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.
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.
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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):
- 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. Important: make sure to remove the colored part of the skin only! The white pith can taste bitter, so avoid that.
- Gradually turn the lime until all green parts of the peel have been removed.
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.
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.
Here are a few of the types of recipes that call for this zesty ingredient:
- Dressings like Lime Vinaigrette and Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Garnishes like Margarita Salt
- Sauces & spreads like Easy Strawberry Jam
- Seafood like Cilantro Lime Shrimp