What is Lemon Zest & How to Zest a Lemon

Lemon zest adds color and taste to a variety of dishes, including vegetables, meats, desserts, drinks, and soups.

However, lemon zesting comes in numerous shapes, needing different instruments to get the correct zest.

Continue reading to learn all there is to know about lemon zest, including what it is, how to zest a lemon with and without a zester, and recipe ideas.

What is Lemon Zest?

The zest of a lemon is the outermost component of the rind that is mostly utilized for flavour.

The inner skin layer that protects the lemon, known as the albedo, often known as pith, is included in the lemon peel. Most people avoid the fleshy pith because it is bitter. The pith is the inner white membrane underneath the zest that protects the lemon’s inside.

Because of the natural oils found under the surface, the upper layer is known as flavedo, also known as taste. The zest is completely composed of flavedo. This section likewise lacks harshness and tastes tangy. People may perceive that the zest is highly colored, shiny, and textured.

Because of its natural, essential oils, the zest is fragrant. Today, it may be found in a variety of cuisines, including baked items, salads, chicken, seafood, specialty beverages, and much more.

Aside from its flexibility and flavor, it also offers a slew of health advantages, which may include:

  • Boost immunity system
  • Promote heart health
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Anti-fungal properties
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Antioxidants

Continue reading to find out how to zest a lemon using different tools.

How to Zest a Lemon

Before you begin zesting a lemon, be certain that it is clean and free of wax.

To avoid this issue, buy organic lemons.

  • If you don’t have organic lemons, you may remove wax by following these steps:
  • Put the lemons in a colander or any bowl
  • Run the lemons under hot water, either from the tap or from a heated pot.
  • Gently scrub the lemon with a vegetable brush or a gentle sponge.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cold water
  • Then leave it to dry or use paper towels

Organic lemons must still be washed and dried, but the process is simpler, such as running the lemons under a cool tap.

After you’ve finished zesting the lemons, utilize the juices in your dishes or in your waterdon’t throw it away! Remember that one lemon may provide one tablespoon of zest. Lemon zest may also be stored in a freezer bag for later use. Lemon zest can keep in the freezer for 4 to 6 months.

Let’s get started with lemon zesting using a zester, Microplane, grater, vegetable peeler, and knife.

How to Zest a Lemon with a Zester

There’s a reason it’s called a zester; it’s the ideal tool for zesting lemons for decoration.

The greatest zesters feature a handle that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The metal head is angled with tiny holes to pull away the outer layer of the lemon, resulting in attractive curled ribbons of lemon rind that do not contact the bitter pith. The zester is the finest instrument to use if you want to get creative and candy the lemon zest.

Only the outer skin of citrus fruits may be removed using a zester. They’re also affordable and won’t take up too much space in the kitchen drawer.

To zest a lemon using a zester, follow these steps:

  • Gently run the sharp point of the instrument along the surface of the lemons.
  • Circle the lemon while you produce bits of zests
  • If you go over the same place more than once, you risk hitting the pith.

That’s all! When you run the zester over the lemon, you’ll see how much pressure you need to apply. It is critical not to be too pushy, since this may destroy the zest or introduce bitter pieces into the mix.

When you’re finished, the zester is simple to clean and ready to use again.

How to Zest a Lemon with Microplane

One of the simplest methods is to zest lemons using a Microplane grater, which seals in the oils and may generate more taste. Microplane graters differ from cheese graters in that they are thinner and more pleasant to use.

The ideal microplane has a good grip and a narrow metal body with sharp yet tiny raised edges that produce delicate zest pieces.

To use the Microplane to zest lemons:

  • Gather a dish or plate in front of the Microplane to collect the zest.
  • With your dominant hand, keep the steel shaft stable.
  • To prevent harm, brush the lemon gently over the jagged edges, keeping your fingers in mind.
  • Drag the lemon down over the grater
  • Avoid digging into the pith by turning the lemon over when the rind is removed.

It’s also a flexible tool that works well with various fruits like coconut, cocoa, citrus fruits, garlic, and ginger. It is also inexpensive, making it a useful budget tool that makes excellent zests.

When you’re through, properly clean the Microplane and store it.

How to Zest a Lemon with Grater

Many people rely on the cheese grater because its many surfaces are ideal for shaving most vegetables and fruits.

A cheese grater also allows you to vary the size of the rinds from tiny to medium. Smaller zests, on the other hand, are preferable for most applications.

