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Lemon Zest

Lemon zest is a great way to add that citrus flavor to so many recipes. When zesting you get the most flavor than any other part of the fruit. You are going to find the process very easy to do.

In this post we will cover how to zest a lemon 2 different ways.

lemon zest on a cutting board


  • Lemon


  • Microplane
  • Box Grater
  • Vegetable peeler

What is lemon zest

It is the darker part of the peel of the lemon. It adds a punch of lemon flavor to your recipe.

Adding lemon zest to your cooking will add that acid that most dishes need to produce flavor.

It creates an amazing citrus taste for all your dishes.

How to zest a lemon

You can zest a lemon in multiple different ways. In the end, you try to remove the darker peel without removing the white pith part. It is important to make sure your lemon has not gone bad.

Try to go lightly when you run the lemon across the Microplane. I think this is the best tool for the job seeing that it does not remove too much at a time and stays on the surface.

I really feel the best way to zest a lemon is with a Microplane. This plane works great in all kinds of ingredients.

Now if you don’t have a Microplane you can always use a cheese grater and I will show you in the steps below, make sure you follow along.

I also go over how to cut a lemon, this will give instruction on how to use the lemon in different ways.

1. Wash the lemon

Always wash your lemons before you use them. I can’t imagine where the fruit has been along its journey from the farm to the table.

If you are not using organic lemons there are all kinds of risks of pesticides and fertilizers that could be on the lemons.

They do have some veggie sprays that you can use and a lot of people use Dr. Bronners all in one soap to wash their fruit and veggies.

2. Zest the lemon with a microplane

lemon zest microplane

I think by far the best way to zest a lime is with the Microplane. You can completely skip removing the lemon pith in this way.

Holding the Microplane firmly in one hand you are going to drag them lemon across the Microplane.

Keep rotating the fruit around as soon as you start to see the white pith.

Zesting lemon with a box grader

Another popular way is to use a box grater. The grater has multiple sides and I would focus on using the 2nd largest size.

Slide the lemon down the grater and continue to rotate it so that you only remove the dark yellow part of the lemon.

Be very careful to keep your knuckles out of the way so that you don’t cut yourself. They can be dangerous if you are not paying attention!

There is a rough side that really grabs the lemon peel so you will need to push harder to get your lemon zest.

Zesting your lemon with a vegetable peeler

If you don’t have a Microplane you can zest a lemon with a vegetable peeler. This is an easy process. Simply peel the lemon and try to avoid removing the white part of the lemon.

After you have the peel you can chop it up with a sharp knife.

What to use lemon zest for

The biggest reason is to add a punch of flavor to a recipe. It is very popular to use zest from citrus in certain deserts.

Using the zest of lemon you can enhance your next recipe. Adding acid helps balance a lot of recipes. It really gives citrus freshness to your food.

Types of zesters


This I feel is the best way of removing the peel. the key is how fine it is and how sharp the mesh is on the Microplane.

It is also probably the safest way to zest. The holes only cut in one direction so as long as you don’t drag your finger in the opposite direction you should be fine.

box grater

A grater is a common tool in a lot of kitchens. It usually is used for cheese a lot of the time. It has a lot of different size holes to help grate whatever you are grating.

Tips for lemon zest

The biggest tip I can give is to make sure that you are staying away from the white part of the fruit. This is what’s going to give it that bitter flavor.

What’s the difference between lemon zest and lemon peel?

Lemon zest is the peel of lemon with all the pith removed. Lemon peels have the peel and the pith. Lemon peel has a bitter taste because of the pith, the white part that is in the fruit.

No, lemon zest and lemon juice are not the same. Lemon juice is a liquid and it will not give as strong as a lemon taste that you will get from a lemon peel.

The biggest use for lemon zest is when a recipe calls for it. It gives a burst of that lemony flavor to a dish. It is very common in baking.

how to zest a lemon

How to Zest a Lemon ( 3 Ways)

Lemon zest us used in so many great recipes. This recipe is going to show you how to zest a lemon.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 8 kcal


  • Microplane
  • Box Grater


  • 1 Lemon


How to zest a lemon with a microplane

  • Wash lemon under cold water and use your vegetable wash or soap. Some people actually have a brush that they use also.
  • Hold the plane in one hand firmly and take the lemon and run it down the microplane. Lift it back up and repeat.
    Turn the lemon as you go so you continue to just get the peel.

Alternative: Box Grater

  • Hold the grater firm in its location and run the lemon up and down on the rasp of the grater. This cutter goes both ways.
    As you remove the peel turn the lemon. Focus on removing just the yellow part of the peel.


Tip: Make sure you are only getting the lemon part of the peel. The white part of theĀ  peel or the “pith” is very bitter and you don’t want it.


Calories: 8kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 37mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 1mg
Keyword how to zest a lemon, lemon zest
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