Candied Lemon Peels - new pressure cooker technique!

Making Candied Lemon Peel faster, using the pressure cooker!

Another pressure cooker first that will save you loads of time (10 min pressure cooking vs. 60-90 simmering) and preserve lemon peels to use as home-made candy or to use in your recipes.

The first time I tasted home-made candied lemon peels I was working for the City of San Francisco and a co-worker begged me to bring her the Mayer Lemons from the wine-barrel planted tree I inherited from my mother.  A few days later Monica presented me with a little jar filled with candied lemon peels.

“You can use them in your desserts,” she said  “…or you can just eat them straight.” Huh? Wha? I tasted one.  Then two,  then I really couldn’t stop and I told her I had to have more of this tarty sweet homemade candy.  She explained that it was a lengthy process and, besides, I had to wait until I could give her more lemons.

Fast-forward 15 years when I started experimenting with jams and marmalades in the pressure cooker. I wondered if the candied citrus-peel making process could be accelerated with pressure, too.  It took a bit of experimenting but I finally figured it out.

Candied Lemon Peel - made in just 10 minutes under pressure vs 60-90 minutes of simmering!

I make this recipe with regular lemons and they are pretty amazing – unfortunately, no Mayer Lemon trees anywhere to be found in Italy.  My mother’s little tree is still in San Francisco, in the capable hands of our family friends Sandra and Richard on their Cole Valley deck.

Technique Details

Nothing goes to waste here. We juice the lemons first and I save the juice in the freezer.  You can use ice cube trays (in Italy you can buy ice “cube” baggies) to use for recipes.  If the iced lemon juice lasts me until summer I use them to lemony-up a glass of water. Juicing the lemons first makes the task of removing the pulp much simpler and it leaves the peel completely intact.

This recipe has two phases the first is to soften the peels and take the bitter flavor out of the remaining pith. If you’d rather not have pith it’s pretty easy to scrape off the peels after this first boil. If you’re not one to fuddy-duddy, like me, then don’t worry.  The peels end-up tasting very similar whether the pith is there or not.

The second phase is the actual candy-ing step and it only needs 10 minutes at pressure (vs. 60+ minutes of conventional simmering).  Here, the pressure cooker is brought to pressure with primarily sugar. So don’t be alarmed if the recipe only calls for 1 cup (250 ml) of water the addition of the sugar .  Since sugar is technically a liquid the cooker is actually going to build pressure with 3 cups (750ml) of liquid – this should cover the minimum requirement of all  2-8L pressure cookers.

To ensure the peels are not bitter…

  • Do not leave any pulp on the peels
  • Do not use less water than indicated in either phase
  • Do not re-use the water from the first pressure cook phase in the second phase
  • Follow the instructions and discard the water from the first phase, strain and rinse the peels, and rinse the cooker base
  • Do not replace the water in any step with the freshly-squeezed juice

Don’t be concerned about the peels being soft and pliable during the cooking process – they will firm-up nicely and their final flavor will be set after the last drying step.

If you decide to double or triple the recipe make sure that the lemon peels, sugar and water do not bring your pressure cooker over the 1/2 full line. For your safety, DO NOT release pressure quickly through the valve in this last step.  The liquified sugar is molten, hot and sticky.  Be sure to follow my directions to the letter and use Natural Release as stated in the recipe.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
3 L none 3 & 10 min. High(2) Slow Normal & Natural

4.6 from 11 reviews
Pressure Cooker Candied Lemon Peels
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 80-100 strips
  • Serving size: 2 strips
  • Calories: 6.2
  • TOTAL Fat: 0
  • TOTAL Carbs: 1.7g
  • Sugar Carbs: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 0.1mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 0.1g
  • Protein: 0
  • Cholesterol: 0
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 pound (500g) organic lemons - about 5 lemons
  • 2¼ cups (450g)white granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 cups (1.25l) water, divided
  1. Wash the lemons well, using a scrubby sponge to clean the surface.
  2. Slice the lemon in half lengthwise and juice - reserve the juice for another use as indicated in the introduction.
  3. Slice off the nub (where the lemon was attached to the three) at the tip, and then slice each half in quarters.
  4. Hold the quarters flat on the cutting board peel or slice out the out the pulp. You can use a melon-baller and start removing the pulp at the tip- then when enough to grab comes off you can peel the rest of the pulp off.
  5. Slice the de-pulped lemon quarters into thin strips - about as wide as the lemon peel is thick.
  6. To the pressure cooker add the lemon peel strips and four cups (1l) of water.
  7. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 3 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 3 minutes pressure cooking time.
  8. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure very slowly. If the pressure release speed cannot be regulated by your cooker's valve, simply release pressure in short bursts. If anything other than steam comes out of the valve, stop and count to 10 before releasing the pressure slowly (or in small bursts), again.
  9. Strain the lemon peel strips and rinse them. Then, discard cooking water and rinse out the pressure cooker.
  10. Add 2 cups (400g) sugar, 1 cup (250ml) water, lemon strips on medium heat uncovered stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has melted - about 5 minutes.
  11. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 10 minutes pressure cooking time.
  12. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
  13. Strain peels, saving the delicate syrup if you like for another use, and spread the peels on a cutting board or parchment paper to cool for 15 minutes or more.
  14. Gently toss four to five peels at a time in a small plate of sugar to coat. Shake off the excess and lay them down on a new parchment on a sheet-pan that can fit in your refrigerator.
  15. Put the sheet pan with the sugared-coated candied lemon peels in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 4 hours to dry completely -overnight is even better.
  16. Move the strips to a glass jar for storage in a cool dry place for for 6-8 weeks - or keep refrigerated for up to six months. If you live in a very humid climate, like me, keep them in the refrigerator.
If you plan to use the candied lemon for baking desserts, you can skip the sugar-coating step. Just be aware that they will be very sticky (even after the refrigerator drying) so just roll the peels up in the parchment and put that into a glass jar for storage.

