Candied Orange Peels – An Example in Sustainability

When you give these beautiful Candied Orange Peels as gifts to family and friends, you are giving them a healthy, tasty, beautiful treat that will last throughout the holiday season (if they aren’t eaten before the season is over). 

Candied Orange Peels
Candied Orange Peels

Candied orange peels have reminded me of Christmas for as long as I can remember. The mere aroma of orange peels simmering on the stove creates warm happy emotions that I cannot describe.

It takes me back to my childhood. At the same time, it gives me pleasure to know I am leaving the same traditions that I grew up with to my own children.

I include my candied orange peels recipe below — but first, I want to share some tips for many other uses of the humble, much-overlooked orange peel.

Save the Peels! Tips for Sustainable Living

One of the greatest treasures that I want my children to teach their children is to make the most of everything and waste nothing that God gives us in nature. I believe that one major example of sustainability is to use parts of vegetables, fruits, or harvested game that are not ordinarily used.

Most people only utilize the flesh, or the inside juicy sections of the orange. Without a doubt, citrus fruits are delicious and nutritious They have natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and the vitamin C boosts your immune system. But orange zest, orange rind, and citrus peels in general have just as many uses.

Here are some of the many uses of orange peels.

Orange Oil Mosquito and Ant Repellant

Bothered by mosquitoes? Actually, the orange oil in the peel is great for repelling bugs in general.

Here is an easy recipe for natural, non-toxic insect repellant:

Cut the peel into small pieces or thin strips. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel if you like. Cover with water in a saucepan, and simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes.

Then put a lid on the saucepan and let the peels steep in the water for 24 hours. 

Strain the steeped mixture through a sieve, and then pour the liquid into a spray bottle.

Voila! Natural insect repellant. Be sure to shake the bottle to evenly distribute the oils in the water before each use.

Orange Vinegar Cleaner/Degreaser

You probably know that vinegar in itself is a great household cleaner. You can also boost its cleaning and degreasing properties with orange peels.

Simply steep orange peels in white vinegar in sealed jars for a couple of weeks for extra citrusy cleaning power.

Natural Citrus Air Freshener / Room Deodorizer

Simmering orange peels make a great natural air freshener and room deodorizer.

Just simmer the peels on the stove with your favorite spices (like cinnamon and clove) to fill your home with a delicious scent. You can also spray the mixture in closets to freshen them up.

More Uses — the Possibilities Are Almost Endless!

Believe it or not, you can even use dried orange peels for kindling. The oil in the peels is a natural fire starter, and it fills the room with the aroma of toasted orange. Just dry the peels out on a cookie sheet on your kitchen counter.

Orange peels make great kindling!
Orange peels make great kindling!

Click here for more great household uses of orange peel.

The Main Feature: Candied Orange Peels

But without a doubt, the most delicious use of the peel is the candied orange peel recipe below.

As you use oranges to make your favorite salads, southern ambrosia, or orange pound cake, keep those peels to prepare these wonderful candied orange peels!

You can find this and more recipes like it in my handbook Preserving 101: Canning, Drying, and Freezing.

During the Christmas season, I like to find a more elegant and utilitarian use for my orange peels. Candied Orange Peels are beautiful, festive, and are full of nutrients.

The orange peel has more vitamin C than the actual fruit of the orange. Likewise, the fruit peel also has about three times as much the amount of Vitamin A, B-Complex, and minerals such as manganese, calcium, and zinc.

Aren't these Candied Oranges beautiful?
Aren’t these Candied Oranges beautiful?

Here is how to make candied orange peels step by step.

