What To Do With Lemon Peels: 14 Uses

Delicious meals begin with fresh ingredients that elevate the flavor profile of your dish. Finding ways to utilize every ounce of your ingredients can be rewarding and make for a more versatile making experience. Many recipes call for lemon juice, but those that call for lemon peels may be more elusive. Instead of throwing your rinds away, learn how to use lemon peels in recipes and everyday applications.

Lemon blueberry scone on plate. Lemon blueberry scone on plate.

Lemon Peel Uses

If you want to make the most of life’s lemons, discover the various ways you can repurpose your lemon peels. Whether you’re dreaming up a new recipe to make with guests or searching for ways to make the most of your ingredients, this list will help you waste less and make more.

Candied lemon peel.

1. Candied Lemon Peel

Transform lemon peels into a delightful treat by creating candied lemon peel. This recipe only requires a few ingredients to yield a sweet result. Thinly slice your lemon peels and remove as much of the pith as possible before boiling and draining up to three times. Keep in mind that the more you drain, the more flavor will be removed from the lemon peels. Next, boil water and sugar to create a syrup and mix the peels into the pot until the pith is translucent. Save your sugary treat in a jar with the syrup, then coat with sugar before using it to garnish a handcrafted dessert.

2. Lemon Pepper

Lemon pepper is a zesty seasoning that can bring to life ordinary pasta, poultry, and seafood dishes. Creating your own lemon pepper gives you the satisfaction of controlling the freshness and quality of your spices. To begin, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and your lemon peels, thinly sliced. Insert your baking sheet into a preheated 200°F oven or place in a dehydrator. Once the lemon peels are completely dry, add them to your KitchenAid® food processor and process on High until fine before mixing with whole peppercorns and coarse sea salt., Finish by adding your mixture to a pepper grinder before enjoying your lemon pepper during your next meal.

3. Lemon Marmalade

If you’re looking for a recipe that utilizes the entirety of your lemons, peel and all, consider marmalade. Marmalade is a fruit preserve that uses whole fruit, unlike jam, giving it extra texture and flavor. Swap the traditional oranges used in marmalade for lemons to make use of your leftover peels. Marmalade is best enjoyed alongside freshly baked scones or sourdough bread.

Lemon peels within gremolata.

4. Gremolata

Use your lemon peels to create gremolata, an Italian herb-based condiment that is traditionally served on osso bucco. To make gremolata, mix fresh parsley, zest from a lemon peel, and garlic together in a bowl. Create your own variation by adding mint or parsley from your windowsill, or mixing with extra virgin olive oil to make a luscious sauce. When making a large amount of gremolata sauce, using the KitchenAid® Cordless Variable Speed Hand Blender can help ensure the consistency meets your expectations. Top your favorite savory dish, such as hearty stews or risotto, with your homemade gremolata.

5. Martini With a Twist

Lemon peels can infuse a bright, citrus flavor to a classic evening drink. The next time you’re hosting, show your guests your cultivated bartending skills by serving up a classic vodka martini with a twist. This drink includes the typical vodka, vermouth, and bitters, but the final pièce de résistance is the twisted lemon peel set on the rim of the glass. You can also use lemon peels to create your own mocktail recipes for a non-alcoholic option.

6. Lemon Sugar

Lemon sugar is a delicious addition to your pantry and can be stored for opportune times in the kitchen, such as when baking a delicious lemon loaf or creating cookies with a citrus tang. Zest an entire lemon peel into a bowl of sugar, using about 2-3 cups of sugar for every full lemon. Making a larger batch in advance will give the oils from the lemon more time to infuse their flavors with the sugar, making your recipes more flavorful.

7. Lemon Extract

Making your own lemon extract can come in handy when it’s time to create marinades, sauces, or even refreshing limoncello. Lemon extract is a great way to use an overabundance of lemon peels, so keep that in mind before embarking on this recipe. Start by placing your peels in a jar, keeping about ¼ of the jar’s space unfilled. Add either a high proof vodka or glycerin before sealing the lid and shaking well. Let your jar marinate for about 5 weeks, shaking intermittently. Finish by straining everything and decanting the liquid into a separate, clean bottle.

