Sugar-Free Candied Orange Peel

Indulge in the sweet and zesty flavor of candied orange peel with this easy keto and sugar-free recipe! Made with natural sweeteners, it’s a wonderful treat to satisfy a sweet tooth on keto!

This sugar-free candied orange peel is an elegant ingredient that’s perfect to elevate your low-carb baking, a great substitute for dried fruit and essential in holiday recipes like this keto Easter bread.

Grabbing a soft candied orange peel from a glass, fresh oranges in the background.

Carbs in orange peel – is orange peel keto?

Orange peels are made mostly of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that passes straight through your system without being digested, so its carbs are not absorbed. Which means they are keto approved!

Whole oranges, in the other hand, are unfortunately high in carbs in the form of sugar and eating one is enough to kick most people out of ketosis.

Bundles of sugar-free candied orange peels, dipped in chocolate ad in granulated sweetener, tied up with strings on a plate.

Ingredients

You’ll need only 4 ingredients for the LikeHotKeto sugar-free candied orange peel recipe (or 2, depending if you count water or salt as ingredients or not):

  1. Orange peels
  2. Natural sugar-free sweetener
  3. Water
  4. And a pinch of salt!

And now I’ll share with you how to choose the best sweetener and ideal oranges for making keto candied peel!

The best sweetener for candied orange peel

Allulose by itself, or in a mix with erythritol (50/50) is the best to make these keto candied orange peels soft and with a delicious chewy texture that feels just like eating gummy worms!

If you can’t get allulose, xylitol is another low-carb sweetener with “softening” attributes similar to allulose, so you can use that instead. Xylitol is dangerous to pets, though, so exercise care.

Keto candied orange peels dipped in dark chocolate in a small glass.

Erythritol can be used by itself, but the resulting candied peel has a completely different texture and appearance. The surface will be opaque instead of shiny. The peels will be a little crunchy, and very dry.

The dryness of keto orange peels candied in pure erythritol will make impossible to coat them in granulated sweetener, because the sweetener crystals won’t stick.

For use in baking, it’s not a problem to use erythritol for candying the orange peels. They will absorb the moisture from the dough/batter around them and soften up.

Choose organic oranges

For this keto candied orange recipe you’ll be using just the peel of the oranges, the exact part of the fruit that is directly sprayed with pesticides to protect them from insects and diseases.

In order to reduce exposure to pesticides, I recommended choosing organic oranges. Organic farming practices prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, so organic oranges are generally lower in pesticide residues compared to conventionally grown oranges.

A glass filled with sugar-free candied orange peels rolled in granulated sweetener.

If using regular oranges, you can still try to reduce exposure to pesticides by washing the fruit thoroughly with water and scrubbing it (I use a coconut tawashi).

In fact, it’s good practice to wash the oranges very well, no matter where they come from. I have an orange tree in my backyard (it doesn’t get more organic than that!) and I still wash and scrub them thoroughly. Bird poo is organic, but I don’t want to eat it 😅

How to remove the bitter from orange peels

You’ve probably heard that the bitter of the orange peel comes from the pith, but that’s a myth. Grapefruit usually has a bitter pith, but oranges’ pith is nearly tasteless.

And I add to that: even among the same kind (be it 2 oranges or 2 lemons), some citrus fruit have a bitterer peel and pith than others. I stand with Seinfeld, fruit is a gamble.

So, removing the pith, as it is sometimes advised to make candied orange peels less bitter, doesn’t help at all. Don’t do it.

Especially because the deliciously chewy, gummy worm texture that you get after boiling them in the sugar-free syrup all comes from the pith. Removing the pith will leave you with a sad and limp, paper thin candied peel!

Picture the bundle of sweet joy below – 95% of these French fry thick, deliciously sweet and soft keto candied peel is pith:

A bundle of thick and soft candied orange peels crusted with granulated sweetener, prettily tied up with string.

There’s a better way to avoid bitter candied peels without removing the pith. Try blanching them. You just need to boil the peels for a few minutes, and any bitter compounds present on them will transfer to the water. Discard the water, rinse the peels, and voilà: the peels are ready to be candied!