To zest a lemon, use a grater and the following steps:

  • To collect the zest, use a dish, basin, or cutting board.
  • Tilt the grater 45 degrees to the side with the tiniest holes, which also have the sharpest edges.
  • Remove the rind by dragging the lemon downwards with gentle pressure.
  • Turn the lemon often to prevent shaving the pith.
  • You’re finished when the yellow outer surface is gone!

The other holes may be used for various zest sizes, since each has benefits. Smaller zests, for example, are ideal for decoration, while bigger zests are ideal for taste.

Zesting Lemon with Vegetable Peeler

A vegetable peeler, often known as a potato peeler, is used for a variety of jobs, including lemon zesting.

Vegetable peelers generate far larger slices than other equipment like a zester, Microplane, and the small holes of a cheese grater. These huge chunks are ideal for garnishing sweets and beverages, as well as infusing lemon into oils, syrups, and vinegar.

If you don’t like the huge slices but just have a vegetable peeler, you may cut it into more refined pieces with a knife.

Before peeling, keep in mind that this instrument is easier to strike the pith with than a zester, Microplane, or grater. It is critical to be aware of the pressure being exerted.

To zest lemons, use a vegetable peeler and the following steps:

  • Begin at one of the lemon’s pointy ends and gently peel down the lemon.
  • Feel the pressure and determine if it is too mild or too rough.
  • If there is any shattering in the pith, the pressure was too high.
  • Continue around the lemon if the pith is appropriately exposed after removing the yellow outer covering.
  • Avoid passing over the same region many times since the pith may get into the zest parts.

Consider utilizing the leftover lemon, which should still be intact and ready for juicing, garnishing, or incorporating into any recipe.

Zesting Lemon with Knife

Using a knife to zest a lemon may be the most difficult method, requiring greater expertise and sensitivity.

A paring knife is a good option, although a sharp chefs knife may also suffice.

Zesting a lemon with a knife allows for larger slices, which may provide a more intense flavor in meals.

You can zest a lemon with a knife by doing the following:

  • Place the lemon on a chopping board, starting with the top of the fruit.
  • Cut into the skin, carefully peeling the strips
  • As the pith of the lemon becomes visible, continue working around it.
  • Avoid cutting too deeply, particularly with a sharp knife.
  • As desired, chop or mince the slices into smaller pieces.

After zesting the lemon with a knife, chop it into little pieces to add flavor to your cuisine.

How To Zest a Lemon without a Zester

If you don’t have a zester, you may make due with a knife, which almost everyone has in their kitchen. For close peeling, a sharp chefs knife is recommended.

After zesting, vegetable peelers or a Microplane are economical options that may be used on different vegetables. A cheese grater, particularly one with fine edges, is another popular option.

After zesting the lemon with a knife, cut it into slices and put the leftover zests in a freezer bag.

3 Lemon Zest Recipes Ideas To Try

Here are three lemon zest recipes to try: chicken, sweets, and pasta.

Lemon Chicken Breasts Recipe with Lemon Zest

Lemon zest and chicken breasts work very well together, and the dish is simple to prepare.

Total time: 1 hr

Prep time: 15 min


  • organic olive oil
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp salt and black pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (6–8 oz. each)
  • One lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, then add and sauté the garlic for 1 minute. Garlic should not turn brown.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the white wine, lemon zest, dried oregano, thyme leaves, squeezed lemon juice, and salt to the pot.
  4. Pour the sauce into the baking dish (not on top of the chicken).
  5. Place the chicken on top of the marinade and brush gently with olive oil to brown.
  6. To add extra lemon flavor, cut a lemon into 8 wedges and place them on the baking sheet.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the chicken breasts for 30 to 40 minutes. Wrap in foil and set aside for 10 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Lemon Bars Recipe with Lemon Zest

Lemon bars are a famous lemon zest delicacy that is flavorful and pleasant on the palate.

Total time: 1 hr 35 min

Prep time: 10 min

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 6 XL room temperature eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • Confectioners sugar
  • 3 cups granulated sugar

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1/8 kosher salt
  • lb unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Begin by creaming together two sticks of butter and one cup of sugar in a mixer.
  3. Mix in two cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt on low speed.
  4. Place the dough in a 9 x 12 pan, dust your hands, and push it down.
  5. Freeze for 15 minutes before baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light brown.
  6. Cool on a wire rack and leave the oven on
  7. Whisk together the eggs, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and flour to make the filling.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the filling is set, over the crust.
  9. Cool at room temperature and cut into triangles
  10. Dust with confectioners sugar

Lemon Pasta with Lemon Zest

Do you know what lemon spaghetti is? Lemon zest pairs well with pasta, resulting in a wonderful lemon sauce with a tart taste. The greatest thing is that it is quick and simple to prepare, taking less than 20 minutes.

