Candied Grapefruit Peel

As you get older, you tend to forget things. Often it’s blamed it on age, or an allusion to an early onset of a memory-loss disorder. I forget things all the time, but I blame it on a full brain. Think about it; every ten years, our brains have so much more information to remember than they did a decade ago. Think about all you’ve done in the last ten years, then multiply it by four, or five, or six, or seven. That’s a lot to remember. And unlike computers, we can’t empty our trash or upgrade our memory. We’re stuck with what we’ve got

You name it; names, dates, places, birthdays, and even recipes I’ve written, I’ve forgotten about. That goes for Candied Grapefruit Peel, which I made the other day after I’d made a batch of Pink Grapefruit Marmalade. I was diligent about jotting down what I did, photographing the steps, writing up the recipe to share, and taking more pictures of the results. They were so pretty, how could I not?

I may forget some of the past, but I can see into the future. I know that if I presented a recipe that left you with four empty grapefruit rinds, I’d get asked if I had a recipe for candied grapefruit rinds.

So I got this post and recipe all ready to go, but before I pushed the Publish button, I used the search engine on the blog to find some posts I wanted to link to here and found that there already was a recipe for candied grapefruit peels. Laughing to myself, I figured I’d posted the recipe six or seven years ago, but looking at the date of the post, it was less than two years ago. So the joke was on me.

Speaking of the past (since I seem to have trouble now, even with the future), I used to dream about writing a candy book, because I love candy. I like making it and I like eating it. The problem is that recipes are not always easy to reproduce when you consider a broad spectrum of factors; humidity, type of sugar, different materials of cookware, altitude, variations in fruit, chocolate, sugar, and butter, but most of all, it was because I knew there is a blanket aversion to using candy thermometers, which I find odd because so many people are into measuring things with pinpoint accuracy. (I hope they drive with the same care and precision that they think they need to bake with!)

I also knew that writing a book of recipes that involves precise measurements in two different systems of measurement would erode what little seems left of my brain. I had night sweats because a handful of the metric measurements in Drinking French were simply too small to register on a kitchen scale, like 1/2 teaspoon of camomile flowers. It weighed almost nothing, and I feared people would take exception to that, or leave a bad review somewhere. So, as always, it’s good to keep an open mind and assume that people are doing their best, even if your  (or their) mind isn’t what it used to be.

Anyhow, your friends and family will lose their minds, in a good way, when you present them with some of these wonderful candied grapefruit peels, which are quite easy to make.

Once you’ve got the rinds, you simply slice them, blanch them to soften and remove some of the bitterness of the white pith (but not all of it, since that’s a nice quality that grapefruit peels have), then cook the peels in a sugar syrup while gazing at your candy thermometer, which’ll kindly let you know when the peels are done. It’s a no-brainer.

Candied Grapefruit Peel
Print Recipe
8-12 servings (approximately)
The corn syrup helps keep the candied peel supple. Note that Karo and similar corn syrups are not high-fructose corn syrup. You can read more at my post Why and When To Use, or Not Use, Corn Syrup.) You could use Golden of Agave syrup in its place, or leave it out. A candy thermometer is very helpful to use here. I have an old-school thermometer that I've had for decades that I use (as shown in the post) but they can break, so recommend one with a metal back. Thermapen probe-type thermometers are great but you have to continue to dip the probe into the syrup while the peel is cooking. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can make the peel but you'll have to gauge when it's ready by sight, which isn't as accurate. The peel is done (in step #2) when the syrup is almost all reduced and the syrup becomes white and foamy. But do keep an eye on it if going that route as it's very easy, and emotionally painful, if you go this far with candying the peel, and burn it in the last few seconds.
4 grapefruit halves, from two grapefruits, scraped clean with a soup spoon
3 cups (600g) sugar, plus 3/4 cup (150g) of sugar for finishing the candied peels
2 1/2 cups (625ml) water, plus additional water for blanching the grapefruit peels
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1. Cut the grapefruit rinds into strips about 1/4-inch, or slightly less. (About .5cm.) Blanche the peels by putting them in a large, non-reactive pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the peels, put them back in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
2. Place the peels back in the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and add the 3 cups sugar, 2 1/2 cups water, and corn syrup. Cook over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 225ºF (107ºC.) Turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the grapefruit peels onto a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet, separating the peels into a single layer, Let the peels sit overnight. (You can reserve the syrup and use it for sweetening iced tea or lemonade, or another purpose.) If you don't have a wire rack, you can use a colander or mesh strainer set over a bowl, gently turning the peels several times, to help them drain.
3. The following day, put the remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Working on batches, place a handful of the candied peels in the bowl of sugar and toss to coat them thoroughly. Using your hands, gently (but with determination) shake off the excess sugar. You want to avoid any clumps of sugar, if possible. Set the sugared peels on the cooling rack again, keeping them separate, and coat the remaining candied grapefruit peels with sugar, spreading them out on the wire rack. Let stand at room temperature a few hours to dry, before serving.

