Professional chefs and home cooks alike will tell you that a little lemon zest goes a long way. Zest, in general, whether from a fruit’s rind or a chocolate bar, has the ability to boost the flavor of a dish.
When it comes to the best lemon zester tool, there are many to choose from, but not all are created equal.
We’ve put together this list of our top picks to help you quickly find the most practical zesting and grating gadgets so that you spend less time shopping and more time creating scrumptious meals!
Our Top Picks for the Best Lemon Zesters
1. Deiss PRO Citrus Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater
Go from zero to zest in 30 seconds flat with the Deiss PRO Citrus Lemon Zester. This handy tool gives you exactly what you need to zest and grate like a pro.
One of the benefits of the Deiss PRO is that it can give you tiny zest curls without any bitter pith attached. Easily add a citrus twist to your favorite dishes or freshly grate spices like cinnamon and ginger to jazz up classic cuisines. This zester also acts as a cheese and chocolate grater, giving you even more ways to boost your cooking and baking.
This product is comfortable and easy to use, featuring a stainless steel blade, non-slip handle, and unique curved, rigid sides that allow you to apply more force when needed. You get a lifetime warranty with purchase and a Healthy Cooking Tips ebook valued at $9.95 absolutely free!
2. Raniaco Zester Stainless Steel Grater
As far as multi-purpose gadgets go, the Raniaco Zester goes above and beyond the best citrus zester. The stainless steel grater, combined with a rubber base for extra grip action, makes grating everything from asiago to apples a breeze.
We love this zester for its versatility and ability to grate fruit, vegetables, cheese, chocolate, and spices. You can even use it to grate butter! Plus, because it’s crafted from high quality, durable materials, you’ll get years of use out of this stainless steel grater.
Other features include non-slip silicone feet, ABS plastic finger protection, and a protective plastic case that transforms into a container. Whether you hang it in your kitchen or place it in a drawer, you’ll want to make sure you have easy access to your new favorite gadget.
3. 1Easylife Stainless Steel Lemon Zester
There’s more than one way to zest a lemon, and the 1Easylife Zester proves it. Instead of scraping a piece of fruit across a zesting surface, peel off ultra-thin layers using this compact gadget.
Unlike a traditional vegetable peeler, this product features five sharp holes that smooth over the rind to create zesty garnishes. Not only that, but there is a built-in channel knife that easily peels fruits and vegetables. The channel knife comes in handy when you want a thicker zest or when you want to create decorative curls.
Other features include a rust-resistant stainless steel blade, satin-finished grip handle, and a hanging loop so you can hang in your kitchen or bar for easy access. The 1Easylife peeler is small and not ideal for quickly creating large volumes, but it’s the perfect tool for bartenders, cocktail connoisseurs, or home cooks who zest now and then.
4. Microplane Classic Zester
Sometimes you don’t want or need a kitchen tool with all the bells and whistles. The Microplane Classic Zester is designed specifically for zesting citrus and grating cheese. Its sharp set of teeth easily shaves off the lemon, lime, and orange rinds and creates fluffy mounds of parmesan cheese.
The Microplane Classic Zester allows you to quickly and efficiently improve your dishes’ flavor and aroma by zesting and grating produce without bruising them or taking off extra bits, like the bitter white pith of the lemon.
Thanks to surgical grade stainless steel, the zester stays rust-free and stays sharp. It’s also dishwasher safe and can be easily cleaned by hand by thoroughly rinsing it after use.
5. JOFUYU Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater
JOFUYU Lemon Zester makes our list because of its size. If you’re an avid cook or baker and find yourself always making recipes that call for zest of some kind, then you’ll love the width and length of this essential kitchen tool. At a length (not including handle) of nearly one foot, the JOFUYU is longer than the average zester and can easily be placed over a mixing bowl or cooking pot.
It features a square blade made from stainless steel that makes clean up nearly effortless. And speaking of effortless, many reviewers praise how easy it is to use this zester due to its non-slip handle, rubber stand, and sharp blades. You won’t have to put much pressure, if any, onto the tool to get the perfect zest or grated cheese.
Additionally, the JOFUYU Lemon Zester features a loop for hanging to save kitchen space, but it also comes with a plastic case for storing in a drawer. You’ll also receive a small brush to help clean stubborn food particles out of the grater.
