How to Zest Citrus Fruit: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow our easy steps to zesting citrus, such as lemons, limes and oranges, then watch our how-to video to see more.

Fruit, Lemon, Tangerine, Lime, Nectarine

In a minute or two, you can have citrus zest at the ready. This finely grated or cut peel from lemons, limes or oranges adds vibrancy to sweet and savory dishes.

Step 1: Fine Zest
Zest is perfect for dressings, sauces and cookies. The easiest way to make citrus zest is to use a tool called a microplane or a rasp. Simply run the fruit over the microplane and apply a little pressure. Be sure to turn the fruit as you go, so as not to mix the bitter pith, which is the white part of the skin, in with your zest.

Step 2: Using a Microplane or Rasp
A microplane or rasp makes fine citrus zest that adds a lot of flavor but not much additional texture to your dish.

Step 3: Coarse Zest
To make coarse zest for muffins or salads, use a tool called a zester. It has three or four holes at the top.

Step 4: Zest Technique
Hold the fruit in one hand and, with the zester in the other, make a long pulling motion toward you.

Step 5: Using the Zest
Long strands of zest can be used as they are for a garnish, or they can be chopped into smaller pieces to incorporate into a recipe.

Step 6: Zesting with a Knife
You don't need a fancy tool to make zest: A knife will get the job done just as well. Just trim the bottom to make a flat surface. Shave the peel from the fruit, leaving behind as much of the white pith as possible.

Step 7: Remove the Pith
Then, lay the peel on the cutting board, pith side up. Holding your knife horizontally, and your fingers on the opposite side of the blade, shave the pith to leave only the zest behind.

Step 8: Slice the Zest
Slice the zest into thin strips or finely chop as your recipe requires. It works in dressings or baked goods, salads and sauces. That's it! It's that easy to zest citrus. Watch our how-to video for more.