Lemon marmalade

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 3 hrs Plus cooling

A challenge

Makes 6 x 450ml jars
Homemade marmalade needn't be hard work - this simple method cooks lemons whole to start, saving time and effort

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving (15g)

  • kcal40
  • fat0g
  • saturates0g
  • carbs10g
  • sugars10g
  • fibre0g
  • protein0g
  • salt0g
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  • 1kg unwaxed lemon
  • 2kg granulated sugar


  1. Chill a saucer in the freezer, ready for checking the setting point of your jam. Wash the lemons and remove the top ‘button’ which would have been attached to the stalk. Put the lemons in a large saucepan with 2.5 litres water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer for 2½ hrs or until the lemon skins are lovely and tender, and can be pierced easily with a fork.

  2. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, remove from the saucepan. Measure the cooking liquid – you’ll need 1.5 litres in total. If you don’t quite have this, make up the difference with water. If you have too much liquid, bring to the boil and reduce to the required amount.

  3. Halve the lemons and remove the pips – reserving the pips and any lemon juice that oozes out during the process. Cut the lemon peel and flesh into strips, as thick or thin as you like. Put all of this, including any juices, back into the pan. Put the pips in a small piece of muslin and tie up with string. Add this to the pan, as the pips will aid the setting process of the jam.

  4. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until it has completely dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 20 mins until setting point is reached. Test the setting point by dropping a little marmalade onto the chilled saucer, allowing it to cool for 1 min, then pushing gently with your finger. If the marmalade crinkles, the setting point is reached; if not, continue to boil and check again in a few mins.

  5. Leave to cool for 10-15 mins (this will prevent the lemon shreds sinking to the bottoms of the jars), remove the muslin bag, then gently stir in one direction to disperse any scum (small air bubbles on the surface). Pour jam into warm sterilised jars and seal straight away.

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Comments (25)

snicka's picture

Made this yesterday using 3 kilos of lemons and 2 kilos of sugar. Reboiled a couple of times and the marmalade has set nicely. Tastes good and lemony and the zest has a nice bite without being chewy. Lets see in a few weeks if it keeps given the low sugar content.

hvm's picture

Have made quite a few batches now. Small jars of strong, bitter marmalade make wonderful presents.

For my own use, I have simplified the recipe a bit. Please comment if you have any tips.

Start with one or two unwaxed lemons. Weigh on a scale and cut in 2,5 cm rings (or one inch).

Boil in water for an 1,5 hours on low heat. Turn off the heat and let it rest over night.

Next morning, sift the liquid, cut the peel from the rings and make beautiful little strips.

Add sugar to the remaining liquid, 1,5 times the weight of the lemons, add the peel strips.

Boil until the volume is 1,5 times the weight of the lemons (300g should create 450ml or 450g).

pepperpotty1981's picture

I have made this twice now and it's a really tasty marmalade. However, the rind is a bit hard for my liking so I think I'll try a different recipe next time.

ossydave's picture

I used home grown lemons. The 2 and a 1/2 cooking time was too long. My lemons had split and were going mushy. I'll try an hour next time. 2.5 litres of water for cooking left me with 2.5 litres of water and lemon mix so I spent a lot of time reducing the liquid as I didn't want to lose any of the lemony goodness. Enough liquid to cover the fruit would be fine. And I put in less sugar as I wanted a lemony (zingy) marmalade.

blewburton's picture

I have made this 3 times now, people keep comming back for more jars, it is lovely, just the right combinatination of sweet and sour

anatroccolo's picture

I made this marmalade to give as a Christmas present and I love it. Easy to make, I used gorgeous Sicilian lemons and the flavour is fantastic!

jennyharriet's picture

My post should have five stars not the one shown.x

jennyharriet's picture

We have summer home in Spain with a wonderful lemon tree in the courtyard so finding wonderful but simple recipes for the fruit is essential. I have made this recipe lots of times with no problems at all, today a friend called in with a kilo of fresh limes.....so waste not want not I tried them instead of lemons, FANTASTIC, but poach the limes slowly as the skin is much tougher really make sure the rind is very soft before adding the sugar, as the sugar tends to make the rinds hard again. A sharp tangy breakfast treat.

MarthaJeanne's picture

I've made this several times now, usually with the Seville oranges from my own tree. I add a tsp of mixed spice towards the end of the cooking time. (In memory of a lovely breakfast in Normandy a few years ago.) But I have also tried mixed citrus fruits. The marmalade always disappears very quickly.

I agree with those who say that the fruit is soft after 1-1 1/2 hours. I also prefer to make half a recipe at a time.

mariab2's picture

Found this a very soft set but it's absolutely delicious.

socalgranny's picture

The boiling time for the lemons is far too long. 1.5 hours is quite adequate. There was still over 2 liters of liquid left at this time. After removing the lemons and letting them cool, I scraped out the pith and seeds into a double layer of cheesecloth, tied it into a pouch and put this back into the liquid to be able to extract more pectin. I cooked down the liquid for another half hour. Because we have a lemon tree, and are awash in lemons, I reduced the liquid to 1 liter and added another half liter of lemon juice which helped to cool the pouch faster and then I removed the pouch. While the pouch cooled, I sliced the rinds, measured the sugar and put all back into the liquid in the pan. Once the pouch was cool enough to handle, I squeezed out as much pectin as possible, about another 100 ml or so. This is what will make your marmalade set. By not putting the pith back into the jam, it will stay clear and jewel like.

