How To: 5 Fantastic Ways to Cook with Leftover Lemon Peels

5 Fantastic Ways to Cook with Leftover Lemon Peels

Lemon peels have long been known for their ability to be home remedies for cleaning and medicinal needs. In the kitchen, they are equally as useful and can transform many common dishes and drinks into more memorable ones with just a hint of citrus. To give you some ideas, below are five ways that lemon peels can spruce up your recipes.

1. Mix Them into Your Tea

Dry out the lemon peels by scraping off the bitter pith (the soft white part of the peel) and lay them out in a single layer on a drying rack or plate for a few days. (For a faster drying technique, toasting them in the oven at 200°F will yield the same results if you are in a time crunch.)

Once the lemon peels are dry, store them in an airtight container until you are ready to add them to your favorite black tea.

2. Make Them into Candy

For an indulgent treat that has just the perfect balance of sweet and tart, candied lemon peels are the answer. They are ideal for putting on top of frosted cakes, garnishing parfaits, or just on their own.


  • 5-6 organic lemons (about 1½ pounds)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • superfine sugar (optional)


  1. Peel the lemons into long, skinny strips with a vegetable peeler or handheld slicer.
  2. Fill a medium-sized pot ¾ full with water.
  3. Add a ½ tsp. of salt into the pot, then the lemon peels.
  4. Bring to a boil, then let them simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Drain.
  6. Repeat the process using the other ½ tsp. of salt. This will allow the lemon peels to soften and will take away any remaining bitterness that comes from the white pith.
  7. Drain the peels once more and set aside.
  8. Add 2 cups of regular sugar to the pot, then the ½ cup of cold water, and bring to a simmer, stirring it until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  9. Add the lemon peels and simmer on low heat for around 45-60 minutes.
  10. Keep close watch near the end to ensure that the sugar doesn't caramelize.
  11. Prepare a piece of wax paper sprayed with cooking spray.
  12. Quickly remove the peels with a fork and place them on the wax paper to cool.

Please note: If you want to make the peels into candy, make sure to roll them in superfine sugar while they are still wet. When they are cooled off and dried, placing them in a sealed container in the refrigerator will allow them to last longer.

Image via Image by Tory Avey

3. Add Them to a Meat Dish

Place a few lemon peels in the braising liquid of a meat entrée or in the cavity of a whole chicken before you roast it in the oven. The slight citrus flavor will elevate a tired old meat recipe, whether it is poultry or beef.

4. Use Them to Season Roasted Vegetables

Dried lemon peels spice up an otherwise ordinary vegetable side dish. Cut up large pieces or use ground-up peels to add to the mix before roasting the veggies. Root vegetables that become sweeter when roasted, such as beets, are complemented well by this tart addition.

5. Spice Up Your Grains

Add a hint of lemon to your grains, simply by adding the peels with the grains while they are boiling. (For more suggestions on how to tweak your grains for more flavor, check out this article.)

Once you start using lemon peels in your recipes, it will hard to resist their zesty flavor in everything from main dishes to desserts... or finding other creative ways to prepare them, such as preserving them. Spicing up your regular weekday recipes has never been easier!

More Citrus Hacks:

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Photos by Julia Kitlinski-Hong/Food Hacks (unless otherwise noted)

1 Comment

Thank you for the ways to use leftover lemon peels.

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