Candied Grapefruit Peel

I found myself with several grapefruit rinds on my hands last week (or rather, on my kitchen counter) as a result of working on a recipe that called for their juice. I don’t like to toss things away, especially precious organic grapefruit peels. So I candied them.

The French refer to candied orange peels as orangettes, although I haven’t heard of a term for candied grapefruit peels. (There’s a recipe for candied orange peels in my book, Ready for Dessert, which are made differently than candied grapefruit peels.) You don’t see candied graperuit in chocolate or candy shops in Paris, although when I made these, everyone that came by was gobbling them up. So there’s definitely interest in them, although most walked into my kitchen and said, “Les orangettes, Daveed? J’adore!” …before helping themselves.

Grapefruits are more bitter than their orange counterparts. I like that bitterness, and these use more of the pith than you’d use with oranges, which means the finished candied peels are plumper and have more of a chew to them.

I use a candy thermometer, the old-fashioned kind, although I’m saving up to buy one of those instant-read, handheld probe thermometers. The good thing about the old-fashioned thermometers, though, is that you can leave them in the syrup and check it frequently, rather than having to stop and dip and probe to get the temperature. I had one of those digital thermometers with a probe on the end of a cable, that you could leave in the syrup, which I thought would change my life. But I blew it out – according to the customer service person I called, who didn’t offer a replacement – by leaving it in the syrup, which was odd because I thought that was what it was supposed to be used for.

But you don’t need to use a thermometer and can cook the candied grapefruit peel until the syrup is thick and mostly reduced, the peel is translucent, and and they look like this:

In spite of my valiant effort to use whatever leftovers I can, people are often astonished that I don’t save everything. “You toss the grapefruit seeds?! I dry them, and once I’ve collected enough, I make bracelets out of them!” or “You don’t save the stem ends? I keep them in a bag, and when I have enough, I use them to stuff pillows for my cat!”

I concede that there are people who are a lot better than I am at reusing and saving things. (Is there a word yet for Internet-shaming people who don’t save everything?) In my defense, I’m sometimes working on up to five cooking or baking projects a day, and although I’m loathe to throw things away, if I saved everything, I would be up to my ears in bowls and jars of stuff.

To prove my point, I took people on a little video tour of my refrigerator and kitchen in my Instagram stories, showing all the odds and ends I’ve got squirreled away. The tour included (but was not limited to) a jar with one not-yet-candied cherry in it, browned butter bourbon that I forgot about, sugar that I’d used for other candying projects (yes, you can save the sugar that you toss the peel in when it’s done and use it to sweeten fruit for a crisp or a batch of orange sorbet), a ridiculously small bowl of used flour, a container of powdered sugar and corn starch leftover from making marshmallows, and three jars of vodka influsions that I was testing for my next book project, that weren’t quite right, but I’m not sure what to do with them because one of them was so spicy that after one sip my partner still isn’t talking to me. (I think I may have burned a hole in his throat.)

Plus using things to start another project, i.e.; baking bread, making pillows, etc. can generate yet another project, and that bowl I showed with four teaspoons of flour in it, was from an episode like that.

Anyhow, if you want to save the syrup, it’s quite sweet but you could use it to sweeten tea, a smoothie, or a cocktail, or a fruit compote, or whatever strikes your fancy. I won’t judge you.

So, back to the candied grapefruit. I can barely resist nibbling on the peel as soon as it’s cool enough to handle. When it’s fresh, moist, and slightly warm, it’s perfection. But you can also store the peel in the syrup and use both at a later date.

I rarely have any leftover chocolate lying around (who does?) but if you want to dip these in dark chocolate, like some do with candied orange peel, you can either do so in tempered chocolate if you want to keep them at room temperature for a while, or keep them in the refrigerator and take them out shortly before serving.

I can’t tell you exactly how much sugar to toss the grapefruit peels in, in step #7 of the recipe, but you can definitely save and reuse any left over, as I do.

