11 Best Orange Zest Substitutes – Discover How to Use & Measure Them!

As a seasoned cook, finding the right ingredient can make or break a dish. When it comes to adding a citrusy boost to recipes, orange zest is an essential ingredient.

But what happens when you don’t have any oranges on hand or want to switch things up?

Don’t worry; there are several orange zest substitutes that you can utilize to create delicious dishes without compromising on flavor.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the 11 best orange zest substitutes, how to use them, and the right ratios to achieve the best results. 

Whether you’re a home cook or a chef, these alternatives will inspire you to experiment beyond the orange zest and elevate your dishes’ flavor to new heights.

In short, " What can I use instead of orange zest?"

Lemon Zest, Lime Zest, Grapefruit Zest, Tangerine Zest, Clementine Zest, Orange Extract, Lemon and Orange Juice, Orange Oil, Orange Marmalade, Candied Orange Peel, and Orange Yogurt.

What is orange zest, and what does orange zest taste like?

Orange zest is the outer part of an orange peel. It has a sweet, tangy flavor that adds a citrusy note to recipes. 

The zest has an intense orange flavor with hints of lemon and lime and can utilize as a garnish for savory and sweet dishes.

When using orange zest, remove it from the oranges by grating it finely with a microplane or box grater; larger pieces will taste bitter when cooked.

Uses of orange zest

Orange zest is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. It can be used to add a bright, citrusy flavor to a variety of dishes.

Fresh orange zest is an excellent way to enhance the flavor of marinades, sauces, breads, vinaigrettes, salads, and more.

It adds brightness to savory dishes like roasts and stews and complements desserts like cookies and cakes.

Orange zest can also be used in rubs for meats or vegetables or added to tea for a light citrusy flavor.

Moreover, it makes a great garnish due to its vibrant color and can be used to make candied oranges as well as homemade lemonade or orange juice. 

Orange zest has antioxidant properties that can help fight inflammation and disease-causing agents while providing vitamins A & C, fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate and other nutrients.

Where to buy orange zest?

If you are looking for where to buy orange zest, there are a few different places you can go. Many specialty food stores carry it, as do some international grocery stores

You can also order online from many retailers that provide a variety of diverse flavors and types of orange zest.

1. Lemon Zest – a good orange zest substitute

lemon zest is good orange zest substitute

Lemon zest is arguably the closest substitute to orange zest.

Ratio or measurement: It can be used in a 1:1 ratio.

The zest of one lemon is equivalent to the zest of one orange, but it has a more potent citrus flavor.

If you’re using lemon zest in place of orange zest, use less of it to avoid overpowering the dish’s flavor.

2. Lime Zest

Lime zest is another suitable orange zest substitute that adds a refreshing twist to dishes. It has a slightly different flavor and aroma than orange zest but is still a good option.

Ratio or measurement:  In terms of a ratio, it's best to use 3/4 teaspoon of lime zest to substitute one teaspoon of orange zest.

3. Try Grapefruit Zest in place of orange zest 

Grapefruit zest is a great alternative to orange zest that adds a sweet and tangy flavor to dishes. It’s less pungent and more citrusy, making it a good flavor choice in sweet baked goods.

Ratio or measurement:   The ratio for grapefruit zest is 1:1, making it an easy substitution option.

4. Tangerine Zest

tangerine zest is nice orange zest replacement

Tangerine zest is a sweeter, less acidic alternative to orange zest. Due to its milder flavor, it’s best used for dishes where a subtle citrus flavor is desired.

Ratio or measurement:  The ratio for tangerine zest is 1:1, but it's better to use slightly more for a stronger flavor.

5. Clementine Zest – a tasty orange zest alternative

Clementine zest is a hybrid between a mandarin and an orangegiving it a sweeter flavor and aroma. 

It’s also milder and less acidic than orange zest, making it easier to work with in sweet dishes.

Ratio or measurement:  The perfect ratio for clementine zest is 1:1, but it's better to use more to get that orange flavor profile.

6. Orange Extract

orange extract is good orange zest alternate

Orange extract is a concentrated flavoring liquid made from orange peel essence and alcohol. It’s a reliable substitute for orange zest giving any dish a strong orange flavor. 

Ratio or measurement:  When using orange extract, the ratio should be roughly half of the zest used.

For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of orange zest, use half a tablespoon of orange extract instead.

7. Use Lemon and Orange Juice instead of orange zest 

If you don’t have any orange zest in your pantry but still want that citrus flavor, a mixture of orange and lemon juice can be a game-changer.

Ratio or measurement:  In terms of ratios, you can swap one tablespoon of orange zest with one tablespoon of lemon juice and orange juice.

Just like orange extract, lemon juice is a common full-proof ingredient that can be found almost anywhere.

8. Orange Oil

orange oil is nice substitute for orange zest

Orange oil is a concentrated form of orange zest that can be used as a substitute for orange zest.

