Candied Grapefruit Peel

From garnish to snack, candied grapefruit peels bring back memories.

Candied Grapefruit Peel
Photo: Getty Images
Cook Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Active Time:
30 mins
Cool Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
14 hrs 15 mins
2 cups

This is one of the most delicious homemade sweets we can make, especially in winter when there's so much local citrus fruit on hand. Candied peel is sweet and a bit tart, like a fragrant, sophisticated version of gummy candy. The shiny, colorful peel (that we usually call zest these days) has more concentrated fruit flavor than the juice thanks to the natural citrus oils, and it's a waste to throw that flavor away. Chef Patrick O'Connell, the famous chef who helmed The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia for many years said "Candied grapefruit rind is the sweet reward of frugality."

You can use this method to candy other type of citrus peels, but the peel of a large grapefruit is easiest to handle and creates long wide strips instead of little wisps. Some people call the strips "pamelas," which Southern cookbook author Bill Neal suggested came from pamplemousse, the French word for grapefruit. Any variety of grapefruit will do, but the thick red peel of Texas Ruby Reds makes beautiful candied peel.

Some people serve it alongside morning espresso or afternoon tea, or as the perfect last bite after an extravagant meal, although there is no wrong time to just nibble. Bakers use strips to garnish holiday cakes and cupcakes, or finely chop it to add to cheesecake or cannoli filling. If you have a recipe that calls for candied ginger, try candied grapefruit peel instead.

Strips of candied grapefruit peel, whether stored in its syrup or crystallized in more sugar, keep for weeks and makes an excellent holiday or hostess gifts.


  • 2 large grapefruit

  • 1 cup sugar

  • ¾ cup water

  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • Additional sugar for dusting, as needed


  1. With a sharp paring knife or small serrated knife, cut away a thin slice from the top and the bottom of the fruit to reveal the pulp. Working from top to bottom, cut the peel and thick white pith away from the pulp in wide strips. Reserve the pulp for another use.

  2. Place the strips in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Drain, cover with fresh water, and repeat. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle, then scrape away the white pith with the back of a small spoon. Cut the peel into long strips that are about ½ inch wide.

  3. Stir together the 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup water, and the corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the peels and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the peels become tender and translucent, 45 to 60 minutes. It is not necessary to use a thermometer, but the temperature of the syrup should be around 218°F. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand overnight. At this point, the peels can be stored in the syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

  4. To crystallize the peel, dust them in more sugar. Pour about 1 cup sugar on a plate. Bring the peels and syrup to a simmer over low heat, let stand until cool enough to handle, and then drain. Rinse the peel gently under cool water to remove excess syrup. Working with one piece at a time, coat each strip in sugar. Arrange the coated strips in a single layer on a sheet of parchment and let dry overnight or until no longer tacky. Store the crystallized peel between sheets of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. If they become moist or sticky, toss them in sugar again.

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