Naturally occurring ferrihydrite often contains impurities such as Al and Si, which can impact its chemical reactivity with respect to metal(loid) adsorption and (in)organic or microbially induced reductive dissolution. However, the surface composition of impure ferrihydrites is not well constrained, and this hinders our understanding of the factors controlling the surface reactivity of these nanophases. In this study, we conducted Zn(II) adsorption experiments combined with Zn K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy measurements on pure ferrihydrite (Fh) and Al- or Si-bearing ferrihydrites containing 10 and 20 mol% Al or Si (referred to as 10AlFh, 20AlFh and 10SiFh, 20SiFh) to evaluate Zn(II) uptake in relation to Zn(II) speciation at their surfaces. Overall, Zn(II) uptake at the surface of AlFh is similar to that of pure Fh, and based on Zn K-edge EXAFS data, Zn(II) speciation at the surface of Fh and AlFh also appears similar. Binuclear bidentate IVZn–VIFe complexes (at ∼3.46 Å (2C) and ∼3.25 Å (2C)) were identified at low Zn(II) surface coverages from Zn K-edge EXAFS fits. With increasing Zn(II) surface coverage, the number of second-neighbor Fe ions decreased, which was interpreted as indicating the formation of IVZn polymers at the ferrihydrite surface, and a deviation from Langmuir uptake behavior. Zn(II) uptake at the surface of SiFh samples was more significant than at Fh and AlFh surfaces, and was attributed to the formation of outer-sphere complexes (on average 24% of sorbed Zn). Although similar Zn–Fe/Zn distances were obtained for the Zn-sorbed SiFh samples, the number of Fe second neighbors was lower in comparison with Fh. The decrease in second-neighbor Fe is most pronounced for sample 20SiFh, suggesting that the amount of reactive surface Fe sites diminishes with increasing Si content. Although our EXAFS results shown here do not provide evidence for the existence of Zn–Al or Zn–Si complexes, their presence is not excluded for Zn-sorbed AlFh or SiFh. The results of this study indicate that Zn(II) interaction with Fh is influenced by the type of impurities associated with this nanomineral, particularly in the case of Si-bearing Fh, and this may have implications for our understanding of metal(loid) mobility in natural systems.