The 5 Best Zesters of 2024

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Zested lemons and tools to zest a lemon on a countertop.
Credit: Culinary Hill


 

When you embark upon your own personal journey to find the Best Zesters, consider these questions: What type of zest is required? What kind of tool is needed to obtain it? What brand of tool does that job best? Some recipes require a specific kind of zest (i.e., a twist for a cocktail garnish), so it’s not always a one-size-zests-all situation.

I set out to evaluate not just traditional lemon zesters (rasp graters) but all other tools that one might use for zesting. I tested loads of tools myself (as I always do) and also conducted additional research on the topic. I’ve compiled the winners in each category, and I’ve listed my findings below.

Normally there is a “What’s In Meggan’s Kitchen” selection, but today, that’s ALL of them! I own all of these tools (among others) and reach for them depending on what a recipe requires. As you can see, some of them are common kitchen tools that just happen to work for zesting, too. Similar to when flight attendants are describing emergency exits on a plane: “Keep in mind, the best citrus zester may be behind you, sitting in your kitchen drawer.”

Our Top Picks

  1. Best Overall Grater: Microplane Classic Grater – $13.80 on Amazon
  2. Best Peeler: OXO Good Grips Y-Peeler – $11.30 on Amazon
  3. Best Paring Knife: Victorinox Swiss Classic Paring Knife – $5.98 on Amazon
  4. Best Box Grater: KitchenAid Gourmet 4-Sided Box Grater – $16.19 on Amazon
  5. Best Channel Knife Zester: OXO Good Grips Citrus Zester with Channel Knife – $11.29 on Amazon

Reviews of the Best Zesters

1. Best Overall Grater: Microplane Classic Zester

Someone using a microplane grater to zest a lime.
Credit: Culinary Hill

If you can only have one zesting tool in your drawer, let it be this one. The Microplane Classic Grater is the original hand-held grater, so much so that the term “microplane grater” is often used as a generic term for any hand-held, stick-style grater (the correct term is “rasp grater,” by the way).

This grater is the fastest way to get the most amount of zest with the least effort. Along with zesting citrus, I use this Microplane grater for grating garlic, ginger, chocolate, Parmesan cheese, and whole spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Because it’s light and portable, you can take it to the dinner table and offer to grate fresh Parm for your dinner guests without breaking a sweat.

It has a plastic cover to attach for storage (so you don’t cut your hand when you’re digging in your kitchen drawer) and it stores flat and compact with other utensils. The sturdy stainless steel construction has razor-sharp teeth and resists rust so you can keep it for the long haul.

The Specs:

  • Brand: Microplane
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 6 ounces

Pros:

  • The blade was designed to remove zest while leaving the bitter white pith behind
  • Surgical-grade stainless steel resists rust and stays sharp; BPA free handle
  • Includes a removable cover to protect the blade
  • Blades are made in the USA
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Some users noticed that water collects between the blade and the handle and it’s difficult to clean.
  • If the blade cover isn’t applied correctly, it can get stuck and might break upon removal.

Buy the Microplane Classic Grater:

2. Best Peeler: OXO Good Grips Y-Peeler

A lemon being zested with a peeler.
Credit: Culinary Hill

When you want thick, sturdy pieces of citrus zest, a vegetable peeler is the way to go. This OXO Y-peeler is my go-to for peeling potatoes, carrots, apples, cucumbers, and more, and it works like a charm for peeling citrus.

Use wide strips of peel to make twists for cocktails or to flavor spirits or olive oil, or freeze them in ice cube trays for fancy ice cubes. If you don’t have a channel knife, you can thinly slice these wide pieces of peel into thin strips, too.

The Specs:

  • Brand: OXO
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 2 ounces

Pros:

  • Sharp stainless steel blade is rust-resistant
  • Comfortable, soft-grip, rubber handle
  • Includes a removable cover to protect the blade
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Some users think the peeler is too small
  • The handle can get slippery if your hands are wet

Buy the OXO Good Grips Y-Peeler:

3. Best Paring Knife: Victorinox Swiss Classic Paring Knife

Someone peeling an orange with a paring knife.
Credit: Culinary Hill

A classic paring knife generates citrus zest of similar size and thickness as a vegetable peeler: wide, flat strips. A paring knife requires a bit more dexterity for the user to get the same result, so it’s more of an advanced zesting solution.

What it lacks in user experience (for novice cooks, at least), it makes up for in availability: you probably already have one. A paring knife is beneficial and useful for a wide variety of tasks, and you can add zesting to its resumé, too.

Use the wide pieces of peel to make cocktail garnishes, flavored syrups, or spirits, and for adding to pots of simmering water to make your house smell divine. Or, dry the peels and add them to your tea for a burst of citrus flavor.

The Specs:

  • Brand: Victorinox
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 1 ounce

Pros:

  • A compact yet sturdy knife with a sharp blade
  • Flexible blade makes zesting easy
  • Slim ergonomic handle
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Some users think the handle is too small

Buy the Victorinox Swiss Classic Paring Knife:

4. Best Box Grater: KitchenAid Gourmet 4-Sided Box Grater

Someone zesting a lime on a box grater.
Credit: Culinary Hill

A box grater is a logical choice for zesting, especially if you already have one. It’s much larger and “chunkier” than a slim zesting tool, but it gets the job done. This version has 4 sides, 3 of which are holes for grating (coarse, medium, and fine; the 4th side has a slicing hole). This box grater works well with both hard cheeses (like Parmesan) and soft cheeses (like cheddar or mozzarella).

