Lemon zest holds the essence of lemon aroma and citrus flavor. In the culinary world lemon zest is the tiny shredded or scraped lemon peels.
The bright and aromatic lemon skins can add citrus flavor to a variety of baked foods and other recipes. Moreover, recent scientific research claim that flavonoids in citrus peels, especially lemon skins have anti-cancer effects.
Generally you have to use a grater or zester to shred the thin outermost layer of the lemon skin to get the zest.
However, sometimes you may run out of fresh lemons to make your zest.
Here we have come up with 4 substitutions for lemon zest that you may use in your dishes without affecting the authenticity of your recipe much.
4 Lemon Zest Substitutions in Recipes
1. Other Citrus Fruit Zest (Orange and Lime)
Lemon is closely related to other citrus fruits such as lime and orange. The peels of lime and orange slightly differ from lemon skin in terms of aroma and flavor.
You may substitute lemon zest with lime or orange peels in times of need. Lime peels are green and have a more bitter-tangy flavor than lemon zest.
You can replace lemon zest with an equal amount of lime or orange shavings in the dishes. But don’t expect the lemony flavor to be intact in it.
2. Use Lemon Juice
A few drops of lemon juice can add the aroma and flavor in the dish just like its zest. In case you are looking for lemon zest only to garnish the food then this substitute won’t work. To substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon zest in the recipe you may use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
3. Use Lemon Extracts
Lemon extracts can readily substitute for the lemon zest flavor and aroma. Manufactured food extracts are always a little stronger than the original ingredient. So you should use it in half the amount than the recipe calls for.
You can use ½ teaspoon of lemon extracts for 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
4. Use Dried Lemon Peels
Dried lemon peels store the essence of lemon just the same or even more intensely than the fresh skin.
If your recipe needs lemony flavor and aroma you can add some dried peels in it instead of the fresh zest.
Dried lemon peels have more intense flavor so you have to use ⅓ tablespoon of the dried peels for 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest.
Which Recipes Need Lemon Zest or Its Substitutes
Lemon zest or its substitutes may add flavor, texture, and aroma to a number of dishes. You can use zest in pie, puddings, cakes, candy, cookies, homemade ice cream, and other confectionery items. Lemon zest goes well with some fruit juice, sorbets, salad garnish, lemon and lime pickle, chutney, cocktails, mocktails, lemonades, etc.
While making the tiny shavings of lemon peel you should not scrap it too deep. The white part underneath the outermost skin layer also called pith has a bitter taste. Moreover, you need to adjust the amount of the lemon zest substitutes so that they don’t overpower the taste and flavor of the dish and ruin it.
Many baked foods, drinks, and other recipes want a fresh aroma and garnish of lemon zest. In case you don’t have fresh lemon to make the zest, you can always substitute it with other citrus fruit zest, lemon extract, dried peels, and even some lemon juice. The recipe may change in flavor and aroma but you can still find a citrusy taste in it.