How to Make Candied Lemon Peels

A couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to make some historical Thanksgiving recipes for The History Kitchen. One of the recipes I chose was an apple pudding from Sarah Josepha Hale, commonly known as “The Mother of Thanksgiving” in America. The recipe called for candied lemon peels. I’d never candied lemon peels before, so I looked at a few different tutorials online and read lots of reviews of recipes to determine the best way of going about it. After putting together the best aspects of each technique, I jumped right in and candied some peels.

Guess what? They turned out absolutely delish! I decided to post the tutorial here on TheShiksa.com. It’s a fun, economical food project that you can make with peels you might normally discard. They taste kind of like chewy lemon drops. My husband is addicted. Now that I know how to make them, I’ll be setting aside my unused lemon peels when I cook and reserving them for candying. Uncandied peels will last for about a week in an airtight Ziploc bag in the fridge. Candied peels will last for months, especially if you dust them in sugar. They’d make a super fun homemade food gift for the holidays… put them in a pretty Mason jar with a ribbon and a tag. You can dip them in white or dark chocolate for an extra special treat!

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How to Make Candied Lemon Peels

You will need

  • 4 lemons
  • 3 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • A saucepan
  • 4 oz white or dark chocolate (optional)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 60 - 90 Minutes
Total Time: 5 Hours
Servings: Varies
Kosher Key: Pareve (or dairy if using dairy chocolate for dipping)
  • Slice the lemons into four quarters lengthwise.
  • Peel the lemon flesh away from the peels. Reserve for another use.
  • Use a small, sharp-edged spoon to scrape the tough fibrous parts off of the inner peel, leaving a thin layer of white left behind on the peel.
  • Slice the peels into thin strips.
  • Alternatively, for thinner and daintier decorative peels, you can use a serrated peeler to scrape yellow strips from the exterior of the lemon peel. Cut those peels into thin slices.
  • Place the peels into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 30 seconds.
  • Drain the peels in a colander.
  • Cover with water again. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds, then drain again in a colander. The boil and drain process helps to cook out any bitter flavor from the peels. You can boil and drain up to three times, but I usually only do it twice because the lemon flavor is weakened each time you do it.
  • When you're finished boiling and draining, pour 4 cups of water into the saucepan along with 3 cups of sugar. Stir with a whisk while the water heats, till all of the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add peels to the saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Reduce heat to the a low simmer. Let the peels simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Different sized peels will take different amounts of time to cook. The peels are ready when they're transparent and easy to bite through. Err on the side of cooking them longer, if you're unsure... undercooked peels will have a slightly bitter flavor.
  • Drain the peels. If you want to, you can strain the peels through a mesh strainer, letting the liquid stream into a jar. The leftover lemon flavored simple syrup can be used to flavor drinks and cocktails. It will be a thick syrup, and sugar crystals may collect in the jar over time. You can reconstitute the syrup by adding water and stirring over moderate heat if the syrup becomes overly thick.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the peels out in an even layer on the parchment. Let the peels cool for about 15 minutes till tacky to the touch.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of sugar into a small bowl. Dip the peels into the sugar till coated. Sugar coating the peels will add sweetness and help to keep them from sticking together.
  • Alternatively, you may let the peels dry as-is for a deeper yellow color and a gel-like texture.
  • Place the peels back on the parchment. Let them dry for 2-3 hours longer if they are sugar coated, and overnight if they are not.
  • At this point, you can serve them, or you can dip them in chocolate. For a batch of lemon peels, you will need about 4 ounces of chocolate (dark or white).
  • Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave for 60 seconds, or until you can stir the chocolate to a smooth consistency. Dip the candied peels one at a time into the chocolate, so they are coated halfway up the peel.
  • Place the dipped peels on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let them dry for 30-45 minutes.
  • These candied peels make a great homemade gift. They will last in a sealed jar for a few months. If you're jarring them and giving them away, I recommend sugar-coating the peels to keep them from sticking to each other. Thicker peels are more candy-like, and taste similar to lemon drops.
  • Thinner peels (using a serrated peeler) will dry curly and slightly crunchy. They're perfect for decorating daintier dishes like cakes and cupcakes.
  • The chocolate-dipped peels are a personal favorite of mine. I especially like the lemon peels dipped in white chocolate.

Other Great Recipe Ideas

Taste with the Eyes: Meyer Lemon and Pink Rose Petal Risotto

Joy the Baker: Dairy Free Lemon Cream with Oat-Thyme Crumble

Vanilla Garlic: Lemon, Yogurt and Almond Custard Pots

Domestic Fits: Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

Dinner in Venice: Lemon and Lavender Tart

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Category: Cooking Tutorials, Desserts, Gluten Free, How To, In the Kitchen, Nut Free, Pareve, Passover - Ashkenazi, Passover - Gluten Free Ashkenazi, Passover - Gluten Free Sephardic, Passover - Sephardic, Passover - Vegan Ashkenazi, Passover - Vegan Sephardic, Passover - Vegetarian Ashkenazi, Passover - Vegetarian Sephardic, Recipes, Slide Show, Tomato Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Comments (38)Post a Comment

  1. Lori Lynn says:

    Hi Tori – those little candied lemon peels with white chocolate look heavenly, my kind of treat! Love the photo of the lemon syrup in the window!
    LL
    P.S. Thanks for linking the lemon risotto.
    And wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. We used to do the same thing at kindergarten in Israel but with orange peels. Every Friday this would be our treat. I loved Fridays :) That and chocolate balls from leftover tea biscuits :)

  3. Those look AMAZING, Tori! Great project for the rainy weekend we are expecting. Thanks!

  4. emasden says:

    I have used orange peels and grapefruit peels…lemon peels sound great also, thank you!

