How to Make Candied Citrus Peels

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mandarin oranges

My younger daughter Charlotte loves mandarin oranges. While the peel to fruit ratio of these small, juicy, sweet oranges doesn’t quite hit 1:1, at three dollars a pound, I do pay quite a lot for peels. And although compost can save the world, I would like to do something with all of those peels, especially since I buy organic mandarins at the farmer’s market, where vendors do not coat their produce with “food-grade” wax like the grocery stores do (blech).

You can also make candied citrus peels with lemons, limes, grapefruits and other types of oranges, however, the very loose peel of mandarins makes cutting it away from the fruit very easy.


  • 5 or 6 mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

I buy bulk sugar in either a my own container (a glass jar) or a homemade cloth produce bag.


1. Without piercing the fruit, cut through the mandarin peel and remove strips about 1/4- to 1/2-inch wide. Don’t worry about making them uniform. Use a vegetable peeler to quickly remove strips from the intact citrus an leave the bitter pith behind.

2. If you have any pith on the peels, use your knife to slice away most of it. If you’ve used a knife to remove the peels rather than a vegetable peeler, this step takes a bit of time. I watched Downton Abbey while I worked away, pausing each time Charles Blake appeared on screen. (Please, if you live in the UK, don’t tell me which man, if any, Mary chooses.) As you can see below, I didn’t remove all the pith. That’s fine. (It may help to know that my finished peels weighed 4 ounces.)

dissected mandarins

3. Add the peels to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 25 minutes. The water turns very orange almost immediately. This step eliminates bitterness (in the peels that is, although the resulting intense citrus scent might improve one’s attitude as well). Drain peels. Find something to do with the fragrant orange water (water your plants, spray it near the kitty litter box).

simmer peels

4. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 water in the pot and boil until the sugar dissolves. Add peels. When they begin to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Avoid stirring; this may break the delicate peels (as I discovered).

simmer peels sugar water

5. Remove citrus peels with a slotted spoon and spread out on a drying rack. I set mine out overnight and they still felt a bit wet and sticky in the morning, so I placed the drying rack on a cookie sheet in my oven all day (the pilot light keeps things toasty) where they dried out and no longer felt so sticky.

drying candied peels

finished candy

6. We ate all of these immediately. But they do keep well in a jar. Toss them in sugar first to keep them from sticking.

I really did not feel up to making these the other night. I started late and I was tired. But when I tried them the next day, they tasted fantastic, like a gumdrop with an intense orange flavor—a real orange flavor derived from actual oranges!

Last night I fed Etheldreda, my kombucha mother, and I dropped a few of these candied orange peels into my kombucha bottles for the secondary fermentation. I look forward to tasting that in a couple of days.

Thanks to Mrs. M for the initial idea 🙂

What do you do with citrus peels?

Candied Citrus Peels

Make these with oranges, grapefruit, lemons or limes


  • 5 or 6 mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar


1. Without piercing the fruit, cut through the mandarin peel and remove strips about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch wide. Don’t worry about making them uniform.

Update: Or use a vegetable peeler to quickly remove strips from the intact citrus an leave the bitter pith behind.

2. Use your knife to slice away most of the pith. [Skip this part if you use the vegetable peeler trick!]

3. Add the peels to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 25 minutes. Drain.

4. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 water in the pot and boil until the sugar dissolves. Add peels. When they begin to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Remove citrus peels with a slotted spoon to a drying rack. Allow to dry overnight.

6. To store, toss in additional sugar and keep in an air-tight jar.

44 Replies to “How to Make Candied Citrus Peels”

  1. Yum! I’ve bookmarked this idea. I had never even thought of doing something like this with the peels. The most I do with them is grate them a bit sometimes to add a zest to whatever I’m cooking. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. These are very aromatic, like zest (no surprise there, really). Let me know how they turn out if you try them and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. That sounds amazing! Going to have to try this!

