How to Dry and Use Lemon Peel

Last updated 11/9/2020 | |

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Don't throw away those lemon peels. It's easy to dry lemon peels for use in cooking, cleaning and body care (yes, really!)

lemons and a bowl of lemon peel on a table

I was reading the King Arthur Flour catalog the other day (I can't be the only one who reads cookbooks, seed catalogs, and baking catalogs for fun, right?) and was surprised to see a tiny jar of dried, powdered lemon peel for $10.

Really? People are paying $10 for something that the rest of us throw away? I guess they are the same people who throw away their vegetable scraps and then buy compost at the garden store...but I digress.

A few months ago, we were fortunate enough to get a bunch of delicious lemons from my friend's urban orchard. I used the juice to make lemonade, lemon cake, and homemade lemon chicken. I couldn't bear to waste the peel, so I decided to dry it and make my own lemon peel powder.

lemons and bowl of lemon zest


How to Dry Lemon Peel

First, wash your lemons. Please only use fruits that are organic or haven't been sprayed. Peel them with a vegetable peeler and try to get just the rind, not the bitter white pith.

Don't throw away those lemon peels. It's easy to dry lemon peels for use in cooking, cleaning and body care (yes, really!) #upcycled #repurposed #DIY #creative #recycle #lemon

Place the peels in a single layer in your dehydrator. My giant pile of peels filled three trays in my Nesco dehydrator.

Don't throw away those lemon peels. It's easy to dry lemon peels for use in cooking, cleaning and body care (yes, really!) #upcycled #repurposed #DIY #creative #recycle #lemon

Dry them for 10-12 hours at 95 degrees. You'll know they're completely dry when they snap and don't bend.

Don't throw away those lemon peels. It's easy to dry lemon peels for use in cooking, cleaning and body care (yes, really!) #upcycled #repurposed #DIY #creative #recycle #lemon

Aren't they beautiful? You could stop right here and add them to potpourri, or as a fragrant centerpiece with some fresh rosemary.

Don't throw away those lemon peels. It's easy to dry lemon peels for use in cooking, cleaning and body care (yes, really!) #upcycled #repurposed #DIY #creative #recycle #lemon

Crush the peels and buzz them in your coffee grinder until you get a fine powder.

Don't throw away those lemon peels. It's easy to dry lemon peels for use in cooking, cleaning and body care (yes, really!) #upcycled #repurposed #DIY #creative #recycle #lemon

Store the lemon peel powder in the fridge—it will keep for a year.

More Kitchen Tips You'll Love:

How to Freeze Garlic

How to Freeze Onions

How to Make Bread Crumbs

Cooking With Dried Lemon Peel

When substituting in a recipe, use 1 teaspoon dried peel for each tablespoon of fresh peel called for in your recipe.

Make your own lemon pepper! Combine 2 Tbsp lemon peel powder and 1 Tbsp pepper; add 1 tsp salt if desired (I like Real Salt).

Add a pinch to tea or your homemade salad dressing.

Mix with sugar and sprinkle over scones or other baked goods; add to sugar cookies for a pop of flavor.

Put a bit into the crumb topping for apple crisp.

Give your vanilla or lemon pudding extra zing with a dash of lemon peel powder.

Use to brighten the flavor of artichokes--add to the cooking water.

Natural, honey-sweetened lemonade:

Body Care With Dried Lemon Peel (yes, really!)

Make all-natural Lemon Sugar Scrub.

jar of homemade sugar scrub

Cleaning with Dried Lemon Peel

Make soft scrub cleaner.

Mix together:

1 cup baking soda

2 Tbsp lemon peel powder

¼ cup unscented liquid castile soap (this is my favorite)

1 Tbsp hydrogen peroxide

Water (if needed) to make the proper texture

Store in a recycled squirt bottle (ketchup, dish soap, etc). Use to scrub your shower, sinks, etc...anything that needs a gentle scrub.

