Candied Lemon Peel


When I was young, my mother often made candied citrus fruit – usually grapefruit and orange. I didn’t quite have the palate for these at first, and couldn’t grasp the concept that is was okay to eat the peels! But as I got older I became more fond of them.

Recently I realized that I’ve never made any kind of candied citrus, so I thought I’d make a small batch. I typically see these during the holidays; they make such pretty gifts, especially partially dipped in dark chocolate.

But instead I thought I’d make candied lemon peel for a fun summer treat, perhaps chopping them up to add to home-made granola. And just to say I’ve made them!

Here’s what I did, based on this recipe from Epicurious.

Candied Lemon Peel
Printable recipe below

3 large lemons
4 cups white sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Place rack on rimmed baking sheet.

Cut ends of each lemon. Score each one lengthwise in quarters, butting just through peel, and not the flesh. Carefully pull off each peel quarter in 1 piece.

Cut each quarter lengthwise into 1/4” wide strips. Cook peel in saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour peel into a colander. Rinse.

Bring 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar completely. Add drained lemon peel to saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lemon peel is very soft and looks translucent, about 40 minutes.

Using fork, transfer lemon peel, 2 or 3 strips at a time, to prepared rack. Separate strips and arrange on rack. Let peel drain 15 minutes.

Sprinkle peel generously with sugar.

Turn strips over and sprinkle second side generously with sugar. I used white sugar, above left, and raw sugar, above right. Let dry uncovered overnight.

Candied lemon peel can be made up to 1 week ahead.

Keep refrigerated.

Attention! Do not throw away that wonderful lemon-infused simple syrup! Store it to use in cocktails! No filter, it’s really that pretty!

And, use the peeled lemons in a lemon dressing. I added olive oil, parsley, garlic, and salt to the blended lemons based on my whole lemon dressing recipe.

Turns out there was little difference between the white granulated sugar and the raw sugar. I’d personally just stick with white.


88 thoughts on “Candied Lemon Peel

  1. Ooh I once had orange peel on my want-to-make list but the instructions were way more complicated than the ones in your recipe, so I just forgot about it.
    I think I’ll try your version for a winter treat.

    • Now I don’t feel so bad! They were very easy, and got gobbled up quickly! Now I need to preserve lemons…. and make limoncello… so much to do still…

  2. Have you ever heard of Buddha’s Hand? 2014 was the last time I made candied citrus and I also infused some lemon “fingers” with vodka. I did a post on it 4 years ago – guess I should make some again with the holidays coming up.

  3. Mimi, I love candied ginger, so I know I’m going to love your candied lemon peel. Such a fun thing to prepare and so many uses. I really like the salad dressing idea.

    • It’s called whole lemon dressing on the blog; there’s a search on every page. Fabulous stuff! In this case I didn’t use the peels, though, obviously! The candied peel never made it into any granola!

  4. Oh dear Mimi ! Thank you so much :-) My grandmother used to make Candied Lemon Peel every Christmas. It seems I have to start making it on my own ! Thank you for the recipe ! So great post !

    • Thank you David! I’ve only made panforte once, but I (obviously) didn’t make my own candied fruit. I bet that makes it so much better!

  5. Mimi, these are beautiful! I’ve long wanted to make candied orange peel, I imagine I could use this same recipe, don’t you think? I’m hoping to dip them in chocolate for Christmas gifts! Thanks for the recipe and all of the photos!

    • Yes, the recipe works for all citrus. I’ve actually purchased gift for friends of candied orange peels dipped in chocolate, but never bought some for myself! Now I guess I can make them myself !

  6. This is something I have always meant to do, but it seemed such a rigmarole. Your recipe looks so easy. That’s enough to get me going. Love orange rind dipped in dark Chocolate – just think how much I could have now.
    If one didn’t gobble it all up as soon as it was made, how long do you think it would keep?
    Lovely, yummy stuff!

    • If you could keep it dry, like in a canister with holes in the lid, i think it should keep a couple of weeks. I say that because I have extreme humidity where I live and I couldn’t put them out without the risk of mold. In the fridge they might get sticky, but you could always put more sugar on them right before serving.