Instant Pot SMART electric Pressure cooker

3 pounds (1.5k) organic lemons
3 pounds (1.5k) organic lemons
Slice lemon in half lengthwise, juice the halves, slice into quarters, peel out the pulp, and slice into strips.
Slice lemon in half lengthwise, juice the halves, slice into quarters, peel out the pulp, and slice into strips.
Lay strips on parchment paper to cool.
Lay strips on parchment paper to cool.
Dip candied lemon peel in sugar and shake off excess.
Dip candied lemon peel in sugar and shake off excess.
Let strips dry further in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least three hours or overnight.
Let strips dry further in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least three hours or overnight.

Candied Lemon Peels - new pressure cooker technique!

Candied Lemon Peels - pressure cooker recipe!

Pressure Cooker Candied Lemon Peels

Similar Posts


  1. What a great recipe; thanks! I’ll bet something similar could be done for candied ginger.

    1. Welcome back lumpynose! Did you ever get a chance to try the pressure cooker conversion of David Lebovitz’s ginger syrup? How was the ginger, afterwards?



  2. Oranges! I can’t wait to try this. Then instead coating them in sugar, use dark chocolate.

    1. The recipes I’ve seen sugar coat AND add chocolate(to keep the peels from sticking together) so keep that in mind! Sounds DELICIOUS!!



  3. I’ve been thinking about candied grapefruit peel for the last 5 days. May give this a try over the weekend but with grapefruit peel. The lemon peel you made looks lovely and tasty.

    1. Well, if you give into the candying temptation, be sure to snap a pic and come back here to post it and share!



  4. Oh no! Six days til Christmas, so much to still take care of – and now all I want to do is make candied citrus peels. (We brought back some amazing ones from Amalfi last April. I still have a few left, and it’s good to know that I just might be able to make my own.)
    P.S. Step 4 needs some editing (also, you probably meant “melon” baller, right?), and on the website, the (new?) font for the hip links is pretty much unreadable, at least on my tablet.
    But small matter! Yay, citrus peels!!

    1. You can do it Annette, it only takes about 1 hour – most of that time is spent waiting for the pressure cooker or peeling the pulp off the peel. ; )

      Yes, I had lemon on the brain so I typed lemon-baller, I have corrected that and the new little sidebar-menu (hopefully it is easier to read now).



  5. What exceptionally clear and detailed instructions and beautifully photographed too. Thank you for all your efforts.

  6. In step 3, you say, “slice each half in quarters” — do you mean “in half again” to make quarters, or do you mean in quarters to make 8 pieces all together? Thanks, gotta go buy lemons now!

    1. Yes, in half again. If in doubt, I included a picture that shows each step of the lemon peel prep.



  7. I use a lemon press to get my juice, would I still be able to do this afterward??? I hope so I have a tree FULL of lemons that I was planning on juicing today!

    1. juliew, If your lemon press does not rip-up the peels, I don’t see a problem with using it to juice the lemons.


      1. I tried it with my pressed Meyer lemons. It turned out great. I had a few rip, but otherwise it was fine. I did reduce my times a little as the Meyers have a thinner rind. I do have to say, that they don’t smell nice during the pressure release on the first round. YUCK, we all thought that they would be horrible, but just yummy! We had them on vanilla bean ice cream!!

        1. That’s great to hear, thanks for sharing that “pressed” peels work as well. I’m glad you waited until the final drying was over to taste the peels, again.



    2. I also use a press. It’s much quicker to score the peel in quarters or 8ths while it’s still on the fruit then pull it off in sections with your fingers. Then cut up the insides and put them in your press. It’s also quicker than trying to scrape out the pulp. The only issue I found was that the juice was less directional coming out of the press and I got a lot of ooze over the top. I just squeezed directly over a bowl so as not to lose any. Hope this helps!

