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An easy recipe for homemade candied citrus! Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!

Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!
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This is one of those easy, yet life-saving, recipes to have in your baking arsenal.

What if you find yourself in the middle of New York City and cannot find candied lemon peel to save your life? [These are real life scenarios, people. Don’t laugh.]

Or perhaps you are one of those people who cannot stand wasting a single atom of produce.

No matter what your reasons, candied citrus is where it’s at.

Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!

Basically citrus zest is cooked in simple syrup, drained and then tossed in granulated sugar, if desired. It will keep for months and looks rather fancy as a garnish on dessert, as a sweet component to a cheese plate, or (spoiler alert!) as a surprising note in cookies .

It would also make a lovely Christmas gift! 🙂

Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!

While this recipe is not difficult, it does take a bit of time. The most challenging part about it is cutting the zest. How you cut your zest completely depends on the application and how much time you have to let it cook.

My julienned zest took about 2 hours to cook. Imagine what a large piece takes!

A little technical tidbit for you – because you know I can’t resist…

The ingredients for this recipe are very simple, as is the preparation, but the order of combination is paramount. Corn syrup is an invert sugar, which helps keep the sugar from crystallizing as it cooks; however, if you let an invert sugar sit on top of undissolved sugar, it will keep the sugar from fully hydrating and it can crystallize anyways. So make sure you dissolve your sugar in the water first and then add the corn syrup.

Also, don’t skip the blanching of the peels! This helps take away any residual bitterness. It only takes a few minutes total. Promise.

Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!
Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!
5 from 1 ratings

Candied Citrus Peel

An easy recipe for homemade candied citrus! Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Using a vegetable peeler, peel just the zest off of your fruit. Try to get as little of the bitter white pith as possible. This will make your life easier. The sharper your peeler, the easier this step is. Mine was as dull as a doornail (whatever that is…)
  • Cut the white pith from the peel if need be. Flatten the peel on a cutting board and carefully shave the white part from the zest. I find a large knife actually works better for this process because you can use the blade to keep the zest flat.
  • Cut the zest into long thin strips about 2mm wide. If you want perfect zest, square off the wide strips first and then cut the thin ones from that perfect rectangle.
  • Place peels in a saucepan and add cold water just to cover; bring the mixture to a boil; strain; repeat 2 more times.
  • In the same saucepan combine the sugar and water, stir to hydrate. Add your corn syrup. Return the peels to the saucepan and cook over low heat.
  • Simmer peels for 1-2 hours or until they are translucent but still retain their color. You can also test for doneness by eating one (my favorite method!). They should be soft and sweet with just a little bit of chew. If your cooking liquid no longer covers your zest at any point just add a little water.
  • You can store the candied zest in the cooking liquid (refrigerated) or to crystallize it as in the photos, strain the zest, place on a rack or plate and allow to cool until tacky. Then toss in about ¼ cup granulated sugar. Cool and store in a cool, dry place until ready to use.

Notes

You can make as little or as much as you would like at a time. I divided the recipe for syrup above (about 2/3 for the orange and 1/3 for the lemon) and candied the zest of 2 lemons and 4 oranges. I used separate pots to keep the flavors pure, but the process is the same.
Corn syrup is one of those pain in the tush things to measure because its hard to get it to stop flowing out of the container! In this recipe err on the side of more rather than less. If your corn syrup has a nifty 1 cup measure mark on the side (Thank you, Karo), you can also eyeball it.
The yield of this recipe depends on the type of fruit you use. 4 oranges gives you about 2 cups of crystallized peel and 2 lemons gives you about 1 cup.

Nutrition

Calories: 654kcal | Carbohydrates: 171g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 42mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 138g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Vitamin C: 178mg | Calcium: 222mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Calories: 654
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Turn everyday citrus fruits into a sweet snack, an elegant garnish for desserts, a simple addition to a cheese plate, or a stunning homemade gift!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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11 Comments

  1. I just came across this on Pinterest and was wondering if I can substitute the corn syrup for something else since it isn’t readily available in my country. Would maple syrup or honey work, or just more sugar and water (like simple syrup)? Thanks in advance for replying to such an oldie 🙂

    1. Hi Iris, The main purpose of the corn syrup is to keep the sugar from crystallizing. If you don’t have it, just omit it! Happy candying!

  2. Can I save peels for a week or so? I use 1 lemon each day and am looking for something wonderful to do with the peels at the end of the week. Maybe stored in the fridge?

    1. Hmmm. That is an excellent question Charlotte. I don’t see why not. I would wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator.

  3. Can I use the same recipe for candied ginger? The recipe /instructions I have for ginger is from a very old cookbook, (does anyone use those anymore) and requires 3 days…Anyway I would love to make my own candied ginger. I go through a lot of it in a few recipes I have, 2 cups of it in one in particular.

    1. Hi Nikki! Absolutely!!! Skip step 4 (blanching the peels). I would double or triple the amount of the cooking liquid to make sure you have enough to accommodate a longer cooking time. If you julienne your ginger (Julienne is thin strips about 2mm wide. I would slice it on a mandoline and then cut thin strips from those pieces), it will cook faster. If you are going to chop it finely for a recipe anyways, you might as well cook it in smaller pieces. I’ve never candied ginger but I would guess it would take about 4 hours for julienned strips. They won’t become translucent like zest but when you taste one it should be tender with a nice chew. Let me know how it goes!

      1. Thanks. I am using my last 2 cups of crystallized ginger in Sticky Ginger Squares tonight. I will do some shopping for fresh ginger this next week and candy the ginger. I will let you know how it turns out.

        1. Mmmm sticky ginger squares sound AMAZING! I’m going to google that right now. I will be holding my breath on the ginger!

        2. Umm those squares look divine. I’m going to make them for one of my 12 days of Christmas Cookies. Guess you won’t be the only one candying ginger this week!

    2. Ps – I love using old cookbooks! They are like a treasure trove! Several of the recipes for my 2015 12 Days of Christmas Cookies come from vintage cookbooks.