Lemon Confit

This lemon confit is nothing more than thin slices of lemon that are slowly cooked in a sugar and vanilla syrup, yet its ability to elevate all manner of desserts and beverages is anything but understated.

Slices of lemon confit on a white oval platter.

Lemon confit–or really citrus confit–is for when you want to add a bit of citrus glitz to cakes and bakes. It’s sweet and soft, but not so candied as to be chewy. The citrus is soaked in cold water as a pre-soften for the white pith, so it turns beautifully translucent when cooked.–Natalie Paull


These pretty slices of citrus have so many possible uses. Try one of the below or let us know what you did in a comment below

Lemon Confit

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 10 H
  • Serves 12
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Using a mandoline or a very sharp serrated knife, slice the citrus super thinly—about 1/32 inch (1 mm) thick. Ideally the slices should be an intact cross section of even thinness. Place the slices in a container, pour in enough water to cover, and add a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).

In a flameproof casserole dish or oven-safe saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 1/4 cups water, the sugar, and vanilla bean, if using. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it bubble away for 5 minutes. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit just inside the pan.

Drain the water from the lemons. Place the lemon slices, 1 at a time, in the sugar syrup and press the parchment paper on top. Cover with the lid and then transfer to the oven until the white pith between the rind and flesh starts to turn translucent, 40 to 60 minutes.

Tester tip: If some of your citrus slices start to turn golden and caramelize, they can be removed, kept separately, and chopped up and used in place of citrus peel.

Cool the lemon slices in the syrup and use immediately or cover and stash them in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Tester tip: Don’t toss that slightly sweetened citrus syrup! Any extra syrup can be salvaged and stirred into cocktails, iced tea or seltzer, buttercream, yogurt, or whipped cream.
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    Spice It Up

    • Tux variation

      Get a little extra spice mingling in there. Try star anise and tangelo, which are exquisite together. Or orange with a cinnamon stick or a few cardamom pods.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This is a nice alternative to the candied citrus recipes I use on desserts. It's easy to prepare and the result is still citrusy but mild and not nearly as sweet as candied citrus. I like it!

    The only tricky part is slicing the citrus. I chose to use Meyer lemons for my confit, and I sliced them with a mandoline with four pre-set thickness choices. The recipe suggests a thickness of about 1mm, so I used the 1.3mm setting. I found it very difficult to get the slices as described in the recipe. Very few came out intact, but I found the result quite satisfactory for a rustic look on the cheesecake I topped with my confit.

    I used a 1 quart saucepan, which was more than roomy enough for the liquid and fruit. I used normal sugar and observed no problems and no graininess in the end result.

    This flexible recipe could have infinite applications. Whatever citrus you have on hand (right now I have limes, pomelos, lemons, grapefruit, and oranges—hard to just run this recipe once!).

    This recipe was incredibly easy, even without a mandoline, and I'll be making it a regular part of my repertoire in the spring for lemon poppy tea cakes, shortcakes, and poundcakes; in the summer for limeades, lemonades, and cocktails; in the winter for orange clove tea cake. While the citrus confit can stand alone, the leftover liquid (including from the first pour off, to which I added ice and cucumber for a refreshing wake-me-up morning flavored water) and syrup are invaluable extras. At the very least, this recipe gives you two for one, and if you ensure that your seal atop the citrus in the oven is super tight, your leftover syrup yield will be generous enough to experiment with in cocktails, as an extra glaze on a layer cake, and, as suggested by the recipe, in a luscious whipped cream to go with pound cake. It would also be excellent in lemonade.

    Whatever spices you want to add, this base recipe reads more like keeper technique than gospel. Next time, I'm trying an grapefruit and cardamom or orange and clove situation. As soon as I completed the recipe using fresh lemons, I ate some directly from the pot (and had to force myself to stop), stirred a couple into my apricot tea, and considered what baking project should be on deck (classic lemon pound cake was the winner!) to gild the lily, so to speak.


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