How to zest an orange

The top layer of the orange peel is called the zest. It is where the natural oils can be found so the zest adds wonderful flavour to cooked meals and baked goods.

What you will need:

  • Fresh oranges
  • Knife or vegetable peeler
  • Microplane
  • Grater
  • Cutting board

Preparing the oranges:

  1. Wash the oranges under running water. Scrub each fruit to get rid of pesticides and any dirt that could have stuck to the peel.
  2. Let the oranges dry or pat them using a clean towel.

Method #1: Using a peeler or knife

  1. With just the right amount of pressure, slide the knife or vegetable peeler on the orange and peel away.
  2. Rotate the orange while peeling and avoid the going too deep from the rind.
  3. Continue peeling until you get the amount of zest that you need.

Method #2: Using a grater or microplane

  1. Use your cutting board as platform for the microplane or grater.
  2. Hold the grater or microplane on a slanting position.
  3. Grate the outer part or rind of the orange, staying careful not to grate the pith.
  4. Keep rotating the orange while grating to avoid grating one side more than once.
  5. Continue grating until you get as much orange zest as you need.
  6. Spoon up the orange zest from the cutting board.


  • The grating method gives finer and lighter zest, which is useful for baking or cooking while the peeling method is useful for garnishing drinks or dishes.
  • Oranges that are cold are easier to zest.
  • Stronger orange flavour comes from the finer kind of zest.
  • Use the zest immediately because it loses flavour quite quickly.