4 Ways to Zest a Lime

Updated on February 17, 2020
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne has been experimenting in the kitchen for almost 50 years. She loves to share her recipes, cooking tips, and reviews.

Lime zest has many great uses. Read on to learn more.
Lime zest has many great uses. Read on to learn more. | Source

This article explores four different ways to zest a lime—including photo instructions. Here I include recipes, ways to use lime zest, substitutions, tips, and storage techniques.

Lime Zest

  1. Is small strips of the outside peel.
  2. Can be made with a micro-plane zester, fine grater, peeler or knife.
  3. Is used in baking, marinades, drinks, for garnishing, in Key Lime Pie and in Mexican, Thai, Indian and Vietnamese dishes.
  4. In Indian dishes is called: "Nimbu ka chika" or "Nimbu Chaal."
  5. Can be bought as dried peel and stored in your cupboard.
  6. Is easy to dry yourself or store in your freezer.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Grated lime zest is smaller, microplaned lime zest is thinner and longer.Zest Lime by grating it using small grater and pushing down.Zest Lime using microplaner by pulling down.Lime Zest ToolsZest lime by using knife or peeler and cutting off thin pieces of lime peel.
Grated lime zest is smaller, microplaned lime zest is thinner and longer.
Grated lime zest is smaller, microplaned lime zest is thinner and longer. | Source
Zest Lime by grating it using small grater and pushing down.
Zest Lime by grating it using small grater and pushing down. | Source
Zest Lime using microplaner by pulling down.
Zest Lime using microplaner by pulling down. | Source
Lime Zest Tools
Lime Zest Tools | Source
Zest lime by using knife or peeler and cutting off thin pieces of lime peel.
Zest lime by using knife or peeler and cutting off thin pieces of lime peel. | Source


For the best zest, use a fresh lime with an undamaged peel. Peel only the outside colored part (the white part is more bitter). Wash the lime carefully before making lime zest.

Microplane Zester

This type of zest is the most decorative. It makes long, fine. curling strips.

  • Hold lime in one hand and zester in the other.
  • Put the sharp edge of the zester at the top of the lime and pull down while pressing slightly.
  • You should see long, thin strips of peel curling off the end of zester. If not, press harder.
  • Continue to pull the zester down the lime until you have all you need.

Use for Garnish

Lime Zest Garnish
Lime Zest Garnish | Source
Grater zest
Grater zest | Source


Quickest method and the one which makes the smallest pieces of zest. Grated lime zest is best in baking.

  • Use a fine grater, with small holes.
  • Hold grater at an angle, and press the lime across it until the colored part of the lime has come off. Don't get too much of the white portion of the peel because it is bitter.
  • Continue turning and grating the lime until you have enough.


Best for when you want to make candied peel or for larger pieces of lime zest.

  • Hold peeler in one hand and lime in the other. Pull the peeler across the lime skin until the top part of the peel comes off in a slice.
  • You can use a knife to cut the peel into strips.


Takes just a few minutes longer but works just fine if you don't have a zester, peeler or grater. In this method, the peel will generally remain flat and not curl, which can be useful for some decorative purposes. You can use this method or the peeler one for Candied Lime Peel

  • Hold the lime down on a counter.
  • Take the knife and cut off the thinnest layer of peel you can remove (try not to get too much of the bitter white part).
  • Put the peel slice on a cutting mat and cut it into strips. You can cut it again in the other direction to dice it if you want to use fine pieces for baking.


Don't have a fresh lime? Fresh lime zest has the most flavor, but here are 5 lime zest equivalents. You can substitute any one of these for the others.

  1. 1 tea. fresh lime zest
  2. 2 Tb. fresh lime juice
  3. 1 tea. dried lime zest
  4. 1/2 tea. lime extract
  5. 2 tea. grated candied peel

Using Dried Peel

Is Dried Lime Zest all right to use?

Sure! Dried lime peel won't look as good in garnish and may not have quite as fresh a flavor, but dried peel will definitely give good flavor in baked goods and cooked dishes.

Where can I get dried lime peel?

Sometimes dried orange peel is available in the spice section of a grocery store, but I've not seen dried lime peel there. You might find it at a specialty Indian market, or you can find it on Amazon.