Candied Grapefruit Peel
Print Recipe
about 3 cups
For this recipe, make sure to use unsprayed or organic grapefruits, since you'll be eating the skin. The technique and syrup proportions vary from my recipe for Candied Orange Peel in Ready for Dessert; since oranges don't need to be blanched a few times, and they have thinner skin, they are cooked differently.Note that this recipe uses light corn syrup, not high-fructose corn syrup. You can get natural corn syrup at Whole Foods and similar stores. The small amount helps ensure the peels stay supple after candying and resist crystallization, but you can leave it out if you want. For more info, check out my post: When to use (and not use) corn syrup, for substitutions and more info.
3 grapefruits, organic or unsprayed
2 1/2 cups (500g) sugar, plus additional sugar for tossing the finished candied peel
2 1/2 cups (625ml) water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1. Cut each grapefruit and half and juice them. (Reserve the juice for another purpose.) Use a soup spoon to scrape out the pulp and membranes.
2. Use a chef's knife to cut the grapefruit peels into strips just shy of 1/2-inch (1,25cm) wide. Place the peels in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Drain the peels and repeat the simmering and draining process with the grapefruit peels two more times.
4. After you've blanched the peels three times, place them back in the pot fitted with a candy thermometer, if using. Add the sugar, water, and corn syrup and bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to a low boil and cook the peels until they're translucent and glossy. The temperature should read about 218ºF (103ºC) and should take about 45 minutes. If you're not using a thermometer, it should look like the 7th photo in the post.
6. Drain the peels in a colander then spread them on a wire cooling and let sit 12 hours at room temperature to dry out a bit.
7. Sprinkle some sugar on a baking sheet (about 1/3 cup, 65g) and use your hands to toss the candied peel in the sugar, adding more sugar as needed, and shaking off any excess, until the peels are well-coated and no longer feel sticky.

Storage: Candied peels are best the first week or two after they are made, stored at room temperature in an airtight container. They can be stored three to six months in the refrigerator, although they may get dried out if kept longer. If they do, you can chop the peel and soak it in hot water or orange liqueur, until soft, and use the pieces fruit crisps or whatever baking projects call for chopped candied peel.


How to candy grapefruit peels, in your own kitchen!

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52 comments

  • Charlotte K
    March 22, 2018 11:33am

    I’m glad you posted this because I love candied peels and I also love not throwing things out, but I have had a lot of frustration with peel making. Mine tend never to get as dry as I would like them (true for both orange and grapefruit attempts). I’m going to follow this recipe to a T and see if it works out. I expect candied peel is one of those things affected by the atmosphere.

    • March 22, 2018 11:38am
      David Lebovitz

      I suspect a lot of commercially produced (large & small scale) contains quite a bit of glucose, which keeps the peel soft and pliable for an extended period of time. I just use a little which helps, but it doesn’t last as long as the stuff you buy – which is fine, because I use (and eat) it quickly.

    • Charlotte K
      March 25, 2018 5:39pm

      Just made these and they looks GOOD. I think maybe I haven’t always cooked it long enough.

      • March 25, 2018 5:56pm
        David Lebovitz

        If they’ve been finished (and sugared) and still feel too soft, you can put them back in a pot with some water, and cook them further.

    • Julie
      March 29, 2018 4:21am

      Is it possible to substitute honey for corn syrup

  • March 22, 2018 11:50am

    I love candied citrus peel, but never tried making it myself. These grapefruit peels look like the perfect recipe to start with!

  • Aisling
    March 22, 2018 1:21pm

    I never make juice but would like to try these with some blood oranges I have – if I froze or stored the peels one by one as I ate the oranges do you think this would work with defrosted peels or perhaps peels kept in an airtight container for a few days?

    • Julie Hock
      March 22, 2018 11:26pm

      I would use the juice to make jelly – the kind made with gelatine and some sugar. Paired with a Panna cotta, it is a lovely dessert. 1cup of juice to half a cup of water with 3 teaspoons gelatine powder softened in it, heat gently with some sugar to taste.

    • Audrey
      March 23, 2018 12:20am

      Just keep in the fridge in plastic bag till you are ready. I always did with grapefruit after I had eaten them and then made marmalade.

  • March 22, 2018 1:21pm

    Mix the finishing sugar with citric acid for “sour patch” candy peels! (http://bit.ly/2HTYMAF)

  • Lynda
    March 22, 2018 4:16pm

    When I stop laughing about the seed bracelets and stem-end cat pillows, I’ll try this recipe. I love candied peels but never tried grapefruit.

  • Nancy
    March 22, 2018 4:22pm

    This was my Papa’s favorite Christmas treat – I made it from his mother’s recipe for many years but haven’t the last few years.
    I also twist the sliced rind a bit to release the bitter oils, but I still boil and drain two or three times. I think the pre-boiling helps hydrate the rind and absorb the sugar mixture more completely. I’ve never used corn syrup as my recipe didn’t call for it – just equal parts sugar, water, and rind.

