23 Sunny Citrus Recipes: Salads, Entrées, Ice Creams, and More
Spring is almost in reach, but based on the selection at my local farmers market, winter isn’t giving up just yet. When I need a taste of warmer days, I immediately turn to citrus. Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are mercifully in peak season just when we could all use a little extra brightness in our days. Brush up on all the varieties with our handy field guide to citrus, and then dig into these 23 recipes—we’ve got everything you need, from pomelo salad and orange-braised short ribs to lemon scones and lime pie.
This vibrant, colorful salad features blood oranges, minneolas, naval oranges, and white grapefruit, but you can feel free to substitute whatever looks best at the market. Beyond the fruit, all you need is a simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and honey, along with fresh mint and feta cheese for garnish.
This simple salad of thinly sliced fennel and radicchio is dressed with a citrusy vinaigrette that uses acidic tangerine and lemon juice in place of vinegar. Grated zest amplifies the tangerine flavor and a pinch of ground fennel seed complements the sliced fennel bulb.
When you cut citrus into suprèmes, they lose a lot of liquid. Rather than let it go to waste, catch that flavorful juice in a bowl to make a dressing with mayo, lemon juice, honey, and olive oil. We like to use the creamy vinaigrette to dress a salad made with endive, radicchio, escarole, fennel, and the jewel-like wedges of tart-sweet fruit.
The combination of sweet, earthy beets and bright citrus is a total classic. One of our favorite ways to marry the two ingredients is to roast the beets until tender, toss in a pistachio vinaigrette with grapefruit and orange, and serve it all on top of creamy ricotta. Finish with more pistachios—the crunchy nuts give the salad some textural contrast.
There’s a lot to love in this salad—chewy toasted bulgar, meaty smoked trout, and assertive sliced radishes, red onion, and green apple—but the real star is candied lemon. Using a technique borrowed from chef Yotam Ottolenghi, we soak lemon suprèmes in simple syrup, which mellows their harsh bite without dulling their flavor. As an added bonus, you wind up with lemon syrup perfect for making cocktails.
This light-yet-filling Vietnamese salad is packed with all sorts of textures—tender rice noodles, juicy citrus, crispy fresh veggies, and crunchy fried tofu skin. The spicy vinaigrette would traditionally be made with fish sauce, but to keep the recipe vegan while still giving the dressing a savory backbone, we add a dash of Maggi-brand liquid aminos.
Pomelos—dry, meaty, slightly bitter citrus fruit—are a staple salad ingredient in Thailand. Here in the US you might not be able to find them, so feel free to substitute nonsweet grapefruit in this salad made with blanched green beans, raw zucchini and shallots, and fresh mint.
This soup is traditionally made with another type of citrus you probably won’t find in your local market: Yucatán sour lime. While the fruit looks like a normal lime, it has a sweeter, more floral aroma and a slightly bitter aftertaste that is best imitated with a mix of lime and grapefruit juice. Along with the citrus, we flavor the soup with a sofrito made from charred garlic and tomatoes.
Orange juice gives this warming sweet potato soup a subtle citrus edge. We highlight that flavor by garnishing the soup with a gremolata made with orange zest, pistachios, scallions, mint, and olive oil. Roasting the spuds takes about 90 minutes—a low, slow cook is necessary to bring out their sweetness, so don’t be tempted to cheat and crank up the oven.
Loukaniko can refer to all sorts of Greek pork sausages, but order one at random and chances are good that you’ll get a sausage flavored with plenty of aromatic orange zest. Our recipe pairs the zest with oregano, thyme, garlic, coriander, and sautéed leeks. Once the sausages are stuffed, we cure them overnight in the fridge, smoke them for a couple hours, and grill until crispy and charred.
We use orange two ways in these Chinese-style short ribs. First, we add the juice and zest to the braise, along with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and five-spice powder. Then, we finish it off with more zest to brighten up the slow-cooked dish. If you’re only cooking for a couple people, you’re going to have leftovers—shred the meat the next day to make killer tacos.