How do I use dried lime peel?

Use the same amount of dried lime peel as fresh in recipes. A bonus is that, if you look at the lime flavor substitutes chart, you can see that you can use dried lime zest in recipes instead of another lime flavoring. That is helpful if you don't have fresh limes or juice on hand. It wouldn't work for a key lime pie, but it can be useful when lime is just one of many other ingredients.


Often, you will have lime zest left over. Here is how you can store it:

  1. Refrigerator: Store it in a Zip-lock bag (press out air) in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  2. Freezer: Put it in the freezer for a month in bag or plastic container. Frozen zest loses some color and flavor but is fine for baking.
  3. Dried: Lime zest can also be dried in a dehydrator, or in your oven at 250 degrees. Then you can store it with your spices indefinitely.

8 Ways to Use

Outside of recipes calling for lime zest, you can use it as a garnish or flavoring to pump up the flavor of many recipes. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Drinks: Use a pinch on top of whipped cream, ice cream or lime drinks.
  2. Make a fish or chicken marinade: Use 1-2 tea. lime zest, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup white wine, 1/4 cup sugar or honey, and 2 TB sesame or other oil. Marinate at least 20 minutes and either grill or broil.
  3. Cookies: Put 1 tea. zest in sugar cookie recipe or add to store bought roll. Frost with white icing and zest on top.
  4. Flavored Tea: Add 1/2 tea. lime zest when you brew hot tea or add a little lime zest to your Sweet Ice Tea.
  5. Baked Goods: Use as a garnish on a cream pie, cakes or cookies.
  6. Muffins: Add 1-2 tea. lime zest to any muffin recipe for added flavor.
  7. Cake: Add 2 tea. to white cake mix recipe, and substitute 1/4 cup lime juice for some of the other liquid in the recipe. Add 1 Tb. lime juice and 1 tea. lime zest to canned or homemade white frosting. Frost cake and sprinkle lime zest or candied lime zest (see recipe) on top.
  8. Fruit Salad: Keep salads fresh and add to taste with 1/2 tea. zest, 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1/4 cup honey mixed and stirred in with salad (especially helpful if you have apples or bananas in your salad).

Candied Lime Peel Recipe

Have some leftover lime peels? Try making your own Candied Lime Peel using this easy recipe. You can use Candied Lime Peel as:

  • a snack (as is or dipped in chocolate)
  • a garnish
  • a substitute for lime zest

Rate it!

4 stars from 4 ratings of Candied Lime Peel

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: 1 cup Candied Lime Peel


  • 1/4 water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup lime peel


  1. Use a peeler to take strips of peel off lime and cut into thin strips with a knife. Put in sausepan and cover with water. Bring water to boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Drain water from the peel. Repeat 1-2 more times for less bitter peel.
  2. In a saucepan, put in 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Add peel and bring to a boil. boil until all syrup is absorbed and peel is transparent.
  3. Take peel from syrup and roll in white sugar or powdered sugar.
  4. Candied lime peel can be stored in a cupboard. You can use it as a substitute for lime zest. Use 2 tea. of candied peel (cut up fine) for 1 tea. zest.


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    • lizmalay profile image


      4 months ago from USA

      Lime is one of my favorite citrus fruits besides lemon and orange. I use lime in so many ways especially for making dessert. I love the smell and the taste of it. Thanks for sharing the tips and the uses of lime, Virginia.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      I only buy zest lime in the shops for baking. I have no idea how to make this. Now I know. Thank you. Voted this up and away.

    • lemonkerdz profile image


      6 years ago from LIMA, PERU

      Thanks for the hub.

      I use zesters in most of my baking hubs. They make a big difference in baking, everyone sh8uld have one.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      An amazing write and here I award my Up up and away!!!Take care and enjoy your weekend.


    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Carol and Deborah--I learned a lot while writing this hub about the difference between using the zester and grating the lime zest.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Great write here and the pictures.. this hub is great

      I will share on cooking time on facebook


    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Now I can zest a lime fearlessly. Grea photos and great material.. Thanks for sharing and certainly will do when I buy some limes. Voted UP.


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