He has a knack for picking out perfectly ripe fruit, so there’s rarely a dry or sour orange on the plate, but at my parents’ house, oranges are only ever eaten raw.
But sweet, sometimes bitter, sometimes sour oranges can add so much to a cooked dish.
Like most citrus, you can use their zest and juice to flavor savory dishes and desserts. Unlike lime or lemon, oranges are sweet enough that you can include ample portions of the fruit itself, too.
At grocery stores in the United States, you’re most likely to find Cara Cara, Valencia, Navel and Blood Oranges (and Clementines and Tangerines, which are technically oranges, too). Each has its own character.
Navel and Valencia oranges are similarly sweet, though navels are slightly more bitter with thicker peels and are favored for eating, while Valencias are favored for juicing. Cara Cara oranges have a pretty pinkish hue and have a tiny bit of a berry flavor. Blood Oranges are less sweet and have a dramatic red hue, either throughout the whole fruit or streaking through it; sometimes the skin has blushes of red to indicate the interior. Clementines and tangerines are super sweet, a little floral with a loose peel that comes off as easily as the inner segments do — ideal for handheld snacking.
Check out my colleague Becky Krystal’s guide for getting the most out of whatever orange you pick here.
In savory dishes oranges can balance bitter, salty and strong flavors. In sweet dishes, they add a slight tartness and wonderful fragrance to cakes, cookies and more. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite ways to eat oranges. You’ll find even more to suit your tastes through our Recipe Finder.
Roasted Orange Slices. Sending citrus fruit to the oven can bring out caramelized notes and intense layers of sweetness than eating them raw. It also turns their peels into a chewy treat. Try them simply roasted as a snack or accompaniment to a charcuterie board, turn the oven all the way down to make Chocolate-Dipped Orange Crisps, or just save the peels for Candied Orange Peels.
Kale, Clementine and Hazelnut Salad. Sweet, juicy oranges work to temper a bitter counterpart. You’ll see that in this salad, in which super-sweet clementines give a bright lift to massaged kale. You’ll taste that balance again in this Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower Slaw With Oranges, where shredded Brussels sprouts and cauliflower work in tandem with oranges, this Orange Salad With Black Olives where their sweetness complements slightly bitter, salty olives, and in this dish of Black-Eyed Peas With Oranges and Chipotle where they play against spicy, smoky chipotle.
Ginger-Orange Broccoli and Noodles. Here’s where all the juice shines! Fresh orange juice balances spicy ginger, salty soy sauce and miso. For something even punchier, taste how orange juice and zest balance high-quality fish sauce in this Roasted Orange Salty Caramel Tofu. Take that in a Sicilian direction where orange juice, fish stock and olives contribute to a warming, filling base to this Cod Stew With Fennel, Olives and Orange Essence.
Broiled Salmon With Citrus-Mint Relish. Segment and chop an orange and grapefruit to make an herby, fragrant topping for quickly broiled salmon. Or add them into the sauce for this Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin for bright pops of flavor.
Blood Orange and Bourbon Boulevardier. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a treat on its own, but you can make it a more dramatic affair by using ruby blood orange juice and combining it with bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari.
Glazed Orange Sweet Rolls. You’ve had cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, and maybe even cardamom buns, but have you tried orange buns? Zest in the dough, marmalade in the filling and orange juice in the icing makes this a fragrant morning treat.
Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake. This super simple cake makes an excellent, not-too-sweet afternoon snack and keeps very well. You could, if you felt like making a glamorous dessert, use it in this Caramelized Blood Orange Tipsy Trifle.
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