Candied Lemon Slices are thin slices of lemon, cooked in sugar, then dried until they have a beautiful glass-like look! They are perfect as garnish on cakes or desserts! If you love citrus, you might even eat them for snacks!
Originally published March 2021, updated June 2023
When I was recently asked to make a lemon cake and "make it pretty," I knew I wanted to try my hand at candied lemon to use as garnish.
With that in mind, I started looking for a candied lemons recipe and finally settled on how I wanted to make them! As it turns out, when you use lemons this way, you're essentially making lemon candy - what a treat!
When learning how to candy lemons, you'll only need three staple ingredients.
- Lemons - choose lemons that are heavy for their size, bright yellow and fragrant, and not too soft when squeezed. Regular lemons or Meyer lemons will work. Regular lemons will be larger and brighter yellow, but will also be slightly more bitter. Meyer lemons are smaller and darker yellow, but sweeter and less acidic.
- Sugar - any generic granulated sugar works for this recipe, sugar substitutes will not work
- Water - nothing special here
How to Make Candied Lemons
- First, you're going to want to wash and slice the lemons. You could use a mandolin to get uniform slices (I use my mandolin all the time!!), but for these, I just did my best to get them pretty even with a really sharp knife. The thickness can vary slightly but if they're sliced too thin, they'll disintegrate when cooking.
- Gently remove all the seeds. Especially if you know these will be eaten. When I started cooking mine the first time, I realized I missed quite a few.
- In a large shallow saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (med-low).
- Add the cut lemons in a single layer.
- Simmer the lemon slices over medium heat for 20-40 minutes or until translucent. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the lemon slices.
- If the lemons start to curl into little cups, flip them once or twice during the cooking proces to keep them flat.
- When the pulp of the lemons starts to look clear (and the sugar water will start to thicken), it's time to transfer the lemons to a a cookie sheet or cooling rack.
- Dry the lemon candy (see two options below).
How to Dry Candy Lemons (2 Ways!):
- You can bake the lemons at 200°F for one hour to dry, then let the crystalized lemon cool. Then they're ready to use!
- OR you can let them air dry overnight (at least 12 hours). They are a little stickier when air-dryed but that method works too!
I prefer to bake my lemon slices. So when I take them out of the oven and then let them cool - they're ready to use on a cake!
When the lemons are cooled - they're so beautiful! They still may be a little sticky but they're also stiff and glass-like. How beautiful is this caramelized lemon?
- Use a shallow wide pot for best results. You want the lemons spread out into a single layer and not overlapping.
- Don't overcook! Once the lemons are transluscent, go ahead and remove them from the simple syrup to drive. If you continue cooking past this, they will disintegrate.
- This exact recipe will work for any citrus fruits including limes, oranges, and grapefruits.
- If you find that your candied lemons taste too bitter, you can blanch them first to soften the rinds and remove some (if not all) of the bitterness. To do this, bring a pot of water to boil and drop the sliced lemons in. Boil for only one minute, then remove them to an ice bath for 30 seconds to stop the cooking. Dry the lemon slices then proceed wiht the recipe as it's written.
- Dip the candied lemon slices in sanding sugar for extra sweetness, some added crunch and a little sparkle.
- Snacks - you can eat them alone... so tart and chewy, a bit like fruit leather.
- Garnish for Desserts: use them on cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cupcakes and more! I was asked to make a lemon cake for a birthday party but to please "make it pretty!" See the details of that cake here -> https://rosebakes.com/candied-lemon-cake/
- Garnish for Drinks: perfect for lemonade, citrus cocktail drinks, or hot teas.
- At Room Temperature: candied lemon slices can be kept at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Refrigerated: candied lemons will last for 2 to 4 weeks if put in an airtight container in single layers (with parchment paper between) in a refrigerator.
- Frozen: Candied lemon slices can be kept in the freezer in single layers, in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
It can be. This really depends on the type of lemons you use (Meyer lemons are less bitter) and whether or not you blanch them first. See details on this in the Pro Tips section.
Use them for snacks, decorations on desserts, or garnishes on drinks.
Up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 6 months if frozen. See the storage suggestions above.
Candied Lemons are thin slices of lemon, cooked in sugar, then dried until they have a beautiful glass-like look! Dried lemons are dehydrated lemons that are dried in an oven or dehydrator until all moisture is removed and they are rock hard. No sugar is involved when drying lemons.