Candied orange slices are a sweet and chewy confection that requires just 2-ingredients to make. Eaten plain or dipped in chocolate, they make a delicious snack and are an easy way to add bright orange flavor to cakes, tarts, cocktails, and even salads or roasted meats.
Having a few candied oranges (or lemons or limes) on hand means you are always only 5 seconds away from fancying up a cocktail (like these pomegranate margaritas), cakes (like this Orange Olive Oil Cake), or tarts (like this chocolate orange truffle tart). They are also a delicious way to add sweetness and color to salads and roasted or smoked meat.
Of course, that assumes you don't eat them all first. 🙂
You can often find bags of candied oranges in specialty markets like Trader Joes, and you can always order them online. But once you make them you'll likely never purchase them again because they require just 2 ingredients, very little time and effort, and keep well for at least a month.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
You only need 2 ingredients to prepare a batch of candied orange slices:
- Small oranges, tangelos, tangerines, or mandarin oranges
- White granulated sugar
It's important to use oranges that are small because larger oranges have a tendency to fall apart while simmering in the simple syrup.
I like to use tangelos, which I know are not technically oranges. Tangelos are a cross between a mandarin orange or tangerine and a pomelo or grapefruit. They have a gorgeous color, a bright sweet flavor, and just happen to be the perfect size for making candied slices.
Mandarin oranges are also an excellent choice for making candied orange slices. Because they are so small, you'll be able to use 4-6 mandarins per recipe. FYI: Clementines are a type of mandarin orange. When you see small oranges marketed as "cuties" or "sweeties" they are usually clementines.
Before You Begin: What Kind Of Candied Orange Slices Do You Want to Make?
It's important to consider a few things before making candied orange slices such as:
- How sweet or tart do you want your slices to be?
- How small or large do you want each slice to be?
- Do you want your slices to have a translucent jelly-like look or a frosted appearance?
Because candied orange slices are nothing more than oranges boiled in simple syrup (sugar water), they will be sweet no matter what. But, HOW sweet depends on the kind of orange you are using.
Tangelos, clementines, tangerines, and cara cara oranges are the sweetest kind of fruit you can use to make these slices. These varieties also tend to be small in size, with clementines being the smallest. Because of their small size, I like to use clementines when I want to use the candied orange slices as a cocktail garnish.
Navel oranges are also sweet, but will give the slices a slightly more bitter flavor. The biggest problem with navel oranges is their size. You'll have the best luck with oranges that are smaller.
If you love bittersweet flavors, look for bitter oranges and Seville oranges which are generally considered too tart for eating but perfect for making sweet-tart candied orange slices.
Blood oranges are a great choice if you want your candied orange slices to have a vivid red color.
Valencia oranges are delicious but also have a tendency to fall apart while simmering in sugar syrup, so I usually avoid using them to make candied oranges.
Finally, consider how you want your candied oranges to look. If you want a clear, translucent, jelly-like appearance, leave them as is. If you want candied oranges with a frosted look, dip them in granulated sugar after allowing them to dry for at least 24 hours.
Step-by-Step Photos and Instructions
Many recipes for candied orange slices call for boiling the slices briefly in water before submerging in sugar syrup. The purpose of this quick boiling is to reduce the bitterness of the orange peel.
However, after taste-testing candied orange slices that had been boiled first and those that had not, I could detect very little to no difference. So, I feel the step is unnecessary.
Add sugar and water to a 12-inch skillet or a large saucepan and set it over medium-high heat.
As the water heats, the sugar will melt into the water. Stir the mixture from time to time to ensure that the sugar is melting and not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When the sugar has melted into the water and the sugar syrup begins to boil, add the orange slices. It's important to not overcrowd the pan. It's fine if the slices overlap a bit, but you don't want them to be stacked on top of each other.
Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Every now and then, use metal tongs to turn the slices over as they cook.
Let the orange slices simmer in the sugar syrup for 45 - 60 minutes, until they look translucent.
It's important to maintain just enough heat for a gentle simmer. If the heat is too high, the sugar syrup will begin to caramelize. (See the FAQ section and the notes in the recipe card for what to do if this happens.)
Lay the slices out in a single layer on a wire rack.
Allow them to dry at room temperature, uncovered, for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours. When dry, they will still be tacky, but will feel "set", kind of like gummy candy.
At this point, if you want a frosted look, dip the slices in granulated sugar.
Pro tip! How to get uniform slices and how to use large oranges:
The easiest way to get uniform slices is to use a mandoline slicer.
If you want to make candied orange slices with medium to large size oranges, simply cut the slices in half into half-moon shapes. This will help to prevent them from falling apart while boiling in the sugar syrup.
