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A lemon showing the pith and the peel after being zested with a citrus zester.
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How to Zest a Lemon (5 Easy Ways!)

Learn How to Zest a Lemon using five different methods with kitchen tools and utensils you already have on hand.  From a microplane or citrus zester, to grating it with a cheese grater, it's so easy to get that fresh lemon zest for added flavor to your favorite recipes!

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Dinner
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 serving
Calories 3 kcal
Author London

Ingredients

  • Lemons

Instructions

Using a Microplane:

  1. Move the lemon back and forth over the grates of the microplane, rotating it as you go. Pay close attention to the placement of your fingers.  (A microplane has very sharp edges and can easily cut you!)

  2. Continue zesting the lemon until the lemon peel has been removed.

Using a Citrus Zester:

  1. Place the fine, sharp-edged holes on one end of the citrus, following the curvature of the fruit.
  2. Push slightly into the fruit and pull down to the other end.
  3. Repeat this process until the entire lemon peel is removed and only the pith remains.

Using a Boxed Cheese Grater:

  1. Place the lemon on side of the cheese grater that has the smallest holes.

    Showing how to use a boxed cheese grater to zest a lemon.
  2. Move it back and forth, paying close attention to the placement of your fingers.
  3. Continue zesting the lemon until the entire yellow part is removed.

Using a Vegetable Peeler:

  1. Hold the lemon in your non-dominant hand and the peeler in the other.

    Showing how to use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from a lemon.
  2. Place the sharp edges of the peel on one end of the citrus and push slightly into the fruit.
  3. Pull down to the other end, paying close attention not to cut into the fruit too deep.  You want to remove as little of the white part as possible.

  4. Repeat this process until the entire peel is removed and only the pith remains.

Using a Knife:

  1. Cut off one end of the lemon. Optional: If you would like to have smaller pieces of peel, finely chop until your desired size is reached.

    Using a sharp knife to remove the peel and leave the pith on a lemon.
  2. Place the lemon cut-end down on a cutting board. (Image on left above). Or you can skip this step and just hold the lemon steady on a cutting board.  (Image on the right above.)

  3. Carefully cut into the fruit at an angle and remove the bright, yellow peel, avoiding the white pith. Remove any white pith that remains.

  4. Optional: If you would like to have smaller pieces of peel, finely chop until your desired size is reached.

Recipe Notes

  • One medium-sized lemon will yield roughly 1 tablespoon of zest.
  • Store extra lemon zest in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • Limes and oranges may be zested using this same process.
  • If using waxed lemons:
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and pour hot water over lemons in a colander.
    2. Immediately scrub lemons with a vegetable brush to remove the wax coating.
Nutrition Facts
How to Zest a Lemon (5 Easy Ways!)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 3
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.