How to Zest a Lemon Without a Zester: The Handy Kitchen Tools

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Are you cooking up something that requires lemon zest? What if you don’t have the right tool to use?

We all know how a lemon zest adds that unique taste and aroma to any food or dessert.

Do you know how to zest a lemon without a zester? If not, then we are here to help. Let’s look for different ways to do it.

We will also check what benefits we can get from lemons aside from the extra zing it adds to a regular dish.

What Is Lemon Zest?

We always see the term lemon zest in most recipes. It is the flavorful outer yellow part of the peel that cooks use in their dishes.

Some recipes require both zest and the juice combined for that added tanginess to a meal or dessert.

Sometimes, lemon zest is more potent than the juice, which explains why it is so popular with professional chefs and home cooks.

Freshly grated zest offers a more intense flavor, as it is filled with oil than the dried ones sold in grocery stores and supermarkets.

All cooks know that the fastest way to add that citrusy flavor to their desserts is to include zest to their mixture.

What Are the Two Layers of a Citrus Peel?

The peel on any citrus fruit has two layers, and it is worth noting what they are and how they can affect a dish when you mix them.

  • Flavedo

The outermost part is the zest or flavedo. It is the colored and textured surface that we first see and touch.

It is the one that we gather and add to recipes when we want a hint of citrus flavors.

  • Albedo

The peel’s second layer is called albedo or the pith. It is the white fibrous membrane beneath the zest, protecting the fruit.

Avoid including this part in your dishes, as it can leave a bitter aftertaste.

What Are the Health Benefits of Lemon Zests?

Lemon zest enhances the taste and aroma of your food. It also provides benefits essential to our health.

  • Promotes Good Bone Health

Lemon zest is full of calcium and vitamin C, which helps improve and maintain healthy bones.

  • Supports Heart Health

One lemon provides 31 milligrams of vitamin C, essential to your heart health by lowering your cholesterol level and heart disease risk.

  • Helps Reduce Toxins

Our bodies accumulate toxic elements from the unhealthy food and drinks that we consume.

The citrus bioflavonoids found in lemon peels help remove the unwanted toxins.

  • Prevents Cancer

Lemon zest has Salvestrol Q40 and limonene, which prevent cancer cells from developing in the body.

  • Helps in Weight Control

There are some substances in lemons that offer fat-fighting capabilities, which also provide a feeling of fullness.

how to zest a lemon without a zester

Waxed or Unwaxed Lemon?

Lemons are available in two varieties. Organic and non-organic.

The non-organic lemon variety exterior has a wax coating to preserve the fruit, keeping it fresh longer.

Although the wax cover is safe, some cooks want to remove it before zesting.

You can dewax the lemon by pouring hot water over them to melt them.

Use a vegetable brush to remove any remaining wax residue from the lemon’s outer skin.

Dry the lemons thoroughly before zesting.

Organic lemons, on the other hand, have either an organic beeswax coating or none at all.

How to Zest a Lemon Without a Zester

The most recommended way to zest a lemon without a lemon zester is to use a grater. Here are some of your best options:


How to zest without zesters? A micro-grater or Microplane is an excellent alternative when a recipe asks for a grated zest or citrus peel.

Simply rub the lemon across the sharp edges of the Microplane using moderate pressure to get all the zest from the lemon.

Box Grater

The smallest grating surface on a box grater is also an effective way to produce lemon zest.

Position it on a clean surface, hold it firmly with one hand while the other has the lemon.

Rub the lemon against the sharp edges while rotating it as you grate to get all the fruit’s yellow part.

How Do You Zest a Lemon With a Cheese Grater?

A cheese grater is a kitchen tool that is always present in most kitchens.

It may come in various teeth sizes, but the smallest variety is the perfect choice for zesting lemons.

Move the lemon back and forth against the grating surface, taking care not to cut your fingers.

Grate all the yellow portions of the skin until only the pith remains.

Is There an Easy Way to Zest Lemons With a Grater?

One easy way to zest lemons is by covering the grating panel with a plastic wrap. Then, rub the lemon against the plastic-covered grating teeth.

Most of the grated zest will stay on the plastic wrap, making it easier to collect, gather, and add to your dish.

How Do You Zest Without a Grater

Now, what if you don’t have an available grater?  There are other options on how to zest a lemon without a lemon zester and a grater, including:

Vegetable Peeler

Learn how to zest a lemon without a grater using a vegetable peeler. Gently peel off the skin from top to bottom, taking care not to include the bitter pith.

Paring Knife

You can strip off a small portion of the yellow skin from the lemon with a sharp paring knife. Take extra care when using a paring knife to avoid the pith.

You can also use a paring knife to scrape off the pith from the lemon peel’s inner portion.

Cut the peel into strips, then chop them before mixing it into your dish.

Zesting With the Right Tools!

Do you know how to zest a lemon without a lemon zester? We have shown you how to zest without zesters.

You should be able to produce lemon zest using other kitchen tools. We also showed you how to zest a lemon without a grater if you don’t have one.

The next time a recipe calls for a teaspoon of lemon zest, there is no reason to skip that step now. We have provided you with different ways how to zest a lemon without a zester.

Stock on the best paring knives in your kitchen, like the Wusthof Classic paring knife to help you produce a lemon test the next time you need some in your food.