6. AdeptChef Citrus Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater
It’s always nice to find a high-quality, pro kitchen gadget at a price that doesn’t empty the wallet, and we found exactly that with the AdeptChef Citrus Lemon Zester and Cheese Grater. It has a simple but effective design, durable construction, and comfortable grip.
Like most zesters, this one is made from stainless steel, but unlike some zesters, the grating teeth don’t clog up as easily and can be quickly cleaned by running the surface under water. The slim design saves you kitchen drawer space, and a plastic cover protects the blades from blunting over time.
We also appreciate that the company has a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not completely happy with your purchase, they will refund or replace the item, no questions asked.
7. BelleGuppy Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater
Last but not least, on our top 7 best lemon zester list is the BelleGuppy brand zester. This zester-grater combo has the same features as many other zesters (stainless steel, sharp blades, sturdy construction), but where it has a leg up is that it’s incredibly effective when zesting and grating most any food item.
With the BelleGuppy, you can zest a lemon with one swipe, grate hard cheeses, chocolate and nuts, and create fine slices of ginger without zesting your knuckles. This tool can handle zesting and grating small and large pieces, which many similar zesting gadgets have trouble doing.
The product comes with a snap-on cover and a cleaning brush.
Buyer's Checklist of Important Features
A lemon zester may seem like a simple tool, and for the most part, it is, but with so many products on the market, finding and buying the right one for your kitchen needs can feel overwhelming.
Not to worry! In this handy buyer’s checklist, we go over what factors to consider when buying a zester. Keep these essentials in mind when comparison shopping to help you make the best decision and get exactly what you want.
An excellent rule to follow when purchasing anything is “quality over quantity.” Any item that’s well-made and constructed of high-quality material will last longer, meaning you won’t have to replace it as often – thus, saving you money.
When shopping for a quality citrus zester, look at the material it’s made of and make sure it’s coming from a trustworthy brand and manufacturer. It’s also important to remember that expensive doesn’t always equate to quality. The products mentioned in our reviews all provide great value for the cost.
Ease of Cleaning
Whether you spend a majority of time in the kitchen or consider yourself a casual cook, you don’t always have the time or patience to give your gadgets a thorough cleaning.
It’s imperative to look for a lemon zester that saves you time in the cleaning department. Look for a dishwasher-safe zester for ultimate convenience and consider purchasing tools made from stainless steel, as they are rust-resistant and easier to wash by hand.
The sharp surface may be the main feature of a lemon zester, but the grip shouldn’t be overlooked. A good quality handle is essential for safety and makes zesting and grating much easier.
Look for handles that are made of non-slip material so that you’ll have enough leverage during usage. This is especially important when you need to use a little more force to zest or grate tougher edibles, like cheese.
A good grip ensures you don’t injure yourself and that the zesting process is as easy and comfortable as possible.
The level of sharpness a zester should have depends on what kinds of food you’re zesting. For soft edibles like fruit and some spices, you typically won’t need a grate with more than one blade. On the other hand, you’ll likely need multiple blades to grate more challenging items, like coconut, chocolate, and cheese.
Multiple sharp blades will require less effort on your part, but you must be extra careful not to cut yourself in the process. Sharpness is also vital if you regularly use your zester because the sharper it is, the more time it will take to dull.
The type of zester you need depends on what you’re cooking or baking. Zesters come in various blade strengths, sharpness, and design, and each style will create a specific kind of zest.
For example, some products are specifically designed for zesting citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, and will not do as good a job on chocolate. If your recipes require you to zest soft foods like fruit or call for more decorative zests, then you’ll want to purchase a zester that is meant specifically for those items.
On the opposite side, if your cooking or baking calls for grated food like nuts or cheese, then you’ll want to purchase a zester-grater combo that has a sharp and durable surface made from stainless steel.
Many of the lemon zesters in our product review are multi-purpose and can handle both kinds of zesting.
How to Properly Use a Lemon Zester
Using a zester is easy, although you’ll want to learn a few techniques, tips, and tricks to get the best results.