Carpet deodorizer

This is a 5-second recipe! Mix baking soda and dried lemon peel in a shaker-top jar. (I got an empty powdered-cheese jar from a friend, or you could use one of these cool gizmos.) Sprinkle on the carpet, let sit for 15-20 minutes, and then vacuum it up.

How will you use your dried lemon peel?

lemon zest in dehydrator

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  1. Rena on July 3, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Lemons and limes are toxic to both cats and dogs. Please don’t use this on your carpets or any place your pet may get it on their paws. Citrus oils (diffusers) in the air are also toxic and fatal to cats when ingested.

  2. Jo on June 24, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Can you just use the powder in place of zest with the same measure? As far asnwhats left over…they are great for freshening you’re disposal as well!

  3. Rio on June 13, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Remember to use only organic lemon peel as the inorganic are also sprayed with pesticides, fungicide and waxed.

  4. Rio on June 13, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Good gracious! Lemon peel or any peel will dry at room temperature, no problem. I save those little packets of silica that come in some pills or other dry goods. I put the little packets in with my peel to keep them dry cause any moisture could destroy the quality. I don’t think oven drying is good for peel cause it could affect the natural oils in the peel.

  5. Liz Morris on April 5, 2020 at 9:44 am

    You aren’t the only be who just loves to read cookbooks or craft magazines.. I do also and believe it or not, I really don’t like to cook much I just love to read them and I rarely do crafts.

  6. Vanessa on February 6, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing! DO they keep long?

  7. Suzanne on February 6, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    This is such a cool idea! There are so many times when you just use the juice and the zest could be saved for later!

  8. Mrs Debra Comstock on December 10, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    I’ve had lemons in the freezer and tried slicing them and drying them in my dehydrator. A whole bag of lemons yielded a pint jar of powder !!!! Now I understand you can use a Food Saver to get the oxygen out for longer shelf life ! I cooked shrimp scampi 2 days ago and added a teaspoon of the powder…Amazing! Great flavor !! Also, going to dehydrate/powder celery and cranberries.

  9. Toni Chown-Olds on November 24, 2019 at 9:49 am

    I have used the lowest oven temperature (approx. 190F) spreading the grated lemon peel over a cookie sheet. Leave in the oven for about 20 minutes, shaking at about every five minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit until completely cooled or overnight. I grind the dried grated peel in a small food processor then put it in a glass jar.

  10. Diane Hudson on October 30, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Are lemons highly sprayed? I turn after juicing my morning lemon inside out and rub it along my kitchen sinks and tile backsplash.

    • Mary on February 14, 2020 at 9:54 am

      I do the same thing, also bathroom sink. Makes everything shiny and a fresh clean smell

  11. Sharon Farnam on October 15, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Have a question I took the lemons after I juiced them and run them through a juicer and the peel was like zest but wet how do I dry it to a powder can I put it in the oven

  12. White on August 27, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks Queen I was just thinking that…. I just grate mine and let them dry out….

  13. Vanessa on August 21, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Can this be done with limes or grapefruits?

    • Pam on August 23, 2019 at 9:59 am


  14. Suzanne on August 21, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    This is such a good idea! What a great way to preserve lemons and reduce food waste!

  15. Norma on June 1, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Thanks for this! I found this page Googling the link on your (pilfered) photo linked to another site! Here.

    • Pam on June 2, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks for going to the extra effort to find me! Enjoy your yummy lemon peel.

  16. Mary on May 29, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    What is the temperature for using the oven to dry linen peels

  17. MARY PAVLIDES on May 27, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    I grate my lemons carefully not to include the white pith.
    Spread loosely onto a paper toweling which is on a plate. Sit it on the kitchen bench for a few days or a week depending on the weather and either store it in a spice jar or grind it further in a coffee grinder to make fine powder.
    This eliminates the need for dehydrating or oven drying, not necessary.