    1. I was pleasantly surprised with how delicious they are. I’ll make them again for sure.

  3. I drop peels into jars of white vinegar, so I have freshly scented cleaning products!

    1. Oooh, good idea! I can’t make these every time Charlotte eats a mandarin, but I will keep my peels for other things, like your scented vinegar. You always have so many great ideas. Thanks 🙂

  4. Hey, thanks for working the compost angle into a story about candy! 😉 I made a Martha Stewart version of this some years ago but you’re inspiring me to try again! Thx for sharing!!! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. Maybe I should have named this post “Compost Candy.” I do love compost. Not only does it suck carbon out of the atmosphere, feed your garden and reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill, it’s teeming with life! I find a compost heap fascinating. But I guess I’ll save that for next week’s post 😉

      I bet I have the same Martha recipe. I looked it up and read a bunch of recipes online and came up with this one. I’m sure there are many variations for making these. I do love Martha though. I’ve never made a Martha recipe I didn’t like.

  5. I recall being seriously ridiculed in the 70s for making my own candied peel. I am so glad I have company now. Never tried mandarins before, but around here hard to find organic ones.

    1. That’s ridiculous :p Your tormentors must not have tasted your candied peels. Initially, my daughter looked askance at my finished candied peels (she thinks I make some weird food) but she liked them and finished them off yesterday.

  6. I’ve always wanted to try doing this but never seem to store up enough peels to do it. Maybe someday soon I’ll buy oranges for the peel and then freeze the pulp instead lol. I usually freeze my peels and then use them in cooking or herbal tea (usually tea, and I eat the peels when I get to the bottom), along with my lemon peels.

    1. You need a mandarin addict like my daughter 🙂 Great idea about the tea. I ran out of loose-leaf chai recently but did have loose-leaf black tea, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and coriander seeds, so I threw some of that in. Dried orange peel would be great too.

  7. Trying this tomorrow! Also, thought of you when I came across this:
    BTW…sauerkraut came out amazing! -Aggie

    1. Oooh, I must try that. I make vanilla in a similar way, you basically slice the beans and steep them in vodka (or other alcohol) for a few months. Thank you so much for the link. I’m working on another post “10 things you can do with citrus peels” and will link to this.

    2. Oops, I wasn’t don’t typing…I also wanted to say I’m so glad your sauerkraut turned out well. Thanks for letting me know, Aggie. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday 🙂

  8. You always wow me with your recipes! I must share this!!! (BTW, I love your Le Creuset-the only way to cook).

    1. Thank you so much! I love, love, love my le Creuset pots. I don’t know what I did before I had these. My neighbor gave me THREE! He said they are too heavy!

      1. I truly believe my foods taste better being cooked in my Le Creuset (that’s my story and sticking to to it) You have very generous neighbors. .

      2. I think you’re onto something about the pots. And yes, I do have wonderful neighbors 🙂

  9. I am definitely going to this ago as my youngest also loves oranges.

    1. They really taste delicious. I kind of had my doubts while I made them and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

  10. looks good, have not done a lot of candying- I keep the mandarin peel off our trees or the ones I know that are organic and dry them and place in a jar and add to herbal teas – this came out of a stint of study I did into traditional chinese medicine – a digestive aid amongst other things – also add to soups stews etc in winter – yes a little bitter but I like the addition of the spirit of the fruit as much as anything as well.

    1. I just wrote a post about tea with citrus peels in it 🙂 I nearly ran out of chai and examined the little bit I had left. It has so much orange peel in it! Why am I paying extra for this??? Last week, I started drying out my peels and storing them in a jar. They’re so useful. And now I know it’s a digestive aid 🙂 I have some steeping in homemade vinegar right now and hope it will transform into an effective household cleaner. I’ll add some to my next pot of soup or stew too. (I make a lot of soup.) Until I made these candied peels, I simply composted the peels. Now I hoard them!

  11. […] Make your own – I have never tried this and  possibly never will but the zero waste chef  whose advice I trust if example I cannot emulate, does it so I leave you in her capable hands! […]

  12. I asked a question on the wrong page just then…… I am not the britest bulb in the screen but I am on right page now. How dry do you dry these? Like dehydrator dry or just enough to make less sticky???

    1. Hi Mike. I just lay they out on a wire rack, like you would use to cool cookies. After a day or so, they’re dry. You can also roll them in sugar first while they are still sticky. My daughter recently made candied lemon peels and did that. Very yummy.