Ratio or measurement:  You can use a similar ratio of 1/2 tsp of orange oil for every teaspoon of orange zest.

It is essential to be careful while measuring orange oil since we don’t want our dishes to be overpowered by the oil.

9. Orange Marmalade – a decent orange zest replacement

Orange marmalade can help provide the sweetness and tangy flavor of fresh orange zest.

Ratio or measurement:  When substituting, say for a recipe that uses a teaspoon of orange zest, use a tablespoon of orange marmalade instead.

The sweetness level of the recipe increases with the use of this substitute, so add this to your taste, not blindly.

10. Candied Orange Peel

Candied orange peel is often a common ingredient in baking. It adds the same sweetness and texture as fresh zest. 

Ratio or measurement:  Using it in place of orange zest is as easy as using a 1:1 ratio.

To ensure the substituting works, chop the candied orange peel as delicately as possible, as the texture and flavor can differ from that of orange zest.

11. Orange Yogurt – similar taste to orange zest 

orange yogurt is good replacement for orange zest

Yogurt suggests a subtle, creamy flavor that influences the existing flavors of your dish. If you have plain

Ratio or measurement:  Greek Yogurt, mix with orange juice from half an orange and add the same quantity as instructed in your recipe.

It’s vital to use the Greek variety as it has a tangy flavor like orange zest, producing the same enhancement for the citrusy profile we crave.

Tips on How to Choose the Most Suitable Substitution Option for orange zest

When selecting a suitable substitution option for orange zest, consider the following tips:

1. Citrus Zest Substitutes: Orange zest offers a distinctly citrusy and aromatic flavor. If you don’t have oranges or prefer an alternative, consider using zest from other citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, or grapefruit.

Each citrus fruit will provide a slightly different flavor profile but can still add brightness and tanginess to your dish.

2. Dried Citrus Peel: If fresh citrus zest is not available, you can use dried citrus peel as a substitute. Dried orange peel or pre-packaged dried citrus zest can be found in stores and provide a concentrated flavor.

Adjust the quantity according to your taste preference and the intensity of the dried peel.

3. Citrus Extracts: Citrus extracts, such as orange extract, can be used to add a hint of orange flavor to your recipe.

They are available in most grocery stores and can be a convenient substitute for fresh zest. Start with a small amount and modify it to taste, as the extracts tend to be highly concentrated.

4. Essential Oils: Food-grade essential oils derived from citrus fruits can be used sparingly as a substitute for zest. These oils are highly concentrated, so only a tiny amount is needed to add the desired flavor.

Ensure that you are using essential oils specifically labeled for culinary use.

5. Consider Other Flavor Combinations: Depending on the recipe, you can explore alternative flavors that complement your dish.

For example, if you’re making a dessert, you could substitute orange zest with vanilla extract, almond extract, or other complementary flavors that will enhance the overall taste.

6. Experiment and Adjust: Since the intensity of zest and its substitutes can vary, it’s best to start with a less quantity and gradually add more to achieve the desired flavor.

Taste and adjust as needed to match the original recipe or your personal preference.

7. Consider Recipe Compatibility: Keep in mind the overall flavor profile of your dish and how the substitute will complement other ingredients.

For example, lemon zest can provide a tangy and vibrant flavor, while grapefruit zest can be slightly more bitter. Choose a substitute that will harmonize with the other flavors in your recipe.

Always consider the specific recipe requirements and adapt the substitute based on your preferences and the desired outcome.

Remember that while substitutes can offer similar flavors, they may not provide the exact taste and aroma of fresh orange zest.

Experimentation and adjusting to personal preferences will help you find the most suitable substitution for your needs.

mandarin zest substitutes for orange zest

Mandarin oranges can be a great substitute for orange zest. This is because the two fruits are closely related, with mandarins being a smaller, sweeter and easier-to-peel version of the traditional citrus fruit.

The flavor profile of mandarin zest is slightly different, as it has more floral notes and less tartness than orange zest. 

However, when used properly in recipes that call for orange zest, these subtle differences should not be noticeable.

Additionally, the smaller size of mandarins makes them much easier to zest with a grater without needing to worry about removing too much pith or getting larger chunks of the outer rind.

As such, using mandarin zest in place of regular orange zest can be an easy way to add sweetness and complexity to any recipe.

Substitute for orange zest in cookies

Orange zest can be replaced with lemon zest in cookies to create a bright, tangy flavor. Lemon zest has a more intense taste than orange zest and can add a pleasant citrusy aroma to baked goods.

It is ideal for recipes that call for a sharper contrast of flavors while still providing sweetness. 

When substituting lemon zest for orange zest, use the same amount as what is called for in the original recipe.

The zest should be grated finely before adding it to the dough or batter, as larger pieces of zest can have an unpleasant texture and bitter aftertaste. 

To further enhance the citrus flavor, consider adding some freshly squeezed lemon juice into the mixture or drizzling it over the top after baking.