    For Aisling – I’ve never frozen them (I think it might affect the texture), but I’ve saved them up for about a week in a storage bag in the fridge.

  • Pia
    March 22, 2018 4:27pm

    Your comments about Internet-shaming people who don’t save and reuse absolutely everything are hilarious. As an Internet person, I officially grant you permission to discard the undrinkably spicy vodka.

  • Simona
    March 22, 2018 4:29pm

    As I eye the full bag of saved up orange peels in my fridge that are almost ready to be made, I do have a question: I blanch mine as they are, in whole half orange pieces, and slice after, when the peel is softer and easier to work with. Is there any difference in that you think? Is there a reason you’d want to slice it first and blanch the finished pieces vs moi?

  • Judith Bluysen
    March 22, 2018 4:47pm

    I also abhor waste, and as I buy organic/untreated grapefruit and clementines, save even the peeled peels to candy. This method takes a couple of days but little attention, and isn’t nearly as pretty as yours, but is terrific chopped, for including in cakes and breads; or dipping in simply melted chocolate or just nibbling as is:

    Either cut the rinds into quarters or use asymmetrical pieces peeled by hand. (This “recipe” uses 1 grapefruit peel and a few clementines.) Leave any leftover pulp or membrane attached, and bury them in a small saucepan with a cup of sugar for 12-24 hours at room temp.The sugar will nearly all melt. The next day add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, allow to bubble 15-20 minutes until the syrup has begun to thicken. Then leave the pan to sit a day or so, until the peels have absorbed most of the syrup. Then scrape off the gunky pith with a small serrated knife, and reserve the gunk. Cut/chop the peels into whatever size pleases (not too small), and press the liquid from the pith back into the saucepan through a tea strainer. Add a 1/4 cup of honey and bring this new syrup back to a slow boil. Drop the peel pieces back into the syrup and let them cool. Then sprinkle with sugar and let dry at room temp. If dipping into chocolate, leave in an oven at the lowest temp possible, or just with the light on and the convection fan running for a couple of hours to dry them enough. So as not to waste ANYTHING, add a bit of the leftover syrup to the squeezed out pith in a glass jar and keep up to a month in the fridge to spread on toasted poundcake, and keep the citrus flavored simple syrup for a myriad of uses.

  • March 22, 2018 5:04pm

    Thank you for this recipe and the illustrative photos! I love candied peels, and have candied orange peels before, with some success, more in spite of rather than because of the recipes. I have wondered at directions about the number of times some recipes have you blanch the peels, and how long to cook them. This recipe will fill a long-time yearning for a sensible method.
    As to saving and reusing, it’s at least as bad if you sew!

  • Pam Stoesser
    March 22, 2018 5:36pm

    Wonderful. I’ve been staring at several grapefruits now for sometime and this is the perfect solution. The candied lemon peels I made over Christmas are still soooo so good.

  • March 22, 2018 5:52pm

    Pomplemettes?
    I haven’t eaten a good grapefruit since I left the US. Your pictures are making me ravenous. Love the orangy color of the candied peels. Your diet has gone seriously orange -a favorite French color (Hermes, Bon Marché etc.)

  • March 22, 2018 7:25pm

    When I make orangettes I dry them in the oven at low, low temp until they aren’t sticky anymore. Could I do this with grapefruit peels? Not sure I want to leave them out for 12 hours.

  • Kelly K.
    March 22, 2018 7:50pm

    Candied peels, yay! I also have trouble getting candied peels to have that nice, semi-dry consistency so welcome a new recipe. I love ALL citrus peel, regularly store organic peels in the fridge or freezer, eat them raw, pith and all in winter (something about anti-cancer here, I think) mince and add to sauteed greens (with bacon!), pour hot water over and steep overnight for refreshing peel-infusions, add to coffee, and chop and add to chunky batches of marmalade. No bracelets or pillows, but I’m thinking about citrus-ing the kitty litter…

  • Anne Dandurand
    March 22, 2018 8:24pm

    Thank you David for this variation with grapefruits ! (Pamplemettes ?)
    To the orangettes I make, I now add a big pinch of salt to the water/sugar/corn sirup mix, and a bigger pinch of ground cinnamon and a bit less of freshly grated nutmeg. When the liquid is almost reduced to 3-4 tablespoons, I flambe the whole thing with a shooter of spiced rum.
    Nobody complained.

