?

If your recipe asks for lemon zest and you need an alternative, replace it with 12 teaspoon lemon extract or two tablespoons lemon juice.

What else can you use to zest a lemon?

The following items may be used to zest a lemon:
A grater in a box. An old-fashioned box grater will suffice.
A little paring knife. A sharp paring knife is a cook’s best friend, and it’s ideal for zesting citrus.
A peeler for vegetables.
It’s a zester.
Surform software.

What happens if you don’t have lemon zest?

2 teaspoon of lemon essence or two tablespoons of lemon juice. It will provide you with the most accurate taste match possible. If you have dried lemon peel on hand, it may be used in place of fresh lemon zest.Making a Successful One. 1 teaspoon lemon zest for each teaspoon of lemon zest called for in your recipe

Is it okay to not use lemon zest?

While a modest quantity of lemon zest may be omitted entirely, the vivid surge of flavor it adds to a dish is unrivaled. And there’s no excuse to skip it since lemons keep so well.

Can I replace lemon zest with vinegar?

Only use vinegar to substitute lemon zest in savory recipes. I wouldn’t use it in baking or pastry since it might be overbearing. Avoid using old vinegar or wine vinegar in this recipe. In lieu of lemon zest, use apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or a light fruit-based vinegar.

What can I substitute for 2 tbsp lemon extract?

Limoncello (or another liqueur) may be used in place of lemon extract.

It’s a wonderful replacement for lemon extract because of its citrus taste. For every 1 teaspoon of lemon essence called for in a recipe, substitute 1 or 2 tablespoons of limoncello or another citrus-flavored liqueur.

Can you use lemon powder instead of lemon zest?

What can you make using lemon powder? You may use this powder in any recipe that asks for lemon juice, zest, or extract. Lemon powder enhances the taste of many baked goods without adding additional liquid. The taste is stronger than that of fresh lemon zest or juice.

Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice?

ACV (apple cider vinegar)

ACV has a somewhat salty flavor and the same bitter, tart taste as lemon. The finished product will lack a pronounced citrus taste. ACV should be used in place of lemon juice in a 1-1 ratio. That is, if a recipe asks for a cup of lemon juice, a cup of ACV should be substituted.

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