waste not: candied orange peel.

December 19, 2018
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves

Waste Not is a collaboration with my friend, Carrie King. The premise is simple: Carrie, a food writer and editor, shares a recipe highlighting at least one particular way that we can curb food waste. I make it at home, take a bunch of pictures, and share it with everyone here.

If there’s such a thing as a smell that’s cozy and bright, it’s citrus in the wintertime. We’ve already done our part to fill our tiny apartment with bright citrus notes, but turning our orange peels into candy that we can give to friends or family, or munch merrily ourselves, feels especially festive.

Largely a hands-off affair, this is an extremely easy treat to make from fruit you’d be eating already. And it’s simple enough to make even in the midst of a busy week. We went full-on sparkle explosion by tossing ours in a mountain of cane sugar and I don’t think I’m going totally overboard by saying that making candied orange peel felt a bit like making magic. I’ll let Carrie give the full how-to:

candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves

Oh, it’s the most wonderful time of the year all right…citrus season!

In our house we have been devouring clementines, grapefruits, and oranges. No chance of scurvy around here!

Citrus is not just a delicious and uplifting bright note in the Northeast’s seasonal dearth of fresh produce, but it’s also the holiday gift that keeps on giving because after the vitamin C-laden flesh is gone, there are myriad uses of those citrus peels! [See also!]

Erin, my personal diy/craft/waste not guru, recently shared how she uses them as festive votive holders. There are also tree decorations. And dried=potpourri! Or what about mulled cider and wine? I also recall my mom throwing citrus peels into the fireplace when I was a kid, making for a citrus scented living room. Not sure if that’s a thing but it was in my house!

Since ‘tis the season, I’m offering up my own favorite use of citrus peels: candy!

I think (hope) Erin can attest to the absolute ease of making these seasonal goodies that not only curb your food waste, but are also multitaskers themselves. Wrapped up all pretty, they can become homemade gifts. They can feature as part of a holiday dessert spread when entertaining, either laid out on their own or as a topper to whatever festive cake you’ve whipped up. Put them on vanilla ice cream. Dip them in chocolate. Cut up and add them to granola or morning yogurt for a sweet and tart morning pick-you-up. Or they can just live in a sealed jar on your countertop, systematically picked at until they disappear.

candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves
candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves

Candied Orange Peel

3 organic navel oranges

2 cups granulated sugar

+ Scrub oranges.

+ Trim ends from oranges and then score the rest of the peel in quarters from top to bottom, stopping at the flesh of the orange. Pull the peels from the flesh (save the oranges in an airtight container in the fridge for eating later).

+ Lay the wide pieces on a cutting board, orange side-down, and very carefully use a sharp paring knife to scrape away as much of the loose/stringy white pith as possible. You won’t get it all, that’s ok.

+ Slice the peels into ¼-inch wide strips.

+ Place the strips in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Drain peels, rinse, and then repeat the whole boiling and simmering process with new cold water. (This removes bitterness from the remaining pith).

+ Whisk the sugar and 2 cups water together in a bowl, dissolving much of the sugar. Pour into the same saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat to completely dissolve sugar.

+ Carefully add the peels to the sugar syrup and reduce to a gentle simmer.

+ Continue to gently simmer (adjusting heat as necessary to keep it at a low simmer), stirring just once or twice, for about 45 minutes, or until the peels are very soft and slightly translucent.

+ Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove peels to a wire rack set over a parchment lined baking sheet for cooling/drying. Use 2 forks to separate the sticky peels as much as possible.

+ After 1 hour of drying, while still tacky, dust the peels with superfine sugar if desired.

+ Leave on your countertop at room temperature for 8-10 hours or overnight to dry completely.

candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves


+ You could easily do the same thing with a variety of citrus including grapefruit, lemons, and limes.

+ After drying for 1-2 hours or so, while still slightly tacky, you can dust the peels in superfine sugar for a sweet coating and added texture. If you do this while still completely wet, the result will be gloppy.

+ Dip the dried candied peels in melted chocolate and allow to harden for a chocolate-citrus treat.

+ Don’t discard the sugar syrup after simmering! Save it for a citrusy sweet addition to cocktails, desserts, yogurt, homemade granola, even just a simple seltzer and cranberry!

candied orange peel | reading my tea leaves

Thanks to Carrie King for writing this post and developing the recipe. When Carrie’s not encouraging me in tiny-apartment cooking adventures, she’s a food writer and editor. Her cookbook work includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner….Life with Missy Robbins and The Chef Next Door with Amanda Freitag. She has contributed to Gather Journal and Life & Thyme and works as recipe editor at Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. Thanks to culinary school and lots of time spent in kitchens, both professional and home, she can cook just about anything, but usually just wants a few couple few slices of pizza.

For the curious:

Our everyday bowl is from East Fork Pottery.

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

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  • Reply rebecca December 20, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Such great timing; I was just about to look for a recipe to make these. 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

      So glad!!

  • Reply Manuela December 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you for the recipe! I can highly recommend putting candied orange peel stripes and candies lemon stripes into dates. Delicious!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      Yum! I used to stuff dates with rum-soaked marzipan with my one of aunts! Same concept?

      • Reply Manuela December 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

        Most probably, yes! Dates stuffed with candied citrus peels are very common in the UAE and my sister always brings them home from Dubai. Let me know how you like them (if you try it!). 🙂

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 20, 2018 at 3:31 pm

          Will def do! Thanks for the inspo!

  • Reply Sara December 20, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    This is my husband’s favorite treat, but I’ve never made them because it seemed intimidating. Thanks for the simple recipe and beautiful photos. I Just spent the evening candying peels from 6 oranges and one grapefruit. My husband looks so happy and the house smells amazing!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 20, 2018 at 9:03 pm


  • Reply Amanda K. December 20, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Ah! Im glad you posted this. I tried this years ago and they were so bitter I threw them away. Not sure what I did wrong but I’m gonna compare your method and my method and see where they’re different…
    here’s what I did: http://thekriegers.org/2013/03/candied-grapefruit-peels/

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 21, 2018 at 10:03 am

      Try oranges! And taste the rind before the sugaring step to see if you want to do another water bath!

  • Reply Jen March 9, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    These turned out so well! I brought back some citrus from my visit out to Cali-some meyer lemons and oranges fresh off a friend’s tree, and I can’t believe how good they are. I didn’t realize I was out of sugar, so just did a one cup of sugar and water, but they came out amazingly. I wanted to also try dipping them in chocolate, but I’ve just been eating them! I also like them without the dusting of sugar after. I just let them dry out a little more.

    My mom was hesitant, since she had once tried to make them and they were too bitter, but I may have convinced her to try!

  • Reply Tiffany December 20, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Wow, I never thought about doing this. I think I’ll give it a try this weekend, I’ll have plenty of peels left over.

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