  • March 22, 2018 8:37pm

    When I make candied grapefruit peels I get out the white chocolate for dipping. While dark chocolate is my preference for dipping most things, the sweetness of the white chocolate is a great foil for the bitterness of the candied grapefruit peels.

  • gfy
    March 22, 2018 9:23pm

    I went on a homemade leibkucken bender this winter (made like, 6 batches?) and used homemade pomelo peel for it’s floral qualities, along with honey instead of sugar. I did save the syrup since I used honey for the candying and it’s in a special jar to add to tea as a winter throat soother. I’ll try grapefruit peel next!

    PS: love that quip about saving stems for a cat pillow, lol…

  • March 22, 2018 10:24pm

    Great minds, David! I had the same “problem” last week where i juiced a few grapefruits and did not want to throw the peels away. So, i candied them and they came out excellent.

  • Nici
    March 22, 2018 11:36pm

    Is the corn syrup necessary? We don’t generally use it in cooking in Australia?

    • Jane
      March 24, 2018 12:25am

      I was wondering that as well. Would liquid glucose be an acceptable swap? Thanks

    • mm
      March 27, 2018 11:42am

      a pinch of creme of tartar could be a substitute for the american ‘corn syrup’ both stop the sugar syrup from crystallizing

  • vivian
    March 22, 2018 11:45pm

    I have heard Yiddish-speakers call candied grapefruit peels “pomerantzen.”

    • Sofie
      March 23, 2018 10:31pm

      I think Pomerans is a separate type of citrus fruit. in Denmark it is called Pomerans and is often candied and used in cakes for christmas. I think the english name is Bitter Orange or Seville orange.

    • Annemette
      March 25, 2018 9:14pm

      In Danish, Pomerans is bitter orange (Seville orange), wonder if there’s a connection. They are always eaten candied or as marmalade

  • Tricia Kato
    March 22, 2018 11:48pm

    I love reading your post – it’s hilarious, easy to relate to and most of all makes cooking/baking a joy! And of course, I will try the candied grapefruits recipe too…so wish me luck :))

  • Andrew Lage
    March 23, 2018 2:05am

    I once tried to “candy” orange peel. I wish I could have that time back. I recently turned 62 and I want to savor whatever time I have left.

  • Jean
    March 23, 2018 2:07am

    Hi David such a beautiful dish for the gorgeous peel. Paris flea market?

  • Bridgit
    March 23, 2018 3:12am

    I haven’t even finished the post yet because I had to comment. 1) use the spicy vodka almost as you would bitters in a cocktail. Or, when tomatoes are ripe, sprinkle it over top with olive oil and salt. I’m a saver, for sure, and every extra scrap does build a whole new project. I think we’ve made marhmallows 4x without ever fully using up the coating the recipe called for :) I can hardly wait to make these. I think they’ll be an Easter treat for my kiddos.

  • Karen Paul
    March 23, 2018 4:15am

    I sent this note to Thermapen in honor of all you do for my cooking David. Cheers to you!

    Dear Thermapen, We now have 3 cooks in the family addicted to their Thermapens. A few years ago a chef at le Cordon Bleu in Paris almost lost his marbles during a class when a student tried to walk over to her station with his Thermapen! Quelle catastrophe! That showed all of us how important the pens are!

    Dear Thermapen Company, Just wanted to send you David Lebovitz’s blog from yesterday. David was formerly the Pastry Chef at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse in Berkley and now lives and writes cookbooks in Paris. Sounds like he could really use the gift of one of your pens.
    https://www.davidlebovitz.com/candied-grapefruit-peel-recipe/

    Thanks for the great equipment!
    Karen Paul

    • March 23, 2018 3:17pm

      I definitely second the Thermapen recommendation. That is what I use and they are beasts. Worth every penny. I use them fro long bbq projects, frying, candying…and certainly used mine when making the candied grapefruit peels.

  • March 23, 2018 7:44am

    I commend you on your economic impulses. It’s true there’s always somebody who has a better way, and good for them if they have the time and will to do it.
    Something tells me the bit about storage is unnecessary because these would be eaten long before storage becomes a question.

  • Margaret
    March 23, 2018 9:04am

    I have a Ponderosa lemon tree in my yard that’s not really a lemon but a cross between a pomelo and citron. My SIL made the most amazing candied peels from it — we couldn’t stop eating them.

