My orange marmalade recipe is made with ordinary oranges and lemons, and it’s as unfussy as it is delicious. Every sunshiny spoonful makes your morning toast sparkle. If you love candied oranges and fruit preserves, I bet you’ll be making this on a regular basis.
Orange marmalade is a standard fare overseas, but every orange marmalade recipe is different from the next. Some are wildly complicated: peel this, but not too much, scoop out that, strain something else, than add it back in. It’s enough to just buy a jar or orange marmalade at the grocery store and be done with it.
But that’s not what I’m about—I love to learn how to make the best, most uncomplicated version of everything. So I set out to crack the orange marmalade code and get to the heart of what really matters. This recipe is just that: an easy sweet orange jam with bright, citrus flavor and just a touch of bitterness from the peel.
Got an orange tree in the backyard and a passion for orange marmalade? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Orange Marmalade Ingredients:
Oranges, some lemons, and a whole lot of sugar. That’s it. Don’t let the amount of sugar put you off, though. After all, you will only be eating it by the spoonful…hopefully!
Can you use normal oranges to make marmalade?
You absolutely can make the best homemade marmalade with plain seedless oranges. However, if you’re lucky enough to find Seville oranges, grab them! Seville is a type of orange with a short season (January- February). Orange marmalade aficionados love them for their bitter and coarse peel, as well as their intense flavor in the marmalade.
This easy marmalade recipe is on the sweeter side--it uses oranges and lemons to mimic the bitterness of Seville oranges. If you like your marmalade not bitter, this is the recipe to try.
If you have other winter citrus, you can make marmalade with tangerines, kumquats, blood oranges, or grapefruit, too. It’s all delicious.
Does marmalade need pectin?
Pectin, the ingredient that gives jellies and jams spoonable body, is concentrated mainly in the citrus peel - in the white, inner part of the skin called the pith.
Since this recipe uses the whole orange, pith and all, in thin slices, there should be enough natural pectin for the marmalade to set up properly without adding more.
How do you make homemade Orange Marmalade?
This recipe simplifies the often complex process of making marmalade, and still makes delicious orange preserves.
- First, you gather your citrus and give them all a good scrub to remove any wax on the skin.
- Then with a sharp knife, cut the fruit in half, removing any errant seeds, and very thinly slice the halves up, skin, fruit, and all.
- Boil the fruit in water until softened. Turn off the heat and add the sugar, then allow the whole pot to cool out on the counter overnight to soften the fruit even more. (If you wanted to add a cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, or a couple whole star anise to the marmalade, now is the time to do it.)
- The next day, bring the sugar and fruit mixture to a boil and then simmer for another couple hours, stirring occasionally.
- After simmering, turn the heat turned up a bit so the marmalade can reach 220 degrees. This is the crucial temperature for jams and jellies, to ensure that the sugar and pectin gel properly.
If the temperature goes much beyond 220 degrees, the marmalade can burn and you'll be left with a caramelized mess!
Store in super cute little jars like these Weck jars with lids and refrigerate, or put up using a steam canner or water bath method.
The recipe makes about 3 quarts (96 ounces).
- If using 1/2-pint (8 ounce) jars, you'll need 12.
- If using 1 pint (16 ounce) jars, you'll need 6.
- If using the tiny jelly jars (4 ounce), you'll need 24.
How to make Orange Marmalade in a Crock Pot:
I make homemade orange marmalade on the stove, but some folks love to use their crockpot. This is a little tricky if your crockpot doesn't get hot enough! You can always transfer it to the stove to finish if you need to.
- First, prepare your citrus fruit. Add oranges and 8 cups water to the slow cooker. Set on HIGH and cook for 2 hours, covered.
- After 2 hours, add the sugar. Set the crock pot to LOW and cover. Cook for 6 hours, stirring every hour or so.
- Remove the lid of the slow cooker, set to HIGH and cook fruit for at least 2 more hours, until the marmalade has thickened.
Can you make Orange Marmalade low sugar?
You can decrease the amount of sugar you use in marmalade, but at the end of the day the marmalade will still be sweet. The sugar needs to be included primarily to help the marmalade set and to prevent the flavor and texture from changing over time. Making marmalade with less sugar may also shorten its shelf life.
Some cooks make low-sugar marmalade with a pectin specifically formulated for low-sugar preserves. With this product, you can make jam using your favorite sugar substitutes and still get a spreadable product. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Can you make Orange Marmalade with agave nectar?
I tried this out at the request of a commenter below. It wasn't BAD, but I felt like the agave did not penetrate and sweetener the peel as well as sugar did. The consistency was fine. But the rind tasted like rind. I don't recommend this substitution.
How can you tell if Orange Marmalade is ready?
True, it can be tricky to know how runny or thick marmalade should be, especially when it’s still cooking. Once cooked marmalade cools, it will thicken up, I promise. But when can you stop cooking marmalade?
I rely on the cold plate method for determining how far along marmalade is. You can spoon a dollop of hot marmalade on a plate and put it in the freezer to chill, or spoon some over an icy cold plate fresh from the freezer.
If the mixture wrinkles slightly when you draw a spoon or finger across it, it has reached the setting point. Your marmalade is ready to go!
By the way, orange marmalade takes 24-48 hours for the natural pectin to set up completely. If your marmalade is still a little runny looking when it cools, check again in a day or two. I bet it will be fine.
Ways to use Orange Marmalade:
You probably don't need a reason to eat it out of the jar by the spoonful; the best orange marmalade can be pretty addicting. But here are some ways I've been enjoying it, in case you need an idea or two.
- Sweet: Spoon it over vanilla ice cream, scones, or fresh sourdough bread for a burst of juicy orange flavor. How about serving it alongside my Lemon Olive Oil Cake for a citrus lover's dream come true? My grandma's recipe for Homemade Crescent Rolls would be the perfect vehicle for orange marmalade, too.
- Savory: Orange goes so well with meat, especially pork and chicken. Brush a few spoonfuls of orange marmalade over a roasted chicken to make easy Orange Marmalade chicken. Or make a simple orange glaze for grilled Grilled Pork Chops.
Orange Marmalade Recipe
- 4 large seedless oranges scrubbed clean (about 3 pounds)
- 2 lemons (about 1/2 pound)
- 8 cups water
- 8 cups sugar
- First, cut washed oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices. Discard any seeds. Place the sliced fruit along with their juices into a stainless steel pot.
- Add water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Turn heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.
- Skim off any foam that forms on the top. Cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees (you must hit this temperature for the natural pectin to gel with the sugar).
- If you want to be doubly sure the marmalade is ready, place a small amount on a plate and refrigerate it until it's cool but not cold. If it's firm–-neither runny nor hard–- it's ready. It will be a golden orange color. If the marmalade is runny, continue cooking it; if it's hard, just add a bit more water.
- Pour the marmalade into clean hot mason jars; wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel, and seal with the lids. Chill in the refrigerator. It may take 24-48 hours for the natural pectin to set up properly.