Your Complete Guide to Citrus Cooking

Ever wanted to learn how to cook with citrus? Now you can. Here's your complete guide to cooking with citrus fruit and how to make new flavorful dishes!

What makes citrus fruit great for cooking? It's versatile and can liven any dish. These tangy and sweet fruits are perfect for any side dish, main course, or dessert. 

Not sure how you can use this type of fruit in your cuisine? Don't worry. In this guide, we give you everything you need to know about how to use citrus fruit in the kitchen. Put your chef apron on and let's get into citrus cooking! 

The Basics for Citrus Cooking

Before you grab a pair of Meyer lemons or Dancy tangerines, for example, there are a few things you should know about these fruits. 

Citrus fruits have three parts: the zest, pith, and flesh. Each of these parts serves a unique purpose when cooking. Here is a breakdown of these three elements:


Zest refers to the outer layer of the fruit. This part is rich in aroma, citrus oils, and flavor. Citrus zests are essential to many desserts and stews. It's also used as a garnish.


Underneath the zest is the pith. This spongy layer protects the fruit and has a bitter flavor. Typically you would not cook with this part of the fruit.


The flesh is where the juice and flavor of the fruit are stored. This part is mainly used for juicing. 

How to Cook with Citrus Fruit

Now that you know the basics of the fruit parts involved in citrus cooking, let's talk about a few ways you can use citrus fruit in the kitchen.

Use Citrus Juice in Dressings and Marinades

Because of its tangy and sharp flavor, citrus fruit juice is an awesome substitute for vinegar in dressings and marinades. Swapping out vinegar and oil for lemon juice adds a fresh and bright flavor. 

Intensify Flavor with Citrus Zest

As explained earlier, the zest is bursting with flavor. Want to take a plain dish to the next level? Add a few strands of citrus fruit zest, such as lemon, lime, or orange zest. 

For a plain vanilla cake, garnish it with orange or grapefruit zest.

To add a higher flavor profile to your pasta, add lemon zest to the sauce — or grate it over each serving.

Add Citrus Fruit Stews and Soups

Looking for a way to bring out the flavor of a soup or stew? Add citrus. Put a spin on the traditional chicken noodle soup by adding a few splashes of lemon juice. The added vitamin C also increases the dish's nutritional value.

Use It to Liven Up Dairy-Based Dishes — But Be Careful

You can add a few squeezes of lemon juice to bring out the herb flavor in creamy cheese sauce or make a batch of buttermilk. However, don't go overboard with the lemon. 

Adding too much lemon juice to dairy can cause curdling. In milk-based dishes, immediately begin whisking after you add the lemon juice. Doing this reduces the chance of curdling.

Start Citrus Cooking Today

After reading this guide, you're one step closer to becoming an expert citrus cooking chef!


Try our seasonal citrus box while its available...the Craft Citrus Club!

Our Rio box is a 15-lb curated box of our fresh-harvested citrus from South Texas. The fruit is NOT gassed, rather it is tree-ripened. Our season runs from Nov-May for  oranges, grapefruit and mandarins.

Our Grande box is a 30-lb box of either fresh-harvested Rio Red Grapefruit or Sweet Oranges from South Texas.


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