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12 Best Substitutes For Orange Zest You Can Try

12 Best Substitutes For Orange Zest You Can Try

Did you just come across an orange cake recipe but are out of its zest, also known as orange rind? Don’t plan to skip that delectable cake, as we have some of the best substitutes for orange zest that you can use in your recipe.

With its refreshing taste, orange zest makes its way into a wide variety of baked goods, marinades, salad dressings, sauces, and beverages, which make for show-stopping recipes. 

But in the absence of orange zest, we can use its substitutes like orange juice, orange peel, orange extract, candied orange peel, orange marmalade, lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, lemongrass, clementine zest, mandarin zest.

Just listing down all these substitutes for orange zest has made me all refreshed. Imagine what a bite into any of these alternatives could do. Now, before you and I get lost thinking about all the lip-smacking possibilities, let’s get started by understanding the taste and texture of orange zest to pick the right substitutes.

What’s In The Post

Quick Peek: Orange Zest

orange zest

This section will help you learn all the necessary information about orange zest. So, let’s have an insight into the flavor and texture profile, uses, and nutritional information of orange zest. 

What Is Orange Zest?

The colored peel of an orange, which, when grated, is called the orange zest. Just like the pulp and juice of an orange. Its zest gives a punch of tangy and citrus flavor and fragrance to their favorite sweet and savory recipes.

Many people get confused between orange zest and orange peel, but the two differ. The difference between the two comes from the fact that orange zest consists of no other part of the peel, i.e., the pith. It is just the colored exterior of an orange. 

The zest also contains essential oils that give orange fragrance and flavor in dishes. You can remove the zest by using a zester.

Whereas orange peels include both pith and zest. However, orange peel provides a slight bitterness with citrusy notes as compared to its zest. 

Are you wondering whether these two can be used as each other’s alternatives? The answer is yes, however, it entirely depends on what your recipe calls for. 

Describing Orange Zest: Flavor And Texture

As described above, orange zest is the colored part of the peel of orange fruit that adds a zing of orange flavor to recipes. These are tiny pockets of oil inside the peel that release a strong flavor and aroma. Being potent in flavor, just a small amount of zest can elevate the dish to great levels. 

You can zest an orange by holding the whole orange against the surface of a zester. By applying mild pressure, move the orange along the length of the zester in a back-and-forth motion. The tiny orange-colored powdery remains that you find on your tool are the zest you are looking for. 

The quality of orange zest is that it won’t affect the texture of your product and its vibrant flavor makes it an exotic element in most preparations.

Uses of Orange Zest

There are so many ways to use orange zest that next time you stock your refrigerator with fresh oranges, you will want to save the zest.

Orange zest is used in baked goods such as cakes, cookies, puddings, sorbets, pies, ice creams, glaze, and bread. The zest is also a vibrant addition to cocktails, mocktails, and savory foods.

Apart from its culinary uses, orange zest is used in cosmetics, household cleaners, and to keep bugs away. It is best used fresh, however, if you wish to store it, it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a week, or you could also freeze it for up to a month.

Orange Zest On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

When orange fruit boasts incredible health benefits, then its zest and peel are sure to provide similar results.

Orange zest or peels are rich in several nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, A, E, & B, and compounds like polyphenols. It boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, aids digestion, helps in asthma, prevents cancer, combats bad breath, and provides radiant skin. It also helps in reducing spots and wrinkles.

Why Should We Substitute Orange Zest?

Despite its amazing qualities, you may require substitutes for orange zest for many reasons. 

Firstly, if your citrus flavors hit your tastebuds the wrong way, you may find the flavor profile of orange zest slightly tart and might want to avoid it. Secondly, the availability of oranges might be an issue due to seasonal or locational factors.

And lastly, you might just want to experiment with alternatives that are readily available at home or in the market. To solve these problems, continue to discover the best substitutes for orange zest.

12 Best Orange Zest Substitutes

This section will take you through the best substitutes you can use in place of orange zest. You will not only learn about the flavor and texture of each substitute but also the recipes they can be used in and the substitution ratio.

1. Orange Peel

Orange Peel

Orange peel is the outer covering of the orange fruit and the most genuine substitute for orange zest. However, it hits slightly differently. Alongside its citrusy and zingy flavor profile, the orange peel comes with a slight bitterness as compared to orange zest. It has a distinctive and unique fragrance.

