Candied Grapefruit Zest

*Read all about the inspiration for this weekly blog series by clicking here!*

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

I have always been inexplicably obsessed with grapefruit.  As a kid, I used to go through gallons of grapefruit juice a month (my lunchbox was never without a container of it).

I even took it upon myself to call one of my favorite teachers in preschool, Mrs. Grapefruit.  Her real name was Mrs. Fruiterman, so it wasn’t totally random.  I just heard the word “fruit” and decided to rename her after my favorite one.

Ok…yeah, it was a little weird.

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

And yes, I’m still obsessed with grapefruit.  I still can’t think of a better accompaniment to a big plate of pancakes doused with maple syrup.

Something about the sweet and sour combo gets me every time.  Try it!  Grapefruit juice > orange juice.

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

Anyway, so when I stumbled across this candied grapefruit zest in a December 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine, I was hooked.  I’ve always been a huge fan of candied zest and fruit, but had never tried candied grapefruit zest before.

Essentially, candied citrus comes down to a few steps: blanching the zest at least three times (which helps remove the oils and bitterness) and slowly simmering it in a syrup solution.  It’s that simple.

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

There are two important things to note about this recipe:

First off, it is very straight-forward.  All you’ll need is three to four grapefruit, several cups of granulated sugar, water, and a few tablespoons of corn syrup (which gives the sugar syrup you’ll simmer the zest in shine and helps prevent crystallization).

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

Secondly, although the recipe is very simple, it is a little bit time-consuming.  Not in a bad way, but it is definitely not a throw-together-in-five-minutes kind of recipe.  It requires a bit of attention.

Depending on how aggressive you are with removing the pith, it can be a bit of an arm workout too.  On that note, I don’t suggest using a vegetable peeler to speed this part up, since you really want the peel to be a bit thicker and more substantial.

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

This candied grapefruit zest is sweet, a little bit sour, and would make such a fun homemade gift over the upcoming holidays!

You could even use it in baked goods (pound cake, cookies, you name it!) or put out a bowl of it for people to snack on.  So many possibilities.  Grapefruit lovers unite!

Candied Grapefruit Zest |

Candied Grapefruit Zest

Yield: 2 Cups

An easy recipe for homemade candied grapefruit zest! These chewy citrusy treats make a great edible gift.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 3 large grapefruits
  • 4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • water
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup


  1. Slice the grapefruit lengthwise into four equal segments. Using a sharp knife and spoon, remove the fruit, so that you are left with the peel only.
  2. Working with one segment at a time and using a regular small spoon (or you can try using a grapefruit spoon), scrape the inside of the peel repeatedly (and aggressively) to remove as much of the white pith as possible, if not all of it. Think of it as your arm workout for the day!
  3. Once you have removed the pith, slice the zest into 1/4″ strips. Don’t worry if you have some pieces that are longer and shorter than others. Repeat until you have done this with all the grapefruit segments.
  4. Place zest in a medium saucepan and cover with four cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove, drain the zest in a fine sieve, and run until cold water. Repeat this entire process two more times.
  5. Set out two jelly roll baking sheets (or two full sheets, depending on what you have) and sprinkle each pan with one cup of sugar. Set aside.
  6. Combine remaining two cups of sugar and one cup water in the saucepan, add the corn syrup. Boil the mixture for 3 minutes or so.
  7. Continue to simmer the syrup, add the zest and stirring frequently, until candy thermometer reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the zest should look fairly translucent and shiny–similar to a gummy bear in appearance.
  8. Transfer the zest to the prepared pans with a fork (trying to drain as much of the syrup as possible) and spread out among the pan. Toss the zest with the sugar to coat it well, separating the strips. Allow to cool completely.
  9. Transfer zest to cooling rack (place a sheet of wax underneath to catch any mess) and allow to dry overnight. Store zest in a covered container, in layers separated by wax paper, for up to a month.


Recipe from December 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 1gSugar: 45gProtein: 0g

A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

Share your Beautiful Plate!

post it on instagram and tag it #abeautifulplate.