  18. Queen on April 19, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Amateurs! You dont need to do any of these steps. All you need to do is get a microplane and zest the lemons onto some parchment paper and leave to air dry overnight. It will be able to be stored in a glass jar like your other spices or you can freeze it if you want but theres really no need. Once its dried it will be able to be preserved. You dont need to dehydrate it or bake it. You can do this with any citrus, limes, oranges or even grapefruit.

    • Angela on December 23, 2019 at 5:27 pm

      I tried the microplain idea, so fast when you have the right tool. I used to be afraid of using it, i thought I was gonna lose my finger tips. But its quite easy. And you are not waisting electricity or gas in the process. Which completes the mission of no waste. Thank you!

    • Rose Felton on June 30, 2020 at 8:58 am

      I do it the same way. I have dried lemon, orange and lime and it’s been sitting on my shelf for over a year. It’s still good. Need to do more lemon today though.

  19. Rosemarie on January 10, 2019 at 12:33 am

    I have put lemon zest in the freezer and it just lasts forever

  20. Anne Binette on November 2, 2018 at 5:23 am

    Been making lemon peel powder for years and am now making grapefruit peel powder for cleaning. It’s even better. Same process!

    • Carrey on June 7, 2020 at 3:15 pm

      Wow ! never thought of that… thanks for the post… am going to try it soon.

  21. Kera on June 28, 2018 at 11:21 am

    I LOVE his idea. We never use enough lemon to warrant buying fresh, but I always want a pinch of lemon peel for something or another. So I love this idea to store it. Would you recommend freezing it?

    • Pam on June 29, 2018 at 9:25 am

      I keep mine in the cupboard, and it lasts for about a year. I’m not sure how freezing would work–if you give it a try, let us know how it goes!

      • Sandi on January 9, 2020 at 3:19 pm

        I keep my lemon peel in the freezer. I didn’t know it would keep so long in just the cupboard. Since I buy only organic lemons, and am cheap, I grate the lemon peel. I think your way of peeling and drying them will be quicker. Keeping them in the freezer involves not drying them, so that would be the difference. Glad I found your web site. Thanks!!

  22. Kat on July 4, 2016 at 7:34 am

    You can leave stuff outside in the summer if you live anywhere with low humidity; I’ve also done it on my counter. Alton brown uses his car…just lays stuff out on a cooling rack in the backseat. No dehumidifier necessary.
    What a great idea! Thanks for all the recipes!

    • Toren on December 22, 2019 at 12:07 am

      Can also dry in oven on low temp setting
      I have also dried fresh tumeric,fresh ginger using that same method
      then using food processor or vitamix to blend into a powder .

    • Liana on March 26, 2020 at 8:38 am

      Imagine how great your car would smell, lemon is my favorite scent.

  23. Patricia Ratcliffe on July 1, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I know u can do it in the oven at a low temp. But u can also do it in the microwave, I just haven’t found out how to do it yet, but will get back to u on this

    • Chef Mark on May 11, 2020 at 7:51 pm

      Lemon peels or orange peels, lay on cookie sheet pan evenly at 170 degrees for 4- 5 hrs.
      Let them cool, add to food processor. Blend to your texture. Add to mason jar, store in
      dark area. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil, good for tightening wrinkles in skin.

  24. Eileen on June 28, 2016 at 6:00 am

    I don’t have a dehydrater. Could I dry the lemon peel in the oven at a low temp?

    • Kim on July 2, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Great question. I was wondering the same.

    • Pam on July 4, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Absolutely! Use the lowest possible temp, or you can put them outside in the sun (cover with a screen to keep the bugs away).

      • Arleen on April 28, 2020 at 9:55 pm

        Or in your car front window on a baking sheet. Works well on sunny day. Rose petals too.

    • VR on December 14, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      If you do not have a hydrator will the oven do? Thanks

    • Sue on April 2, 2020 at 11:32 pm

      In winter I just put orange skins on fire place to dry. When I want to light a fire I use the dried orange like fire starters.

      • Carrey on June 7, 2020 at 3:12 pm

        Awesome idea !

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