Make this easy homemade orange marmalade- you only need 4 simple ingredients, no pectin required! So sunny-sweet and cheerful!

Marmalade in a glass jelly jar with a white ceramic spoon.

It’s a crisp, sunny, gorgeous spring day and I’ve got citrus on the brain!

Somehow this seems to happen every year, right around this time. I don’t know what it is, but all that bright sunshine makes me crave lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange!

I’ve been sharing my favorite recipes for lemon curd, key lime pie, and lemon pound cake on Instagram these last few weeks, and they’ve been getting lots of love! So that tells me that I’m not alone in this citrus love affair, right?

I guess now’s the perfect time for me to teach you this easy orange marmalade recipe.

It’s easy as you like and you’ll only need 4 simple ingredients. And one of them is just plain water!

Most of the time you’ll spend on it is hands-off. It’s mostly just a matter of soaking and boiling.

It cooks up thick, sweet, spreadable, and loaded with fruit. Just bursting with sunny orange flavor, with a pleasingly bitter back note. Everything good marmalade should be!

Orange marmalade in a glass jar on a checkered cloth, with a text overlay that reads "Orange Marmalade."

WHAT IS MARMALADE?

Marmalade is basically just the citrus version of fruit preserves.

Simmering fruit and sugar together until it reaches a certain temperature yields a spreadable topping that can be used in all sorts of delicious ways.

With any other kind of preserves, you can use fruit puree or roughly chopped fruit. With marmalade, all of the fruit is used. So it’s got bits of orange pulp and candied peel running all throughout, giving it the most intensely concentrated orange flavor!

HOW TO MAKE ORANGE MARMALADE

To make this easy recipe, start with the oranges. I used good ol’ navel oranges, but there are other options (more on that below).

Slice them as thinly as you can. For what you see in these pics and video, my slices were actually thicker than I liked. Next time I make this, I will use my mandoline slicer so I can get thinner slices. The thinner the better, in my opinion.

Cut the slices into quarters.

Cutting orange slices into quarters.

Then place them in a large pot and cover them with water. It doesn’t matter if the water is hot or cold.

Soaking oranges in water overnight to draw out the natural pectin.

You’re going to soak the fruit in the water overnight. This will draw out the natural pectin in the fruit and help your marmalade to cook up nice and thick.

Pectin is an additive you can buy, but many fruits already contain it naturally. It can be found in the peels and seeds.

Simmering oranges in water to soften their peels.

Next morning, boil the fruit in its soaking liquid. This will help the peels to become soft.

I boiled mine for about 30 minutes. When I checked them, the peels were soft enough to cut with the edge of a spoon. This is what you want!

Once the sugar goes in, the peels will become chewy and they will NOT get any softer. So make sure they are good and soft before you go on to the next step. If 30 minutes isn’t enough, give them more time!

Boiling orange marmalade until gelled.

Add in the sugar, let the mixture first simmer for about 30 minutes, then bring it up to a full boil.

Stir it frequently so it doesn’t burn on the bottom!

Once it’s reached the proper temperature, take it off the heat and stir in a little lemon juice. This is the “seasoning” that will round out the flavors in the most delicious way!

HOW TO KNOW WHEN IT’S DONE COOKING

You’ll notice as it boils, the marmalade becomes thicker and more concentrated.

When it reaches the 220 degree F mark, it should be at its gel point. This means that even though it still looks very syrupy and loose in the pot, it will gel up and become the proper spreadable consistency when cooled.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can buy one here for just a few dollars: digital food thermometer. I find this to be such an essential kitchen tool, not just for making preserves but also for candy, some frosting recipes, and for meat especially.

Or you can do things the old-fashioned way and use the wrinkle test. Place a small amount of marmalade on a plate and chill it in the freezer for a few minutes. Then, slide your finger into it and observe. If the surface wrinkles, you are good to go!

Testing homemade marmalade for doneness.

If you misjudge and undercook your marmalade, don’t worry! Just put it back into the pot and boil it a little more.

If you overcook it and find that it’s too stiff in the jar, it’s an equally easy fix: just stir in a little water until you get the consistency you prefer.

PRESERVING IN A BOILING WATER CANNER

Once the orange marmalade is cooked to the proper consistency, you can spoon it into jars.

Spooning homemade orange marmalade into sterile jars for canning.

I like to process my orange marmalade so I can put it up for months in my cupboard and not have it go bad. This is an optional step, but I feel like the benefits outweigh the minimal effort it requires.

So I sterilize my jars in boiling water before spooning in the marmalade.

Then I wipe the rims with a clean cloth, screw on the lids, and submerge the jars in boiling water for around 10 to 20 minutes.

Once removed from the boiling water, you should notice that the little “button” on the lid has suctioned down. This lets you know that an airtight seal has formed, that won’t allow any microbes to grow.

If done properly, your finished product will keep in a cool, dark place for up to one year. If you choose not to process the jars, they will last in the fridge for up to 3 months.

WHAT KIND OF ORANGES TO USE

For what you see here I used what is most readily available in my area: navel oranges.

But you can use any type of orange you like. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Clementines
  • Tangerines
  • Satsumas
  • Blood Oranges
  • Seville Oranges (this variety is most traditional!)

You could even use another type of citrus fruit altogether! I think Meyer lemons would be fantastic, as would grapefruit, key lime, or yuzu!

Close-up image of a jar of homemade orange marmalade, resting on a blue checked cloth.

IS THIS GLUTEN-FREE?

Not only is this recipe 100% gluten-free, but it’s also dairy-free, vegan, egg-free, and nut-free! Such a nice treat for those with food sensitivities.

HOW TO USE IT

Marmalade can be used in so many different ways. As a pretty, shiny glaze for a fruit tart, as a filling in between layers of cake, or even to jazz up a cocktail.

But I think it’s best-loved as a spread. Try spooning it on toasted brioche, biscuits, or scones. It’s such a cheerful way to start your day!

How to make orange marmalade with video and step by step pictures.

A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE TOPPING RECIPES:

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5 from 1 vote
Marmalade in a glass jelly jar with a white ceramic spoon.
Orange Marmalade
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Soaking Time:
8 hrs
Total Time
10 hrs 20 mins
 

Make this easy homemade orange marmalade- you only need 4 simple ingredients, no pectin required! So sunny-sweet and cheerful!

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Topping
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make marmalade, how to make orange marmalade, marmalade, orange marmalade, what is marmalade
Servings: 48
Calories: 52 kcal
Ingredients
  • 3 oranges, medium (I used navel oranges)
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Cut the oranges into thin slices, then cut the slices into quarters.

  2. Place the oranges in a large pot and add the water.

  3. Soak the oranges in water overnight.

  4. Place the pot over high heat and boil the mixture for 30 minutes.

  5. Turn the heat to low, add the sugar, and simmer for 30 minutes.

  6. Increase the heat to medium high and boil the marmalade until thickened (220 degrees F).*

  7. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

  8. Carefully spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars (allowing about 1/2-inch of head-space), wipe the rims with a clean cloth, add the lids, and submerge in boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes.**

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Makes approx. (3) 8-ounce jars of marmalade.

*To test the marmalade for doneness, place a small amount on a plate and freeze for 1 minute.  If the edge wrinkles when pushed, it has reached the gel point and you can remove it from the heat. 

**You'll know your jars are safely processed when the "button" on the lid suctions down and stays that way.

Nutrition Facts
Orange Marmalade
Amount Per Serving (1 tablespoon)
Calories 52 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 15mg0%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 18IU0%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 4mg0%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.