The Chinese often use orange peel to flavor meat dishes like tangerine beef. Whereas, in the west, it is used mostly in sweet dishes. In addition, you will most commonly find orange peels with mixologists as they are used to flavor cocktails, mocktails, and flavor-infused drinking water.

You can also make delicious sauces, dips, dressing, relish, marinades, soups, flavored herb salts, and much more with the help of orange peels. Other uses of an orange peel include removing odors, removing water stains, repelling bugs, conditioning hair, and using them in cosmetic products.

When substituting orange peel for zest in recipes, look at the texture of your product before its use. For example, sweet dishes like puddings, pies, ice cream, and sorbets would benefit from orange zest than its peel keeping its texture profile in mind.

2. Orange Juice

Orange Juice

If your recipe calls for a little more moisture then orange juice makes an ideal substitute for orange zest. It has the perfect mellow sweetness with citrus and tangy notes that would provide the same taste to your recipe. 

You can replace orange zest with juice in cakes, muffins, puddings, sauces, glaze, and dressings. You could replace orange zest for juice in savory recipes that include turkey, chicken, and beef. Orange juice can also be used to keep the meat moist while grilling, and it can be added to scrambled eggs for freshness. 

Do you believe in deglazing your pan? If yes, then orange juice can be your best friend to scrape out all those browned bits that stick to your cookware after cooking. It not only acts as a dish cleaning agent but also adds more flavor to your dish. Last, but not least, orange juice goes perfectly well with beverages. 

3. Candied Orange Peel

Candied Orange Peel

Candied orange peels are one of the easily available substitutes for orange zest. You can go to any candy store or supermarket to purchase this alternative. Candied orange peels are basically strips of orange peel that are coated with sugar syrup.

Candied orange peels offer a strong orange flavor that comes out really well in baked goods, but they taste equally good when devoured like candies.

4. Orange Extract


One of the most easily available and handy ingredients, orange extract also makes for a great substitute for orange zest. Just a few drops of the extract for every tablespoon of orange zest can be used in your recipes. 

For usage, while the extract comes as one of the best substitutes for orange zest, you might want to avoid using it in raw foods. The alcohol content in orange extract lends an overpowering flavor.

5. Orange Marmalade

orange marmalade

If desserts delight you and you want to make one despite having orange zest in hand, then you are at the right place. You can opt for orange marmalade. Marmalade is a jam or a jelly made out of fresh citrus fruits that are combined with sugar. 

It is an unfussy way to add the flavor of oranges to recipes and comes with a long shelf life. Orange marmalade is made by slicing oranges and dousing them in water and sugar. They are cooked on a low flame. You can easily find marmalades at any supermarket around you or make them at home.

6. Lemon Zest

Lemon Zest

If oranges are nowhere to be found, why not consider other citrus fruits?

Lemon zest, being the safest alternative to orange zest, comes from the peel of lime or lemon. Although sharper and sourer in flavor, it can lend those citrusy notes you are looking out for. With such a taste profile, you may want to consider using it a bit less as a substitute for orange zest.

For orange zest substitution, you can use the 1:1 ratio. Since oranges are sweeter than lemons, you can add half a teaspoon of sugar to replicate their sweet-smelling aroma and taste. 

Thinking of recipes to use lemon zest in it? Baked goods such as cakes and cookies make for the best option of using lemon zest as a substitute for orange zest. Since these goods are already sweet, the missing citrusy flavor is taken care of by lemon zest. Apart from these, this alternative can also be used in salads, dressings, and many savory recipes.

7. Lemon Juice

lemon juice

Just like its zest, lemon juice can be a great alternative to orange zest by adding some sweetness to it with the help of sugar. Lemon juice, per se, comes with a sour flavor with mild bitter notes to it, so adding sugar can help you achieve a similar taste.

Lemon juice as a substitute works well in dishes that call for a bit of moisture. In addition, you can use them in marinades, dressings, and sauces while using them in a ratio of 2:1. That is, you can replace two teaspoons of lemon juice with one teaspoon of orange zest.

8. Grapefruit Zest

grapefruit zest

As compared to lemon zest or juice, grapefruit zest can be a better substitute for orange zest as it belongs to the same family. Grapefruit zest happens to contain large amounts of aromatic oils that deliver an intense aroma.