petethemeat's picture

I tred this recipe for the first time, actually my first attempt at making any type of jam. I wish I had read this comment first because I agree entirely. Whilst my marmalade tastes fantastic I will follow your version in future as it is much more accurate.

magoulianitissa's picture

Thank you for this recipe.
Few day ago I was in the island of Paros, Greece. It was a cold winter day with strong winds that not permitted any outdoor activity.
The beautiful lemon tree in the garden was full of wonderfully smelling lemons, so I decided to make lemon marmalade.
The recipe in your site was the one I chose and it really came out
great. Its easy to make and the results are very good. The only
change I made is I cut the lemons in four, so the boiling time was much less than 2 hours.

Great marmalade for breakfast, very good to add to my
Greek yogurt and for gifts for my friends.

rla556's picture

This was my first try at making a preserve so I followed the recipe to the letter, putting the pips in a muslin bag and throwing everything else into the pot. It turned out great - sweet, but with a kick. Will be a great addition to this year's Christmas hampers.

aticavo's picture

Delish! And makes such a lovely present for Christmas!

thepeachyone's picture

i made my 3rd batch of this today, and as usual it's delicious! i've slightly altered how i cook it. i cut the fruit into quarters before boiling them. not only does it cut down the cooking time, but the pips come out of the flesh too. i squeeze the lemons with tongs when lifting them from the hot liquid, this makes it far easier to cut them as well as them cooling quicker. i then strain the liquid through a sieve and then push the flesh back into the liquid. the pips are so easy to tie into a small bag then. the colour is amazing and the taste is divine... so i'm told by friends and family who request this fab marmalade on a regular basis :) thanks GF for yet another awesome recipe x

bakingnut's picture

A really great alternative to orange marmalade.
I juiced and cut the lemons prior to boiling and put the pith from the squeeze and the pips in a square made from gauze bought from pharmacy then tied that to the side of the pot during the boil.
This meant that it took appx 1 hour to soft boil the skins, Delia says no lid in her book.
I then used a digital thermometer to boil to 104C and left for 10 mins , stirred in a knob of butter then bottled. It went down really, really well. Also this is great to use in the Lemon Bakewells also on this site.

mscupcake's picture

Easy and very lemony - was a great success and again, a beautiful colour. If I did it again (which I probably will!) I won't chop up all the lemon as there was rather a lot of rind, for my liking.

MissyMoo I think you could, as long as you balance out the correct proportion of liquid and sugar. A jelly marmalade would be good.

mpenhaligon's picture

A very easy recipe. I made half the quantity as I didn't have a pan big enough for the full amount but I still got 4 jars out of it. The lemons only took half the time to cook and I felt it was worth the time in finely chopping. Will be making this again soon.

anitajanes99's picture

Would it be possible to substitute the lemons for limes please? Would I have to add pectin or change the quantities? Thanks


Questions (14)

Irish Girl's picture

Could you use grapefruit instead of lemons. I have a huge grapefruit tree and love grapefruit marmalade

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, we haven't tested this recipe with grapefruit so can't guarantee the results.  If you have a lot of grapefruits, perhaps you could try making a half batch and letting us know how you get on! We have some jam making tips here too:


Hope that helps!


denzyred's picture

How far in advance of christmas can I make this and how long does it keep please?

hvm's picture

Keeps opened for many months in the fridge. Tastes well after 5 months.

goodfoodteam's picture
Hi there thanks for your question, if you sterilise the jars this will keep unopened in a cool dark place for a year or so.
AnneODwyer's picture

2 Questions please...
How do you know they are none waxed lemons?

Presumably you can make Lemon Jelly Marmalade by straining pulp/skin? Before returning with sugar - Maybe putting contents in a bag? Thanks

goodfoodteam's picture

Yes you can turn it into jelly if you strain out the skin afterwards. Also, your supermarket or greengrocer will be able to tell you if the lemons are waxed or not, thanks.

JOY2014's picture

I tried this recipe, but in the end the marmalade tasted damn bitter, does the bitterness tone down once you keep in the jar?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there. This marmalade will be slightly bitter in taste due to the nature of the ingredients. It will sweeten slightly as it ages though. Thanks.

etambaros's picture

I have just attempted to make the lemon marmalade. I used 2 kilos of lemons and 4 kilos of sugar. I boiled the lemons for only an hour as they almost fell to pieces. I followed all the instructions but my marmalade is too watery and won't set. I only used one and a half liters of water . I've boiled it for almost an hour. How can I save it?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. You need to keep boiling until the marmalade reaches setting point, it needs to cook for at least 2.5 hours, it will eventually reach setting point. Hope you managed to rescue the marmalade. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team

ossydave's picture

If the marmalade needs to cook for 2.5 hours, how come the recipe says 20 minutes? I had to cook mine for almost an hour and use a setting agent. Really disappointing. But at least my version tastes good!

flik's picture

I recently made mango jam with lemon and although it tasted great the finely cut lemon peels turned out like hard bits of string. Where did I go wrong.

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for your question. Did you use unwaxed lemons? It sounds like you may have not as the lemons should go very soft once cooked. Thanks, BBC Good Food team

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