Easy candied orange peel recipe makes the perfect soft chewy orange peel candy for holiday baking, snacking, or dipping in chocolate!
candied orange peels
Can you turn orange peels into candy? Absolutely! Candied orange peel is a confection made by boiling blanched strips of orange peel in sugar syrup until they are sweet, tender, and translucent. These sweet treats can be enjoyed on their own, or baked up into countless holiday fruitcakes, cookies, scones, added to chocolate bark, and more. Candied orange peel makes a fantastic homemade holiday food gift, too.
what do candied orange peels taste like?
Candied orange peel has an intense orange flavor and a delightfully chewy texture. I think they taste like a slightly more sophisticated version of those orange slice gumdrop type candies. They are quite sweet, and when you make them the right way, they aren’t at all bitter.
did you know?
Candying fruit is actually an ancient form of food preservation first practiced by ancient Chinese and Romans, with honey. When sugar became available out of India it spread to the Arab world, and eventually to the West.
what you need to make candied orange peel
- fresh oranges
- I also used tangerines and lemons
- granulated sugar
- medium saucepan
- serrated knife
- baking rack
step by step instructions for making candied orange peel
step 1. wash your fruit
Wash your fruit well. If you can buy organic oranges, that’s best. You can use any citrus you like for this recipe, and the process will be exactly the same for lemons, limes, tangelos, or grapefruits.
step 2. remove the peels
Slice the ends off of each orange and remove the peel. It helps to do this in quarters. Use your fingers to remove the peel cleanly. A knife will grab some of the orange fruit, which we don’t want. Do not use a vegetable peeler, as your peels will be too thin.
step 3. Remove excess bitter pith
If there is excess bitter white pith from the peels you can remove it with a knife. Important: only remove excess pith, but leave most of it intact. It will help keep your peels intact and pliable after candying. Without some of the pith your candied orange peels will be leathery and brittle.
step 4. slice the peels
Cut each peel into approximately 1/4 inch slices.
step 5. blanch the peels in water
Boil the peels in enough water to cover them for 10 minutes. You are going to do this a total of 3 times. Rinse and refresh with new water each time. This repeated boiling is done to reduce the bitterness in the peel and pith of the oranges.
step 6. boil the peels in sugar syrup
Bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil in your saucepan. Add the peels and boil, uncovered, for about 55-60 minutes, or until the syrup is thick and the peels are translucent. Keep the pan at a moderate, but not furious, boil. Stir occasionally. If you have a thermometer, the temperature of the syrup will be around 220, give or take. Some recipes say to cook it to the softball stage (235F) but I don’t find it needs to get that high. Do keep an eye on it towards the end of cooking because the syrup reduces down dramatically and you don’t want it to burn.
step 7. drain and toss in granulated sugar
Drain the peels and, working in small batches, toss them in sugar to coat. Use your fingers to toss and separate the peels. You can also do this is a zip lock baggie, just shake to coat. A common problem when coating things with sugar is that after a time the sugar takes on moisture and starts to clump. I recommend dividing the sugar and refreshing when necessary. Another tip: sift sugar that has gotten ‘clumpy’ for a fresh start.
step 8. allow to dry
Arrange the sugared peels on a rack to dry for a few hours at room temperature. If you don’t want to leave them on the counter you can put them in your (turned off) oven.
step 8. enjoy or store your candied orange peels
Your candied orange peels can be enjoyed right away. Refrigerate or freeze for longer storage. I like to place them in heavy duty zip lock freezer bags.
how to use your candied orange peel
These little gems are fabulous all on their own! Set them out in a pretty bowl with after dinner cocktails or coffee. They’ll be snapped up in no time.
Add candied orange to your favorite scones, muffins, biscotti or granola! I’m planning to add some to one of my many chocolate bark recipes this year.
Add candied orange peels to your holiday candy or cookie assortment.
Candied orange peels, and citrus peels in general are a common ingredient in holiday baking. For these recipes just chop your peel into small pieces. They will soften up as they bake. Fold them in as if they were raisins in Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies. The orange flavor complements Gingerbread Cake perfectly.
variations on candied orange peel
Use any citrus peel to candy. Grapefruit, any type of orange, or lemon work well. Lime peel can be candied but it doesn’t have the best flavor.
Look for large oranges and cut your slices a little wider. After they’ve dried you can dunk them in melted dark chocolate!
If you want to use your candied peel for baking, you can cut it in small cubes instead of slices.
Candied Orange Peel
- 6 oranges (or a mix of oranges, tangerines, and lemons)
- 2 cups sugar, plus more for tossing
- Wash your fruit well.
- Slice the ends off of each orange and remove the peel. It helps to do this in quarters. Use your fingers to remove the peel cleanly. A knife will grab some of the orange fruit, which we don't want.
- Use a knife to remove excess bitter white pith from the peels. Important: only remove excess pith, but leave most of it intact. It will help keep your peels intact and pliable after candying.
- Cut each peel into approximately 1/4 inch slices.
- Boil the peels in enough water to cover them for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat this 2 more times. You are going to do this a total of 3 times. Rinse and refresh with new water each time.
- Bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil in your saucepan. Add the peels and boil for about 55-60 minutes, or until the syrup is thick and the peels are translucent. If you have a thermometer, the temperature of the syrup will be around 230-235F. Keep the pan at a moderate, but not furious, boil. Stir occasionally.
- Drain the peels and, working in small batches, toss them in sugar to coat. Use your fingers to toss and separate the peels.
- Arrange the sugared peels on a rack to dry for a few hours at room temperature.
- Your candied orange peels can be enjoyed right away.
Questions and Reviews
I made a double batch of these last night and they are just delightful. I plan to gift some as well as serve them over the holidays. What is the best way to store them? Room temperature? Sealed container?
Best storage in in the fridge in a zip lock baggie or storage container. You can also freeze in a heavy duty freezer bag for longer.
I am so grateful to have this recipe for candied orange peel. It looks delicious and very easy to achieve.
Easy and excellent recipe, Sue! I received some fresh oranges and lemons from a neighbor’s tree. Your step by step instructions were great! My candied peels look just like the picture! A delightful treat. Thank you!
I’m so glad Lori! I remember the days of having all those amazing trees in our yard in Los Angeles…miss that!
This recipe looks so yummy! And just in the nick of time since my lemon tree is heavy with fruit! I’m going to do both oranges and lemons. Can they be cooked together?
Your illustrations are so beautiful!
Hey Cindy ~ yes, you can cook them together. The lemon tastes really nice, too. The tartness of the lemon offsets the sweetness.
I am thinking as a gift for the bourbon lover who makes fabulous old fashioneds!
Good idea, I have a few bourbon lovers on my list, too 🙂
I’m lost — “Slice the ends off of each orange and remove the peel. It helps to do this in quarters. Use your fingers to remove the peel cleanly.” How to remove tough orange peel with my fingers? In the photos, it looks like there is still peel? Thanks to clear this up, it looks like a great recipe!
You’ll just peel the orange with your hands, just like you would if you were going to eat it. I don’t recommend the knife because you’ll get juicy fruit sticking to the peel.
Can coconut sugar be used instead of granulated, or any ideas for someone that can’t have granulated? Love your recipes!
I’m not sure about coconut sugar, but I assume that would work. You can also do this with honey. Use honey in place of the sugar and water, and watch it carefully. It will take about the same amount of time.