Candied Grapefruit Peel — Christmas Brunch

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Growing up, my family’s favorite cookbook was Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (my sister and I would get so excited when we saw my mom pull out that tattered red cookbook!  We knew something delicious was not far away).  Not just any Betty Crocker cookbook though, it was a 1981 edition, which of course is now considered vintage (funny how times change, isn’t it?).  The thing about this cookbook is that it’s designed not only to hold recipes, but to actually teach the average modern day home cook how to cook. 

My Favorite Betty Crocker Cookbook – New and Revised Edition, 1981

It has sections devoted to explaining herbs, describing cuts of meat (including where they come from, what they look like, and what they’re used for), and even sections showing how to make pretty edible flowers out of vegetables.  A real sign of the times when this book was published is the section in it devoted to TV dinners; it not only gives recipes for TV dinners, but also gives information on how long they can be stored, how to reheat, and how to fashion your own foil TV dinner plate. 

A couple of our all-time favorite recipes from this book (that we’ve easily made at least 50 times) are crepes, molasses crinkle cookies, and taco shells, but in reality, the recipes from this book that we didn’t try are few and far between.  As any good cookbook tends to be with age, my mom’s copy of this cookbook was batter-splattered and dog-eared.  A few of the more frequently used pages had fallen out and others had stuck together.  It had definitely seen better days.  Last year I found a like-new copy on eBay and was able to give it to my mom as a gift; she loved it and of course I couldn’t put it down.  Despite my love for Cooking Light cookbooks, this one is still my favorite, holding only not only delicious recipes and a wealth of information, but also a very special place in my heart.

I found the recipe for candied grapefruit peel in this book and thought it would be the perfect favor for Christmas Brunch.  Before eating it, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as taste goes.  It turned out to be more fantastic than I had even imagined; its flavor was bright and refreshing and its chewy texture reminded me of jelly candy.  Mike, who said it reminded him of Arabic nougat, loved it just as much as I did.  We had friends over for dinner and served this candy as dessert and it was literally gone within a matter of minutes.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Don’t forget to enter your Christmas recipes over at All Through the Year CheerBrandy and I can’t wait to see your favorite dishes!

Candied Grapefruit Peel (Adapted slightly from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, New and Revised Edition, 1981

(Yield:  About 9 oz candy)

2 large grapefruits (or you can use 3 oranges)

2 1/2 to 3 c sugar, divided*


Step 1:  Score the peel of each grapefruit into 4 sections and remove the peel in 4 pieces.

Step 2:  Use a spoon to scrape the white membrane off the back of the peel (the peel will appear porous when held up to light after the white membrane is removed). 

Step 3:  Cut the peel lengthwise into strips 1/4-inch thick. 

Step 4:  In a 3-quart pot, bring peel and 8 c water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes; drain.

Step 5:  Repeat Step 4 three times.

Step 6:  In a 3-quart pot over medium heat, bring 2 c sugar and 1 c water to a boil, swirling the pot to help the sugar dissolve.

Step 7:  Add peel to boiling sugar/water; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain.

Step 8:  Roll peel in remaining 1/2 to 1 c sugar and spread on wax paper to dry.

*I know it looks like there’s a lot of sugar in this recipe, but it isn’t all absorbed into the candy (don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying this is a low sugar recipe, lol!).  Two cups of sugar is mixed with water as a simple syrup and used to simmer the grapefruit (this is where the candying takes place), but then the grapefruit is drained and the simple syrup is discarded, no longer needed for this recipe.  If you want, you could probably use the grapefruit-perfumed simple syrup in another recipe instead of wasting it.  (There are many desserts that use simple syrup – baklava and knafeh to name a few – or you could use it to sweeten hot or cold tea.)

Step 1:  Score the grapefruit peel.

Step 2:  Scrape off the white membrane.

After Step 2, you’ll be left with this…

Step 3:  Slice peel into strips.

Step 7:  Boil peel in simple syrup.

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  1. says

    I have done orange peels so I can imagine grape fruit is great too. There is a book like that in my family…I am the 4th generation to buy the current edition: Boston Cooking School Cookbook, the original edition is 1896

    • admin says

      Evelyne, Don’t you just love heirloom cookbooks like that? The thing about this cookbook is, I find I don’t enjoy the current edition nearly as much…there’s something truly spectacular about the older version!

  2. says

    I love this recipe! Would be believe I had no idea you could do this with the peels? What a great way to use up every bit of the fruit! I am most definitely bookmarking this one Faith.

    We have a few old cookbooks as well. I have a children’s cookbook from better homes and gardens that I was given as a child. I loved that cookbook as a kid, so it’s interesting to pull it out again as an adult and remember the recipes.

  3. Lazaro says


    Another wonderful tutorial. Clear well written directions and fantastic photos.

    Would love to give this a try.

    Have a very Happy Holiday

  4. says

    Gosh does this look tasty. I think I could eat a whole bag :) I feel the same way about the better homes and garden cook book. Whenever my Mom pulled that baby out- we knew dinner was going to be FABULOUS.

