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Citrus dessert recipes

On the coldest days of winter sometimes all you need is a taste of summer to get you out of your funk. Bake up a sweet treat with citrus and share it with anyone who has the winter blues.

Citrus cupcakes

Citrus to use

There are a lot of different citrus options to use when baking. Some of the obvious choices are lemons, oranges, and grapefruits but there are many other exotic citrus fruits that will make your winter blues go away. Clementines, kumquats, limes, mandarin oranges, minneolas, pummelos, tangerines, and tangelos are great choices and will make for something different and delicious. If you can’t find these fruits in your local market, search online for fresh fruit delivery.

Juice vs. zest

Most recipes will call for either the juice or the zest (rind) of the fruit or both. The main difference is that the juice imparts a more tart flavor to the dish and the zest has the flavor of the fruit. Both are fine to use, it simply depends on what flavor you like more. You can even use both if you like.

Tangerine glazed cake

Makes 10 to 12 servings


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • Zest from two tangerines
  •  1 1/2 cups fresh tangerine juice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9-inch round pan.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. Beat eggs in a large bowl with sugar and butter until creamy. Mix in zest and 1/2 cup juice; gradually add flour mixture and beat until well combined.
  4. Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Remove cake from oven and let cool while preparing glaze.
  6. Whisk remaining juice with sugar until a smooth glaze is made; drizzle glaze over cake once it is cooled and removed from pan.

Creamy clementine tart

Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups low fat milk
  • 3 eggs yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh clementine juice
  • 1/2 stick butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh clementine zest
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 pre-made tart shell


  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan; whisk in milk, egg yolks, and clementine juice until smooth; stir butter into mixture and whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Take saucepan off of heat and stir in clementine zest; cover mixture with plastic wrap and chill about 1 hour.
  3. When mixture is chilled, stir in sour cream until smooth. Pour batter into tart shell and cover with plastic wrap; chill until set, about 4 to 6 hours. Garnish with a few clementine slices.

Grapefruit cupcakes

Makes 36 cupcakes


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grapefruit zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8-ounces sour cream
  • 16-ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup butter with 4-ounces cream cheese until creamy; beat in sugar and eggs one at a time; beat in 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest and 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice.
  3. Mix flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually beat flour mixture into cream cheese mixture; beat in sour cream.
  4. Pour batter into cupcake pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.
  5. To make frosting: beat 1/2 cup butter with 4-ounces cream cheese and 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest; gradually beat in powdered sugar and alternate with milk and 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice until creamy.

More citrus dessert ideas

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