  5. Shonna says:

    I just LOOOVE them!!!! But where do I store that delicious lemon syrup?????

  6. nancy says:

    my favorite candy my entire life is dark chocolate covered orange peel, would your recipe work for oranges as well as lemons?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Nancy– yes, use 3 oranges in place of the 4 lemons (oranges are larger and will have more peel). Otherwise, the process remains the same. Enjoy!

  7. nicola says:

    Off to make these right now! I have also done this with cranberries! They look like little gems when done. I put them right in the syrup to boil first.

  8. Suzz Laird says:

    I made these with orange peel and put about 1 tsp citric acid in the sugar to roll them in. Heaven if you like sweet-sour candies! Thanks so much for posting this.

  9. Jessica says:

    I love these. I make them on occasion with not only lemon but orange, grapefruit and lime peels as well. I always use a cooling rack though to dry them on and always dry overnight as I normally end up packaging them up as gifts and want to make sure they are all equally dry. As you said in your post here, not all peels are the same thickness etc. :) Your’s look scrummy!

    • Jessica says:

      Oh and if you don’t have enough peels at first, I always freeze them until I have enough for a large batch :) They freeze well and can go (prepare and slice before freezing) from freezer directly to pot of water as well.

  10. Clark H Smith says:

    Thanks so much for this how-to. I used the candied peel to add into sugar cookies. Delish!! By the way, I kept the water that I boiled the raw peels in, squeezed in the lemons, and sweetened it with some of the lemon simple syrup. Really terrific lemonade!

  11. Rimma says:

    I loved your version of this recipe. It is better not to boil citrus peel, but soak it in cold water for 48 hours changing it every 6-8 hours.

  12. Allison says:

    I just made a batch with a lemon, a grapefruit, and a pomelo, and they turned out great! Thanks for the step-by-step instructions. The pomelo turned out the best, and the syrup is so good in iced tea. I will always save my peels from now on.

  13. gaylynne says:

    I really like lemon peels with chocolate. Thank you very much.

  14. Belinda says:

    Thank you for this post. Got crates full of lemons. Going to make these and everything else I can find recipes for. Need to preserve all of them.Just love lemons.

  15. Sasha Bley-Vroman says:

    You don’t have to use fresh peels. As you use lemons, save the peels and let them dry out in a mesh bag or in the fridge. When you’ve saved up enough peels to candy, soak overnight in water (weighted, or fill a jar with peels and water and put on the lid) to reconstitute. They seem to me to be as good as fresh, for this purpose. You can start the recipe by boiling them in this soaking water.
    I also save the drained water in which peel has been boiled to use for cleaning: it cuts grease!

  16. Brad Weisman says:

    Are these suitable for mixing into biscotti? I’m making lemon-pistachio biscotti for some friends and I’ll be making my own candied lemon peels.

  17. Thanks so much for this tutorial, and the presentation was excellent and easy to follow. My peels are cooling as we speak, and I’m looking forward to creative alcohol-based uses for the lemon sugar syrup.

  18. Shari DiBrito says:

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  19. Peg S says:

    These look great! Should they simmer with the lid off, on, or partially on? Thanks.

  20. Ellen J says:

    I love these! They came out great – and it’s my first time making these. I have a quick question – my sugar is ‘melting’ and I can’t figure out why :(. It’s only 65 in the house with the heat on, and it’s snowing (again). I let them sit about 15 minutes before tossing them in the sugar. Should I let them sit longer?

  21. Eleanor says:

    I am going to try this with lemon peels. Thank you.

  22. Ibbs says:

    its gr8….im trying dis..!!!

  23. Lori A says:

    My 10 yr old grandson and I made these today. He had an unexpected day off from school and we decided to make homemade lemon drops. The drops came out great! I hate wasting anything so we saved the lemon skins and made these candied peels. They came out perfectly! I flavored the sugar with lemon extract before dipping the peels. We had fun doing this. Next time we’re doing an orange. Thanks!

  24. Brittney says:

    Tori, we loved these thanks for the recipe! I was wondering though, what could I use the syrup for exactly? I was thinking of slicing up the leftover lemons and making lemonade but I’m thinking the syrup might be too sweet. Any ideas you have would be great!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Lemonade would be great, but only use enough syrup to sweeten it to taste. I’ve also used it to sweeten drinks and cocktails for a bright, lemony burst of sweetness. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, no need to use it all at once. :)

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