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Keep the Peel: What to Do With Leftover Lemon Peels… and More

Did your cooking binge leave you with a pile of leftover citrus, peach or potato peels? Instead of tossing them out, use the peels to make these easy, tasty treats.

6 min read

Any home cook knows that the daily business of cooking can result in a lot of leftover peels. Whether you’ve pulled the peel off a plump, in-season peach to make a pie, or you have leftover lemon peel after grating a little zest for cookies, or you’ve peeled lots of potato skins to make potato pancakes, don’t throw those skins out. Get more mileage out of their delicious flavor by making the potato peel chips, peach peel syrup and candied citrus peel recipes here.

Candied Citrus Peel Recipe

Don’t know what to do with your leftover lemon peels? This candied citrus peel recipe is an easy way to use them to make a tasty snack that doubles as an attractive cocktail garnish, a mix-in for homemade granola or yogurt, or a topping for a citrusy dessert like key lime pie. Bonus: Repurposing citrus peels helps you cut down on the food waste you’d otherwise throw out or compost.


  • Leftover lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime peels
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more


  1. In a pot, cover citrus peels with water. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Drain the peels and refill the pot with fresh water. Repeat the boiling process two more times to remove any bitterness from the peels. Set the peels aside.
  2. Add two cups of sugar and one cup of water to a pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the citrus peels to the sugar water and simmer until they’re translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take up to an hour or more, depending on the size of the peels.
  4. Spread the peels out in a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper and let cool for 15 minutes. (Optional: If the peels are really wet, you can dry them out overnight.)
  5. Put the remaining ½ cup of sugar in a bowl and add the peels. Toss the peels in the sugar until they’re completely covered. Remove one by one, shaking off excess sugar, and put in an airtight container to store.
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Potato Peel Chips Recipe

With a proper scrubbing, potato peels make a crispy, addictive chip. Fried or baked? It’s your call.


  • Leftover potato peels
  • Olive oil or oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. If baking instead of frying the peels, prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Wash the potato peels.
  4. If baking, toss the peels in olive oil. Put the peels in a single layer on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy, checking occasionally to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and serve.
  5. If frying the peels, fill a heavy-bottomed pan with an inch of oil and heat over medium until it reaches between 350°F and 375°F. Fry the skins for 5 to 10 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oil and set to drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
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Peach Peel Syrup Recipe

Peeling peaches can be a pain, but a serrated peeler makes the task super-easy. Removing the peels will pay off even more if you save them up and use them to make this versatile syrup. You can pour it over your pancakes, drizzle it on desserts like cheesecake or peach tart, mix it into lemonade or cocktails, or use it in place of maple syrup in recipes that could use a fruity kick.


  • Leftover peach peels
  • White granulated sugar


  1. Put the peach peels in a pot and add just enough water to cover them.
  2. Simmer the peels for an hour, adding more water as needed to avoid burning the peels.
  3. After an hour, strain the liquid through cheesecloth into a measuring cup. Discard the peels and rinse the pot.
  4. Return the strained liquid to the pot and add twice as much sugar as liquid. (For instance, if you ended up with a cup of strained liquid, add two cups of sugar.) Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until all the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Transfer the finished syrup to a heat-safe container and store in the fridge.

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