Homemade Lemon Marmalade

Lemon marmalade

Rita Maas / Photodisc / Getty Images

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Refrigeration: 3 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
89 Calories
0g Fat
23g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 89
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 22mg 112%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 96mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy three-ingredient recipe is all you need to make lemon marmalade from scratch. Although this recipe is simple, it does require hours to complete, so make sure to plan ahead. Lemons, water, and sugar are cooked together to create this beloved British breakfast spread. Almost the whole fruit is used—minus the pith and the seeds—to create a transparent jam-like consistency that is both sweet and slightly bitter.

Although a little bitterness is typical, you want to be sure to remove all of the white pith from the rind so that the spread is not overwhelmingly so. Then plan for hours in the refrigerator and a few hours on the stovetop before canning. Enjoy this lemon marmalade with your breakfast toast but feel free to incorporate it into recipes calling for sweet lemon flavor as well.

This recipe comes from "Country Living Country Mornings Cookbook" by Lucy Wing (Hearst Books, 1989).


  • 10 large lemons, washed

  • 4 cups water

  • 4 cups sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the yellow part of the lemon peel in strips. Cut strips into 1 x 1/8-inch pieces.

  3. With a knife, cut off any remaining white membrane, or pith, from peeled lemons.

  4. Cut peeled lemons crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

  5. In a heavy, non-aluminum 5-quart kettle or Dutch oven, combine lemon peel, sliced fruit, and water. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

  6. Place lemon mixture over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

  7. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lemon mixture is soft, about 1 hour.

  8. Add sugar to lemon mixture and increase heat to medium-high; stir until sugar dissolves.

  9. Heat to boiling and reduce heat just so mixture boils gently. Boil uncovered, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer registers 220 F, or 45 to 60 minutes have passed, and mixture has thickened.

  10. Prepare 3 (1-pint) canning jars with their lids and bands for processing, following manufacturer's directions.

  11. Spoon marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at the top of the jars.

  12. Wipe jar rims clean. Seal with lids and bands.

  13. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

  14. Cool jars on a wire rack. Label and store in a cool, dry place.


  • Because the entire lemon is used, it is best to buy organic, or if you're lucky enough, use homegrown. Commercially sold lemons can have a waxy coating and may have been sprayed with pesticides. At the very least, wash the lemons well before peeling.
  • Although you may be tempted to reduce the amount of sugar, it's important that you use the full amount as the sugar assists in the consistency and prevents mold from forming.
  • Be sure to use a large pot. When the sugar is added, the mixture will boil up and can overflow if the pot is too small.

The Decline of Marmalade Production

Learning to make homemade marmalade is a useful skill, as sales of the spread have dipped. Some marmalade manufacturers have gone out of business, and in Britain, where the preserve is traditionally most popular, younger people don't eat it nearly as much as the over-45 crowd does. This trend is not only rooted in generational differences in taste but also that breakfast is no longer as widely eaten as it once was.

As breakfast declines in popularity, the jams and spreads served with it no longer have the same hold on culinary traditions as they did previously. One way manufacturers are trying to tap into the younger market is by offering marmalade in new flavors. (Orange marmalade is the flavor that has traditionally been served in the United States and the United Kingdom.) By learning to make your own marmalade, you can enjoy any flavor at any time.

How do I know when the marmalade is ready?

If you don't have a candy thermometer, there are a few ways to tell if the marmalade has set.

  • The wrinkle plate test: Place a few small plates in the freezer. Put a dollop of marmalade on a cold plate and push it with your finger; if it wrinkles, the marmalade has set properly. If it is runny, it still needs time to cook.
  • The appearance of the bubbles: While the marmalade is boiling at the beginning of the process, the bubbles should pop as soon as they hit the surface, but as it thickens, the bubbles will become more stable.