  • March 23, 2018 9:10am
    David Lebovitz

    Margaret: Lucky you to have those lovely citrus growing in your yard #jealous

    Simona: You could certainly do that as well…as you do!

    Taste of France: As I sometimes say (or think), If you want to know how wrong you’re doing something, put in on the internet ; )

    Karen Paul: Ha! That’d be nice but I don’t mind buying a probe thermometer at some point. (Although they say the Thermapen ones are the best.)

    E. Nassar: They’re so good. I’ll bet you were glad you didn’t toss ’em, either…

    Suzannah: Not sure why one wouldn’t want to leave them out to dry, but I suppose you could use the oven to speed it up. I’d be careful, though, as heat could dry them out. If you do use the oven, let us know how they turn out.

  • Caroline Turnbull-Hall
    March 23, 2018 1:25pm

    I often candy pomelo peel for use in biscotti (using the recipe for orange peel in A La Mere de Famille, but find that after a few weeks they get a light covering of dark mould. Will certainly give your recipe a go!

  • adrian
    March 23, 2018 3:57pm

    I don’t want to be annoying, but you can get some from M. Ducasse (dipped in chocolate).
    However, your post has convinced me to try and make some myself :)

  • Sabra Ledent
    March 23, 2018 6:59pm

    I just finished slobbering my way through your Instagram photos…. Vous avez une belle vie…. sigh.

  • Wilhelm Wanders
    March 23, 2018 7:50pm

    David, thoroughly enjoying your blog posts every once in a while :) Question:
    Why do you simmer/drain/repeat? I have always just simmered for a pro-longed time to soften the peels. Also:
    To achieve a softer peel/longer shelf life, why not treat like orange peels and re-heat the peels after a day to desired Baume degree?
    Regards & keep doing what you’re doing :)

    • March 24, 2018 8:33am
      David Lebovitz

      I blanch grapefruit peels because they have a lot more bitterness in them than orange peels. Not sure what you mean about the second part of the question – I cook orange peels in one day, but cook citrons over a period of days as the rinds are much thicker, and the leisurely cooking allow the syrup to incorporate gradually, and thoroughly.

  • Michelle Jones
    March 23, 2018 8:30pm

    The first time I made candied peel it went really hard! I just whizzed it up in the blender and used the powder to add to, and decorate cakes, flavour cream, yoghut, icing etc….yum!

  • Dafna
    March 24, 2018 3:39am

    My Moroccan aunt use to make these. I didn’t realize how much I missed them until now. I’ll definitely make them. Thanks!

  • Vanessa
    March 24, 2018 9:50am

    I cracked up when I read “you toss the grapefruit seeds?! I dry them, and once I’ve collected enough, I make bracelets out of them!” I always find little gems like that in your posts.

  • Katherine Stevens
    March 26, 2018 5:52am

    We live in Tucson and have a grapefruit tree. Wonderful fruits, but when I tried candying the peels the citric acid and oils were so potent that they numbed the inside of our mouths! Perhaps growers’ grapefruits would be milder. :)

  • Brooklynrosie
    March 26, 2018 2:00pm

    Candied grapefruit peel is the best! I always use vanilla sugar for the coating. I also add a vanilla bean when making grapefruit marmalade. Grapefruit and vanilla are gorgeous together.

  • Deborah
    March 26, 2018 5:10pm

    I like a bit (no more than 1/2 teaspoon) of candied fruit syrup in a glass of Prosecco. I just did candied kumquats and their syrup is lovely with prosecco. I will try the grapefruit syrup.
    Thank you.

  • April 1, 2018 11:03pm

    Your Grapefruit cutting method was awesome. After adding sugar it was looking interesting. I must have to try on it. Thanks for your instruction!

  • Bridget
    April 2, 2018 12:43pm

    Wow, I loved your article. The other night my husband and daughter went to a dinner at her soon to be college and laying so daintily on the slice of lemon cake was a strip of candied grapefruit peel. I slowly nibbled mine and then ate my cake, then I noticed my daughter and then my husband hadn’t eaten theirs and I asked for theirs, 7 more people at the table I didn’t feel right asking for theirs, but not 1 of them ate theirs. One of the other parents at the table asked what it was, when I told him he said he thought his grandmother use to make it, he tried his piece but no one else did. He took a bite smiled and said it brought back memories. This wasn’t very good CGP but it was okay.