Candied Lemon Slices are surprisingly easy to make, delicious, and make a great gift or even a decoration for cake baking! You can make these any time of year, but I especially like to make them around the holidays (as a foodie gift) or in the spring and summer.
As you might expect, there are only three ingredients you need to make these Candied Lemon Slices.
- Lemons: I find using smaller lemons works better as they tend to have a thinner peel. I also recommend looking for seedless lemons so you don't need to remove the seeds from the slices.
- Granulated sugar: This will be mixed with water to make the simple syrup mixture the lemons will simmer in.
- Water: Of course!
See full recipe below for detailed directions.
The most important part of this recipe is slicing the lemons evenly and to the right thickness.
Wash your lemons thoroughly and slice to a 4-5mm thickness using a mandolin slicer. This can also be done with a sharp knife. Make sure to remove any seeds from the slices.
Bring a large sauté pan or pot of water to boil. Boil the lemon slices for 2 minutes. This removes some of the tartness from the fruit.
Transfer the lemon slices to an ice bath and discard the water that was in the pot.
Combine 6 cups water and 3 cups granulated sugar in the same large pot and bring to a boil. Add the lemon slices and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the lemon slices to a drying rack. Let the slices dry for 12-24 hours, flipping once.
After drying, the slices will still be tacky. You can eat them at this point, but I recommend tossing the slices in granulated sugar to coat.
Hint: The lemon slices will be tacky no matter how long you let them dry. If you choose to let them dry longer, you will notice the slices getting firmer and less bendable.
Tips for cutting the lemon slices
There are a few important steps when you're cutting the lemon slices:
- Make sure to thoroughly wash the lemons. You are not peeling these and you will be eating the lemon peel, so you want to make sure they are clean.
- Use a mandoline to carefully slice the lemons to 4-5mm thickness. If you find that your lemons are too soft to cut (they're just getting smashed in the mandoline), put the whole lemons in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will help the lemons be more firm and hold their shape while slicing.
- Remove any seeds from the lemon slices.
Lemon Simple Syrup
Once you've removed the lemon slices from the sugar water and transferred them to a drying rack, don't throw the liquid away! Let the mixture cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan. Strain it into a jar or airtight container and keep it. You've just made Lemon Simple Syrup, which is great for cocktails, sweetening tea, or using with other baking recipes!
Make sure the syrup has cooled fully, then close the jar or airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Flavored simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. If at any point, the syrup looks cloudy (an indication of mold), it's time to throw it away and start fresh.
There are a few easy variations to make with this recipe:
- Try another citrus - You can use this same recipe with other citrus fruits such as oranges and limes. Keep an eye on the simmering time, as you may find they may need more or less time. The slices are done simmering once the rinds are slightly translucent.
- Skip the sugar coating - Once the lemon slices have dried, they can be finished! You can omit tossing them in the sugar coating. These kinds of candied lemon slices are still delicious and can be great for cake decorating.
- Dip in chocolate - Dip these Candied Lemon Slices in dark chocolate (or chocolate of your choice) for an extra sweet kick!
There are only a few things you'll need to make Candied Lemon Slices. I highly recommend using a mandoline to cut the slices thinly and evenly. This can also be done carefully with a sharp knife. You'll also need a large skillet (I like to use the Caraway Sauté Pan for this) to simmer the slices in the sugar water.
Store Candied Lemon Slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month. If you also keep the Lemon Simple Syrup, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Cutting the slices is the hardest part of this recipe! If the slices are too thin, the fruit will disintegrate while simmering. If the slices are too thick, they will never dry.
Once the slices have simmered, they'll be very delicate. Use a slotted spoon or slotted spatula to carefully transfer them from the pan to the drying rack. They will firm up as they dry.
Yes, this recipe works well with other kinds of citrus like oranges and limes. Keep an eye on the slices while simmering as other fruits may need more time. The slices are finished when the rind is soft and slightly translucent.
Yes! You do not peel the lemon with this recipe, and it is delicious to eat. This is why it's important to thoroughly wash the lemons before you slice them.
No, you can skip that step if you prefer. Once the slices have simmered in the sugar water and dried, they can be finished. They're delicious to eat and also great for cake decorating.
These Candied Lemon Slices are soft even after they've dried and been coated in sugar. They will harden some if you let them sit longer, but they will not be as hard as dehydrated or dried lemon slices.
If the lemons are not cutting well and are too soft, put the whole lemons in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will help the lemons firm and hold their shape better while slicing.
Keep it! This mixture is now Lemon Simple Syrup. Let the liquid cool, then strain it into a jar or airtight container. Lemon Simple Syrup is great for making cocktails, sweetening tea, or using with other baking recipes.
Candied Lemon Slices
- 4 lemons sliced to 4-5mm thickness
- 12 cups water divided
- 3 ½ cups granulated sugar divided
- Thoroughly wash the lemons, then use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice to 4-5mm thickness*, discarding the ends. Remove any seeds.
- Bring a large sauté pan or pot with 6 cups of water to a boil. Boil the lemon slices for 2 minutes, then transfer the slices to an ice bath and discard the boiled water.
- In the same sauté pan or pot, bring 6 cups of water and 3 cups of granulated sugar to a boil. Add the lemon slices, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the slices are evenly coated in the liquid. The rinds should be soft and look slightly translucent.
- Using a slotted spoon or spatula, carefully remove the lemon slices from the liquid and spread evenly on a drying rack. Allow the slices to dry at room temperature for 12-24 hours, flipping occasionally. The lemons will feel sticky, but not wet, when they're ready for the sugar coating.
- If you'd like to keep the liquid (it's now Lemon Simple Syrup, which is great for cocktails), let it cool fully, then strain into a jar or airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
- After the lemon slices have dried, gently toss them in ½ cup granulated sugar to coat. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.