Don’t throw away those lemon peels! Dried Lemon Peel is the perfect way to save the zest - for lemons or any other citrus fruit.
So much of the flavor and aroma is contained in the peels. And it’s so easy to make. No dehydrator necessary!
Before you throw out those lemon peels after squeezing the juice, consider saving and drying the zest. Dried Lemon Zest sells for $7 for a little 1.5 ounce bottle at my local Walmart. If you zest your peels before throwing them away, you’re getting it essentially for free!
Easy to Make Dried Lemon Zest with no dehydrator
Dried Lemon Peel is easy to make at home without the need for a dehydrator or even an oven. While I sometimes stick mine in the oven if I want it in a hurry, it will also dry out at room temperature.
Organically grown lemon zest
I prefer to use the zest from organically grown citrus so I don’t get a concentrated dose of whatever pesticides might be on the skins. Also be sure to wash and dry the fruit before zesting.
DIY Dried Citrus Peel
Many different types of citrus zest can be dried in the same way:
How much Dried Lemon Zest equals fresh?
Dried Lemon Zest is about a third of the volume of fresh zest, so 1 teaspoon of dried zest would equal 1 tablespoon of fresh zest.
How much Dried Lemon Peel equals the zest of one Lemon?
1 medium lemon yields about 1 tablespoon of fresh zest and 1 teaspoon of dried zest.
How to Make Dried Lemon Peel
- Zest or peel the lemons
- Dry the peels in the oven or on the counter
How to Zest a Lemon or other Citrus
There are several ways to zest or peel the lemon:
- Fine grater or microplane – My favorite for lemon zest. It gets the zest very thin and small so there’s no need for chopping. Zest grated on a fine grater also dries the quickest and can be most easily pulverized into a powder.
- Cocktail zester – Peels the rind off in little strips. Super easy to use, but the zest will need some chopping to make it fine.
- Vegetable peeler- Takes the peel off in bigger strips. You can chop the peel fine with a knife if desired, or you can leave it in strips.
- Small, sharp knife – Trim the peel with the knife. Be careful not to get the white pith underneath the rind. Trim it off it you do.
How to dry the Lemon Peel
In the oven:
For the quickest Dried Lemon Zest, dry the lemon peel in the oven at its lowest setting. My oven’s lowest setting is 170° F. The hotter the oven, the darker the dried peel will get.
Spread the zest on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it bake until the peel is dry, shriveled, and crispy. If the zest is very fine, it should be finished in 30 minutes to an hour. It will take longer if the peel is in strips, several hours should do it.
If I’m doing a big batch of lemon zest or want it quickly, I use the oven method.
On the counter:
You can also dry the lemon peel on the counter. Spread the peel on a dish or baking pan and let dry for several days, giving it a toss every day or so. Once again, the smaller the peel, the faster it will dry.
When I use a single lemon, I zest it first, then just let the zest dry on the counter.
Storing Dried Lemon Zest
When the peel is completely dry, store it in an airtight container. It can be left as is, or ground into a powder in a spice grinder or blender.
How long does Dried Lemon Peel last
Dried and stored in an airtight container, Dried Lemon Peel will last up to a year.
What to do with Dried Lemon Peel - How to use Dried Lemon Zest
Dried Lemon Zest has so many uses:
- In seasoning mixes
- In teas
- In baked goods
- Sprinkled on salads
- In marinades and salad dressings
- Sprinkle on chicken or fish
- Sprinkled over sautéed, roasted, or grilled vegetables
- Use as a replacement for fresh lemon zest. 1 teaspoon of dried lemon peel equals 1 teaspoon fresh zest.
- Use it anywhere you want a bright pop of flavor
- Use in homemade cleaners and body care products
- Mix them into potpourri
What is Dried Lemon Peel powder
Dried Lemon Peel Powder is Dried Lemon Zest that has been pulverized into a powder in a spice grinder or blender.