Remove the peel and pith from the orange's flesh.
Remove the peel and pith from the orange’s flesh.
Peel slices covered in water.
Cover the orange peel slices into 1/4 inch slices and cover with water.
Allow the orange peels to dry for about 12 hours. They will not be completely dry when you coat them with sugar.
Allow the orange peels to dry for about 12 hours. They will not be completely dry when you coat them with sugar.
making candied orange peels

Candied Orange Peel

Stacy Lyn Harris
Candied orange peels are not only tasty but also beautiful, nutritious, and festive for Christmas.
5 from 7 votes
Course Snack
Cuisine American


  • 6 large oranges
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar plus more for coating (about 1/2 cup)


  • Using a sharp knife, cut the peel off the oranges, taking as much as possible to get ride of most of the pith. The pitch can be very bitter. Cut the peel into 1/4-inch strips.
    removing peel and pitch from orange's flesh to make candied orange peels
  • In a large saucepan, combine the peels with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer. Continue to simmer peels, uncovered, for about 1 hour. There should only be about 1 inch of water remaining, and the peels should be soft and somewhat transparent. Drain the peels.
  • In another saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the drained peels. Let stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
    Candied orange peels simmering in a saucepan
  • Return the pan to low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the peels have absorbed most of the syrup. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
  • Remove the peels from the saucepan and lay them out individually on wax paper. Allow them to dry for about 12 hours. They will still be a little wet, but not soggy.
    Candied orange peels drying
  • Place about 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and roll the orange peels in the sugar until they are fully coated. Arrange peels in a single layer on a piece of wax paper and let them dry. To hasten drying, arrange peels on a sheet pan and place in the oven on the lowest setting. Keep the door cracked and leave them to dry for a couple of hours.
  • Store in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container. Try candied orange peel dipped in chocolate for an extra tasty treat. Enjoy! Happy cooking!
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  1. This is really cool – thanks for sharing the information as well as the recipe! Do you think the recipe would work very well with maple syrup instead of sugar? I have several family members that are trying to stay away from processed sugars. (Either way I think I will be trying this out very soon!)

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      I will bet that the syrup that you boil the orange peels would work very well, but the texture would be different if you didn’t roll them in sugar at the end. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. I bet they would taste great. I will try to post a processed sugar free dessert sometime near the 1st of the year.

    2. I have made these from childhood and have also used grapefruit and lemons all are so good and the grand kids love them!

  2. Tammy Walter says:

    I think there must be some awesome use for the ‘orange’ water that you drain off the orange peels! Any suggestions?? Maybe in a homemade cleaner?

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      Absolutely. You can put distilled vinegar in it and use it to clean your home. Also, I think I failed to mention that if you put a little cinnamon in the boiling oranges, your house will smell heavenly!

    2. Kelly Mayo says:

      How about as a base for other cooking? Chefs regularly boil things like rose petals to flavor water later used for accents and bases for all kinds of stuff.

  3. Tammy Walter says:

    My house smelled amazing without the cinnamon!! Love everything about this recipe! Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!

  4. Katherine says:

    Thank you for bringing back childhood memories and sharing what is a yearly tradition in our home. My Grandma was very poor her entire life. She never wasted anything. I learned a lot of things from her, my other Grandparents, my Parents and other relatives. We didn’t have a lot of money, or material things, so nothing useful was ever thrown away. Apples were always plentiful, but oranges were a special treat. To this day, churches in the area still give out fruit, candy, and mixed nut bags to folks at Christmas. Anyway, we usually keep orange peels to make a special treat after the first of the year, after all of the Christmas foods were gone. It’s a nice way to get the family together, make wonderful memories, teach the children valuable lessons and have a tasty treat at the end of the day. To spice it up a bit, we sometimes add cinnamon and or whole clove during the Boiling process.
    To top it off, it’s a great time to get the folks that are not involved with the cooking, to go outside and pick up pecans and to shell the nuts that we have been gathering since Fall.
    I hope you have a great and prosperous new year.