Storage: I generally keep the peel at room temperature if I plan to serve it within the next few weeks. You can refrigerate it in a container, although over a period of time, depending on your refrigerator, it can get damp (and subject to mold) or too hard. If the latter, you can chop it and rehydrate it in water, and use it in a cake or cookie dough, or fold into ice cream.

Candied Grapefruit Peel


  • Charlotte K
    March 12, 2020 12:42pm

    I’ve used your candied grapefruit recipe a number of times but if you’d published another I would have assumed you’d made improvements!!! Reply

  • christine H
    March 12, 2020 1:56pm

    David, love your comments about memory. Made me LOL (being of a same certain age). Reply

  • Gina Bisaillon
    March 12, 2020 4:17pm

    I’m moving this month, but as soon as I get the stove connected, I’m making both the marmalade and the peels! Reply

  • Lisa T
    March 12, 2020 4:20pm

    My father used to make these at Christmas and candied orange peels as well. Beautiful jewels.Dip one end in dark chocolate for a real treat! Reply

  • judy
    March 12, 2020 4:23pm

    aww man. i just tried making candied rind but with blood orange. i used a peeler to get very thin strips without any of the pith and if i saw pith, i scraped them off before the boiling. still delicious, just not as much candy as i had wanted in a batch. should i have used this method instead and included the pith? i still have some blood oranges in the fridge so i can redeem myself and rectify this crime against candy… Reply

    • Mary G
      March 13, 2020 2:48am

      my experience with making candied citrus peels, is if you scrape off too much pith, the candied peels become a bit tough and leathery, though they still taste good :D Reply

  • Alex
    March 12, 2020 4:25pm

    Hi David!

    I think you mean cm not mm in the following sentence:

    “Cut the grapefruit rinds into strips about 1/4-inch, or slightly less. (About .5mm.)”

    Metric system strikes again! ;-) Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:09pm
      David Lebovitz

      Oops! Thanks : ) Reply

  • Keith Barnell
    March 12, 2020 4:25pm

    I appreciate the level of detail in your recipes and the fact that they taste good.

    I am enjoying your new book “Drinking French”. Wonderfully entertaining and informative. Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:09pm
      David Lebovitz

      Really happy you like the book. Writing it was a lot of fun! Reply

  • Nancy
    March 12, 2020 4:27pm

    I’ve long imagined my ‘brain’ tossing out random ‘stuff’, to make room for the incoming. I wish I had some say on what gets jettisoned :)

    And, looking at the title, I thought you were re-posting your first recipe… maybe your recipes are more attached to my brain matter :)

    Plus, now I see why the probe pens are inferior to a real candy thermometer… you want to watch the slow upward creep of the heat! Duh!

    You are a treasure! Reply

    • jane
      March 13, 2020 1:08am

      The cure for “overly-full brain” is meditation! It stills and sharpens the mind. The metaphor doesn’t quite crossover but the end result is razor sharp brain function. Reply

  • Leslie B.
    March 12, 2020 4:29pm

    Yes, David. It’s called Brain Gridlock! Appreciate your well indexed recipes so retrieval isn’t so difficult! This one is delicious. Reply

  • Kat
    March 12, 2020 4:29pm

    There’s absolutely no way I could pass up a candy book written by you! I’m still hoping that someday you’ll share a recipe for the caramel marshmallows you talked about here years ago. My brain forgets a LOT of things, but that is firmly set in my cortex. Reply

  • PF
    March 12, 2020 4:32pm

    You left out the “dip halfway into melted, tempered 70% chocolate and cool until chocolate is firm” part.. Reply

