How to Make and Use Dried Lemon Peels 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 peel.
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!
🍋 Picking Out Lemons
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.
🌸 How to Peel a Lemon
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!
Step One: Wash the lemon with warm soapy water to get any excess residue out of the lemon peel.
Step Two: Use a peeler or a paring knife to take the topmost layer of lemon peel away from the rind. Make sure you scrape just the yellow section and not the bitter white layer. The benefit of using a peeler is that you will get larger slices. The larger slices make it easier to handle.
If you know you just want the zest for later use, you can skip the peeling step, and move straight to zesting. Since the zest is even finer than the peels, it will dry that much quicker.
My two favorite ways of making the zest are:
💮 Use a Box Grater
This is going to be the cheese grater you have at home to grate your own cheese. You can use the opposite side with the fine grates 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. This allows you to get the ends of the lemon better and does a great job not taking off too much.
You won’t get the white pith at all with the micro plane.
🥄 How to Dry
Now that you know how to pick out great lemons and you learned how to peel or grate them, let’s move right into drying! This is so easy that you are going to love it!
🥣 Using the Oven to Dry Lemon Peels
Step One: Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Lay the lemon peels on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment paper making sure they do not touch.
Step Two: 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 turn darker if you use the oven. They will stay more vibrant yellow if you use the dehydrator. The darker color does not affect the taste.
⏲️ Dehydrator Version
Using the dehydrator is perfect for drying your lemon peels. This is completely hands-off once you turn on the dehydrator.
Step One: Lay out the lemon peels on the dehydrator trays, being careful not to have them touch.
Step Two: Turn the dehydrator on to 95 degrees for 8-10 hours. I like to check at the eight hour mark as well 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!
🍴 Dehydrate Function on an Air Fryer
If you have an Air Fryer with the Dehydrator function, definitely give it a try.
Step One: Lay out the lemon peels on the dehydrator trays, making sure they don’t touch each other.
Step Two: 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.
📌 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.
🍋 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. We have a great list of some amazing salad dressings here and the Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing is really easy to make at home.
- Make citrus salt or citrus sugar. Here’s how to make citrus salt:
1tbsp of lemon zest with 1 tbsp of kosher salt and store in an airtight container. Make sure your lemon zest is fully dry though or it will mold. Then you can use this on fish, chicken or even fun liquor drinks.
- You can add it into your own homemade potpourri as well.
- Don’t forget to use it in your baking! You could substitute the dried lemon peels/zest in the Lemon Lavender Scones or in the Cranberry Bliss Thumbprint Cookies!
- Don’t forget to use it in making your own homemade rubs for cooking. You can make a Lemon Pepper Chicken by making your own rub.
½ cup of peppercorns , ½ cup of lemon peel and 1 tbsp kosher salt
Combine all of these into a small food processor and combine until the consistency you would like and then you can use it for Lemon Pepper Chicken. Thank you, Kitchenlaughter.com for sharing the recipe with us!
🍇 Check out our other recipes using Dried Lemon Zest!
Instant Pot Lemon Bundt Cake This beginner Instant Pot dessert if perfect for adding in a little extra lemon zest into the batter or the frosting! No, the recipe doesn’t call for it, but to have that little extra fresh lemon added in makes this cake out of this world!
Lemon Blueberry Overnight Oats One of our most popular overnight oats and most likely from the fresh flavors coming from teh lemon and the blueberries. Substitute the dried lemon zest for fresh here and you won’t tell the difference.
Raspberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes Talk about over the moon amazing! This recipe should be served at all special occasions! O love how moist and tender the pancakes are!
Cranberry Bliss Cake Mix Cookies This is one of my all time favorite cookies that ties my little obsession with Cranberry Bliss! This recipe is perfect for the dried lemon zest but if you want to make this one, make dried orange zest as well! Then you can make these all the time!
Blueberry Lemon Muffins The streusel topping calls for lemon zest that works perfect with the lemon powder! These are the special muffins you make for baby showers and holidays, just like a bakery!
3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Legs Instead of using Mrs Dash here, substitute the Lemon Pepper seasoning recipe I gave above and cook as directed! This will be incredible coming out of the slow cooker for dinner! Don’t be surprised if there is a new slow cooker recipe coming with just that idea!
You get the idea – lemon zest is used EVERYWHERE in cooking and this is just a sample of what our site has to offer! Here’s hoping you start making your own Dried Lemon Peels and using them in your recipes! Make sure to comment and let me know how it went or if you have questions.
How to Peel and Dry Lemon Peels
- Air Fryer
Peeling the Lemons
- Peel Lemon using a vegetable peeler or knife. Make sure not to cut into the white pith too much.
Drying Lemon in Oven
- Place in the oven at 200 degrees 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 Lemon in 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 Lemon in 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 of high speed blender.
- Pulse the food processor until the lemon is chopped and has turned into a powder