- To make Dried Lemon Peel Powder:
- Dry the peels as instructed, making sure they are very dry.
- Grind to a powder in a spice grinder or blender.
- Store in an airtight container.
Where to buy Dried Lemon Peel
Dried Lemon Peel can sometimes be hard to find. Walmart carries it and it can be found on Amazon.Print
How to Make Dried Lemon Peel
- Total Time: 45 minutes
Dried Lemon Peel is easy to make at home without the need for a dehydrator or even an oven.
- Lemons (washed and dried. Preferably organic)
- Remove the peel from the lemons using a grater, microplane, zester, vegetable peeler, or knife. Be careful not to get any of the white pith. I zest them before cutting and juicing them.
To dry in the oven:
- Heat the oven to its lowest heat setting. (My oven’s lowest setting is 170° F.)
- Spread the zest on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it bake until the peel is dry, shriveled, and crispy. If the zest is very fine, it should be finished in 30 minutes to an hour. It will take longer if the peel is in strips, several hours should do it.
To dry on the counter:
- Spread the peel on a dish or baking pan and let dry for several days, giving it a toss every day or so. The smaller the peel, the faster it will dry.
- When the peel is completely dry, store it in an airtight container.
- The dried peel can be left as is, or ground into a powder in a spice grinder or blender.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Seasoning
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: dried lemon peel, dried lemon zest
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Honestly this is a really great idea, I usually throw them away, from now on I will do this, giving second life to what I had wasted before. This would be so good with many things, thanks for the inspiration
I use so much of it. It's very versatile! Thanks so much, Raymund!
Cookie Monster says
July 4th is just around the corner, what's on your mind?
Fruit Pizza coming up!
This is such a great post, Kelly! I'm always looking for ways to be less wasteful with food and lemon zest is so versatile. Wonderful idea to dry it!
I love that it's practically free! Thanks so much, Marissa!
Wonderful! I have never thought of drying them up....always use them fresh or freeze them. Thanks, Kelly!
Thanks so much, Angie!
John / Kitchen Riffs says
I'm SO going to do this! What a terrific idea -- don't know why I never thought of this. Thanks!
I know! Me too! Thanks so much, John!
I never thought to dry the lemon peel this way but I know my mother and many Indian families use the peels in pickle after juicing.
Oh that's a great idea! Before I became obsessed with dried zest, I pack the used peels into a big container, cover with vinegar, and let set for about 2 weeks. Then I strain it and use it as a household cleaner. Thanks so much, Balvinder!
Truly appreciate every single detail of how to. So useful ! Thank you so much !
Thanks so much, Davorka!
Dear Kelly, goodness what a fabulous idea - since I always have fresh lemons in my fridge, it had never occurred to me to dry the lemon zest. But I certainly will now - I think the method of letting them dry on the counter for a few days sounds like what I will try first. I can see myself making good use of the dried lemon zest when I make pasta sauces or salad dressings.
What a fabulous, inspirational post!
Keep safe, my friend!
To think of how many lemon peels that I've thrown away when I could have dried the zest! Thanks so much, my friend!
Kelly, great tutorial on drying lemon zest. We just got a lug of Spanish lemons from our local veggie delivery, so your timing is perfect. Lemons get quite expensive here n the offseason, so I always get a bunch when they're cheap and juice them and then freeze in ice cube trays. But, I never thought of drying the zest. A must try...
Great idea, Ron! I always get lots when I find them on sale. Thanks so much!
David Scott Allen says
I made a recipe that called for lemon zest the other day and I was out of lemons - at least until the weekend when I can go shopping. Sooooo. I sued preserved lemon, which isn't the same. This would be the perfect thing for me to have on hand. Question - is it like herbs? Dried is stronger than fresh? If you said that above, I missed it... 🙂
Well David, I just went to the cupboard and gave it a taste. I find the dried peel less intense than the fresh by at least half.
What a great idea! I always buy organic lemons when I need lemon zest and now I have to try making some dried lemon peel too! Great tutorial!
