What happens when you’re making a recipe and realize you don’t have any oranges? You can easily use an orange zest substitute. There are many options that will make your dishes taste amazing without using the zest of oranges.
Orange zest substitutes are great for baking recipes, cranberry sauce, and other baked goods to add a bright citrus fruit flavor to your dishes. The best part of these substitutes is that you most likely already have them in your kitchen pantry.
Homemade meals, breads, muffins, and cakes are summery and delicious when you add citrus zest, and here are the best options! My pecan tart with bourbon and orange is a perfect example!
The best orange zest substitutes
The best ingredients for substituting orange zest include citrus fruit juice, fruit zest, and fruit concentrate. Here’s a list and descriptions of each of the best options to add to your baked goods or pork roasts.
If you have a bottle of orange juice in the fridge, you can use it in place of orange zest. Substitute orange juice if your recipe can handle the extra liquid or if you’re able to add a little more flour to baked goods.
Most desserts and breads have a particular liquid to flour ratio that must be carefully adjusted. When adding orange juice instead of zest, be sure to consider this ratio first.
Don’t have a zester or grater handy? No problem, you can use thin slices of orange peel if your recipe allows it.
This wouldn’t be good for baked goods but would work well for pork roasts or soups where you can remove the peel before eating.
A teaspoon of orange extract may be perfect for what you need. The flavor is more potent and a little more bitter than orange zest but will work well in baked goods and desserts.
You can buy a bottle and keep it stored in your pantry for times when you’re out of fresh zest.
Orange oil is made by adding orange peel to a neutral oil and allowing it to sit for a few days up to a week. The peel is then removed, and you will have orange oil.
This is perfect for using in salad dressings and drizzling over dinner right before serving.
Dried orange zest
You can buy dried orange zest in a bottle if you don’t have access to fresh oranges.
You can also easily make your own by zesting fresh oranges (or lemons, limes, or grapefruit) when they are in season, drying them on a baking sheet, and storing them in bottles for later use.
Lemon juice is an excellent orange zest substitute. The bright citrus flavor is refreshing and will still impart that summer feeling to your baked goods.
Be sure to check the ratio of flour to liquid when adding lemon juice, so it doesn’t throw off the recipe and make it too moist.
This could result in longer baking times and possibly burn the top before the middle is cooked through.
A teaspoon of grated lemon zest will make your recipe really pop.
You can add lemon zest to salad dressing, muffins, pound cake, strawberry jelly, or icing, and it’s an excellent substitute for orange zest.
Lime juice is an excellent tropical substitute for orange zest. You can use it in cake or icing to give your recipes a bright and bold flavor.
Add a little green food coloring to make it really stand out. Who knows, it may even taste more lime-y!
If you only have limes on hand, you can use this zest in place of orange zest. Since it’s dry and not a liquid, you can add it more liberally to desserts with a delicate liquid to flour content.
Grapefruit is similar to oranges because they are both bitter and sweet at the same time.
This is an excellent replacement that can be used in muffins, cake, icing, and salad dressing.
Use a zester or hand grater to grate the outside of a grapefruit while not getting any of the pith or white part underneath the peel.
The pith is very bitter, especially in grapefruit. The peel on the outside is a thin layer that is ideal for adding to other recipes and baked goods.
Candied orange pieces
While candied orange pieces aren’t as common as orange zest, you can still use them in place of the zest if you have some on hand.
You can buy them in bottles in the spice aisle and sometimes in the candy aisle of the grocery store. You can also order them online.
Recipes using orange zest
I'm a big fan of using orange zest in my baked goods! Check out the recipes below for some inspiration. And don't worry if you're out of orange zest... use a substitute from above!
There are many options for orange zest substitutes if you’re out of this delicious citrus fruit or if they aren’t in season.
Some options include orange juice, lemon juice or zest, grapefruit juice or zest, and lime juice or zest.
These will make your baked goods, desserts, breads, salad dressings, pork roasts, or soups taste amazing.
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