  13. […] can also candy or preserve an assortment of citrus rinds, using them later to add a punch of flavor to […]

  14. […] can also candy or preserve an assortment of citrus rinds, using them later to add a punch of flavor to […]

  15. My boyfriend is a big mandarin eater, so I might try this. Put in a nice jar (and half-dipped in chocolate?) this could do a small Xmas present, but I was wondering about conservation. Do you have any idea: 1) how long I can keep the peels once they are off the fruit before candying them? 2) How long do the candied peel keep once prepared?

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Half-dipped in chocolate sounds amazing! You have a lucky boyfriend 🙂 I would keep the peels in the fridge for a few days at the most before candying them. I haven’t tried freezing peels, but that might work too and you could toss them in the freezer right after peeling to prevent them from spoiling. If you try that, I’d just freeze a small amount in case they don’t turn out. We gobble these up so they don’t last around here. My daughter did make some candied lemon peel that lasted for months though. I hope that helps. ~ Anne Marie

    2. Oh and another thing, make sure you store them in an air tight container.

  16. Hi I’m going to be making these today, with both lemons & manderins. Firstly I need to check how many grams/ounces etc a cup is. Here in the UK we generally don’t use the ‘cup’ system, although it is becoming more popular… Thank you for the list of homemade christmas gifts, your blog is always a joy to follow!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Yum! Lemon is really good too. I’ll try to keep that in mind about the grams vs cups for future recipes. For my bread, I always go by grams. It’s more accurate. Thanks for following my blog 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  17. […] Links 1: Candied Citrus Peels 4: Citrus Household Cleaner 7: Orange Essential Oil 10: Orange […]

  18. I made these using lime and orange peels, the juices were used to flavor Christmas cider. I had trouble getting the pith off, and had to adjust cooking times, but am happy with the results! I love gummy candies, and these filled the gummy hole in my heart. I liked learning to make it myself, and I’m excited to try the lime/orange water as a toner. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Yum, those sound delicious (and the cider too…). I was amazed when I first made these at how similar they are to gummy candies. I’m so glad you liked them. Thanks for checking out the recipe 🙂

  19. […] candy. These taste like gummy worms with an intense orange flavour. Zero Waste Chef has a no fuss recipe (of course she does). My trick is to add a dash of citric acid to the candied peels to make […]

  20. […] year of my pressure canner!) and some candied lemon peels and orange peels. I got that idea from Zero Waste Chef, and I could not have been more pleased. It took me a few tries to get it right, but this will be a […]

  21. […] forget to do something with the peels!  You can make candied lemon peels, infuse vinegar to make delicious smelling cleaner, freeze the zest to use later, and, of course, […]

  22. Trying this for the first time! Can you save and use the syrup for anything after you’ve finished boiling the peels?

    1. Hi Chrissy,
      I have used the syrup to flavor kombucha. It tasted good! I think you could use the syrup anywhere that calls for a simple syrup. You could even try cooking some fruit it it for a quick sauce.
      Enjoy your candy 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  23. Dear Anne Marie,

    I live in France where candied citrus peels are a very popular gift during the Holidays.
    We call them “Orangettes”.

    My recipe is almost the same as yours except that I keep the white part of the peel as well.
    As a consequence, the sticks are thicker and you get more for your money.

    Also, I soak the peels for 24 hours in a bowl of salted water to remove any bitterness they might contain. Then, I cook them in salted water for 5 minutes, and boil them twice in clear water (once 5 minutes and then 15 minutes). Granted, it’s a lot of water but if you have an outdoor space, you can toss the hot water on weeds.
    It kills them beautifully without polluting the ground 😉
    Et voilà!

    If I want to indulge, I dip them in dark chocolate or, even better, home made ganache…but that’s if I need extra TLC!
    They’re a great gift, they keep for a long time and can also be used in savory dishes.

    All the best and thank you for you wondreful blog!

  24. […] candied peels that you’ll want to give as gifts… or keep to enjoy for yourself. Learn how to make your own candied citrus peels with lemons, limes, oranges, and […]

  25. Hello Anne Marie!
    I added some of the lemon and orange water to a shio ramen, along with a bone and veg scrap broth (which you got me on to too!), quite a lot of salt and a little bit of soy sauce. It was so delicious and mostly out of waste! Do also cook sliced onion, ginger and garlic in the ramen broth, so that adds to its flavour too. Will be saving this lemon water for more shio ramens!
    Thank you Anne-Marie, I absolutely love your work, and you make my time in the kitchen even more wholesome!

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