Zinc oxide (ZnO) has been considered as one of the potential materials in solar cell applications, owing to its relatively high conductivity, electron mobility, stability against photo-corrosion and availability at low-cost. Different structures of ZnO materials have been engineered at the nanoscale, and then applied on the conducting substrate as a photoanode. On the other hand, the ZnO nanomaterials directly grown on the substrate have been attractive due to their unique electron pathways, which suppress the influence of surface states typically found in the former case. Herein, we review the recent progress of ZnO nanostructured materials in emerging solar cell applications, such as sensitized and heterojunction architectures, including those embedded with promising perovskite materials. The remarkable advancement in each solar cell architecture is highlighted towards achieving high power conversion efficiency and operational stability. We also discuss the foremost bottleneck for further improvements and the future outlook for large-scale practical applications.