Can I freeze citrus zest?

Zested lemon

While you can go into a market and buy a lemon any time of the year, citrus growing season is primarily during the winter months. This is when you’ll see all kinds of navel oranges, blood oranges, meyer lemons and other citrus at farmers markets – and when the prices in supermarkets are likely to be lower! Fresh juice is always more flavorful in recipes (not to mention when you simply want a glass of orange juice), but even better than fresh juice is fresh citrus zest for adding a burst of bright flavor to a recipe. I take advantage of citrus when it is plentiful to make things like Meyer Lemon Cranberry Upside Down Cake, Orange Cranberry Muffins and Cream Cheese Key Lime Pie, and I stock some away for the “off season” by freezing it.

Lemon zest and other citrus zests freeze fairly well. Just zest your fruit with a microplane and divide it up into single serving portions (approx 1 tbsp; you could do a big batch, but this tends to be more convenient). Wrap them well in small pieces of plastic wrap, toss in a freezer safe bag (or other airtight container) and freeze. The zest doesn’t need to be defrosted and can be incorporated right into a recipe, just as fresh can. It will loose a little flavor if you keep it for too long, but it still infuses a nice flavor into a recipe and doesn’t give you the artificial taste that flavored extracts can.


  1. This is good to know! Thank you!! Glad to have lemon zest on hand at a moment’s notice. :)

  2. I’ve done this before and while the zest does taste fine, it generally turns brown. Just a little heads up if the zest will be visible in the finished product.

  3. What is classified as a single serving portion? 1 fruit zested=1 portion?

  4. Thanks for the tip, I was just wondering if I could freeze the zest of lemons that were just given to me.

  5. This is a great tips, thanks! I never knew you could freeze the zest.

  6. I like to dribble on a little fresh juice when I freeze citrus zest – helps keep the color and prevents it from drying out at all.

  7. A neighbor gave us a big bag of meyer lemons last month and I froze a ton of the zest. So far it looks just as good and works great.

  8. I never even thought to do this! What a great idea to even keep from having to clean the microplane too many times.

  9. Linda – Good question, I’d say about a tablespoon.

  10. Thank you for spreading the word! I came to this same conclusion out of necessity this past Christmas!

  11. Hi… I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in some priods of the year it’s not easy to find “sicilian lemons” here (that’s how we call the yellow lemon – our lemon, actually is the “lime” – the green one).
    So I always used to freeze the lemon zest exactly how you said: in individual portions, in tiny ziploc bags.
    The last post in my Blog is the “Sicilian Lemon Cake”, and I used the frozen zest, as usual!

    Check it there:

    Helena Gasparetto

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