Use a box cheese grater when zesting on a flat surface so you can accumulate a pile. It’s not as mobile as a stick grater, so you would never haul it out to the dinner table and attempt to shave Parmesan over someone’s pasta with it. But that’s fine! It’s a sturdy workhorse that makes quick work of citrus zesting.

The Specs:

  • Brand: KitchenAid
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 1 pound

Pros:

  • Sturdy stainless steel frame with non-slip rubber foot
  • Coarse, medium, and fine grate options
  • Soft-touch handle
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Large in size (described as “chunky”)
  • The collection container beneath doesn’t always collect what you zest

Buy the KitchenAid Gourmet 4-Sided Box Grater

5. Best Channel Knife Zester: OXO Good Grips Citrus Zester with Channel Knife

Someone zesting an orange.
Credit: Culinary Hill

This kitchen tool boasts a 2-in-1 function: making twists and zesting. When it comes to making twists, this is the best channel knife I’ve tried, it works really well, and I love it. There is simply no other reliable way to extract that precise size, shape, and thickness from a citrus rind other than with a channel knife tool. I own it precisely for that reason, and I keep it with my bar tools so it’s out of the way.

For zesting, the blades seem to dull over time and the tool is awkward to use at times. I would never keep this as my primary zester and turn to my Microplane grater for that.

The Specs:

  • Brand: OXO
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 2 ounces

Pros:

  • A 2-in-1 tool for both zesting and making channel-knife cuts
  • Stainless steel resists rust
  • Comfortable, soft-grip, nonstick handle
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • The angle of the zesting blades can be awkward to maneuver.

Buy the OXO Good Grips Citrus Zester with Channel Knife:

Other Zesters to Consider

Deiss Pro Citrus Zester

The Deiss is a mainstay in the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen and is appreciated for its durability. The solid stainless steel construction is built to last, and food doesn’t stick to it. It’s a breeze to clean, and the bright yellow handle makes it easy to spot among a sea of kitchen utensils. It comes with a snap-on cover to protect the blade in storage.

The Deiss Pro Citrus Zester is available on Amazon for $10.98

OXO Good Grips Etched Zester

The OXO Good Grips Etched Zester is the top “Overall Pick” on Amazon. It also has a 5-star rating at Target with 135 reviews. Users love the non-slip handle, its ease of use, and the price. It’s made of stainless steel, has laser-etched teeth for precision zesting, is dishwasher safe, and has a cover for safe, easy storage.

The OXO Good Grips Etched Zester is available on Amazon for $9.89 and at Target for $9.89.

Why You Can Trust Us

I’m Meggan, the Executive Chef and founder of Culinary Hill, and I zest a lot. While putting together a slew of new tutorials on zesting, I sourced a slew of different zesting tools and tried them out myself. To create the final rankings, I scoured trusted online reviews and did additional research. I also compared tools based on design, performance, quality, ease of cleaning, and overall value.

Everything to Know Before Buying a Zester

Five oranges on a countertop that have been zested.
Credit: Culinary Hill

What to Consider Before Buying a Zester

There are different kinds of zest and different ways to generate them. It’s good to peruse new options while considering what you may already have on hand. Before adding another tool to the drawer, consider the following factors:

Type of zest: The zest you seek will help determine the tool for the job.

  • Small, thin shreds: Stir into baked or salad dressings or sprinkle over roasted vegetables. Look for a rasp-style grater like a Microplane or box grater.
  • Long, thin strips: Form into twists as a garnish for cocktails or decorations on cakes. A channel knife is the easiest way, but you can also trim down and thinly slice peel from a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
  • Flat, wide strips: Add to cocktails as a garnish, dry and add to cups of tea, or slice into thin strips to make twists. Make these with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

Materials: Look for stainless steel which is strong, sturdy, and resistant to rust. Stainless steel should be dishwasher safe, but any grater you buy should mean easy cleaning.

Size: Consider the length of the tool both in terms of how easily you can handle it and where you will store it.

Sidecar cocktails in two clear stemmed glasses.
Credit: Culinary Hill

What Else Can You Do With a Zester?

Depending on which tool you choose, you’ll be able to multi-task with other kitchen functions.

  • Microplane grater: Perfect for citrus fruits, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, chocolate, and cheese
  • Peeler: Peel citrus, potatoes, cucumbers, apples, pears, and kiwis
  • Paring knife: Peel citrus, handle a variety of food prep tasks
  • Box grater: Grated cheese citrus, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, and apples

How Much Zest?

  • 1 large lemon will yield about 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1 large lime will yield about 1 teaspoon of lime zest
  • 1 large orange will yield about 2 tablespoons of orange zest

How Do You Store Zest?

Store leftover zest covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or add zest to a freezer-safe container, label, date, and freeze up to 6 months.

How Do You Make a Twist for a Cocktail?

Gently rotate a long strip of peel around a drinking straw, securing each end with pins to hold it in place. This can be done in advance; by the time your cocktail is ready, your twist will be beautiful and perfectly curled. Just remember to give it an extra twist over the drink, to release the natural oils over the surface of the cocktail.

Lemons twists being made on straws.
Credit: Culinary Hill

Best Recipes for Zest

Try citrus zest in baked goods like cakes and cookies, sprinkled on soups and roasted vegetables, or stirred into sauces and salad dressings. And of course, MANY cocktails have a citrus garnish!

Prices were accurate at the time of publication.

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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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