3 Ways to Cook With Citrus Fruits

These juicy and nutritious recipes feature grapefruit, lemons, and oranges.

Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 15, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Just at the moment you make a resolution to eat more healthy foods, nature hands you a simple, tasty way to do it.

It's citrus season, so supermarkets are stocked with oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and their many cousins.

Snacking on one medium orange provides more than 100% of an adult's daily value of immune-boosting vitamin C and 12% of the daily value of fiber. That fiber includes pectin, "which seems to bind to cholesterol in the gut and remove it from the body," says Bahram Arjmandi, PhD, RD, director of the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging at Florida State University.

Citrus fruits also contain certain plant chemicals that could help lower blood pressure and cancer risk, early research suggests. Pink and red grapefruit contain the antioxidant lycopene, which may play a role in preventing cancer.

While a glass of your favorite sunshine-hued juice rocks as an occasional treat, "take the time to eat the whole fruit to get the fiber," Arjmandi says. Our recipes offer ways to get the New Year off to a sunny start.

A New Leaf

This salad boasts a host of disease-fighting antioxidants. The recipe calls for pomegranate arils, the juicy, edible part of the pomegranate. The produce aisles of many large grocery stores sell these arils removed from their skin and ready to eat.

Baby Kale, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad

Makes 6 servings


3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 shallot, finely minced

¼ tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

9 cups thinly sliced baby kale, ribs and stems removed

1 pink grapefruit, sectioned

1 avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced

½ cup pomegranate arils

¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds


1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, grapefruit juice, lime juice, shallot, salt, and pepper. Place kale in a large bowl and toss with dressing.

2. Place dressed kale on six salad plates. Top leaves with grapefruit, avocado, pomegranate arils, and sunflower seeds.

Per serving: 215 calories, 5 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 143 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 56%

Wrap Star

This recipe involves parchment paper, sold next to the foil and plastic wrap in supermarkets. The paper acts as a tent to steam the fish in the fragrant citrus juices. Serve the fish with asparagus and a whole-grain side dish like brown rice.

Citrus Salmon in Parchment

Makes 6 servings


6 (6-oz) skinless salmon fillets

6 (12-15-inch) squares of parchment paper

1 tbsp olive or canola oil

¼ tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ tsp ground red pepper

1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 blood orange, thinly sliced

12 sprigs fresh thyme


1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Place each salmon fillet on a piece of parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black and red pepper. Top each piece of salmon with fennel, citrus fruit, and thyme.

3. Bring the edges of the paper together and fold to seal, tucking the edges under the packet. Place packets on a baking sheet.

4. Bake 15 minutes, or until fish is flaky. (Carefully open one packet to test.) Place packets on serving plates and cut an X in the center of the paper on each one. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 395 calories, 35 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 25 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 92 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 216 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 57%

Overnight Delight

This simple dish looks, smells, and tastes delicious, but requires a little planning because the flavor is best when the chicken marinates overnight.

Citrus-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Makes 6 servings


2 tbsp olive oil

2-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp honey

⅓ cup fresh orange juice

⅓ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

¼ tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

12 skinless chicken thighs

1 lemon, sliced

1 orange, sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp fresh rosemary, divided


1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, honey, juices, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Place chicken thighs in a large zip-top bag and pour in juice mixture. Seal and place bag in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 3 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove chicken from marinade and place in a 13-by-9 glass baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Pour remaining marinade into the bottom of the dish. Arrange slices of lemon, orange, and onion on and around the chicken. Sprinkle 1 tbsp rosemary on top.

3. Bake uncovered 50-60 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F. Garnish with remaining rosemary and serve.

Per serving: 257 calories, 28 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 115 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 249 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 35%

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Show Sources


Bahram Arjmandi, PhD, RD, director, Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.

USDA: "Household USDA Fact Sheet: Orange."

American Institute for Cancer Research: "Grapefruit."

Harvard Health Publications: "Grapefruit and Medication: A Cautionary Note."

Morand, C. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2011.

Ashraful Alam, M. Advances in Nutrition, July 2014.

Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center: "Carotenoid: Lycopene."

USDA: "Citrus Fruits."

Fruits and Veggies More Matters: "Pummelo: Nutrition. Selection. Storage."

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