How Much Lemon Zest Can You Get From A Single Lemon?

It's funny that the saying "When life gives you lemons," refers to a challenging or difficult situation, because in the kitchen, there's really not much more valuable than a lemon. Lemon juice gives your food acidity that wakes it up without adding extra salt or fat. The juice of the sunny-colored lemon makes cocktails more balanced, muffins a little zingier, and proteins more lively.

And that's just the lemon's inside! Lemon zest is perhaps even more versatile, since it can freshen up any dish without adding unwanted acidity or additional liquid. Lemon zest is intensely fragrant, and any lemon that's not zested before it's juiced is forfeiting a precious resource.

Some recipes, like our savory Simple Chicken Française, which calls for the zest of half a lemon, make it easy to know how many lemons you need for the dish. But if you're not already a passionate fan of lemon zest, when you prepare a recipe like our Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies, which call for one teaspoon of lemon zest, you might wonder how many lemons you need to have on hand. Fortunately, we've got your answer!

One lemon yields about one tablespoon of zest

Though the amount of juice you get from a lemon certainly varies from fruit to fruit — an average-sized lemon will yield between three to five tablespoons of juice — the amount of zest is a little more consistent. One average-sized lemon typically gives you about one tablespoon of zest.

So if you're making those Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies that only call for a single teaspoon, should you stop when you've zested just enough for the recipe? Absolutely not! Keep that microplane moving until just before you hit the pith, and get all the zesty goodness. The extra peel you obtain has plenty of uses. You can freeze the leftover zest for use later — perhaps to wake up a frozen pizza — or you can add the zest to granulated sugar to give you a lively lift to stir into hot tea. You can also add the lemon zest to kosher salt to use in savory preparations. Once you've tasted the difference lemon zest gives dishes of all kinds, you'll find yourself reaching for it anytime a meal feels like it's lacking in flavor and brightness.