What’s A Good Orange Peel Substitute?

Orange peel is versatile in that it can provide a distinctive flavor and texture to both savory and sweet dishes. You can use orange peel whole or add it to hot liquids where it will release its essential oil and thus its flavor, similar to a bouquet garni. While oranges are widely available, there are options for replacing their peels if you find yourself orange-less and don’t have time to make a special trip to the grocery store. Below are several excellent orange peel substitutes.

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02/19/2024 10:06 am GMT

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Your best bet: Lemon peel

Lemons have a relatively thick rind that is easy to remove whole. The thickness of the rind is just one of their similarities to oranges. They also have a strong citrus flavor that allows them to impart a lot of taste to dishes. Both the bulk and flavor of lemon peel are similar to that of orange peel, so use it as a 1:1 substitute.

You can use lemon peel in place of orange peel for everything from candied citrus peels (great for topping cakes and desserts) to marmalades. In fact, lemon peel marmalade is considered an excellent alternative to standard orange peel marmalade. As well, add fresh or dried lemon peel to stews and sauces that require orange peel so that its flavors can infuse into the liquid and remove it before serving.

A decent second choice: Grapefruit peel

Grapefruit is one of the citrus fruits with, what some might call, a cult following. Not everyone likes them. The reason is that the flesh and the juice can be somewhat bitter. But good news: That bitterness is concentrated in those two parts of the fruit. The peel itself is not any more bitter than the peels of other citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

You can use grapefruit peel to provide a strong citrus flavor in any recipe that requires orange peel. You can candy it like orange and lemon peel, or use it to make a marmalade that will have a similar flavor profile to that of orange peel marmalade.

Like lemon peel, you can use grapefruit peel as a 1: 1 substitute for orange peel.

In a pinch: Orange zest

Orange zest is the outer part of the orange peel. It can be scraped off with a zester or a cheese grater. It does not refer to the white pith underneath, which is edible but can be bitter. Zest is a great way to provide the orange flavor in dishes where the whole peel might not be desirable. For example, you can sprinkle grated zest over a salad or into cheesecake filling.

Because it does not include the pith, zest has less bulk and is therefore not a suitable substitute for peel if you need candied fruit or marmalade. Use in dishes where you want the orange flavor but not necessarily whole pieces of orange peel.

You can use the zest of one orange to replace the peel of one orange.

Other alternatives

Orange juice or orange juice concentrate can be used in place of orange peel in dishes where it is used for flavor rather than to add texture. To get enough orange flavor and to compensate for the extra liquid, use it to replace all or some of the other liquids in the recipe. Lemon juice may work for certain applications, but it tends, of course, to be much tarter than orange juice.

Lime peel and lime zest can also work, though the peel itself is much thinner than that of either oranges or lemons. If the thickness/texture is critical, it’s not a better choice than lemon or grapefruit peels.

Orange extract is also an option when simply flavor is in order, but with a caveat. It’s highly concentrated with an alcohol base. So orange extract is best used in cooking and baking (where the alcohol is burned off) instead of as a flavor enhancer for raw foods.