  5. says

    Hi Faith,

    That is so awesome that you were able to find the book on eBay for your mom. I’ll bet she was really happy to receive such a thoughtful gift.

    I love that this recipe allows you to use up the peels of the grapefruit and not have it go to waste. I’ll bet you could do this with other fruits too such as oranges. Great tips on how to use the rest of the syrup rather than wasting it also. Loving the picture tutorial.

    Hope you and your family have a happy holiday and a very merry Christmas, Faith!

  6. says

    I think I would love that! Sweet tart, and it looks very pretty in the dish to serve! My MIL got me the Betty Book when I got engaged. Maybe a hint at the time, I should learn to cook?

  7. says

    Thanks for the step-by-step. I have never candied anything, but have always wanted to. Grapefruits sounds lovely candied. Have a happy Holiday Faith! :)

  8. says

    This would go great with yogurt I bet!

    I also own a Hershey’s baking book. I have it somwhere…hmm…maybe time to dig it back out?

  9. says

    I love orange peels with chocolate and I am sure the grapefruit peels are just as addictive.
    I have an old Betty Crocker cookbook (a paperback) that I refuse to part with even though it does have some missing pages! Need to check one on e-bay like ou did, great idea.

  10. says

    These grapefruit peel looks wonderful. It will not only be nice to munch on but also work wonderfully in fruit cakes or even cookies. I will have to come back for the recipe when I get some citrus peel. I normally just simply leave the peel on the counter to dry but this looks so much better.

    I can understand how you love your mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook. I was given a copy of Better Homes and gardens Cookbook some years back which I absolutely love. I use it all the time and have repeated many of the recipes there. :)

  11. says

    My Mom has one of those too – it is an older version but just as loved as yours – we still use it too. It’s timeless. I am making candied clementine for Christmas and now I can’t wait! I bet these are really yummy.

  12. says

    Your candied grapefruit peels look so pretty, I wouldn’t mind receiving some of these for a gift. I’ve never tried making this before but now I’m intrigued. I have my grandmother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook and I treasure it. I should check it out for a little inspiration! Thanks for sharing Faith:)

  13. says

    I LOVE candied citrus peel. I have never made it myself — only because I fear that if I did, I would seriously eat the entire batch in a flash. That’s how much I love peel. Such temptation!

  14. says

    Yummy! My mother-in-law made candied orange peels for a Christmas party so that’s the first time I’ve ever had a candied peel. It was so delicious, I was shocked. I bet this is every bit as good!

  15. says

    This is lovely Faith, I wanted to do some candied peel for favors too as this year we’re having Christmas dinner with my Mr & his family and my family…. so this & many of the other little treats will go down so well. Thanks for this.

  16. says

    Oh Faith, the old cookbooks are the best. Mine might be falling apart, but in still have them. The small ones from local churches are chock full of good recipes.

    I’d love to have Chrstimas brunch at your house!

    Merry Christmas!

  17. says

    Some of the old cookbooks are real treasures. I do orange, lemon and lime peel, but have never though to do grapefruit. You’ve inspired me. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  18. says

    I had similar giddy excitement when Mom used to pull out this huge yellow book called the encyclopedia of Canadian Cuisine by Jehane Benoit. She used to pick up recipes from this book and put an Italian twist to everything. I guess the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree ;o)

    I enjoyed your mini tutorial very much and will certainly refer to it if ever this desire for candied grapefruit come up ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  19. says

    I have been dying to get to this post – I saw it a bit ago… I make the orange ones every year (except this one) and have started making the grapefruit ones, too. They are so so so delicious, aren’t they? I am surprised they were in that cookbook! I am sure my mom had the 1965 edition. The picture you painted of your mom’s is exactly like mine…
    Great story. All that work, and then gone it minutes!!!!??? A GREAT compliment, but I serve mine with nuts and cheese after a meal for that very reason… Too precious to be gone that fast. I have to leave my guests wanting! He he!!!! What do you find the shelf life to be on these? I was disappointed as mine were less than a week… do you know how to make them last and remain chewy longer?

  20. Debbie says

    These look wonderful!

    I was especially intrigued by your post because of the pretty candy dish that is serving up those scrumptious looking peels. We have one exactly like it, and I’m awfully curious about it’s origin. It belonged to my grandmother, I think, but that’s all I know. Do you know more? =]

    Thanks for the great tutorial! My grandmother (born in 1900) made these on the citrus ranch they homesteaded in Coachella Valley years ago, but she knew the recipe by heart and didn’t have it to pass on. I’ve always wanted to give it a try. Now I will!

    • says

      Debbie, I’m so happy I could help with the recipe…hopefully the candy will do your grandmother proud. :)

      My ruffled glass dish isn’t marked, but I’m pretty sure it’s a vintage Fenton…sorry I couldn’t be more help!

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