I love using it! Thanks so much, Susan!
David Scott Allen says
This is a condiment I should make and keep around. The other night I needed lemon for something and all I had were preserved lemons. They were okay, but this would have been better!
I've been using it so much this summer, David! Thanks so much!
Ganesh Ranasinghe says
I will try and let you know
Thanks so much, Ganesh!
What a great idea! I've made candied citrus peels but never dried. Such a great was to use the "whole"food!" 🙂 ~Valentina
I love that it's practically free! Thanks so much, Valentina!
Hi Kelly, timing is indeed everything. I'm sitting here catching up on the reading of posts and got to yours. Your post is perfect as I just pulled out a couple of kilos of lemon from the fridge we got at a bargain. My next chore is to dry the zest and freeze the juice in icecube trays. Your post helped me decide if I should go with an oven dehydrate or natural air dehydrate. It will be done on the counter. Thanks for the post...
Ron, I've gone through gobs of lemons just to get the zest! Freezing the juice in ice cube trays is a great idea! Thanks so much!
I made it awhile ago and when tasted it had no flavor. Does that happen after a time? I’m making a new batch now. Drying the grinding. Should I keep in fridge instead of spice drawer?
Hi Suzi, Spices will lose flavor over time. Keep the zest in a tightly sealed container. You could try keeping it in the freezer which tends to keep things the freshest. Even when freshly dried, the flavor won't be as strong and bright as fresh lemon zest.
Dear Kelly, Indeed using dried lemon peels is a wonderful idea. We, in India have been doing it traditionally for ages. As you said you prefer to use the organic lemons, I completely agree with you because only organically grown lemons will be free of any chemicals and pesticides. (We have a big lemon tree in our backyard that provides us fresh organic lemons throughout the year 🙂 ) Also in India we have a very hot and dry weather for most of the time in a year. So we prefer to dry the lemon peels by exposing them to the sun. It takes several days though, but I believe it is the most natural way of drying the lemon peels. I understand that the country you live in many not have abundant sunlight and hence you use oven to dry it, and which is fine too 🙂 You have written a wonderful article and I want to thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge with original images with us.
I have also pinned dried lemon powder image to my pinterest too 😀
Thanks and Have a great day!
Thanks so much, Cammy! It would be so wonderful to have a lemon tree at home!
Diane S Nelson says
Great post, thank you! I feel so satisfied when I use the whole lemon: zested, squeeze and freeze the juice, then freeze the remainder of the lemon to use in my garbage disposal when I need a fresh/clean smell.
Great idea to use the rest of the lemon in the disposal, Diane. I'll have to try that! Thanks so much!
Reading the above comments it seems like the flavors less intense than fresh zest, so how should I replace fresh zest with dried zest in a lemon cake to reproduce the flavor? If the recipe calls for 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest, how much dried zest should I use without compromising the flavor?
I find the flavor of the dried zest so muted that I would prefer fresh zest in lemon cake. Using a larger quantity of the dried zest may also affect the texture of the cake.
Michelle Holmes says
Lemon peels, along with any citrus peels are good to put on Blue Hydrangeas, to keep them blue. You can also use coffee grounds, and egg shells. My soil is more alkaline, so I do this to keep my beautiful original blue Hydrangeas blue. Easier, and less expensive than buying products from the garden center, and more earth friendly, as we are using products that would otherwise just be thrown out in the garbage.
Thanks, Michelle, for the great tip!
Im going to do this and make my own lemon pepper! Probably lime too.
Lime works well too! Thanks so much, Elizabeth!
Aren't Lemon's covered in a wax coating to help it last longer. Wouldn't zesting just be the waxy part?
Hi Kevin, I just use the lemons as they are, however I try to buy organic when using the zest. There are a few methods to remove the wax if you'd like, including pouring boiling water over them, scrubbing them with a vegetable brush, or soaking them in a baking soda and vinegar solution.