How to Zest an Orange

Here’s how to zest an orange: 3 ways! You’ll need a microplane, box grater, or vegetable peeler to make orange zest to use in all your recipes.

How to zest an orange

Wondering how to zest an orange? We’re here to help. You’d think that to make zest…you’d need a zester, right? It’s actually not the best tool for the job. Zesters are hard to use, and are better suited for cocktails, anyway. To get your zest, you’ll need either a microplane or a box grater…and a vegetable peeler will do in a pinch! Here’s how to make a fine zest for using in recipes (not cocktail garnishes).

**Want to zest an orange for a cocktail garnish? Go to How to Make a Lemon Twist (it works for oranges, too!)

What is zest?

Orange zest is the colored outside portion of its peel. It brings a citrusy, tangy flavor to recipes. It’s great in salad dressings like our Citrus Salad Dressing, or baked goods like Orange & Fennel Cake.

Here’s the most important part of how to zest an orange: You want the colorful part of the peel only, not the white pith! The pith has a bitter flavor and should be avoided.

Orange zest

Best method: How to zest an orange

The best method for how to zest an orange? Using a microplane. What’s a microplane? It’s a handheld grater that has a metal plate with sharp holes. You’ll find this works much faster than using a box grater, and it results in more consistent grating. You can use it to grate all sorts of things: lemons, limes, garlic, and ginger. Here’s the coarse microplane grater we use.

Don’t have a microplane? Don’t worry. You can use the fine holes on a box grater.

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

  1. Hold the microplane in one hand, then place one end on a flat surface and hold it at an angle. (For the box grater, simply place it on a flat surface like a cutting board.)
  2. Hold the orange in the other hand, and drag it down over the microplane holes. Important: make sure to remove the orange part of the skin only! Avoid the white pith, which can taste bitter.
  3. Gradually turn the orange until all orange parts of the peel have been removed.

How to zest an orange: in a pinch!

If you don’t have a microplane or a box grater, you can use a vegetable peeler! This method is a little more difficult because it can be hard to remove the peel using a peeler. But it works! Here’s what to do:

  • Use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel off large pieces of the orange part of the skin only (avoiding the pith). 
  • Use a chef’s knife to mince the peel into very small pieces.
How to zest an orange

How much zest and juice in 1 orange?

We’ve got the magic formula. Keep in mind that this quantity varies slightly if you have very large or very small oranges. Here’s the formula: One regular orange yields about 2 to 3 tablespoons zest and about 1/4 cup orange juice.

Recipes with orange zest

We love cooking with this ingredient for the beautiful zing it adds! Here are some of our favorite recipes that incorporate it:

Fennel orange salad
This Fennel Orange Salad features orange zest in the citrus salad dressing
Print
How to zest an orange

How to Zest an Orange


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3 tablespoons 1x

Description

Here’s how to zest an orange: 3 ways! You’ll need a microplane, box grater, or vegetable peeler to make orange zest to use in all your recipes.

Note: This method yields fine zest for using in recipes (not cocktail garnishes). **Want to zest an orange for a cocktail garnish? Go to How to Make a Lemon Twist — it works for oranges, too!


Scale

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Wash the orange 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 orange in the other hand, and drag it down over the microplane holes. Remove the orange part of the skin only (not the pith). Gradually turn the orange 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 an Orange

Subscribe for free weekly recipes & more!

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.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.