Sliced apples in a clear glass of tea.

8. Garnish Water or Tea

One of the easiest ways to make use of lemon peels is to use them as a garnish that adds a refreshing flavor to your ordinary beverage. Enliven your water or tea by twisting a lemon peel to express the citrusy oils before dropping it in your drink or placing it on the rim of your glass. This can be a unique substitute to your conventional lemon wedge.

9. Simmer Lemon in a Pan

Let lemon peels simmer in a pot of boiling water to create a pleasant aroma that will fill your household. You can add other ingredients, such as orange peels, cinnamon sticks, or vanilla to create a natural air freshener.

10. Lemon Zest 

Lemon zest comes from the peel of the lemon and has seemingly endless uses as a seasoning or garnish. Use a zester, grater, or a vegetable peeler to remove the yellow outer layer of the lemon, being sure to avoid the bitter white pith. Store your lemon zest in the refrigerator to use in a number of recipes, be it warm baked goods, flavorful curries, or simply as a bright, zesty topping.

Broiled chicken with lemon peels on top.

11. Use Whole Lemon in Recipes, Rind and All

Cutting your lemon into wedges or slices allows you to make use of the entire fruit. Place lemon slices on a whole chicken breast to bring out the delicate flavor of the white meat. You can also place lemon wedges thoughtfully throughout a pan of salmon and vegetables before sliding it into your preheated KitchenAid® wall oven. The lemon will bring your dish’s flavors to life, while also adding some visual appeal.

12. Make Citrus Salt for Margaritas

Making your own citrus salt will surely bring your margaritas to the next level and wow guests the next time you’re hosting. Begin by dehydrating your lemons, baking them on a low temperature in the oven or by using the dehydrate setting on select KitchenAid® countertop ovens. Once your lemons are dried completely, use a KitchenAid® food processor to grind into a fine crumble, making sure your lemon doesn’t turn into a dust. Then mix your lemon with flakey salt before storing the entire mixture into an airtight container, ready for the next at-home happy hour.

13. Make an All-purpose Cleaner

Not only do lemons leave things smelling fresh, but they can also help to remove grease from your kitchen appliances. Lemon peels can be used to create a natural, all-purpose cleaner to keep your kitchen ready for your next creation. Start by filling a spray bottle with vinegar and lemon peels, allowing the mixture to steep for a few weeks. After your mixture is done steeping, use it to clean counters, stovetops, sinks and more. Always make sure to check your owner’s manual first to confirm which types of cleaning solutions can be used.

14. Clean Out Your Coffee Pot

Lemon’s acidity makes it a useful tool for removing hard water deposits and coffee stains from coffee pots. Add water, lemon peels, and ice to your coffee pot and swirl this mixture around until you see that the stains have been removed. You can also soak your coffee pot in this mixture overnight. Make sure to rinse your pot out completely so that you’re ready for an energizing brew the next morning.

Margaritas with lemon peels and mint on top. Margaritas with lemon peels and mint on top.

Can You eat lemon peels?

You can eat properly cleaned lemon peels, as they have many beneficial properties, such as being high in antioxidants and vitamin C. You should be mindful when consuming lemon peel, however, because they are quite acidic. Consider consuming lemon peels in moderation.

Parfait with lemon peels and whole lemons next to it. Parfait with lemon peels and whole lemons next to it.

How Long Do Lemon Peels Last?

Lemon peels will start to lose their flavor after a few days, though how long lemon peels last depends on how you store them.

While you can freeze your lemon zest and lemon peels, they certainly won’t taste as good as they do when they’re fresh. Instead, repurpose your lemon peels before they go bad by transforming them into a preserved ingredient or use them in a recipe. For example, making marmalade or fresh lemon pepper can extend the shelf life of lemon peels.

Lemon dessert next to a KitchenAid® countertop oven. Lemon dessert next to a KitchenAid® countertop oven.

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