  • Judith
    March 12, 2020 4:42pm

    Can I assume this would work for sour oranges too? Daughter in Santa Monica has a tree in her garden so almost free. They are not Seville oranges as much thicker pith but can be used for marmalade, although she is running out of recipients! Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:09pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know as I’ve not tried to candy sour orange peels – I always put them in marmalade. If you do try them, let me know how they turn out! Reply

  • Dolores
    March 12, 2020 4:43pm

    My mom’s friend would make both candied grapefruit and orange peels.
    Very yummy! Reply

  • soosie
    March 12, 2020 4:49pm

    Jeesch David. Now that I have your terrific recipe for candied grapefruit peels, could you feature a recipe for what to do with the rest of the grapefruit? Marmalade, for example?

    ;-) Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:08pm
      David Lebovitz

      There’s a Pink Grapefruit Marmalade recipe just before this recipe on the blog that uses the pulp. It’s a good one! Reply

  • Christina
    March 12, 2020 4:55pm

    It would be wonderful if you wrote a book on candy. My best source is the Candy volume of my beloved set of The Good Cook series (Richard Olney, my cooking god). I really won’t use any cookbook anymore that isn’t in metric and I am sure you would do an impeccable job of candy making – please! Reply

  • Linda C
    March 12, 2020 5:01pm

    Crazy question – what to do serve them with? Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:07pm
      David Lebovitz

      They’re wondering served after dinner with coffee or digestives, or along with some dark chocolates. You can chop them up and fold them into ice cream, but they’re better eaten on their own, just as is. Reply

  • susank
    March 12, 2020 5:12pm

    Just came from St. Remy where I visited Lilamand. What a treat! I bought the candied grapefruit. I will try your recipe and compare. Apparently, their fruits stay in a vat with an unknown product for 3 months.
    This shop was total eyecandy. Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:28pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes! I’ve been there, and saw the whole pumpkins and pineapples they were candying. I thought I had some pics on the blog somewhere, but they’re probably deep in the archives : ) Reply

  • kathleen
    March 12, 2020 5:26pm

    Would it work to substitute Lyles Golden Syrup for the corn syrup? Reply

    • March 12, 2020 5:27pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sure. It adds some color to the mix, but if you don’t mind that, you could use it. Reply

  • Ellen McHale
    March 12, 2020 7:14pm

    Times 7 for sure! Reply

  • Lilly
    March 12, 2020 9:45pm

    Very nice post, I always look forward to reading your wonderful blog. And timely too as I have some big Ponderosa lemons from my yard that I want to use to make candied lemon peel.

    I feel like I should tell you that a really gross ad is posting on your blog that says “stop using toilet paper” with a big close up photo of a dirty toilet that’s stuffed with toilet paper rolls — the toilet seat has brown stains on it, it’s pretty bad. Reply

  • Chris
    March 12, 2020 11:24pm

    I’d love a candy book but totally agree about the pitfalls. I could have sworn I made your candied grapefruit about 10 years ago.
    Weights are such a minefield. In Australia, NZ and the UK it’s actually the norm to mix measurements between grams and cups/teaspoons. No one would bat an eyelid at your half teaspoon of camomile. A recipe might say for example, 250g butter, 100g sugar, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon camomile flowers. Or 250g butter, 2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. What drives me nuts is when American recipes kindly convert the dry ingredients to grams but then still use ‘sticks’ and ‘cups’ of butter. If there is one ingredient that should always be weighed, it’s butter! A cup of butter is 227g and our butter comes in 250g and 500g but a NZ company that makes superb butter caved in and their export blocks are now 227g which I kind of resent but also, grudgingly, find useful :) Reply

    • Sarah
      March 13, 2020 2:48am

      A stick of butter is 4 oz, 1/2 cup. Reply

  • Mary G
    March 13, 2020 2:53am

    A little off-topic but I actually came here looking for a “calisson” recipe. Apparently includes “candied melon” whatever that is, hmmm. Not here? This website is my go-to for that sort of thing. Reply

    • March 13, 2020 10:41am
      David Lebovitz

      I have not made them but there is an interesting Calisson recipe here. Some of the recipes online I would be skeptical of, but she shows step-by-step photos, so that’s a good indication that it works. Reply

