How to Zest a Lime

Wondering the easy way to make lime zest to add tangy flavor to recipes? Here are the BEST methods for how to zest a lime.

How to zest a lime

Got a recipe that calls for lime zest? We’re here to help! Alex and my recipes here at A Couple Cooks often call for citrus zest. But what’s the best way to get it? Over the years we’ve discovered the quickest, easiest method! This method yields fine zest for using in recipes (not cocktail garnishes). **Want to zest a lime for a cocktail garnish? Go to How to Make a Lemon Twist.

What does zest of lime mean?

What is zest? Lime zest is the colored outside portion of the citrus fruit peel. It’s often used with or without the juice of the lime to add concentrated tangy citrus flavor to recipes. It can taste even stronger than lime juice, which can sometimes fade away into the flavor or recipes. Zest can also be used as a substitute for lime juice.

How to zest a lime: the best way

Here’s how to zest a lime: the best way: use a microplane. A microplane is a grater that looks like a woodworking tool: which is where the concept came from! It’s a handheld metal plate with sharp holes in it. Grating foods with a microplane is faster and more consistent. Alex and I use ours all the time! You can also use the fine holes on a box grater to do the same thing.

Here’s how to zest a lime with a microplane (or fine holes on a box grater):

  1. Hold the microplane in one hand, place one end on a flat surface and hold it at an angle.
  2. Hold the lime in the other hand, and drag it down over the microplane holes. Important: make sure to remove the colored part of the skin only! The white pith can taste bitter, so avoid that.
  3. Gradually turn the lime until all green parts of the peel have been removed.
How to zest a lime: microplane & peeler

Where to buy a microplane

Microplanes are available at most home goods or kitchen goods stores! They’re also available online. Interestingly, you’ll want to look for a “coarse microplane” — that will be equivalent to a the fine holes on a box grater. Here’s a link to our favorite one!

Get one! Stainless Steel Microplane $13

How to zest a lime: the cheater way!

Don’t have a microplane or box grater? No problem. You can zest a lime the cheater way: with a vegetable peeler! This method is a little harder than the best way, because the peel is harder to remove with a peeler. But it does the trick in a pinch! Here’s what to do:

  • Use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel off large pieces of the colored part of the skin only, dragging from the top to the bottom (not the pith). Again, make sure to remove the colored part of the skin only! The white pith has a bitter flavor.
  • Use a knife to mince the peel into very small pieces.
Lime zest

How much zest is in 1 lime?

How much juice and zest can you get with 1 lime? Great question. This helps you to calculate how many of these citrus fruits you’ll need for your recipe. Keep in mind that this varies slightly if you have very large or very small limes.

Here’s the formula: One regular lime yields about 2 tablespoons juice and 2 teaspoons lime zest.

Margarita salt
Both orange and lime zest make up this festive Margarita Salt!

Related recipes

Here are a few of the types of recipes that call for this zesty ingredient:

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How to zest a lime

How to Zest a Lime (The Best Way!)


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 2 teaspoons zest 1x

Description

Wondering the easy way to make lime zest to add tangy flavor to recipes? Here are the BEST methods for how to zest a lime. Note: This method yields fine zest for using in recipes (not cocktail garnishes). **Want to zest a lime for a cocktail garnish? Go to How to Make a Lemon Twist.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 lime
  • 1 coarse microplane, fine grater, or vegetable peeler

Instructions

  1. Wash the lime and dry it. Then use one of the zesting methods below:
  2. Microplane: Hold the microplane in one hand, place one end on a flat surface and hold it at an angle. Hold the lime in the other hand, and drag it down over the microplane holes. Remove the colored part of the skin only (not the pith). Gradually turn the lime until all sides are zested.
  3. Fine grater: Do the same as the microplane, using the finest holes on your box grater.
  4. Peeler: Use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel off large pieces of the colored part of the skin only, dragging from the top to the bottom (not the pith). Then use a knife to mince the peel into very small pieces.

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Zested
  • Cuisine: Citrus

Keywords: How to zest a lime

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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