These candied orange peels are delicately sweet with a citrusy aroma and a delightfully chewy texture. As elegant as they look, they’re surprisingly easy to make at home! Use this simple 3-ingredient recipe to garnish cocktails, gift to friends and family, or dress up a holiday cookie tray.

Candying fresh fruit in sugar is a centuries-old tradition, once used to preserve the fruit beyond its short-lived season. Historically, the cost of sugar relegated candied orange peels (or other kinds of candied fruit) to special occasions like holidays, either on their own or added to celebratory breads like Easter bread, fruit cake, or king’s cake.

In this candied orange peel recipe, the citrus peels are boiled to reduce bitterness from the pith. Then you simmer in simple syrup until tender, coat in sugar, and leave to dry overnight. That’s it! The best part: the candied peels last for up to 3 months eat them candied or dip them in chocolate for an extra decadent treat. Save the orange-scented syrup to elevate pancakes, cocktails, baked pears, French toast, or even fruit salad.

While the cost of sugar has come down, candied fruit’s association with the holidays stuck. It’s no wonder their sweet-tart flavor can brighten the darkest time of year! Like sugared cranberries, these chewy delights make a dazzling addition to holiday cookie platters or a festive gift for friends and family.

Candied Orange Peel Ingredients

All you need to make candied orange peel are oranges, sugar, and water. I call for two types of sugar, granulated for candying and fine to give the candied oranges an extra polished touch.

Oranges: You can use any type of orange. Because you’ll be using the rind, it’s best to use organic oranges to avoid chemicals sprayed on the fruit.

Granulated sugar: I use granulated sugar for the syrup because it’s free from impurities that could burn during the long cooking time and has a neutral flavor that lets the orange shine.

Superfine sugar: Also known as caster sugar or baker’s sugar, superfine sugar is finer than granulated sugar but not quite powdered. It gives the candied orange peels an elegant finish. If you can’t find superfine sugar, you can put granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse it until the granules are reduced to the site of table salt. Don’t over process or you’ll end up with powdered sugar.

How to Make this Candied Orange Peel Recipe

Making homemade candied orange peels doesn’t take much work, but it will require some patience. It takes about 45 minutes for the peels to candy (this is when I snack on the oranges), then you need to wait until they dry, about 12 to 24 hours.

Prepare the peel. Cut off the top and bottom of each orange with a sharp knife. Make 4 vertical incisions through the peel and pith on both oranges trying not to cut into the fruit.two oranges with their tops and bottoms cut off with a knife on a wooden cutting board.

Separate the peel. Use your fingers to separate each quarter of the peel, including the pith, from the fruit. The peel should separate relatively easily from the fruit without tearing.two oranges on a cutting board, one with its peel totally cut off and one with only one piece of peel cut off, next to 5 pieces of orange peels.

Slice into strips. Use the knife to slice the peel lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide overhead photo of orange peels just after being sliced into quarter inch wide pieces with a knife on a cutting board.

Boil the peel. Add the orange peel slices to a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover the peels by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Drain the peels.

Repeat (optional). You can choose to boil up to 2 more times to remove more bitterness from the peel before candying. With oranges, you can blanche the peels just once or twice if you want to save time, but with more bitter citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, or grapefruit, I recommend repeating the step twice.

Make a sugar syrup. Clean out the saucepan. Add 2 cups each of granulated sugar and water and set over medium heat. The sugar will dissolve into a syrup and then come to a boil.

Add the peels. Once the syrup begins to boil, carefully drop in the orange peels and reduce the heat to low. Cook the peels, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a constant, gentle simmer. orange peels being candied in a sauce pan of sugar syrup.

Simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, until the orange peels are soft and the pith starts to turn translucent. The syrup will have thickened, and the bubbles will be thick and glass-like. You can also use a candy thermometer to check for doneness—the syrup should register between 235°F – 245°F (soft ball stage).

Drain. Take the pan off the heat. Once the syrup stops bubbling, carefully strain the peels, saving the syrup in a heatproof measuring cup for another use (see “Save Your Leftover Orange Syrup!” below). I had about 1 cup of syrup.candied orange peels being strained into a heatproof bowl.

Coat the candied peels in sugar. Pour 1 cup of superfine sugar into a rimmed sheet pan or a wide, shallow bowl. Add the candied orange peels and use a small set of tongs or a couple of forks to toss them in the sugar to coat, separating them if they stick together. an overhead photo of candied orange peels being coated in sugar in a sheet pan.

Let the peels dry. Spread the candied orange peels in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan or on a nonstick wire rack. Let them sit uncovered at room temperature until dried, overnight or at least 12 hours. They’re ready when they no longer feel tacky and don’t stick to each other.

How to Use Candied Orange Peels

On their own as a snack, candied orange peels are just like sugar-coated jelly candies but better. Because they’re homemade, they taste like real oranges instead of orange flavor. You can also incorporate them into also sorts of recipes:

To elevate dessert. Use the peels as a garnish with a dessert, like orange cardamom cake, olive oil chocolate mousse, or chocolate cake.

To give cocktails a restaurant-quality flair. Garnish your cocktails or mocktails with a fancy twist, from gin cocktail to a bittersweet negroni or even a Carajillo (Spiked Coffee).

Even breakfast! Dice the candied orange peels and toss into a finished batch of homemade olive oil granola.

For holiday parties and cookie trays. They’re not just delicious, but they add beautiful orange sparkle to the dessert table. Because they’re vegan (if you use organic sugar) and gluten-free, they’re a sweet, festive treat that everyone can indulge in. To add even more of a festive flair dip the half of each candied orange peel in dark chocolate.

For gifting. With how well they keep, they’re also a great gift to give to friends or include in cookie boxes.