orange zest substitute

Top 11 Substitutes for Orange Zest

Orange Zest Substitutes

Citrus fruits have a special place in our everyday diet. The whole citrus family offers a range of refreshing flavors to the food. 

Besides their sweet and sour juices, the citrus fruits like oranges also give us an aromatic peel and zest, which is great to season plenty of dishes. 

The orange zest, in particular, is used in making bread, cakes, muffins and several others desserts or side meals. 


If you are making anything that calls for orange zest but can’t find some in the kitchen, then there are several other ingredients like orange juice, orange extract, lemon zest, lemon juice, lime zest, grapefruit zest, clementine zest etc. that you can definitely use to substitute the orange zest in baking and cooking.

What Is Orange zest? 

When you lightly grate the juicy peel of an orange, you get the orange zest. The orange peel contains all the citrus-y aroma, essence, anti-oxidants and fibers, so to add all that goodness to the food, the outermost layer of this peel is removed and used to season a variety of meals. 

Orange Zest Substitutes

The orange zest has a citrus-infused bitter flavor; that is why it is only used in a small amount. Even a teaspoon of orange zest is enough to add citrus-like flavors to the food.


How to make homemade orange zest?

The zest of one orange is equivalent to 2-3 tablespoons. And you can get this zest at home by using basic peeling techniques.

Usually, a Microplane or a box grater is used to peel the strands of orange zest from its surface. Hold this Microplane at a slanted angle and hold the orange in your other hand. Drag the Microplane holes across the orange peel to grate the orange zest. In case if you don’t have the Microplane then you can use the vegetable peeler as well to zest the orange.


Uses of orange zest in cooking

Orange Zest Substitutes

The refreshing orange zest’s aroma and its citrus flavor complement many recipes. So, you can use this zest to make:

  • Sauces like cranberry orange sauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Condiments like this berry or bacon jam 
  • Baked goods and sweets like cookies or orange muffins
  • Savory recipes like Caribbean pot roast 
  • Salads

Besides these basic meals, orange zest and peel also make a great topping and garnish for cocktails and other beverages.

11 Best Substitutes for Orange Zest in Recipes

In case you run out of orange zest while you are cooking in full swing, then you can always try the following ingredients as substitutes.

1. Orange Juice

If you have some orange juice lying in your refrigerator, then you are just in luck to replace the orange zest.

Orange Zest Substitutes - Orange Juice

Among all the alternatives, this juice is the closest match to orange zest’s aroma and flavor. It is sour, sweet and refreshing. So, you can add this juice to cakes, muffins, bread, cookies, drinks, sauces, marinades and even salad dressing. 

The best part about using the orange juice is that it is neither too bitter as the zest nor too sour as the lemon juice, so it never messes up with the flavor of the recipe even when you use a little bit extra. 

You can substitute orange zest with orange juice in a 1:1 ratio which means a teaspoon of orange juice is enough to replace 1 teaspoon of orange zest. Using the same conversion rate, you can substitute orange juice for orange zest as well.


2. Orange Extract

Orange Zest Substitutes - Orange Extract

Next in line is the orange extract which is more concentrated and potent than the orange juice. So only a small amount is enough to replace orange zest and get a similar taste and aroma. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of orange zest with ½ teaspoon of orange extract according to the 2:1 conversion ratio.


3. Lemon Zest

Lemon is another popular citrus fruit that we all have in our homes. In fact, some people like me love to grow lemons at home so that they could enjoy their refreshing flavor and aroma anytime. 

Orange Zest Substitutes -Lemon Zest

The lemon zest also contains a citrus-like taste and smell, which is suitable to replace the orange zest in desserts, baked goods and other recipes. All you need to do is to take an equal amount of lemon zest; let’s just say 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to substitute orange zest. 


4. Grapefruit Zest

Since grapefruit also belongs to this citrus family, its zest is a good replacement for orange zest. However, it is sweeter and lighter in taste than the others on this list. The grapefruit zest can substitute the orange zest in a 1:1 ratio, a teaspoon of it is enough to replace orange zest in drinks, desserts, snacks, and salads.

Orange Zest Substitutes - Grapefruit Zest


5. Clementine Zest

Clementine is a type of sweet-mandarin hybrid oranges with shiny skin and juicier flesh. So, you can try it as a mandarin zest substitute or replace orange zest. Use the 1:1 conversion ratio to replace the orange zest with clementine zest. It is particularly suitable to add to garnishes, salads and dessert toppings.

