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Lemon Zest vs Lemon Juice: Complete Guide

Lemon Zest vs Lemon Juice: Complete Guide

If you need to know the difference between lemon zest and lemon juice, you will find the answer to all your questions in this article.

Whether you are making a recipe that calls for lemon juice or lemon zest and you want to know if one can be used in place of the other, or if you just want to know which is the best choice for your recipe, we have you covered.

Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest Guide

fresh lemons in bowl

Lemon zest and lemon juice are great ways to incorporate acid into your cooking and baking. Using an acid will help break down other components in your recipe as well as add depth of flavor and even texture improvements.

Bakers and chefs around the world use lemon zest and lemon juice in their kitchen, and so should you.

But should you use lemon zest or lemon juice?

The answer to that question depends on what you are making and what you have on hand. Because in a pinch, either of these great ingredients are better than nothing.

Related Recipe: Lemon Cake from Yellow Cake Mix

Lemon Zest

spoonful of lemon zest

Lemon zest is the the yellow portion of the lemon peel. Lemon zest contains essential oil and is quite flavorful.

It is ideal for adding a citrus flavor and aroma to any dish, but keep in mind that the white part of the peel (closest to the flesh) is bitter and generally not added to a recipe.

Therefore, we use lemon zest in our recipes to enhance both the flavor and texture of the final dish.

Related: Lemon Extract Substitutes

Best Lemon Zest Uses

zested lemon and grater

Lemon zest is a truly versatile ingredient and can be used in all types of recipes. I always keep fresh lemons on hand and incorporate the zest of lemons in everything from breakfast dishes, to dinner, to beverages and desserts.

Do not be shy about adding lemon zest to any dish you are preparing. It accentuates so many types of recipes that you cannot go wrong sprinkling it on your next meal.

Here are some ideas to get you started, but experiment and try lemon zest on other recipes you making.

  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Grits
  • French Toast
  • Crepes
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins
  • Jelly
  • Fruit salad
  • Cake
  • Cupcakes
  • Omelet
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Tea
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Mixed drinks

Lemon Juice

glass of lemon juice and fresh lemons

Lemon juice is literally the juice squeezed from lemons. It is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in all sorts of recipes and beverages.

It offers a tart and delicious lemon flavor that pairs well with desserts, mixed drinks, and dinner recipes.

It adds acidity to your dish and heightens the flavor of your finished recipe.

Lemon juice is not quite as potent as lemon zest so it is a great option when you want a more subtle lemon flavor. But do not shy away from substituting lemon zest with lemon juice, it will still add the lovely flavor of lemon to any recipe.

If your lemons are a little dry, you can squeeze more juice out of them by boiling them in water for five minutes before juicing them.


Related: How Long Does Lemon Juice Last

Lemon Juice Uses

lemon salmon filet

Similar to lemon zest, lemon juice can be used in all types of recipes. It provides the needed citrus flavor and acidity that compliments all types of dishes.

Here is a list of ideas to get you started, but just like with lemon zest, feel free to experiment by adding lemon juice to other types of meals.

Lemon Juice or Lemon Zest FAQ

fresh whole and sliced lemons

Can you use lemon juice instead of lemon zest?

Yes, you can replace lemon zest with lemon juice is your recipe. The conversion is two tablespoons of lemon juice for each teaspoon of lemon zest your recipe calls for.

Can you use lemon zest instead of lemon juice?

Yes you can, lemon zest can be used in place of lemon juice in all types of recipes. Use about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest for every two tablespoons of lemon juice your recipe calls for.

Keep in mind that you may need to increase other liquids in your recipe to account for using zest instead of lemon juice.

How much lemon juice is the zest of one lemon?

Since the average medium sized lemon produces about one tablespoon of lemon zest, you will need to use about two and a half tablespoons of lemon juice to replace the zest of one lemon.

Because lemon size varies, you will want to adjust the amount of lemon juice used according to taste.

Bottom Line

Both lemon zest and lemon juice provide a similar citrus flavor and acidity to your cooking (lemon juice does have less acidity) and can often be used interchangeably.

The benefits to using lemon juice and lemon zest are significant so if you want to add complexity to your flavor profile and improve texture do not skip using one of them in your next dish.