Although grapefruit and orange have a similar appearance, the taste slightly differs. While oranges have sweeter notes, grapefruits offer a mild bitterness. However, in comparison to lemon zest and juice, grapefruit zest tops the spot.

9. Grapefruit Juice

grapefruit juice

With a sweeter taste profile, grapefruit juice makes for a great substitute for orange zest. You can use it in glazes, marinades, dressings, and any other recipe where a little moisture would be a good fit.

While substituting, a teaspoon of orange zest can be substituted with 1 ½ teaspoon of grapefruit juice.

10. Clementine Zest


Clementine is another fruit that makes for the best substitute for orange zest. It is a hybrid of oranges and mandarins. The main difference between these two lies in their appearance. In comparison to oranges, clementines are small in size, have smoother skin, and are bright in color. Hence, it’s naturally the best substitute for orange zest. In terms of taste, it’s sweeter than regular oranges.

If you have clementine instead of oranges in your area, you can easily swap them in recipes. Its substitution is just the same as orange zest. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio.

11. Mandarin Zest


Just like clementine, Mandarin is also a type of orange which is smaller in size and sweeter in taste than orange. Hence, it makes for a great substitute for orange zest. In terms of physical characteristics, Mandarins have thinner and loose skin. This quality makes them easier to peel.

China is highly regarded for its mandarin oranges. They use its zest and peels to complement the flavors of savory meals. They are added to beef, poultry, and fish recipes.

12. Lemongrass


While lemongrass may not be a direct substitute for orange zest, it can be a useful substitute for orange zest. Lemongrass brings the same type of dry citrus flavor to dishes; however, it misses the bright, fruity component. Its flavor profile is subtle and does feel overpowering.

Lemongrass can be used in curries, sauces, salads, soups, and stews.

Short Recap For Best Orange Zest Substitutes

That was surely a great and exhaustive list of substitutes for orange zest. I’m sure by now you have found the perfect alternative for your dish. But to make it easier for you, I’ve broken it down further.

Best Orange Zest Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor and Texture –

  1. Orange Juice
  2. Orange Peel
  3. Orange Extract
  4. Clementine Zest

Substitutes Of Orange Zest That Are Easily Available –

  1. Lemon Zest
  2. Lemon Juice
  3. Orange Extract
  4. Candied Orange Peel

Best Orange Zest Substitutes Should Be Least Considered –

Although lemongrass provides similar citrus notes to dishes, it can be used as the last option.

How To Substitute Orange Zest

Orange Zest Substitutes

Did you just come across an orange cake recipe but are out of its zest? Don’t plan to skip that delectable cake, as we have some of the best substitutes for orange zest that you can use in your recipe.

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  • Orange Juice
  • Orange Peel
  • Candied Orange Peel
  • Orange Extract
  • Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Juice
  • Orange Marmalade
  • Grapefruit Zest
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Mandarin
  • Lemongrass
  • Clementine Zest
  • Select the best suitable substitute for your recipe.
  • Purchase the substitute in the required quantitites.
  • Use the best substitute for orange zest in your recipe.

Final Word

Orange zest is the ideal ingredient for recipes that call for that extra punch. They can elevate the taste of any dish with its vibrant flavor. Many other fruits can be used as an easy orange replacement in your recipe by using them in the right way.

Apart from its taste, it provides several health benefits. If at all you are falling short of orange zest, the above-mentioned substitutes can be beneficial to you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most suitable substitute for orange zest?

Orange juice comes closest in terms of flavor. However, it provides moisture to dishes.

When should you use orange zest and when should you use orange peel?

Orange zest should be used in recipes that require a smooth consistency or does not require the bitterness of the whole peel. Whereas you can use orange peel in sauces, stews, or beverages where you can discard the peel after it has released its flavors and before serving.

Is orange extract a good substitute for orange zest?

Orange extract does make for a good alternative for orange zest, however, it is more suitable to be used in cooked recipes. When used raw, it imparts an overpowering taste.

How much orange extract to use?

Pure Orange Extract provides a similar citrusy orange flavor to your recipes. You can add one teaspoon of extract to 1 teaspoon of freshly grated orange zest.

Is lemon zest a good substitute for orange zest?

Lemon zest is certainly a good alternative to orange zest. To derive a flavor closer to that of orange, you can add some sugar with lemon zest.

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