Candied Orange Peel Recipe

Make these once and you’ll probably never throw orange (or any citrus) rinds away ever again.

3 navel oranges
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup, glucose syrup or honey

Wash and dry the oranges, then cut off the very ends and score them in quarters from top to bottom. Peel the rinds off the fruit, trimming away any excess pith, then cut the rinds into 1/2″ slices.

Put the peels in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring the water to the boil for two minutes. Drain the peels, cover them again with cold water, and boil for another two minutes. Repeat the process a third time (this will eliminate most of the pith’s bitterness).

Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to the boil over high heat. Bring the syrup to 238 degrees. Add the peel, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the peels are translucent and soft to the bite.

Remove the peels from the syrup and place them on a parchment-lined rack for roughly three hours. Once completely cooled they’re ready for use. To make candy out of them, lay them into a parchment-lined sheet pan covered with crystalline sugar while they’re still hot. Toss them in the sugar after 3 hours.

The orange syrup is a happy by-product of the process. Strain it and reserve it for another use.

21 thoughts on “Candied Orange Peel Recipe”

  1. this was one of my favorite things to make when I was in baking class, another added bonus is that the entire kitchen smelled of citrus.

  2. Hi Joe,

    Somewhat related: when I’ve made candied fruit before (really thin orange slices, cranberries, etc.), they always end up continuing to weep/sweat after I rolle them in the sugar at the end of the process. The moisture ends up melting all the sugar off the outside. Any idea what I’m doing wrong? I’d love to keep that pretty sugar crust on the outside!

    1. Try making sure your syrup makes it all the way up to 230?- 234? before you add the fruit. Then lay the fruit out on a wire rack once it’s nearly translucent (for me that’s about 45 minutes at a healthy simmer) making sure there’s some space around each piece so it can really drain dry before you roll it in sugar.

      I also pack mine in a generous amount of sugar until I’m ready to use it. But, be warned, if you haven’t made sure it’s really fully “candied” all that extra sugar could turn to an unappetizing goo. =o

    2. Hey Brittany!

      I’ve had that problem myself. Sugar attracts moisture to itself, so if it’s humid in the least, the sugar will accumulate water from the air, which will then turn to syrup and drip off. I’d suggest freezing if you’d like to keep it for a long time…or just roll it in sugar just prior to serving it.


      – Joe

      1. Gotcha — thanks, Joe! Between you and Rainey, I feel ready for all sorts of fruit candying in the upcoming holiday season. 🙂

    3. Another idea I had…try letting them sit longer to dry…six or even eight hours.

      – Joe

  3. Well, well… this is very similar to “my way” except I haven’t used an invert sugar. That should really help. I’ll be trying it your way as soon as the weekend starts. By the by, I’ve stopped trimming the pith unless it is really, really thick and I’m using it for baking bread-like products. The blanching seems to take most of the bitterness with it. For use in fillings such as cannoli filling I trim the pith entirely away. It looks better, I think. All of the sudden I’m thinking crepes for the leftover syrup!

    1. Ooh…great idea. I’ll make some for dinner tonight!

      Thanks Brian!

      – Joe

  4. Could you post a picture of this? I’m not sure what you mean by excess pith. I know some people say to leave the pith on, while others scrape almost all of it off so that there’s only the zest left.

    1. It depends on what you like. Me, I think they pith is critical to the whole thing…and the boiling eliminates the bitterness for the most part. But try it both ways!

      – Joe

  5. Put me in the leave-the-pith camp. I also do 3 boils and I’ve always found that enough to take care of the bitterness. Meanwhile, the bit that may be left is a nice counterpoint when you dip the fully dried candied fruit in chocolate and it retains a satisfying moist chew. ‘course factor in the fact that I’m a person who actually eats the pith when I have a fresh orange. Good source of biotin plus I just like it. ;>

    I am also a BIG fan of the syrup. It’s great on pancakes, of course. And if you thin it a bit it also makes a nice wash between layers of a cake. But I think my fav use is sweetening summer iced tea.

    I also pack my candied strips in a generous amount of sugar. The excess that’s left over when all the fruit is gone adds a nice citrus flavor in things like cookies and shortbread.

    1. Nice ideas all, Rainey!

      Mrs. Pastry likes to talk about the Dominican Republic, where she was in the Peace Corps. There, people made long-simmered candy out of grapefruit pith — and threw the zest away completely! Different strokes, as they say…

      – Joe

  6. The first time I made candied orange rinds they turned out wonderful and I ended up using them in a cheesecake. However, I have tried making these twice after and once the sugar hardened into a white coat around the rinds and the second time the rinds just turned hard but translucent with a bitter taste. I always check the sugar syrup to make sure they form soft balls before putting the rinds in. So what am I doing wrong? Please help!

  7. As a historical curiosity, here’s a very old recipe for candying orange peels, from Le Menagier de Paris, written around 1393:

    To Make Candied Orange Peel, divide the peel of one orange into five quarters and scrape with a knife to remove the white part inside, then put them to soak in good sweet water for nine days, and change the water every day; then cook them in good water just till boiling, and when this happens, spread them on a cloth and let them get thoroughly dry, then put them in a pot with enough honey to cover them, and boil on a low fire and skim, and when you believe the honey is cooked, (to test if it is cooked, have some water in a bowl, and let drip into this one drop of the honey, and if it spreads, it is not cooked; and if the drop of honey holds together in the water without spreading out, it is cooked;) and then you must remove your orange peel, and make one layer with it, and sprinkle with ginger powder, then another layer, and sprinkle etc., and so on; and leave it a month or more, then eat.

    I haven’t tried this one (yet). Given that the pith is removed, and the peel soaked and blanched, I expect it has a very mild, sweet flavour, and might taste more like orange honey than it does modern candied peel. (Sugar would have been prohibitively expensive in 14th c. France – the Menagier uses it in other recipes, but only in small amounts.) It’s interesting to note that the old-fashioned sugar syrup test of dropping it into cold water goes back that far.

  8. I’ve made these and they turned out wonderful. I just have a couple questions about the science behind how it works.

    First, what’s the purpose of all the corn syrup? I know that invert sugar is used in cooking sugar to prevent crystallization, but this appears to be for more than that since the quantity is so large.

    And secondly, does the quantity of water used in making the syrup matter that much? Since from what I understand, the concentration of sucrose in water above 212°F/100°C is the same for any given temperature. So in this case the purpose of the water is similar as in making wet vs. dry caramels?

    1. Hey Ken! Both good questions. I haven’t tried the recipe with less syrup, though in my experience with other preparations (icings and fondant) a smaller amount of invert sugar tends to inhibit crystallization instead of stopping it altogether, which I think is the intent here…to ensure that the sugars remain liquid.

      As far as the amount of water, you’re completely right. It’ll boil out as the syrup approaches the proper temperature/concentration. I generally use the whole cup though, because I want to make sure all the crystal sugar gets good and wet, and that I’m starting with a very homogenous mixture. But that’s probably just me. Half would probably do the trick.

      Thanks for checking in!


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