This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

There are several options if you can’t use orange zest! Here’s the best orange zest substitute to use in recipes both savory and sweet.

Orange zest substitute

Making a recipe and don’t have an orange on hand? Here’s what you can do. Orange zest adds a zing and brightness to everything it touches. The zest holds the fruit’s essential oils, giving it the most pure orange flavor.

Before you start: is orange in the title of the recipe, like Orange Cake or Orange Vinaigrette? If so, you’ll want to hold out until you can find the real deal. But what’s the best way to conjure it up for a recipe where it’s in a supporting role? Here’s the best orange zest substitute.

Pro Tip: Here’s how to zest an orange!

Best orange zest substitute

1. Lemon zest.

The best substitute for orange zest? The same amount of lemon zest. Keep in mind this changes the flavor profile to lemon: but it has a complementary citrus flair. You can also use the zest of any citrus fruit like a lime, but lemon is the closest flavor match. This substitution is especially useful in baking recipes and recipes where the texture matters. It can work in savory recipes too. What’s the ratio? 1 teaspoon lemon zest = 1 teaspoon orange zest

2. Orange juice (in some cases).

Another great orange zest substitute? Orange juice. Bottled orange juice actually works relatively well as a substitute for the fresh stuff (unlike with fresh lemon juice). Avoid substituting orange juice if the liquid would hurt the recipe: for example, in a whipped cream that needs to stay fluffy and light. What’s the ratio? 2 tablespoons orange juice = 1 teaspoon orange zest

3. Orange extract

Another good substitute for orange zest? Orange extract. This citrus extract is similar to vanilla extract: you might have bought it for making angel food cake! It’s very strong and it works well in baking to bring in a strong orange vibe. What’s the ratio? ¼ teaspoon orange extract = 1 teaspoon orange zest

4. Leave it out.

Orange zest is an important ingredient to add brightness and lift to recipes. But don’t have any of the substitution ingredients above? You can omit orange zest without ruining your recipe…it just won’t taste quite as good.

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring orange:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

Leave a Comment

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


  1. you two are my go-to when i’ve got a cooking/recipe question.
    Good recipes and good ideas….thanks!!!!