Substitute for orange zest in carrot cakes

When it comes to carrot cakes, many bakers opt for orange zest as a flavor enhancer. However, if you don’t have any on hand, there are some great alternatives that can lend a similar flavor to your baking.

Dried apricots can be used in place of orange zest; simply chop them into small pieces and add them to the dry ingredients. 

Alternatively, you can try substituting nutmeg for a warm and woody flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the carrots and other ingredients.

Another great option is adding ground ginger or allspice, which will give your cake a nice spicy kick. 

Whatever substitute you choose, make sure you adjust your baking time accordingly and watch closely to ensure the cake doesn’t overcook.

Discover more: Best Creme de Cassis Substitutes

Substitute for orange zest in cranberry sauce

If orange zest is not available for a cranberry sauce, you can substitute it with finely grated lemon rind.

The tartness of the lemon will provide the same bright flavor as the orange zest. If using lemon rind, be sure to use organic lemons to avoid any unwanted pesticides or chemicals. 

You can add a bit of freshly ground nutmeg for additional layers of flavor and depth.

The nutmeg will help to balance out the tartness of the cranberry sauce and give it a unique flavor profile.

Conclusion on orange zest substitute

In conclusion, these alternatives to orange zest can work wonders in any recipe. Lemon zest, lime zest, grapefruit zest, tangerine zest, clementine zest, orange extract, and orange juice are all top options to consider. 

Don’t shy away from experimenting with different ratios to develop new flavor profiles. Whether you’re a home cook or a chef, these substitutes will give your dishes that delicious citrusy boost. 

So next time you’re out of oranges, don’t hesitate to try something new and dive into the wide world of citrus zest substitutes!

FAQs on orange zest substitute

Q1. What is similar to orange zest?

Lemon zest is similar to orange zest and can be used as a substitute in many recipes. Other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit or lime zest, can also be used in place of orange zest for a slightly different flavor.

Additionally, other aromatic ingredients like fresh herbs or spices can also use to add flavor and depth to recipes that call for orange zest.

Q2. How much orange juice to substitute for orange zest? 

When substituting orange juice for orange zest, it’s important to note that they provide different characteristics to a recipe.

Orange zest contains concentrated citrus oils, which contribute a strong and vibrant orange flavor, while orange juice is more liquid and less intense in flavor.

As a general guideline, you can use approximately three times the amount of orange juice as the amount of orange zest is called for in a recipe.

For example, if a recipe requires 1 teaspoon of orange zest, you can substitute it with 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of orange juice.

Keep in mind that the substitution may slightly affect the texture and flavor balance of the final dish, so consider the specific recipe and adjust accordingly based on personal preference.

It’s also worth noting that fresh orange juice is typically recommended over bottled or concentrated versions for the best flavor and natural citrus notes.

Q3. How to substitute for 1 tablespoon of orange zest?

One tablespoon of orange zest can be substituted with the finely grated peel of one medium-sized orange. Orange zest is a great way to add an extra layer of citrusy flavor to dishes and baked goods.

It contains an increased concentration of essential oils, which are packed with aromatic compounds that give orange its unique scent and flavor.

As well as adding an intense burst of zing, orange zest also provides numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion, enhancing skin health, reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.

Q4. Can I substitute orange peel for zest?

Yes, you can substitute orange peel for zest as prolonged as the orange peel is finely grated or minced.

Orange zest has a more concentrated flavor than regular orange peel since only the outermost layer of the peel is used when creating the zest.

When substituting orange peel for zest, it’s recommended to use twice as much orange peel to obtain a similar flavor intensity as with zest.

Additionally, the flavor of the finished product may be slightly different when using orange peel instead of zest.

Q5. Can lemon juice replace zest?

Yes, lemon juice can use as a replacement for citrus zest in certain recipes. It may not have the same intense flavor that citrus zest provides, but it can provide a similar brightness to dishes.

Lemon juice is an excellent substitute for zest in dishes like sauces, dips, dressings, and marinades.

The juice’s acidic nature will help bring out the flavors of other ingredients it’s combined with and give a nice tangy taste.

When using lemon juice as a substitute for zest, less is usually more; start by adding just a teaspoon or two and adjust the amount based on your preference.

Q6. Can clementine zest substitute for orange zest?

Clementine zest can be used as a substitute for orange zest in certain recipes; however, it is important to note that the flavor will differ somewhat.

Clementines tend to have a more mild taste than oranges, and therefore the zest from a clementine may not provide the same level of sweetness or citrusy notes as orange zest.

Additionally, because clementines are usually smaller than oranges, it may require more pieces of clementine zest to match the amount of orange zest called for in a recipe.

It is also worth noting that different varieties of oranges and clementines can have slightly different flavors.

Therefore, when substituting one for the other in a recipe, it is best to experiment with smaller amounts first in order to achieve the desired result before using larger amounts.

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