Save the Orange Syrup!
This recipe is a two-for-one kind of thing because you can save the leftover sugar syrup, which is now infused with the flavor of the oranges, for cocktails and mocktails!
Allow the syrup to cool completely, then pour it into a jar and store it in the refrigerator. I like to add a few slices of orange peel. The peel gives the syrup a more pronounced orange flavor and adds a very small amount of bitterness to the syrup which helps to balance out the sweetness.
Add a spoonful or two of orange simple syrup to a glass of sparkling water for a delicious, refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. Or, use it to add an orange twist to any cocktail that calls for simple syrup!
Ways to Use Candied Orange Slices
- Eat them! Candied orange slices are a delicious sweet snack to have on hand.
- Dip them in chocolate. If you, like me, love the combination of chocolate and orange, you'll love chocolate-dipped orange slices. Melt some bittersweet chocolate and then simply dip each slice in the chocolate. Dip the entire slice, or just half. Lay the chocolate dipped slices out on a parchment covered baking try to dry, then enjoy! If you want a salted chocolate flavor, sprinkle some coarse salt over the chocolate immediately after dipping.
- Use candied orange slices to decorate an Orange Olive Oil Cake (pictured above) or any other kind of cake, like this simple vanilla loaf cake or pound cake.
- Plain candied orange slices or chocolate-dipped candied orange slices are an elegant way to decorate a simple New York Cheesecake.
- Use candied orange slices to decorate this decadent Chocolate Truffle Tart!
- Use them as a cocktail garnish! Candied orange slices are the perfect garnish for Orange Margaritas or Pomegranate Margaritas, a refreshing Aperol Spritz or Cherry Citrus Prosecco Spritz, a sparkling Negroni or the elegant Boulevardier.
If the coating on your candied orange slices isn't setting it means that the oranges didn't cook in the sugar syrup long enough. If this happens, you can re-boil the orange slices in sugar syrup. Because they've already been cooked once, they might fall apart a bit the second time around, but they will still taste delicious!
Nope. Candied orange slices can be kept in the refrigerator of course but it's perfectly safe to keep them at room temperature.
Candied orange slices will keep well for at least a month, and in many cases, even longer.
Yes! Use this same process to candy lemon and lime slices and pretty much any other kind of citrus fruit. You can also use persimmons.
If the heat on your stovetop is too high the sugar syrup will begin to caramelize. If you notice that the sugar syrup is turning golden brown, turn off the heat and remove the orange slices from the liquid immediately. Rinse out the pan and start over with new sugar syrup. When it begins to simmer, add the orange slices to continue cooking.
To avoid caramelization, keep the heat just high enough to maintain a gentle simmer, not a full boil.
- 3 cups (600 grams) white granulated sugar
- 3 cups (709 ml/ 24 ounces) water
- 3 small oranges or tangelos; 18 - 20 slices
- Add the sugar and water to a 12-inch skillet or a large saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil, stirring from time to time. As the water heats, the sugar will melt into the water. It's important that the sugar be completely melted before adding the orange slices.
- After boiling the water, reduce the heat to medium and add the orange slices. Don't overcrowd the pan; the orange slices should fit in the pan with little overlap.
- Let the orange slices cook at a gentle simmer for about 44 - 60 minutes, until the white part of the peel (the pith) is nearly translucent. Use tongs to turn them over in the syrup every now and then.
- Use tongs to remove the slices from the sugar syrup, laying them out in one layer on a wire rack. Leave the orange slices on the wire rack to dry, uncovered, at room temperature for 24 - 48 hours. When "dry" they will be tacky but also feel set - kind of like gummy candy
- While cooking the orange slices It's important to keep the heat low enough to maintain a gentle simmer NOT a rapid boil. If the sugar syrup gets to hot it will begin to caramelize. If this happens (the syrup will begin to turn golden brown), turn off the heat, and remove the slices from the liquid. Rinse out the pan and start over with new sugar syrup. Once the sugar syrup begins to boil, add the orange slices to finish cooking.
- Optional: after the candied orange slices have been left to dry for 24 hours, dip the slices in additional granulated sugar. This gives the slices a frosted look and makes them less sticky.
- Optional: After allowing the orange slices to dry, I like to sprinkle each one with a tiny pinch of salt. The salt brings out the flavor of the oranges and helps to balance the sweetness of the sugar and the slight bitterness of the peel. Try this with one slice, taste it, and see what you think!
- Store candied orange slices in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Separate layers of slices with parchment paper so they do not stick together. Candied orange slices will keep well for at least 1 month.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 candied orange slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 45Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 0g