Candied citrus peels are little gems of sweetness and zest, perfect for adding a spark of joy to so many treats. There are a lot of different ways to get creative with these: Folding them into cookies or biscotti, sprinkling atop a creamy panna cotta, and let's not forget about cocktails! A twist of candied citrus peel in a classic negroni or a zesty martini elevates the drink to a whole new level of sophistication.

I also love to decorate my lemon squares recipe with candied citrus peel and lavender buds. They’re not just a garnish—their vibrant colors and flavors make them stars in their own right!

Homemade Candied Citrus Peels for Desserts and Cocktails

What's the difference between candied citrus peels and candied citrus slices?

Candied citrus slices and candied citrus peels are similar, but they’re not the same thing. Where as candied citrus slices use the whole citrus (minus the seeds of course!), candied citrus peels are made with only the peels. You're going to remove the white pith from the citrus peel before you cut it, making them less bitter than the candied citrus slices. If you want to try my Candied Citrus Slices recipe, make sure you're signed up for my newsletter to get the recipe!

This recipe for candied citrus peels does not use the pith—it’s specifically for citrus peel. Make sure to use a paring knife to remove as much of the white pith as possible before you thinly slice the peel.

Homemade Candied Citrus Peels for Desserts and Cocktails
Homemade Candied Citrus Peels for Desserts and Cocktails

How to Store Homemade Candied Citrus Peels

Pro tip #1: Store candied citrus peels or slices an airtight container. Keep them cool and dry!

You can store candied citrus peels or slices in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a month. You can also keep them in the freezer and pull them out as needed. To make it easier to remove them from the storage container, place the citrus slices in layers between pieces of wax paper or parchment paper.

Pro Tip #2: Don’t store the candied citrus slices in the refrigerator.

The moisture from the refrigerator will cause the sugar to become tacky. Freezing the candied citrus slices keeps the sugar nice and firm, though you may want to give them an extra sprinkle after you take them out!

Homemade Candied Citrus Peels for Desserts and Cocktails
Homemade Candied Citrus Peels for Desserts and Cocktails

How to Use Candied Citrus Peels

Candied lemon peel or other candied citrus peels go great on top of your favorite cocktail. Here’s some to try!

Homemade Candied Citrus Peel Recipe for Desserts and Cocktails

Homemade Candied Citrus Peel Recipe for Desserts and Cocktails

Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 18 MinTotal time: 33 Min
Candied citrus peels are a wonderful way to add a pop of color and flavor to your favorite dessert and cocktail recipes. I also approve of just nibbling on a few… Yum!


  • 3 lemons, 2 Navel oranges, or 1 grapefruit (preferably organic) washed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water plus more for blanching the citrus slices
  • ¾ cup sugar for tossing the citrus peel in


  1. With a paring knife, remove the peel in large pieces from the fruit. Now take the knife and remove as much of the white pith as possible. Using a chef’s knife, cut the peel into thin julienne slices. To sharpen up your knife skills, make sure to check out my Basic Knife Skills 101 article!
  2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Add the julienne slices and cook for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. The blanching and rinsing removes any bitter flavor from the skin and underneath the pith of the citrus.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar. Heat on medium, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a low boil then add the blanched citrus peel. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the citrus peel in a colander, catching the syrup in a bowl placed underneath. Pro Tip: Let the sugar mixture cool then store it in the refrigerator for later use as a sweetener for iced tea!
  5. Remove the candied citrus peel from the colander and toss in sugar. To make this easier, place some sugar in a small Ziplock bag then place the citrus peel in the bag. Give it a nice shake, then remove the citrus peel and let it dry on a paper towel. Store dried citrus peel in a Ziplock bag at room temperature.
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March 26, 2024 — Mary DiSomma