Making your own lemon powder can’t be simpler if you know the couple of easy tricks as it is a great way to make homemade lemon powder for seasonings, dressings and as a lemon zest replacement. You will never be at a loss again if lemon zest is called for in a recipe simply by using 3 methods to peel/grate and 3 different ways to dry the lemon peels.
This all started because I hate waste. There, I said it. It is a big pet peeve! I recently had a recipe call for the juice of a whole lemon and I caught myself getting ready to throw the squeezed lemon away. Yikes! Fortunately, I didn’t put it in the trash, so I salvaged it to make dried lemon peels.
I will show the quick, easy steps to peel and dry a lemon and turn it into a fine dried lemon powder. I will also go over the many uses for this versatile kitchen staple.
Following these instructions, you will never have to run to the store again to grab a fresh lemon, just for a teaspoon of lemon zest!
Why This Recipe Works
Three Options to Grate or Zest This is one of those great recipes that give you different options to reach the same finish line. No matter if you use the grater, a zester or simply peeling, you will end up with the same lemon powder at the end. There is no need to buy any new kitchen tools. Use the grater in your drawer if that is all you have.
Three Option to Dry This is pretty much the same concept as the grating above. You can dry these in your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator or Air Fryer with a dehydrating function. The only difference is the lemons turn darker in the oven, but that’s it. If you are new to dehydrating, use the oven technique first so you know if you will incorporate this into your cooking.
Zero Waste Once you have grated/zested/peeled your lemons, you are left with the center and these are perfect to wrap up for the freezer and next time a recipe calls for “lemon juice” simply microwave it for 20 seconds and squeeze. You will be shocked how much more lemon juice you will get and then you have zero waste!
Organic Lemon – Because I like to use lemon peels to eliminate waste, I tend to buy organic. You can scrub and scrub the outside of the lemons to make sure you get the excess chemicals off, but just in case, I prefer to buy organic and know I’m not ingesting potentially harmful chemicals.
You should also look for a relatively firm lemon and one without blemishes so you know it hasn’t gone bad inside. Pick it up, gently press your palm on the lemon and see how it feels. If it feels firm, move it around in your palm looking for blemishes. If it is clean, place it in your bag.
🌸 Detailed Instructions
- Peel or zest the lemon
- Lay them on drying trays
- Dry using one of three techniques
- Gather the dried peels
- Add them to a food processor
- Pulse until it turns into powder
This is such an easy method that you are going to knock yourself on the head that you didn’t do it earlier! As an added benefit, I love it when I peel them as it makes your house smell amazing!
Peel or Zest
Wash the lemon with warm soapy water to clean it.
Use a peeler or a paring knife to remove the topmost layer of lemon peel from the rind. Make sure you scrape just the yellow layer and not the bitter white layer. The benefit of using a peeler is that you will get larger slices which makes them easier to handle.
Optionally, you can just grate the lemon with a box grater or a microplane.
Use a Box Grater
Use your cheese grater. Use the side with the fine holes to make the lemon zest. Just don’t go too far and get too much of the white pith.
Use a Micro Plane
This is a great option and I love using my micro plane. It gets the ends of the lemon better and it does a great job not taking off too much.
You won’t get the white pith at all with this tool.
♨️ Three Ways to Dry
Now that you know how to pick out great lemons and you have peeled or grated them, let’s move right into drying. You are going to love it!
Use the Oven
Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay the lemon peels on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, making sure they do not touch.
Heat in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. I check on them about 15 minutes in to see how they are doing. They are done when the lemon peels will SNAP when you try to bend them.
⚠️ Take note: The peels will darken if you use the oven. They will stay more vibrant yellow if you use the dehydrator. The darker color does not affect the taste.
Use the Dehydrator
Using the dehydrator is perfect for drying the peels. This is completely hands-off once you turn it on.
Lay out the lemon peels on the trays, being careful not to have them touch each other.
Turn the dehydrator to 95 degrees for 8-10 hours. Check at the eight hour mark as everyone’s dehydrator is different.
You are looking for the peels to *SNAP* between your fingers as the indicator they are done. This is my preferred method as the lemon peels retain their bright yellow color after they are dried. It has no impact on the taste, but the color wins me over!
Use the Air Fryer
If you have an Air Fryer with the Dehydrator function, definitely give it a try.
Lay out the lemon peels on the dehydrator trays, making sure they don’t touch each other.
Turn on the Air Fryer to 95 degrees on the DEHYDRATOR setting for two hours.
Every air fryer is slightly different, so monitor the time until yours snap as the indicator they are done.
Turn it into Powder
Add the dried peels to a small Cuisinart and pulse it several times for a course grind as shown in the photo above. Pulse it longer for a fine grind.
📌 How to Store
Once you have them dried, you have a few options for storing them.
- Keep them in decorative jars.
