How to Zest a Lemon


How to Zest a Lemon

Zest is an easy and fresh way to add extra flavor to cooking and baking. A little lemon zest (the fruit's outer most layer) can add brightness and a balancing hint of acidity to chicken, fish, muffins, and more.  Plus, that thin yellow-colored peel can introduce a nice pop of color to any food and drink presentation. We're going to show you how to zest a lemon three different ways. So don't worry if your drawer doesn't hold a citrus zester, because you'll still be able to get the job done! And even though we're talking about how to zest a lemon, you can also use the zest from oranges and limes to add some fresh citrus flavor to your dish.

Check out our video above and the tips below on how to zest a lemon.


Lemon Zest

How to Zest a Lemon

Before you learn how to zest a lemon, keep these tips in mind.

  • Before zesting make sure to scrub your citrus with hot water. This will help to remove any dirt or wax on the outer layer. 
  • While zesting, only take off the thin yellow zest, leaving behind the bitter white pith underneath. 


1. Use a paring knife.  Hold the lemon and gently run the blade of a sharp paring knife just under the lemon's peel. It's okay if some pith comes off with the lemon's zest. You can place the zest on a cutting board and scrap the pith off with the edge of your paring knife or a spoon. 
2. Use a vegetable peeler. Hold your lemon and simply drag the peeler across the skin. Try to avoid the pith as much as possible. If you want smaller pieces, you can mince the skin on a cutting board (just like you would mince garlic or herbs). 
3. Use a zester. Rest one end of the zester (microplane) on a cutting board and the hold the handle in one hand. Apply pressure and grate the fruit against the zester. Make sure to rotate your fruit so that you don't begin to grate into the pith. 

Practice your new zesting skills with these bright and yummy recipes!


Lemon Pudding

Zesty Lime Poke Cake

Lemon Pudding

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin


Zesty Lime Poke Cake

Triple Citrus Chicken



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