Total time: 18 minutes

Prep time: 10 mins


  • 1 lb spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 grated Parmesan


  1. To begin boiling the pasta, bring a big pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt.
  2. Add the pasta to the saucepan after the water is clearly boiling.
  3. Cook pasta until cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes, tossing periodically.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan in a large mixing basin.
  5. When the pasta is done, strain it in a colander (or as you want) and set aside 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  6. Toss the pasta in the lemon sauce and conserved liquid, adding a little at a time to moisten.
  7. Season with salt and pepper
  8. Garnish with chopped basil and lemon zest

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Buy Lemon Zest?

Yes, you can purchase lemon zest. However, it is dried, so it lacks the freshness of zesting a lemon. You may rehydrate the lemon zest by soaking it in warm water for 10 minutes, but the taste will be different. Store-bought lemon zest is fine for quick dishes, but not for a fresh supper or dessert.

How Do I Get Lemon Zest?

Lemon zest is obtained by removing the outer covering of lemons known as the rind. Use a zester, Microplane, grater, vegetable peeler, or knife to prepare the ingredients. Depending on the occasion or meal, each tool gives a variety of zest forms. If you dig too far, you will pierce the pith, which has a harsh taste.

What Does It Mean to Zest and Quarter a Lemon?

To zest and quarter a lemon, first remove the rind, then cut the lemon into four sections. Once you’ve finished zesting a lemon, the lemon slices are wonderful for cooking and incorporating the liquids into any cuisine.

What Is the Difference Between Zester and Grater?

The primary distinctions between a zester and a grater are size and ease of use. Zesters are compact and can be handled easily in the palm, with a metalhead shaved to provide curly, lengthy zests. Small zest pieces are provided by a grater such as the Microplane. A cheese grater may also be used to make little zests, albeit choosing a different side with wider holes may provide larger slices.

What Is the Difference Between Lemon Zest vs. Lemon Juice?

The primary distinction between lemon zest and lemon juice is one of consistency. Lemon zest is a substance derived from the lemon’s outer layer. Lemon juice is a liquid that is extracted from the interior of a lemon. Lemon zest has a tart flavor and is high in essential oils. Lemon juice has a more acidic and sour flavor.


Learning how to zest a lemon has become a modern-day talent. Lemon zest is flexible and may be used in a variety of recipes. Lemon zests have a place in cuisines that are sweet, sour, or salty.

Lemon zests are also excellent garnishes for any meal, even drinks!

It is also feasible to zest a lemon without a zester by utilizing other equipment such as a Microplane, grater, vegetable peeler, and knife. Each tool enables the zest to come out in different sizes, giving you alternatives.

Overall, any recipe that calls for lemon zest will give the meal a bolder, tangier taste that delivers a punch.


What is the zest of one lemon?

How Much Lemon Zest Does One Lemon Have? It varies depending on the lemon, but one medium-sized lemon yields two to three teaspoons juice and one tablespoon lemon zest.

Can you buy lemon zest in a bottle?

Its Delish Gourmet Granulated Lemon Peel – 18 Oz. Large Jar – 100% Natural Lemon Peel Granules Excellent for tea, cooking, baking, flavoring, and seasoning – Kosher OU, Vegan.

Is lemon peel in a jar the same as lemon zest?

The difference between lemon zest and lemon peel is that zest is comprised entirely of the citrus fruit’s outermost layer: all flavedo (flavor) and no bitterness. However, not all citrus fruits have the same pith-to-skin ratio.

Are lemon zest and lemon peel the same thing?

The zest is the brightly colored component of the peel or rind. The peel, often known as the rind, refers to the complete skinîboth the colorful outer layer and the bitter white pith underneath it. The white pith is harsh and disagreeable, but the zest has a fruity taste.

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

What can I use as a zester if I don’t have one?

Make use of a box grater.

Even if you don’t have a citrus zester, you can acquire the lemon taste you need. Simply take out your box grater. Gently shave the lemon zest with the tiny holes or the sharp grater teeth. To prevent collecting any of the tough white pith, flip the fruit as you go.

When a recipe calls for lemon zest how much is that?

How much zest does one lemon yield? 1 tablespoon of zest may be obtained from one medium-sized lemon. If you have extra lemons, grate them all and save the zest in the freezer.

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