Imagine the tangy aroma of lemon zest in your favorite dessert on a cheat day — yummy, right? How can you not love this 100% natural ingredient that adds such a unique flavor to your food? On top of using it in baking, you can also season or decorate a dull salad with just a pinch of lemon zest.
The truth is, not many things can match the appetizing aroma of this ingredient. Still, some ingredients seem to make an excellent substitute for lemon zest. So, when life takes away your lemons, this is how you can best replace them.
1. Lime or Orange Zest
If you happen to be out of lemons, you can use other citrus fruits in your recipe. So, the next best thing would be lime and orange, given that they all come from the same family. This replacement works best when the texture of the ingredient needs to stay the same. You can use lime or orange in baking instead of lemon zest, and you likely won’t know the difference.
Flavor-wise, larger quantities of other citrus zests can be noticeable. Orange zest might make your food somewhat sweeter, while lime may add a sharper note to it. Using the zest of other citrus fruits also works, but the taste might end up pretty different. If you opt for lime or orange zest, use the same amount that’s already in your recipe.
1 tsp of lemon zest = 1 tsp of lime/orange zest
2. Lemon Juice
Running out of lemon zest must mean you have no lemons at hand. Still, there might be some leftover lemon juice in your fridge. If so, use it instead of zest for a similar but more sour flavor. The tip is to go for fresh lemon juice because it best imitates the desired taste.
You should also note that juice won’t be the best idea in certain types of foods. For instance, it could harm the texture of whipped cream, which goes better with dry ingredients. But if you do opt for a liquid, use the following dosage conversation:
1 tsp of lemon zest = 2 tsp of lemon juice
3. Lemon Extract
Apart from fresh lemon juice, there is another liquid substitute for lemon zest. As before, lemon extract might also not work well for recipes that require dry ingredients. But other than that, you can use it to add a similar kind of tanginess to your other dishes.
For the lemon extract, you can find it in stores or make your own. All you need to do is zest a few lemons into long strips and submerge them in vodka or glycerin for a couple of weeks. Strain the peels, and you’ll be left with your lemon extract. In your recipes, use half as much lemon extract as you would lemon zest.
1 tsp of lemon zest = ½ tsp of lemon extract
4. Lemon Oil
Another good substitute for lemon zest is lemon oil in its purest form. You can find it pretty much anywhere and use it to add a tangy flavor to your food. But apart from its pleasant taste, lemon oil also smells wonderful. Only a few drops of this ingredient will enrich your cooking and dining experience.
When shopping for lemon oil, bear in mind that some companies make inedible oils. Also, always look for pure lemon oil without any artificial additives. For example, you can try Williams Sonoma or Boyajian pure lemon oil. Go for one-quarter of the amount of lemon zest you would generally use:
1 tsp of lemon zest = ¼ tsp of lemon oil
5. Dried Lemon Peel
Again, if you’re completely out of lemons, you won’t be able to make this substitute. But if you’re only looking for new ideas, this ingredient will do. You can replace lemon zest with dried lemon peel for a somewhat sharper flavor. As you might have figured, it consists entirely of lemon peel that has been removed and left to dry.
The truth is, dried lemon peel can add a more intense note to your food. Therefore, you should use it in lower amounts. Start with less than half a dose you would go for if it were lemon zest.
1 tsp of lemon zest = ⅓ tsp of dried lemon peel
6. Citrus Peel
As with dried lemon peel, you can use the peel of any other citrus to substitute lemon zest. Flavor-wise, the best replacements would be orange or lime peel, but you can also go for tangerine or clementine. And what was said about the zest of other citrus fruits works here, too. Depending on the exact type of fruit you’ve selected, the flavor of your dish might turn sweeter or even more tangy.
Since peel is almost the same as zest, you can use the same amount here as suggested above. Given that the flavor and texture will be similar to those of lemon zest, use the following conversion:
1 tsp of lemon zest = 1 tsp of citrus peel
7. Lemon Marmalade
If you have a sweet tooth, lemon marmalade will be your favorite substitute for lemon zest. Among other things, you can use it when making desserts or in baking. As you might have figured, this ingredient will add an extra sweet flavor to your food. That’s because it consists of lemon peel, water, and sugar.
You can get lemon marmalade from your local store or make it at home. The entire process will be easy, and it will take you only two days. Once your marmalade is ready, you can use the same amount of it as you would if it were zest. So, the conversion is as following (but you can add more marmalade for an even sweeter flavor):
1 tsp of lemon zest = 1 tsp of lemon marmalade
8. Candied Lemon Peel
Candied lemon peel works as a perfect replacement for lemon marmalade. As its name suggests, it also contains large amounts of sugar and goes well in desserts. But you can also use it in baking — just make sure your candied lemon peel isn’t too sweet.
In general, this ingredient will be a good substitute for lemon zest if you’re looking to avoid the tangy flavor. Otherwise, it might be better to stick to more sour replacements for a closer-to-original taste. You can use the same conversion as with the previous substitute:
1 tsp of lemon zest = 1 tsp of candied lemon peel