      • I often crystalize ginger. If I understand this correctly, once you sugar the candied peel, it’s called “crystalized” peel. I let mine dry on the rack for at least a day, so that they are quite dry. Then I store them in jars in the cupboard, and they seem to keep forever. But I don’t live in a high-humidity environment.

      • That makes such a huge difference. I can’t even leave bread out. And we have air conditioners! Good to know about crystalized vs. candied.

  7. Thanks Mimi, I was looking for a good recipe for candied citrus . I still have some lemons left on my tree. I made preserved lemons a couple months ago and I usually use them for savory dishes and I use candied citrus for desserts. I have to try your dressing.

    • Since I’ve never made candied citrus before I’m not away of how different recipes might be, but this one seemed easy and straight forward. The whole lemon dressing that I made once is exceptional. It would be perfect for a good, organic dressing. Search for whole lemon dressing. There’s a search on every page.

    • Your whole lemon dressing looks great. I am going to try it the next time I make a salad. I have a recipe for a lemon cake where you boil the whole lemon with the peel before baking with it.

  8. I hated candied fruit for most of my life, picking it out, bit by bit, from panettone slices. Like you, I have grown to love it and make it when I feel patient enough!

  9. Lovely use of the whole lemon Mimi….. I have only preserved lemons (always have a stash in the pantry) and candied oranges, both in syrup to decorate cakes and dipped in chocolate for a sweet’ish’ treat after a meal with coffee. I will be trying your candied lemon along with the delicious dressing! Both lovely gifts too! 🍋

  10. When I was young I always thought it weird to eat the peel, too. But I LOVE candied fruit peels, especially lemon, so I’m digging this recipe. Never made them myself, though — I should give this a try. Thanks!

    • Those old food memories are funny, aren’t they?!! Thank goodness our palates change as we age. One thing – at least double this recipe, because they’ll go fast!

  11. These candied lemon peel are delightful! My parents used to buy my brother and I tubs of fruit and nut mixes for Christmas and those tubs would often contain candied fruits. Like lemon and orange. I always wondered how they were made. Now I know. Really simple too. Thanks Mimi.

  12. Yum~! Great use-all-of-it-in-one-go game plan! I make candied citrus quite often since they’re fabulous as edible deco on my desserts and chocolates :D Sadly not all of them result in a syrup worth keeping (pomelo and grapefruit for example… ick.) but I bet they’d all work in your mouthwatering whole.fruit dressing! Which reminds me… I have a couple of blood oranges in the pantry! *rolls up sleeves* thanks for the inspiration~!

    • Fun! Good to know about the grapefruit syrup. Because I love grapefruit and will probably be candying/crystallizing those next!

      • Yay, a citrusy love shared~! You could give the syrup a try anyways, but for me personally, the clash of sweet and bitter was too much – the crystallized peel is delicious though :D

  13. I have an obsession with not wasting food, so I’ve often experimented with ways to eat citrus peels. I have to confess right up front, though, that I also easily embrace bitter and especially bittersweet tastes. Most Christmases, I candy kumquats and use them as a garnish for fluted glasses of champagne (spooning them into the glass – with a bit of their syrup – and then pouring the champagne over), as well as in individual spice cakes that I cover with warm toffee sauce. I love candied peels covered in dark chocolate (or milk chocolate … or, who am I kidding, any chocolate), but the tempering process, ugh!

  14. I love candied citrus and have made it on my site, too. My photo of the flavored liquid was a bit unfortunate…it looked like maybe it should have been turned in at the doc’s office, lol! Beautiful post Mimi!

  15. Candied lemon peel (or really any citrus peel) is one of my secret dessert weapons! Sure, it takes some extra time…but it’s a surprisingly easy recipe. But with that said, I don’t think I’ve made candied lemon peel in quite some time. I’m gonna have to do that soon! Love the photos here, Mimi!

    • Aw, thanks David! This recipe was great, but I’ve never used any other. So I have no idea how it compares. It didn’t seem like a lot of work.

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