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      I love your story. Life is about relationships and not much about material things when you get right down to it. My grandmother grew up like that and she was one of my favorite people in the world. I want my kids to have lasting memories of the house smelling, sounding, and looking wonderful during Christmas. They can always find refuge in that during the hard times of this world that they are sure to encounter. My dad brings oranges, apples, and candy in a bag to all the kids every Christmas Day. I had never heard of that, but it is a neat tradition to continue. Thanks for sharing your story with me. Stacy

    2. Nancy Kay says:

      When I was little we went to see Santa in the church basement. I remember he would always pass out a brown lunch sack with shelled peanuts, a couple hard candies, and an orange. When I smell peanuts and an orange it brings back great childhood memories.

      1. Wow, what an interesting memory. I have never heard of that. My dad will bring me oranges and candy in a paper bag for Christmas. I thought that was just one of “my day things.” Maybe that is a tradition that I am unaware of. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I think this is a great way to use the peels for a tasty treat, but the high heating will kill the Vitamin C. The pith may seem bitter, but is a great source of bioflavinoids, very valuable to our bodies.

  6. C. Bagwell says:

    Will have to try this! I love choc. covered orange peel, so thinking I will save some out to coat!!. Oh….. RTR!!

  7. We don’t use oranges much in our house, but we do occasionally. I like freezing bits and pieces, odds and ends, of veggies and fruits for use later. Do you think this would work if I just froze the slices after cleaning them up, and then candied them in a larger batch once I had enough?

    1. Sounds like a great idea Stephanie. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

  8. Glad to see I am not the only one. I have made candied orange peels all my adult life. my children loved then when they were little. People think it’s weird. My daughter in laws laughed themselves silly one day when I had melon peels to go to the compost and they asked if I was making cantaloupe candy out of them.

  9. We were raised in the country, in northern Minnesota. Every year, about a week or two before Christmas, we would go see Santa at the town hall. He would talk to us about our wishes, and give us a brown paper lunch bag with unshelled peanuts, a bit of hard candies (ribbon candy if we were lucky!) and an orange. We were very happy campers…. and I have tried to pass this tradition to my kids, in my own way.

    1. Love your tradition BariB. My Dad brings oranges and candy in a paper bag to my kids every Christmas. Not many people do this anymore. Let’s keep the tradition alive.

  10. I only had three oranges so I had to tweak the amounts. That being said, I ended up with a bunch of orange flavored simple syrup. Being the person that I am I just couldn’t pour it down the drain. So… tomorrow, I’ll be slicing up a pineapple and I’m going to take the core, slice it thin and simmer it in that orange syrup for awhile till it’s soft and then treat it the same as the orange peels. Roll the slices in sugar and dry them.
    Maybe, if I’m real lucky, I’ll have created a new sweet.
    Not to mention….I’ll still have some simple sugar to make cocktails with.

    1. That sounds perfect! I would live the pineapples simmered in the syrup. Great idea.

  11. Am on my third recipe for candied orange peels. May have to invent one. Interestingly your recipe has the longest cooked blanch I ‘ve encounted after many hours for my search. Most blanches listed are from one the four times in fresh water. I ate a whole peel to detect bitterness. To be honest could not say anything tasted bitter. Parts of the orange oil could have biting. Scraping off the white pith and eatng it alone definitely was not bitter. These were Texas organic navel oranges.
    My first was a small recipe and it cooked to ‘hard crack’ in a short time. It was edible, too. Next the pan didn’t have a heavily enough bottom and got too hot on one side and I then had produced orange taffy. Tastes good, too. The recipe today is a 6-8 hour that is called a conft (French for preserve). Another recipe I found was for candied whole oranges and takes eight days. It was part one of a fruit “pudding” as the English call them. Very intriguing. I think I like the whole candied oranges the best, sort of a glorified improved marmalade. Can use candied peels,too. Always used organic orange oil in the past for seasoning but in looking all these peels decided using them is a better choice..

  12. Did try your recipe worked really good .
    Are there other fruit peels you can Candy .

    1. I’m so glad you liked the candied orange peels. You can do this with lemons, limes, and any other citrus fruits. They are delicious and smell wonderful.

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