- Store them in sealed Ziploc bags.
- Freeze them and remove from freezer bags when ready to use.
My favorite is to use the jar. I keep them in the dried peel form as it is easy to see how much I have left at any time. Alternatively, use a spice grinder or food processor to grind the peels into a fine powder.
I love to look up in my spice cabinet and see the gorgeous lemon peels or powder that is ready to use in my baking.
What to do with Rest of the Lemon?
Like I said at the beginning, I hate waste! After I peeled the lemon, I wrapped it in Press-N-Seal and added it to a freezer safe Ziploc Bag. I keep these frozen for recipes that require fresh squeezed lemons.
After freezing, it is much easier to squeeze, and I am able to get a lot more juice from it.
I will also add slices to my drinks to add a fun lemony flavor!
🍋 How to Use
There are so many things you can do with dried lemon peels and powder!
- Incorporate them into your body scrubs.
- Use the dried lemon to make your own salad dressing.
- Make citrus salt or citrus sugar. For Citrus Salt, simply combine one tablespoon of dried lemon zest with one tablespoon of kosher salt. Use this on fish, chicken or even in fun liquor drinks.
- Add it into your own homemade potpourri.
- Don’t forget to use it in your baking! Add dried lemon peels/zest to Lemon Lavender Scones or Cranberry Bliss Thumbprint Cookies!
- Use it in making your own homemade rubs for grilling. It worked perfectly in this grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken. Add ½ cup of peppercorns, ½ cup of dried lemon peel and one tablespoon of kosher salt to a small food processor and grind to a fine consistency for a delicious rub.
You get the idea – lemon zest is used EVERYWHERE in cooking! Here’s hoping you start making your own Dried Lemon Peels and using them in your recipes!
These will last more than a year if they are thoroughly dried and stored in an air tight container.
The peel refers to the entire outer skin of the lemon, while the zest is just the bright yellow surface layer of the peel.
The peel is high in potassium. Make sure to use only organic lemons to minimize exposure to insecticides and other chemicals used in the orchards.
How to Peel and Dry Lemon Peels
- Vegetable Peeler
- 6 Lemons organic
Peeling the Lemons
- Peel Lemon using a vegetable peeler or knife. Make sure not to cut into the white pith too much.
- Optional: If you prefer, use a box grater or microplane to create a zest instead of peels. The zest will dry faster, but I find it easier to handle the peels throughout the drying process.
Drying in the Oven
- Place in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit on a lined sheet pan. Make sure peels are separated and not sticking together. Cook for up to two hours.
- Once the peels SNAP, they are dry enough to come out of oven. Peels will be a darker color when they come out. It does not affect the taste at all.
Drying in the Dehydrator
- Set the dehydrator at 95 degrees and place the lemon peels on the trays making sure they are separated. This will take 4-7 hours. Once the peels SNAP, they are dry enough to come out of the oven. Peels will be light in color when they come out.
Drying in the Air Fryer (that has dehydrator function)
- Set the Air Fryer to the Dehydrate function on 95 degrees and place the peels on the little tray, making sure they are not sticking together. This may take 3-4 hours. Please note: Not ever Air Fryer has a Dehydrate Function.
- Once the peels SNAP, they are dry enough to come out of the oven. Peels will be light in color when the come out.
Turn the Dried Lemon Peels to Powder
- Place the dried lemon peels in a food processor.
- Pulse the food processor until the lemon has turned into a fine powder.
- Store the powder in an air tight jar, Ziploc bag, or freeze until needed.
Hard to find organic Lemons around here ! Is there something to wash them with to get the chemicals off
Hi there! Great question! Create a mixture of 1 tsp of baking soda and 2 cups of water and soak for about 15-20 minutes. Rinse well. Another idea is to soak in 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Rinse well. Hope this works for you! 🙂
Want to use in place of salt…thus drop the sea salt mix. How will this play out?
Hi Jonathan! If you have whole lemons you want to preserve, you can freeze the ENTIRE lemon in freezer safe zip lock bags. When you want to use zest, remove it from the freezer and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds. Then go ahead and zest it. Alternatively, zest the lemons and store in a sealed container in the freezer and remove when you want fresh zest. Both of these require no salt at all. Cheers! Ginny
Is it 200 Celsius or Fahrenheit? My first lot burnt.
Fahrenheit! Great question! I’ll add that in to make it more clear! Thanks so much! Ginny
Thanks for stopping by, Stanley!
Thanks for sharing! How long do do they keep?
Once they are dried, you can keep them in a sealed container for up to 12 months, just like a dried herb in your pantry! 🙂 Just make sure they are fully dried or they will create mold.
This is a great idea! What a great way to preserve lemon before it goes bad! You could make lemonade with the juice too!
So true!!! I can’t get enough of lemons this year!