Orange Zest Substitutes - Clementine Zest


6. Lime Zest

The green-coloured lime zest is loaded with a refreshing citrus aroma. It has a strong kick and a bitter, acidic flavor which is more potent than the orange zest. You will have to use ½ a teaspoon of lime zest to substitute a teaspoon of orange zest. Use this zest in drinks, sauces and condiments.  

Orange Zest Substitutes - Lime Zest


7. Lemon Juice 

Like orange juice, lemon juice can be a great substitute for the orange zest. But remember that it has a stronger kick and acidic taste than orange juice. So, you will have to readjust its flavor by adding 2 teaspoons of sugar or honey to a cup of lemon juice. 

Orange Zest Substitutes - Lemon Juice

Mix these ingredients well until the sweetener is dissolved, and then add a teaspoon of this mixture to replace orange zest in baking recipes or sauces, condiments and salad dressings etc.


8. Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is so full of refreshing flavors and good nutrients. If you want to have something healthy in your meal, then this juice is a great replacement for orange zest. 

Orange Zest Substitutes - Grapefruit Juice

It is best to extract the fresh grapefruit juice at home and then add it to the recipes. Otherwise, the market bought grapefruit juice is also fine when you are using it in a small amount.

Grapefruit juice is less potent than orange zest, so you will have to use 1½ teaspoon of this juice to replace 1 teaspoon of orange zest.


9. Clementine Juice

Like the clementine zest, the fruit’s juice is equally great to replace orange zest. Clementine juice is more like orange juice, only a little sweeter. So, it is the best replacement for orange zest in baking and making all sorts of desserts. You can simply substitute 1 teaspoon of orange zest with 1- 1½ teaspoon of clementine juice to enjoy more of its sweet and sour flavors.

Orange Zest Substitutes - Clementine Juice


10. Lime Juice

Lime is a surprisingly great substitute for any citrus fruit and its juices. Lime juice is more similar to lemon juice in taste and flavors. So, you will also have to mix a cup of this juice with 2 teaspoons of honey and then use it as a perfect substitute for orange zest in all sorts of recipes.

Orange Zest Substitutes - Lime Juice


11. Vinegar

This can be any vinegar, the regular one or the apple cider vinegar! The aim of using vinegar as a replacement for orange zest is to get a strong sour taste. 

Orange Zest Substitutes - Vinegar

It is true that vinegar is more concentrated in the sourness, and it does not have that citrus-y aroma. So, you can only use a small amount of it in recipes that require some sour flavor like marinades, fillings, condiments and glazes etc.

The orange zest to vinegar substitution ratio depends on the strength and kick of the vinegar you are using. If it is strong, then use only ½ teaspoon to replace a teaspoon of orange zest. If it is not too strong, then replace it in a 1:1 ratio.


Conversion Table

Sr. No Orange Zest Substitutes To Replace 1 teaspoon of Orange Zest
1 Orange juice 1 teaspoon
2 Orange extract ½ teaspoon
3 Lemon zest ½  teaspoon
4 Grapefruit zest 1 teaspoon
5 Clementine Zest 1 teaspoon
6 Lime Zest 1 teaspoon
7 Lemon juice 1 teaspoon (mixed with honey or sugar)
8 Grapefruit Juice 1 ½ teaspoon
9 Clementine Juice 1 teaspoon
10 Lime Juice 1 teaspoon (mixed with honey) 
11 Vinegar ½- 1 teaspoon


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make orange zest?
Take a ripe and firm orange and grate its peel using a microplane or box grater and get the fresh orange zest in a pinch.
Can I substitute orange flavoring for orange zest?
Yes, orange flavoring is a concentrated extract of orange which can replace the orange zest. Use ½ teaspoon of orange flavoring to substitute 1 teaspoon of orange zest.
Can you substitute orange juice for zest?
Yes, orange juice is one of the best substitutes for orange zest in all sorts of recipes. Use 1 teaspoon of orange juice to replace a teaspoon of orange zest.
Can clementine zest be substituted for orange zest?
Yes, it is a suitable zest with a good citrus-y flavor and aroma to replace orange zest in a 1:1 ratio.

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