This Is What You Can Substitute For Lemon Zest

Lemon zest — that thin yellow layer on the outside of a lemon's skin (as opposed to the thick white layer of pith on the inside) — adds zip and zing to any recipe. You should definitely say yes to the zest! But what can you do if you're out of lemons, or you just don't feel like scraping your knuckles raw trying to zest with a box grater since that darn zester is buried at the bottom of the junk drawer again? (What, you don't even own a microplane zester? Shame on you for dissing Nigella Lawson's fave utensil.) There are several different ingredients you may be able to use in place of lemon zest, depending on your recipe. These possible substitutes, as suggested by The Spruce Eats, are as follows: lemon extract, lemon juice, dried lemon peel, or the zest of a different type of citrus fruit.

How to use these lemon zest substitutes

If you're using lemon extract, measure out half a teaspoon for each teaspoon of lemon zest called for in your recipe since the extract has a stronger flavor. If you're using lemon juice, though, you'll need to use two tablespoons to equal the flavor from one teaspoon's worth of zest. As two tablespoons is a fairly significant amount of liquid, you may need to adjust your recipe accordingly. Dried lemon peel, should you happen to have this in your pantry, has a pretty strong flavor, so you'd only use one-third the amount of peel in place of the zest — i.e., one tablespoon of zest would be replaced with one teaspoon of dried peel.

If the lemon zest in your recipe is being used to add color and/or texture, your best substitute would be the zested peel of a different type of citrus fruit such as an orange or a lime, though probably not a grapefruit, unless you're an IPA-drinking bitterness fan. While the use of a different fruit will alter the flavor of any dish you cook, it may be a variant well worth trying.

However, should your recipe call for a large amount of lemon zest, or the zest is really an integral part of the end product, do not try to substitute ingredients. Just suck it up, and buy some darn lemons! Also a microplane zester — make Nigella proud.