Lemon peel is a great way to get the true flavor of lemon into your food. You can use both the fresh and dried rind as a spice. The flavor lemon peel brings can pair well with a vast number of ingredients and works in both sweet and savory dishes. If you happen to be out of lemon peel and only find out at the last minute, what can you do? Below is a selection of lemon peel substitutes that can work well in most or all dishes that require fresh or dried lemon peel.
Your best bet: Other citrus peels
Lemon peel is not the only citrus peel that can flavor your dishes. Most other citrus peels can be used to provide a similar flavor. Consider using lime or tangerine peel instead. Orange peel is another popular option. All citrus peels have a similar texture and in all cases, you have the option of using them fresh or dried. Use exactly the way that your recipe instructs you to use lemon peel. If you want something that looks more like lemon, consider using the skin of a ripe lime. Not only do limes turn bright yellow when ripe, ripe lime peel will also have the most lemon-like flavor of the non-lemon citrus peels.
Other citrus peels are a 1:1 substitute for lemon peel.
A decent second choice: Lemon oil or extract
The flavor in lemon peel comes from the oils it contains. These oils can be extracted and used as flavorings much like alcohol-based extracts such as vanilla extract. While lemon oil will not give you the texture that comes from lemon peel, it will provide the flavor. It may also be easier to use in dishes where the bulk of lemon peel might be undesirable.
Note that citrus oils like lemon oil can be highly concentrated, which means that you will have to be careful when using them. A few drops go a long way.
Use 1 teaspoon of lemon oil or extract for every tablespoon of peel required in the recipe.
In a pinch: Citrus juice
The juice of the lemon is also useful for providing the lemon fragrance, along with the fruit’s distinctive tartness. You can also use lime to get a similar tartness along with a slightly different citrus flavor.
Note that because lemon juice is tart, it may not be suitable for all recipes that require lemon peel since the peel itself is not tart. You should also note that lemon juice is not as potent as lemon peel or the two substitutes above. This means that you may need more of it to provide a strong lemon flavor.
Use 3 tablespoons of lemon juice in place of 1 tablespoon of lemon peel.
If you want to get around the somewhat diluted flavor of fresh or bottled lemon juice, consider using a lemon juice concentrate. Juice concentrates are just reduced versions of fresh juices, which means that they have a more intense flavor that may make them better substitutes for the lemon peel flavor.
Citron is a citrus fruit that some experts believe is one of the ancestors of the lemon. Some researchers believe that the lemon that we know is a hybrid of citron and sour orange. Citron has a very thick rind, which is popular for making preserves. Candied citron peel is made by boiling the peel in sugar syrup. It can make an excellent substitute for candied lemon peel.
Preserved lemons consist mostly of lemon peel and are often used in Moroccan dishes to provide a strong lemon flavor. They are an effective substitute for fresh or dried lemon peel in savory dishes.