Orange Zest Substitute: Top 8 Alternatives for Your Recipes!

You’ve probably come across orange zest in recipes and cocktails you’ve wanted to try. While you can make your own orange zest with orange peels, it’s not every day that homes have the fruit at home!

Don’t worry; there are many substitutes for orange zest you can use for your savory or sweet dishes. Read on for our extensive list to find the perfect ingredient!

What Can You Substitute For Orange Zest?

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Think twice before throwing the skin away when you have oranges at home! You can always use that as orange zest for your following dishes for that tangy flavor.

But if you don’t have any oranges or just threw them out, don’t panic! There are many options to choose from.

Whether you’re making sweet-flavored dishes or savory ones, here are the ingredients to choose from when substituting orange zest:

1. Orange Juice

Orange juice isn’t the best orange zest substitute if you’re thinking of the texture. But when talking about aroma and flavor, there isn’t any better match than the fruit juice!

Fun fact: Orange is the largest citrus fruit worldwide, and its juice is the most popular in America.

When using orange juice, you get an explosion of refreshing citrusy and tangy flavor that works well in salad dressing, cocktails, baked dishes, marinades, or glazes.

Use an equal 1:1 ratio when using orange juice as an orange zest substitute (one teaspoon of orange zest is equivalent to the same amount of orange juice). When cooking, add orange juice at the end of the process so it won’t evaporate and lose its aroma.

If you have orange extract, this will work as well with its citrus aroma and orange flavor! Just do not use too much orange extract and taste test as you add the ingredient, as pure extracts have a condensed flavor.

Another interesting substitute is orange marmalade or limoncello liqueur, which is orange-based alcohol!

Orange marmalade will have a sweet orange taste, though, so it’s best suited for desserts. As for orange liqueur, it’s more suitable for cocktails and baked goods.

Some people have suggested using orange essential oils, though these natural oils are best suited for external application, like our hair and skin. (*)

2. Lemon Zest

Lemon zest is another one of the best substitutes for orange zest, being part of the citrus family. You can easily find this in your kitchen, and it has a refreshing, citrusy flavor.

When using this to substitute orange zest, get the colorful part and not the white part of the lemon peel, known as the pith. The pith has a strong sour taste that people won’t appreciate.

Note that lemon zest will have a lemon flavor, which is slightly different from what you’d expect in oranges.

Use an equal 1:1 ratio with this substitute for orange zest. You can use lemon zest in many sweet and savory recipes, like lemon bars, meringue pies, marinades, rubs, or glazed dishes.

If you don’t have lemon juice, you can always try the lemon extract. That said, this extract has high acidic properties, so if you’re not tolerant to acidity, it may not be the most ideal.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar offers a fruity aroma that can make up for the lack of citrus flavors in a recipe. But of course, this isn’t the best substitute for sweet recipes and desserts.

Instead, we recommend using apple cider vinegar in savory recipes like burger sauces, soups, or salads.

Regular vinegar also works, but given its high acidity level, use only half a teaspoon for every teaspoon of orange zest required.

4. Lemon Juice

We can’t forget the lemon juice! This works as a great substitute if you want that strong citrus aroma.

In terms of acidity, lemon juice is stronger than lemon zest and orange juice. It’s even stronger than orange zest, so you need to use the proper amount so you can still achieve a bright and refreshing taste.

Because of lemon juice’s low pH level, you can use it to get even more texture in jellies and jams. You can also use it to help your baked dishes rise.

Also, because lemon juice has a sour and bitter taste (not too bitter, though!), you can find it in Thai cuisine, dips, dressings, steamed vegetables, and most fish and seafood dishes.

5. Lime Juice

Lime juice is suitable for Mexican food that needs orange zest! It also adds freshness to any dish, particularly in guacamole.

Fun fact: Use this substitute in toppings, dressings, sauces, fillings, marinades, or cocktails. It also works amazingly in fish and seafood dishes.

Besides this juice, you can also go for lime zest or clementine zest, which works just as well. But remember that this citrus fruit has a very sour taste, so go for a smaller amount. Opt for half a teaspoon of lime zest for every teaspoon of orange zest.

6. Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is another one of the best substitutes for orange zest. Just make sure you use freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice to get all the nutrients while avoiding artificial ingredients.

Use this replacement in cocktails and other beverages, salad dressing, marinades, and sauces.

Note that one teaspoon of orange zest is equivalent to 1.5 teaspoons of this fruit juice.

7. Fruit Concentrate

Fruit concentrate is NOT the same as juice! It’s made of fruit juice, food coloring, and sugar, with the water extracted for a thick consistency.

Fruit concentrate works amazingly in various recipes, whether in desserts, salads, cocktails, and the like.

8. Grapefruit Zest

Grapefruit is one of the citrus fruits many people love, which is why it’s worth using an orange zest substitute. It’s just as tart and sour as orange zest and adds color to dishes, perfect for garnishing.

Grapefruit zest goes well in meat marinades, salads, and even tea!

Frequently Asked Questions

For those who still have more questions or want to learn more about orange zest, then check out our frequently asked questions!

1. What is orange zest, exactly?

Orange zest is technically from the skin of the same-named citrus fruit,

Fun fact: The orange peel has two layers. Orange zest comes from the citrus fruit’s thin, colored outer layer. You do not use the white inner layer, which is very bitter.

2. Is tamarind paste the best orange zest substitute?

While tamarind paste offers a slight acidity, it’s definitely not the best, but a unique one that can elevate your dish’s flavor.

You don’t get the citrusy aroma and flavor, but the acidity works well in Indian or South Asian cooking. If you happen to have this paste and you’re in a pinch, then you can try using a bit of it as a substitute and see how it goes.

3. What recipe calls for orange zest?

You can use orange zest in so many ways, whether in baked goods, salad dressings, savory dishes, and the like. Here are a few recipes that use this ingredient for the citrus flavor:

  • Candied orange zest
  • Orange and fennel cake
  • Orange zest doughnuts
  • Orange zest sugar cookies
  • Instant pot orange chicken
  • Carrot and orange salad
  • Savory meatballs with orange and prune glaze
  • And many more!

Wrapping It Up

Whether it’s other citrus fruits, vinegar, pure extracts, or even essential oils, there’s always something accessible to use as a substitute for orange zest, some of which you probably already have in the kitchen pantry!

Hopefully, you found the best substitutes for the orange zest from the ingredients we mentioned above. In the comments section below, let us know what you used to replace orange zest and how it turned out for your recipe. Happy cooking!

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