  8. Thank you for this recipe and all the time and effort you put into doing it.
    I thought this could be done and you showed me how.
    I make candied, lemon and orange peel with chocolate every christmas.
    You sure saved me a lot of time.
    No more hours of boil and cool over and over.
    I will have to try the refrigerator drying. I have always dried just setting the peels in my oven for a couple of days. The whole process would take me several days.
    Can’t wait to make this recipe.

    1. I made this recipe and followed it just as the instructions stated.
      My lovely orange peel turned out very soft to being mushy mouth feel. The peel retained a bitter taste that I didn’t like. I had to toss them. They were just too mushy and soft. The syrup was thin but satisfactory to coat and hold the sugar.
      I like my candied peels to have a bite and bit of chew to them. I also like to do a coat of chocolate on the peels. They could not be coated because of the softness.
      This recipe just did not work for me. I think the cooking times are to long and the peels require more soaks to remove the bitterness.
      Do you have any suggestions?

      1. I’m glad I’m not the only one. The very same thing happened to me. Perhaps a shorter time in the cooker?

      2. The left-over syrup, after pressure cooking, is not supposed to be used for the candying process. It should be reserved for another use or discarded. The peels should cool and just what is left on them – the tacky outer coating – is used to add the sugar.

        Once the peels are refrigerated and dried completely they firm-up and the bitter flavor is further reduced.

        I’m sorry you thew away all of that work, but from what you wrote it does not sound like you followed the directions.



  9. Could this be done with Splenda (sucralose) instead of sugar, or does it require real sugar to work properly? I have several diabetic friends/family members. Thanks!

    1. highland, this technique translates traditional candied citrus peel recipe to the pressure cooker. So, if you find a recipe that uses these alternative sugars without pressure, I’ll gladly take a look and give you any pointers about which steps would be best done in the pressure cooker.



      1. I finally tried making these, nearly 4 yrs later, with Splenda (1 to 1 ratio) instead of sugar. They turned out great. I used a dehydrator too. I’ve heard it works with some other sugar substitutes as well, though I haven’t tried them yet myself. Thanks, again, for figuring out how to do these with the IP (my favorite kitchen appliance)!

  10. Is it possible to replace some or all of the water with alcohol in the sugar syrup stage of pressure cooking? Will this effect the way the pressure cooking works? I have an electric pressure cooker. Thanks!

    1. NEVER PRESSURE COOK WITH LIQUOR – the cooker will pressurize with vaporized alcohol which can ignite. Add the liquor after pressure cooking.



      1. Thanks so much for your timely reply! I plan on making these today WITHOUT the alcohol. Happy Holidays!

      2. When you say NEVER PRESSURE COOK WITH LIQUOR do you mean as your liquid (which seems obvious) or as an ingredient? I’m asking because I am looking forward to trying this approach to candying citrus peel for my new year’s fruitcakes. I also thought I might get better results pressure cooking the cakes ( an am eager to try that but there would be the equivalent of half a cup of orange liqueur in each cake. Do you see that as a potential problem? Others I’ve spoken to think not but I’m interested in your opinion or any options you might suggest. Many thanks!

        1. Well, there is no “set” amount of liquor that is OK or not OK. No pressure cooker manufacturer has ever measured it or warned against it. Myself and the folks at Chef Steps managed to have our pressure cookers shooting flames when we experimented with this independently and/or accidentally. The science on the evaporation point of ethanol is solid.

          I’ve only ever made recipes with a tablespoon or two of liquor so I know that’s OK. The amount of alcohol in a cup of wine or beer does not have the same dangerous implications (the percentage of ethanol is much lower, obviously).

          I don’t have the safety equipment or laboratory space to test what the actual threshold of liquor is actually safe to pressure cook. So I cannot give you a solid answer.

          Consider replacing the liquor with another liquid, and then pouring liquor on the bread pudding after pressure cooking.



          1. I just read over your instructions for doing puddings in the PC and I wonder if the pre-steaming without pressure might evaporate enough of the liquor that the subsequent pressure cooking might be ok. I think I’m going to give it a go…and watch very carefully :-)

      3. I have seen a number of pressure cooker recipes (for stove-top and electric) using wine, beer, and brandy. Have also seen chefs demo these on TV. No explosions ever, even though they used up to a cup of wine. Beef Burgundy, anyone? Wolfgang Puck includes this recipe in his manuals, as do others. I can see a possible problem if using on stove-top and having too high heat so the liquor spits out of vent and hits burner/flame.

        1. If you had read my entire comment, you would have seen that I have already addressed the issue of pressure cooking with a cup of wine. Without more research and data on this from reputable sources (and TV Chefs are a not reputable source), my recommendation stands to avoid using liquor in the pressure cooker.



