The next time you eat your orange, you should probably think twice before throwing out the skin. Mind you, some recipes might call for its zest because of its tangy flavor perfect for salads, baked goods, and savory dishes.
The best substitutes for Orange Zest are orange juice, orange water, lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, lime zest, apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar, and clementine zest.
Substituting Orange Zest
Looks like you’ve got more options you can choose from. Let’s look at how these substitutes can help you in the kitchen.
1. Orange Juice
When no more skins are left from your oranges, no need to worry. If you have any type of orange juice from your fridge, it still brings the same effect when used especially in baked dishes. Whether you’re adding it when making a cake or just simply for glazing and filling, it works just fine.
When substituting, replace a teaspoon of orange zest with one teaspoon of orange juice. Other than using it for your favorite baked dishes, orange juice can also be used for making salad vinaigrettes and dips.
2. Orange Water
If you have orange water, then no need to get some zest. Orange water comes from its flowers mixed with distilled water to get that citrusy aroma and flavor. Unlike orange juice, orange water is more light and subtle. It’s not as sweet as orange juice but it has a hint of sweetness to it, perfect for adding in any type of already-sweet desserts.
Unlike orange juice where you only need a teaspoon to substitute half a teaspoon of orange zest, you would need more than that. Use two teaspoons of orange water to achieve the right citrusy sweet flavor.
3. Lemon Zest
If oranges are nowhere in sight, try considering other citrus fruits like lemon? Lemon zest works equally the same as orange zest. But, you need to scrape away from the stem since it gets too bitter on that area. You don’t want to taste that on your favorite desserts and dishes.
The substitution is also easy. Just use the 1:1 ratio, just use half a teaspoon lemon zest to replace half a teaspoon of orange zest. Since orange is sweeter than lemon, try adding half a teaspoon of honey to replicate its sweet-smelling aroma and taste.
4. Lemon Juice
Just like oranges, you can also use the juices from the lemon. You can simply extract its juices straight from the fruit or use the packaged ones whatever is currently available in your kitchen. Just take note that lemon juice has a sour and bitter taste especially when extracted from a fruit. Make sure you add 2 teaspoons of honey or sugar for every cup of lemon juice.
This is to replicate the same orangey sweet taste that your recipe needs. When substituting, use 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to substitute a teaspoon of orange zest. You can use the raw lemon juice directly when making marinades and vinaigrettes without having to add sugar or honey.
5. Grapefruit Zest
If grapefruit is in season in your area, why not take advantage? This pink citrus fruit is larger than the rest of the citrus fruits on our list. Rest assured, you can use as much zest as you want for your dishes. I also like using this since it’s less bitter and has a hint of sweetness to it especially when the fruit is ripe.
Just substitute it with a teaspoon of grapefruit zest over a teaspoon of orange zest. Although it’s a different fruit, you will see that the substitution offers the same results. You won’t even notice that something’s different in it.
6. Grapefruit Juice
Apart from its zest, you can simply use the grapefruit juice. It does the same magic as its skin. If you have the fruit, the better. You can simply extract its juices if you have a juicing machine at home. If not, there are a lot of different grapefruit juice brands in the grocery markets.
Use only 1 ½ teaspoon of grapefruit juice to substitute a teaspoon of orange zest. If you like the flavor of grapefruit, it wouldn’t hurt to add a little bit more.
7. Lime Zest
Lime is quite the same as lemon but smaller and green in color. Both are sour and have some sweetness to it when fully ripe. I personally like using lime when marinating seafood and meats as it helps take away its funkiness. But during an emergency in the kitchen, the lime’s zest may substitute the orange’s.
The lime zest is a bit strong and is also bitter the same as lemon. For a teaspoon of orange zest, just use half a teaspoon so the bitter taste won’t be noticeable. If you only use a little bit of its zest, no need to add some sugar.
8. Clementine Zest
Last but not least citrus fruit option is the clementine. Clementine is an orange which is a hybrid of sweet and mandarin orange. This is a personal favorite of mine out of all the different types of oranges. It’s sweeter and deep in color, and most of all, the zest is better than regular oranges.
If you have these in your area, you should try out clementine on your next baking session. The substitution is just the same, just use the 1:1 ratio. This is one of the safest and best substitutes that you can use to keep the same results from your recipe.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
This substitute might be a shocker for you, but yes, you can use apple cider vinegar when you don’t have orange zest. Using this will not only substitute the tangy-zesty flavor but it will also help your baked goods to rise. This is one of the tricks I use to make fluffier cakes and muffins.
Use only half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar over a teaspoon of orange zest. You can add some honey if you feel like it’s too sour for your liking. But based on my experience, just the apple cider vinegar works well with the dish.
10. Regular Vinegar
If apple cider vinegar is unavailable, regular vinegar works just fine as a substitute. There’s no specification on which brand to use but be wary that some vinegar can be too sour and strong. Do a taste test first, if it’s tanginess is just right, you can simply replace it with a teaspoon of vinegar over a teaspoon of orange zest.
When the vinegar has a strong sour taste, just use half a teaspoon instead. You can also add some sugar or honey to tone down its strong aroma and taste.
Whether you’re making a marinade, glaze, filling, savory dish, or desserts, it’s good to know that you are not only limited to using orange zest alone. A handful of substitutes are available, just waiting to be discovered. I’m pretty sure there are more citrus fruits out there that can substitute oranges. Feel free to experiment and let us know your results.