      • Mary G
        March 14, 2020 5:18pm

        Many thanks! :D Reply

  • Gavrielle
    March 13, 2020 10:22am

    People don’t like candy thermometers? Why on earth? I loved my old-skool one, but I love my electronic one (that you leave on the side) even more, as the old one didn’t have enough differentiation on it around the 105 degree C mark (for jam making). So much easier than all that wrinkle test, soft ball, hard ball stuff. Even though I sulkily acknowledge what you said about the difficulties of doing a candy book, I would buy the heck out of one from you! Reply

    • March 13, 2020 10:39am
      David Lebovitz

      I actually don’t know why. They’re said to be “deal-breakers” for some in recipes (i.e.; people won’t make a recipe if they have to use one). I have a friend who writes cookbooks that said people don’t like the word “reduce” because it’s not exact enough. So on the one hand, some people don’t want exactitude…and others do! ; ) Reply

  • Sarah S
    March 13, 2020 6:50pm

    I happen to have a lot of confectioners sugar in the house because I overestimated the amount of icing I needed for a birthday cake recently. Do you think I could use confectioners sugar at least to make the syrup? Reply

  • belle
    March 13, 2020 8:07pm

    Hey David,
    What have you poured to drink while snacking on the candied peels(in the photo)…? Reply

  • cooksinCT
    March 13, 2020 8:42pm

    I had made them when first published. LOVED the taste and how easy they are to make. I roll them in superfine sugar as my regular sugar has super large crystals. My only problem is that I seem to consume them even faster than I can make them. I think I will try making lemon peel this weekend just to experiment a bit. Thanks again! Reply

  • Mark E Sander
    March 14, 2020 9:40pm

    Used your candied grapefruit recipe today to candy orange peels and they turned out fantastic! I used the juice for curd that I made into tartlets and topped with Chantilly Cream and a candied orange peel. I’ve tried two other times to candy orange peel with no success…today, perfection! Thanks David! PS. Trying your almond tart recipe soon! Reply

  • Susan
    March 17, 2020 6:48pm

    Made candied grapefruit peels yesterday and since I eat grapefruit everyday in the winter months it didn’t take long to accumulate the rinds. Others may have mentioned this but a grapefruit spoon works really well for scooping out the pith Reply

  • rainey
    March 18, 2020 11:26pm

    I usually do orange peels right after Thanksgiving to use in Hans Rockenwagner’s Dresdener Stollen and to dip in chocolate for Christmas treats.

    This is about the time of year I break out the reserved syrup I’ve been keeping for sweetening my warm weather iced tea. I think it’s at least as important as those yummy candied rinds. Reply

  • Kelly B
    March 22, 2020 8:50pm

    This was a great project for a social distancing weekend and I’m so excited to eat it. Curious if I could re-use the syrup for another batch of candied peel – maybe orange? Reply

    • March 23, 2020 10:55am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve never reused syrup (and never heard of anyone doing it) so can’t say. But you could save it for sweetening ice tea, poached fruit, etc. Reply

  • Laura S.
    March 30, 2020 1:39am

    About 20 years ago I made my first (and last) candied peels – orange and lemon. I did not have access to the wealth of info the Internet has now, so was sort of “winging it” from several rather incomplete written recipes. Not sure if I omitted Karo syrup or not. No formal training in candy, just 20+ years of home production and a Southern Grandmother. No candy thermometer, cooked to “hard crack” stage, then continued to cook over low heat (electric stove) stirring constantly until suddenly the thick syrup crystallized around the peels. No burning. I quickly turned it out onto waxed paper and separated the pieces of peel. Everyone who tasted it said it was the best they ever had – more citrus tasting. The crystals were large and chunky, much like I had dipped the peels in Turbinado sugar. Have never made since (don’t care much for it), and have never seen a recipe like this. Is this an alternate method of production, or did I just get lucky and not burn it? Reply

  • B
    April 5, 2020 2:50am

    Can you reuse the simple syrup to make additional candied peel? Reply

    • April 5, 2020 7:58am
      David Lebovitz

      You could possibly thin it out and start all over again with it, but I haven’t tried it. If you do, let us know how it turns out! Reply

  • Rachel
    February 13, 2021 5:55pm

    Just made this recipe with bitter orange rinds. It worked wonderfully. I should have boiled them a bit more, I think, as they might be a bit too bitter for some, but I quite like them. Thank you! Reply

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