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What Is Orange Zest?

What Is Orange Zest?

While many people love the pulpy and juicy inner parts of an orange, some people would throw away the outer layer nonchalantly. What they don’t know is that they can use the peel to prepare orange zest that should then add that sought-after punch of flavor and fragrance to their favorite sweet and savory recipes.

This entry I’ve lovingly prepared should reveal the many, different ways to zest an orange, the best uses of orange zest, and more. But first, let’s take a look at what orange zest is! 

The colorful outer peel of an orange is used to add a fruity and citrusy flavor to recipes. Many people confuse orange zest with orange peel. If the recipe calls for orange zest, add only the colorful orange skin.

However, if a recipe requires orange peel, add the bright outer part and the white portion of the peel to the recipe.

What it tastes like

Orange zest works by releasing flavorful oils with a tiny bit of peel into the dish. It has a very strong but slightly bitter flavor. So, a small amount delivers incredible flavor. 

Apart from the punch of flavor, another advantage of using orange zest is that it’s fragrant, adding a subtle, mouthwatering fragrance to your dishes.

How to zest an orange

There are different methods to prepare orange zest. The process of removing the orange zest from the fruit is typically known as zesting. 

The best way to zest an orange depends on the tools you have on hand and the kind of zest you want. Here are the top three ways to zest an orange within minutes.

Microplane – For long and thin strips

Microplane is a unique kitchen tool designed for zesting citrus fruits. Wash fresh oranges thoroughly before preparing zest. Gently, pull the fruit across the Microplane to get thin, long, and colorful orange zest strips.

Microplane is one of the best methods for zesting an orange as the strips are aesthetically appealing and can be used for decorating purposes. Plus, it’s inexpensive and readily available in the market. 

The only drawback of this zesting method is that it’s a bit harder and more time-consuming than the alternative methods.

Grater – For shredded orange zest

If your recipe requires a lot of orange zest, then using a grater is the best way to go about preparing it. 

To zest an orange using a grater, push thoroughly washed and dried oranges down the grater – the same way you grate cheese. Don’t forget to turn the orange frequently as you grate.

This zesting method is fast and easy! Just make sure you use a grater with small holes to avoid grating a lot of the white part of the peel, which is bitter and can ruin your dish.

Potato peeler: For when you’re in a pinch!

When you’re short on time, use a potato peeler or a paring knife to zest an orange within seconds. Wash the fruits and cut off very thin slices of the peel. Once you have the orange zest slices, use a regular knife to cut them into strips or any other shape of your choice.

Ways to use orange zest

Now that you’re well-equipped on what an orange zest is and how to prepare one, let’s take a look at the many ways you can use it around in the kitchen.

  • Baked goods: Typically, orange zest is used to add a citrusy flavor to baked goods and sweets without changing the balance of ingredients or adding excessive moisture.
  • Sauces: Orange zest is an ideal ingredient for preparing delicious sauces and condiments. It can deepen the orange flavor and add that extra kick to pan sauces, dressings, and other condiments.
  • Savory recipes: The refreshing citrus flavor of orange zest goes perfectly with savory meat dishes. You can enhance ordinary dishes, such as slow cooker pot roast, and make them much more interesting with a little bit of orange zest.
  • Salads: Want to take your regular tossed greens or fruit salad to the next level? Try adding orange zest for a unique flavor!

The bottom line

So, are you ready to zest some fresh oranges and prepare yummy recipes? I know I’ve always been whenever I see some.

If you’re worried about leftover orange zest, though, you can always store it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it in plastic bags for up to a month. Case solved!

How to zest an orange

How to zest an orange

CookingChew shares how to zest an orange using a potato peeler. This method is best used when you’re in a pinch!


  • Potato peeler or paring knife
  • Regular knife
  • Orange


  1. Wash the fruits and cut off very thin slices of the peel.
  2. Once you have the orange zest slices, use a regular knife to cut them into strips or any other shape.

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