How to zest a lemon with a cheese grater

If you don't have a zester, try this easy way to zest lemons with a cheese grater, including a quick hack that maximises the zest and reduces the mess.

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How to zest a lemon with a cheese grater

If you need to zest a lemon but you don’t have a special zesting tool, you can use your cheese grater instead! We have a quick hack using baking paper to stop the zest from getting stuck in your grater too, so you get the most zest with the least mess.

Zesting a lemon with a box grater


  1. First, find the finest grating surface on your grater. It should look like lots of bumps that you can grate in any direction. Cover that side of the grater with baking paper, making sure the paper is large enough to wrap around the grater and hold in place with your other hand. 
  2. Hold the grater at an angle and firmly grate the lemon over the paper, turning often to zest only the yellow skin and not the bitter white pith. The metal points on the grater should poke through the paper, but it will be strong enough to stay in one piece so you don’t get any paper in your zest.
  3. Once you’ve zested the lemon all over, remove the baking paper. The zest should have collected on the surface of the paper, so you can easily scrape it off then use it as needed!


This zesting technique will work for almost any citrus, including limes, oranges and grapefruits.

Don’t use greaseproof paper for this hack, as it isn’t strong enough to hold up to the grating.

Wash your fruit thoroughly before zesting.

Try mixing extra zest with sea salt for a fancy finishing salt. You can also mix it with butter and other herbs to make compound butter, which is fantastic for adding flavour to steaks, barbecued meats and seafood.

You can freeze zest for up to 3 months. First freeze it in a single layer on a baking sheet, then add it into a zip lock bag, label and freeze.

Recipes with zest

Check out some delicious ways below to try out your new zesting hack!

Get the recipe: Salmon and Dill Savoury Dutch Baby

Lemon and fish is a classic pairing. Mix in a little lemon zest to your creme fraiche to make a luxurious topping for this Salmon Dutch Baby.

Get the recipe: Lemon and White Chocolate Crackle Cheesecake

Lemon zest not only adds amazing lemon flavour to your cheesecake, it makes a vibrant yellow decoration too.


Get the recipe: Herb Butters 3 Ways

Lemon zest adds amazing flavour to butter, which you can then brush on steaks, seafood, roast vegetables and more. Watch how easy it is to make!

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