If the peels are specially bitter, you might have to repeat the process. But remember that you don’t have to completely remove the bitterness, because when the sweetener is added it will do a terrific job at covering it up.

How to make

Rinse the oranges under cold water and scrub them well to remove any dirt or debris, and also reduce pesticide residues if they’re not organic.

Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the oranges into quarters vertically, crossing through the top and the bottom of the orange.

Removing the peels from the orange.

Slide your thumb under the peel and gently separate it from the orange.

Sometimes the pith has a too rough or irregular texture. You can slice off the excess using a paring knife.

Hold the orange peel firmly against the cutting board and bring the blade across the pith surface. You’ll only need to remove enough to make it smooth/level.

Cutting the orange peels into slices and removing the excess pith.

You can choose to cut the peels however you like: they can be long or small strips, thick or thin, or even cubes.

To make the large and long orange peel strips that you see in these pictures, slice each quarter peel in half, then each half into 4 strips. Each strip should be about 1/4 of a inch wide.

If you’d like the strips to be of uniform length cut off the tips (a small triangle) of the quarter peels before slicing the strips.

Blanching the peels

This is an optional step, only needed if the peel of your oranges is bitter. Test by tasting a peel: a little bitterness is expected, and it will go away as the peel is boiled in the sugar-free syrup.

But, if the peels are really too bitter, you can reduce the bitterness first by blanching them. Just boil the peels in a pan with water for 10-15 minutes.

Discard the water and rinse the peels. After the peels cool down, taste another one to check and repeat the process if needed.

Simmer orange peels in sugar-free syrup

Mix sugar-free sweetener and water and heat over medium heat, stirring until the sweetener is dissolved.

Orange peels in pan with sweetener syrup before and after simmering, and spreading them on a parchment paper to dry.

Add the orange peels to the sweetener syrup and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until almost all of the syrup is evaporated (it takes about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the saucepan).

Do not let the syrup dry out completely or the peels will stick to the bottom of the pan!

Remove the orange peels from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Arrange the peels on a wire rack or piece of parchment paper, leaving some space between them. Let the orange peels dry for several hours or overnight.

If using the peels for baking, they are perfect as is. Store them in an airtight container after they are not sticky anymore. To eat them as snacks, you can roll them in granulated sweetener or have them dipped in chocolate:

Coating candied peels in crystal sweetener

If you used allulose for this recipe, as it’s recommended to get soft, gummy like candied orange peels, you might need to use another keto sweetener (like erythritol or xylitol) to roll them in. That’s because allulose isn’t usually sold in granulated form (as in big crystals).

Before rolling the peels in sweetener, wait a few hours until they are not wet or drippy anymore. Put a few tablespoons of granulated sweetener on a shallow bowl and dredge the candied orange peels to coat, a few at a time, until they are evenly crusted with the crystals.

Candied peels being dredged on crystal sweetener inside a small bowl.

Dipping candied peels in chocolate

Place about 2 ounces of chopped sugar-free baking chocolate or chocolate chips in a shallow bowl that’s wide enough to dip the orange peels in.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in the lowest setting or the thawing setting, or using a double boiler method – just place the bowl over a container with hot water and stir until the chocolate is melted.

Be careful using the second method, you don’t want any drops of water falling into the chocolate!

Dip the orange peels in the melted chocolate, and use a small spoon to scrape off the excess as needed.

Transfer the chocolate coated orange peels to a parchment paper lined pan until the chocolate sets before storing. If the weather is warm, you might want to put the peels in the fridge so that the chocolate will harden quicker.

Keto candied orange peels freshly dipped in melted chocolate spread on a parchment paper to set.

What to do with candied orange peels

These sugar-free candied orange peels are so irresistible that they don’t last enough to see many uses in my kitchen when I make them… we just can’t stop eating until they are all gone!

