Zest Powder Substitutes

Zest powder adds intense citrus flavor and aromatic notes to recipes. However, you may not always have it on hand when a recipe calls for it.

Zest Powder Substitutes

Fortunately, there are several effective substitutes for zest powder that can mimic its bright citrus punch.

What is Zest Powder?

Zest refers to the outermost, colorful skin of citrus fruits. It contains aromatic oils that give citrus fruits their distinctive tangy, bright taste.

Zest powder is made by drying citrus zest, then grinding it into a fine powder. It is used as a spice or seasoning to add robust citrus flavor without bitterness. A small amount packs a concentrated citrusy punch.

Key Takeaway: Zest powder is made from dried, ground citrus peel. It provides intense citrus flavor without bitterness.

Common types of zest powder include:

  • Lemon zest powder - Tangy, tart, slightly sour
  • Orange zest powder - Sweet, mild, floral
  • Lime zest powder - Zesty, tart, sour
  • Grapefruit zest powder - Bitter, tart, citrusy

Zest powder is used in many dishes:

  • Baked goods - Cakes, cookies, scones
  • Beverages - Lemonade, margaritas, tea
  • Sauces - Pesto, marinara, salad dressings
  • Seafood - Fish, shrimp, scallops
  • Meat - Chicken, pork, lamb
  • Vegetables - Potatoes, carrots, green beans

It adds vibrancy and bright citrus essence without excess moisture.

Best Substitutes for Zest Powder

When you don't have zest powder on hand, there are several options to mimic the intense, tangy flavor it provides:

Dried Citrus Peels

Dried citrus peels make an excellent stand-in for zest powder. You can purchase packaged dried peels, or dry fresh peels yourself:

  • Wash peels thoroughly and pat dry
  • Place on baking sheet in single layer
  • Bake at 200°F for 1-2 hours until completely dry
  • Allow to cool fully before grinding

Key Takeaway: Grind dried citrus peels into a powder to substitute for zest powder.

Since drying concentrates the citrus oils, use less dried peel than you would zest powder. Try using 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon dried peel powder per 1 teaspoon zest powder called for.

Flavor profiles differ slightly by citrus variety, but common options include:

  • Lemon peel - Tangy, sour, zesty
  • Orange peel - Mild, sweet, floral
  • Lime peel - Bright, tart, zesty
  • Grapefruit peel - Slightly bitter, floral, citrusy

Citrus Juices

Citrus juices like lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit can substitute for zest powder, but reduce other liquids in the recipe. They provide citrus flavor, but more muted than zest powder.

Key Takeaway: Substitute citrus juice for zest powder, but reduce other liquids to account for added moisture.

General substitution ratio:

  • 2 Tbsp juice per 1 tsp zest powder

Since juices contain sugar and water, they do not pack the concentrated citrus punch of zest powder. Adjust amounts to taste.

Citrus Extracts

Extracts like lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit extract provide intense, concentrated citrus flavor similar to zest powder. They are made by distilling citrus peel oils into alcohol.

Key Takeaway: Use just a small amount of citrus extract in place of zest powder. Start with 1/4 teaspoon extract per 1 teaspoon zest powder.

Citrus extracts are very strong, so begin with 1⁄4 teaspoon extract in place of 1 teaspoon zest powder called for. Add more to taste if needed.

Spice Blends

Pre-made spice blends containing citrus flavors can substitute for zest powder. Blends like lemon pepper, cajun seasoning, herbes de provence, and ras el hanout offer complex flavor profiles with citrus notes.

Key Takeaway: Use spicy, citrus-based spice blends in place of zest powder. Start with 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon per 1 teaspoon zest powder.

Measurements vary based on the particular blend. Start with 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of spice blend for every 1 teaspoon zest powder, adjusting to suit your tastes.

Substitution Considerations

When substituting for zest powder, keep these tips in mind:

  • Intensity - Extracts and dried peels are more potent than juices. Adjust amounts accordingly.
  • Moisture content - Juices will add liquid, while extracts won't. Reduce other liquids to compensate if needed.
  • Flavor profile - Related citrus varieties work best. But experiment with complements like spices.
  • Dietary restrictions - Check labels for allergens if avoiding ingredients like alcohol.
  • Storage - Refrigerate juices; freeze, refrigerate or store dried peels and extracts in a cool, dark place.

Favorite Recipes Using Zest Powder

Here are some tasty recipes highlighting zest powder:

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

The lemon zest powder provides bright flavor to balance the rich, savory scone dough. Try substituting dried lemon peel powder or lemon extract if you lack zest powder.

Orange Olive Oil Cake

Ground orange zest powder gives this simple cake an intense citrus kick. Replace it with dried orange peel powder or orange extract if needed.

Lime Coconut Bars

These chewy bars get tropical flavor from lime zest powder. Substitute lime juice or lime extract to get that tangy lime essence if you don't have zest powder.

Grapefruit Pomegranate Mimosas

The grapefruit zest powder mixes with pomegranate juice for a gorgeous pink brunch cocktail. For a zest powder substitute, use dried grapefruit peel powder or grapefruit extract.


Is lemon peel powder the same as lemon zest powder?

Lemon peel powder and lemon zest powder are slightly different. Peel powder contains some of the bitter white pith along with the outer zest. Zest powder is just the outermost yellow peel, so it has a purer lemon flavor. However, they can substitute for one another, adjusting amounts based on taste.

Can I substitute orange extract for orange zest powder?

Yes, orange extract makes a good substitute for orange zest powder. Since extract is very concentrated, use just 1⁄4 teaspoon extract in place of 1 teaspoon orange zest powder. Add more extract to taste if needed.

What's a good lime zest powder substitute for margaritas?

For margaritas, you can substitute lime juice or lime extract for lime zest powder. Use about 2 tablespoons lime juice for 1 teaspoon zest powder. For extract, start with 1⁄4 teaspoon for 1 teaspoon zest powder. Dried lime peel powder also works well.

Can I use lemon pepper as a substitute for lemon zest powder?

Lemon pepper makes an acceptable substitute for recipes focused on citrus flavor rather than just heat. It contains spices like lemon peel, garlic, onion, and black pepper. Use about 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon lemon pepper per 1 teaspoon lemon zest powder called for.

Is orange juice concentrate a good substitute for orange zest powder?

Orange juice concentrate would add concentrated orange flavor similar to zest powder. However, it also adds a lot of sugar. Use small amounts like 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon concentrate in place of 1 teaspoon orange zest powder, adjusting sweeteners in the recipe accordingly.


Zest powder provides recipes a bright punch of citrus flavor and aroma.

When you lack zest powder, turn to convenient substitutions like other citrus peels, juices, extracts, and spice blends.

Each option offers its own twist, allowing you to explore new dimensions of flavor

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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