        2. oops, please ignore my comment; misread your explanation and difference between liquor and wine.

  11. Hi everyone, I wanted to let you know that I added the following information to the technique details of the recipe. None of these are things that are called for in the recipe but I know that some cooks like to improvise and sometimes not follow directions exactly so I want to make sure that none of these things happen…

    “To ensure the peels are not bitter…

    • Do not leave any pulp on the peels
    • Do not use less water than indicated in either phase
    • Do not re-use the water from the first pressure cook phase in the second phase
    • Do not replace the water in any step with the freshly-squeezed juice

    I also emphasized:
    “their final flavor will be set after the last drying step”



  12. HI. I did follow all the directions and I remove mine from the syrup. I tried to dry them in the refridgerator, however, they just become stickier and weepy-ier. I did a little research and it turns out that the refrigerator is actually a moist environment becaus of miimal air circulation. I ended up taking them out of the fridge, and left them out on the counter on parchment overnight. They eventually dried. They needed to be re-rolled in sugar, but all’s well. Thanks again for all your great recipes and tips. Your website is the reason I bought a pressure cooker!

  13. Hi Laura, first of all, Merry Christmas!

    Secondly, I am about to take the plunge with this recipe, but I have a question: would you candy together oranges and lemons, or should I make two separate batches? I worry that if I prepare them together the flavours will mingle…

    1. I would do lemon and orange peels separately – my candied lemon and orange peels taste quite different from each other. However mixing them could bring an interesting flavor to the the mix – but all the peels in that batch would taste the same..



  14. many thanks Laura – well, I’ve gone for the lemon ones, and they look absolutely terrific, lovely translucent and also pretty dried (I am going to use then for sweet doughs, so no sugar coating for me). They came out slightly bitter than I hoped, but this is probably my lemons’ fault :-)

    The only modification I have done is to use 40g of dextrose and 360 of sugar, rather than all sugar.

    Thanks again for this terrific recipe, never going to candy peels without PC ever again!

  15. Laura, you’ve turned me into a candied peel addict… just put to dry the latest batch of orange peel :-) effortless and delicious, thank you!

  16. So, finally, I did it! The batch is sugar-coated (who knew that two medium-sized oranges would result in a baking sheet full of peels?!) and sitting on the table to dry (not humid here – it’s winter. Also, there is absolutely no room in the fridge for a sheet pan. If the room-temperature drying process should fail me, I’ll pop them into a real low oven).
    One big change I made: I didn’t pressure cook the peels in the first step (I took some of the comments re mushyness to heart); instead, I put the peels into 500 ml of boiling water and boiled for about a minute; then drained them, got fresh water and repeated. No mushyness and not bitter, either!
    Btw, sugar-coating the peels is much easier if you put some sugar into a decent-sized glass jar, add some peels and shake. Fish out with tongs and repeat. (This came to me after I had dipped about two thirds of the peels in a bowl, and I was getting TIRED of the process.)
    Is there any reason why I couldn’t use the sirup for the next batch? I’m storing it in the fridge – will report back!

  17. I can’t believe that I got this beautiful, amazing batch of candied peels – one of my life’s weaknesses – in such a short time! Thank you!

    And the bonus? I added about 1/3 cup grappa to the leftover syrup and had an instant (and extremely delicious) lemon liqueur! You could use any flavorless alcohol here, and what a wonderful thing to have in the pantry or bar, for zero effort.

    Grazie mille!

  18. For the drying of the peels could they be put in a dehydrator?

    1. If you have a dehydrator, use it!



  19. Why not?!

  20. Thank you Laura and Annette :)

  21. Why didn’t I see this *before* I candied the clementine peels last week-end? Now I know for next time. Thank-you!

  22. I made candied orange peels (for the first time ever!) using the navel oranges from my tree (after juicing them) and it was so easy. Then I used the leftover liquid to make some orange syrup which was delicious on buttermilk waffles. :) (I can’t wait to try orange marmalade with the next batch of oranges.)

    Thanks, Laura!

  23. Hi Laura.
    Thanks for the recepie looks so good. Never tried making this..but thinking …could you use lime peels? Im asking because Im making a key lime pie in the IP sunday for guests monday and want to top it with whipped cream, and some lime peels done the way you do with the orange peels in the recepie. Can it be done, you think?

    1. Pernille, Lime peels are so much thinner than lemon – try doing the second step for just 2 minutes and follow through with the natural release. Also, don’t slice in too-thin strips.

      Have fun and keep us posted on how it turns out!



  24. Hi Laura, Can you do a similar process to candy ginger root?

  25. Just made these. So easy to follow instructions and came out perfect. Being born into and Italian famiglia I absoluetely LOVE limone! These are perfectly agrodolce! Thanks Laura and Ciao from Australia!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.