But besides being a wonderful low-carb sweet treat, they are great to have on hand as they are so versatile. Here’s some ideas of what to do with candied orange peels:

  • Add the chopped orange peels to keto sweet bread, muffins, cake batter and cookie dough
  • Use as topping for chia pudding and Greek yogurt
  • Serve alongside a cup of coffee or tea (a low calorie and healthier alternative to a cookie)
  • Use as a garnish in desserts, cocktails and drinks like mulled wine
  • Put into little baggies or glass jars to give away as homemade gifts (great for the holidays!)
Bundles of keto candied orange peels, dipped in chocolate and in granulated sweetener, tied up with strings on a plate.

Storage and freezing

Keep the low-carb candied orange peels refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Because these are sugar-free, they unfortunately don’t keep fresh for as long as regular candied citrus peels made with sugar (which acts as a preservative).

You can also freeze the keto candied orange peels for up to 3 months. After thawing the texture changes a little, and they might crystallize, but they are still very good. These textural changes will go unnoticed if adding them to baking recipes.


A glass filled with sugar-free candied orange peels rolled in granulated sweetener.

Sugar-Free Candied Orange Peel

Yield: ~2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This sugar-free & keto candied orange peel recipe makes deliciously soft and sweet candied peels, perfect for snacking, baking or gifting! An easy recipe to enjoy the classic candied citrus taste without the added sugar!

Ingredients

Candied orange peel

Optional toppings:

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sweetener
  • 2 oz sugar-free baking chocolate or chocolate chips

Instructions

    1. Rinse and scrub the oranges under cold water. Using a sharp knife, score the skin into quarters and gently peel each quarter off. If needed, shave off excess irregular or rough looking pith using a small sharp knife.
    2. Cut the orange peel into 1/4 inch wide strips or small cubes, whichever you prefer.
    3. (Optional step: blanch to reduce bitterness) Taste a peel to check for bitterness. If it's too bitter, boil the peels in a pan with water for 10-15 minutes. Discard the water and rinse the peels. You can repeat the process if the peels are still too bitter.
    4. Combine the sugar-free sweetener, salt and water in a saucepan and heat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sweetener is dissolved.
    5. Add the orange peels to the sweetener syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until all the syrup is nearly evaporated. Do not let the pan go completely dry (or the peels will stick to the bottom!)
    6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the orange peels cool for about 10 minutes.
    7. Remove the orange peels from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the peels so that they are spaced - not touching one another. Let the orange peels dry for several hours or overnight.
    8. Then, you may store the orange peels in an airtight container as they are, which is perfect to use for baking or adding to recipes. For eating them as snacks or gifting, you might want to add a topping:
    9. For orange peels rolled in granulated sweetener: Place about 3 tablespoons of granulated sweetener (like erythritol) on a small plate or shallow bowl, and roll the orange peels on it, a few at a time, until they are evenly coated.
    10. For orange peels dipped in chocolate: Melt 2 oz. of sugar-free baking chocolate (finely chopped) or keto chocolate chips in a shallow bowl. Use the microwave in the lowest setting/thawing setting or a double boiler. Dip the orange peels in the melted chocolate, and use a small spoon to scrape off the excess as needed. Transfer the chocolate coated peels to a parchment paper lined pan until the chocolate sets before storing.

Notes

* You can use any citrus peel for this recipe: Try lemons, limes, grapefruit, mandarins or tangerines, or pomelo.

** Use only allulose, or equal parts allulose and erythritol for the syrup for soft and sticky orange peels. You can use erythritol only, but the peels will set hard and dry, and granulated sweetener won't stick to them. They'll still be tasty and good to use in baking.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon or 4 peels
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 10Trans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgNet Carbohydrates: 0.9gFiber: 0.6gProtein: 0.1g

Nutrition information is provided as a guideline only. Different brands of ingredients may have different nutrition facts. If tracking macros, remake the calculations using the nutrition facts from the labels of the ingredients you selected. Net carbs calculated exclude carbs from insoluble fiber and sugar alcohols.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m sorry Joanne, I must have missed that! Add the salt together with the sweetener and water in the saucepan for boiling the orange peels. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, I’ll amend the recipe steps.

  2. When/ how does the 1/8 teaspoon salt get used? I don’t see any reference to it in the method or the long description but it’s in the ingredients list.

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