Using a Lemon Zester: The Basics
Grip the zester with your dominant hand and use your other hand to hold the lemon over a cutting board, mixing bowl, plate, etc. Use a bit of pressure to drag the lemon down against the blades.
You should see colorful portions of the peel (rind) come free. Continue this process until the pith (the white part underneath the rind) is exposed, and most of the peel is removed. Look under the blades to see if there is any residual zest you can use. Gently tap the zester against the cutting board to break the peels free.
Can You Use a Cheese Grater to Zest Lemon?
Yes, it is possible to use a grater to zest fruit, but it’s not recommended, as most graters cannot effectively pull the peel from the pith or create fine pieces of zest.
Plus, you increase your risk of accidentally moving your hand down the grater, potentially resulting in injury.
Cleaning a Lemon Zester
If you purchase a lemon zester made from high-quality, rust-proof material, like stainless steel, very little maintenance is required to keep your kitchen essential in tip-top shape. However, you’ll still need to carefully clean the zester to ensure the chromium coating stays strong and the tool remains bacteria-free.
After each use, you can put the zester in the dishwasher if it’s dishwasher-safe. You may want to give it a pre-cleaning by running it under hot water and lightly scrubbing with dish soap. If zest gets stuck on the blades, you can use a kitchen or vegetable brush to remove them.
Avoid cleaning the zester with scouring pads or stainless steel wool. These materials are often too abrasive and can strip the protective coating on the zester.
If cleaning by hand, wash the zester in warm water and dish soap then dry with a clean towel before storing it. It’s recommended you keep the tool in a protective cover, whether storing in a drawer or hanging in your kitchen. The cover ensures the blades don’t dull and you don’t injure your fingers. It would be best if you also stored the zester in a cool, dry place to avoid moisture damage.
Using Lemon Zest
The lemon peel is where all of the essential oil resides, so by zesting it, you harness the full flavor of the fruit and can use the slivers to “wake up” a dish.
A good lemon zester will delicately pull the rind from the fruit and create colorful curls of rind zest that you can sprinkle on top of or bake into a variety of dishes and desserts.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Enhance a bowl of vanilla ice cream by sprinkling lemon shavings on top or infuse a pot of rice with a twist of lemon zest. You can even boost a plain glass of water with a bit of citrus.
Is It Safe to Zest a Waxed Lemon?
While it is safe to zest and consume the protective wax coating on lemons, it’s much easier to zest a wax-free lemon. There are a few ways to remove the wax coating:
- Place the lemons in a colander, pour boiling water over the lemons, and then scrub the peel with a vegetable brush. Rinse and dry.
- Put the lemons on a microwave-safe plate (do not stack) and microwave for up to 20 seconds. Scrub under cold, running water. Rinse and dry.
- Create a fruit and vegetable wash by combining one part white distilled vinegar with three parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the mix to cover the lemons and let sit for two to five minutes. Scrub, rinse under cold water, and dry.
You can also buy organic lemons, which are already unwaxed.
Preserving Lemon Zest
You can always have citrus zest on hand by freezing the zested peels.
- Arrange the zest in a single layer on a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
- Place in the freezer.
- Once frozen, transfer the zest to a zip-top plastic bag and label it with the date and type of zest (lemon, lime, orange, etc.).
- Store in the freezer for up to three weeks.
Frozen zest will keep its flavor, so you don’t have to thaw it before use.
What Can I Do with a Zested Lemon?
If you don’t want to buy fruit just for its peel, you can always squeeze the citrus after zesting and save the juice for use in a salad dressing or make a batch of lemonade. Additionally, “naked” lemons are great for roasting with a chicken.
With so many great options on the market, it’s hard to pick the best of the best, but after carefully reviewing each product, we’ve narrowed it down to the JOFUYU Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater.
The JOFUYU brand lemon zester has so many raving fans that it’s hard to overlook as the best lemon zester tool money can buy. It has all the great features a zester should have: stainless steel blades, sharpness, durable design, easily cleaned, and safe to use. Plus, the longer length and surface width make zesting easy, breezy, lemon squeezy!
Although we highly recommend this product, we also realize everyone has different needs, so it’s important to keep yours in mind when comparison shopping. Think about what suits your kitchen and cooking style and look for a lemon zester with the qualities that will make your life easier — and your food tastier.