The combination of roasted potatoes and halloumi cheese runs the risk of being far too rich. But in this dish, where thinly sliced potatoes are shingled in a cast iron pan and broiled before the halloumi is added for another round of browning, lemon plays a central role. The lemon juice’s acidity cuts through the rich cheese and balances the salty potatoes. The dish may look extremely decadent, but it ends up surprisingly balanced.
In Greece, a mixture of eggs and lemon, called avgolemono, is used to thicken soups and sauces while adding a layer of brightness and tang. For American diners, the avgolemono is likely synonymous with this wonderful chicken soup, which is both creamy and tart. The soup only requires a handful of ingredients—mostly pantry staples—and adding some of the lemon juice as the soup finishes cooking allows you to control the final acidity.
The secret to this recipe is to use coconut oil and coconut milk instead of dairy. Butter and cream can dull lemon’s flavor—going vegan preserves the fruit’s citrusy brightness. Don’t worry, though—these scones taste like lemon and blueberry rather than coconut. I’d highly recommend sprinkling the uncooked scones with toasted or turbinado sugar, which bakes into a beautiful crust.
A posset is a type of pudding made without eggs, gelatin, or starch—it’s thickened with citrus juice in much the same way as yogurt or paneer. Lemon and lime juice are the most common choices because of their high acidity, so here we go with lime juice (plus zest for extra flavor). You can serve the possets as is, but they’re even better topped with a mint and mango fruit salad and a dollop of whipped cream.
Taking the best elements of key lime pie and lemon meringue pie, this recipe features a creamy milk-based custard, graham-y whole wheat pastry crust, and an airy Swiss meringue. Both the milk and the heat of the oven mellow the flavor of the lime, so we add a few drops of rosewater to perk it back up. As with all citrus recipes, be careful to only use nonreactive cooking equipment, or you’ll wind up with a metallic-tasting dish.
The custard for our lemon bars goes in a slightly different direction—we leave out the milk and use a mixture of whole eggs and a bunch of extra egg yolks. Those added yolks deliver enough body that we can leave out the cornstarch, ensuring that the custard is crystal-clear and vibrant. To garnish, you can keep it classic with a generous dusting of powdered sugar or take it a step further by adding lemon chantilly and candied pistachios.
Those pistachios deserve a closer look—they have a remarkably intense citrus flavor because we candy them using our concentrated fresh lemon syrup. Making the syrup is just a matter of macerating juiced lemon peels in sugar, so if you’ve already squeezed a bag of fruit to make the lemon bars, then you’re halfway there.
I was shocked the first time I had a lemon meltaway—when made properly these shortbread cookies are so tender that they border on cotton candy territory. Most recipes give the cookies their delicate texture with a mixture of powdered sugar and cornstarch. This works fine, except that the cornstarch gives the cookies an unpleasantly starchy flavor. Replacing it with tapioca starch yields the same texture without the aftertaste.
While I have a place in my heart for a classic Creamsicle, I’ll take this Creamsicle-inspired frozen yogurt over the original anytime. Rich, tangy full-fat frozen yogurt perfectly complements the flavor of the fruit, which comes through strong, thanks to both orange juice and zest.
This ice cream is all about balance—light honey brings out saffron’s floral side, the earthy saffron tempers the sweetness of the honey, and a pinch of orange zest adds a subtle brightness. Be sure to use saffron threads, rather than the powdered stuff, for the purest flavor.
This tropical ice cream pairs nutty coconut and aromatic lime, making it an ideal accompaniment to rum cake or fresh pineapple. The recipe calls for sweetened coconut because it’s more widely available than unsweetened, but be careful—we toast the coconut before adding it to the dairy, and the sugar can burn quickly.
This silky smooth, tart ice cream is inspired by lemon meringue pie. The recipe calls for Meyer lemons, which deliver a more rounded, sweeter flavor than mouth-puckeringly tart “regular” lemons. As with Stella’s lemon bars, this ice cream only gets better with a dollop of lemon chantilly, made by extracting intense lemon flavor from the rinds. For something a bit sweeter, you can also garnish with a spoonful of tender, ruby red roasted strawberries.
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