How to Make and Can Old Fashioned Marmalade

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Traditional orange marmalade is fairly easy to make, and with its combination of sweet and bitter taste is perfect for that little bit of indulgence required for a Sunday brunch. It’s also a great way to preserve oranges so you can get that little boost of citrus flavor any time of year. In addition, this is a great gift because it’s loads better than what you can buy in the store and a lot more economical to produce.

How To Make and Can Orange Marmalade Step by Step:

adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown



You will need about 3lbs of navel oranges, the juice, and the zest of one lemon, 3lbs + 12oz sugar (about 9 cups), and 6 cups water. Makes about 10 half pints.


 Wash all your oranges thoroughly.


 Zest the lemon.


 Juice the lemon.


Cut the ends off the oranges.


Using a mandolin slicer cut the oranges into 1/8in slices. This is an Oxo Good Grips slicer; you can find it here on Amazon. I highly recommend these cut resistant gloves. The hand guard on these kinds of slicers is pretty useless. The gloves do a nice job of protecting fingers.


  Your oranges should look like this.


 Slice them into fourths as best you can.


 Then the oranges will look similar to this.


 Wash your canning jars.


 And wash your lids.


 And your rings.


Sterilizing jars and lids are not necessary for processing times of 10 minutes or longer, I place them in the oven at 200 degrees to keep them warm.


 Place your oranges and water in a pot.


 Add the lemon juice.


 Add the lemon zest.


 Yup, that’s a lot of sugar! A little marmalade goes a long way.


 Add the sugar.


Place all your lids and rings in a small pot. I bring this pot to a boil briefly and then turn it to low to keep it hot. This is to loosen the seal so you will have a good seal between the lid and the jar. (Update: Ball no longer recommends doing this. So after you’ve washed your lids just place them in a bowl and set them aside until your ready to use them)


 Bring the oranges to a boil and then simmer until the fruit is soft about 40 minutes.


Bring your marmalade up to 222 degrees F. Love this thermometer! At this point, you can place a plate in the freezer and then place a small amount of marmalade on a plate to test for thickness.


 Fill your jars with marmalade.


Marmalade needs 1/4 in. headspace. Headspace is the distance between the jar and the lid; this handy tool helps measure.


The other end removes the air bubbles from the jars. Although it seems I can never get them all out.


 Wipe off the rims of the jars so you can get a good seal.


Remove the rings from the pot. This tool has a magnet on the end that makes it easier to grab the rings and the lids.


 Place the lids on the jars.


Place the rings on the jars and tighten “finger tight.” Finger tight means not too tight and not too loose. Just tighten them as far as they will go without forcing them.  Place the jars in the canner.


Here I have 10 half pint jars in my water bath canner. Bring the water to a boil and start the timer. Orange marmalade should be processed (boiled) for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. You can find adjustments for altitude here. To look up your altitude go here. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for about 5 minutes.


 Then remove the jars from the canner. The jars will be hot!


Let your jars sit and cool for at least eight hours. Remove the rings. If the rings stay on and the lid fails (becomes unsealed) and the ring is still on, the lid may reseal itself. However, bacteria has already invaded the jar and the food should not be consumed, with the ring left on there is no way you will know about the resealing. If the rings are off the lid has no pressure to reseal itself so if the lid seal fails then you’ll know and you can throw that jar out. Label and put away.


 Love the orange color!



  • Patty W. says:

    Made this today. I got 10 half pint jars. The taste is amazing. I think friends and family will enjoy this Christmas gift. Thanks for the recipe. I will be making this in the future.

  • Joyce h says:

    I made this yesterday and it came out beautifully! I only had 4 oranges equaling 2 lbs. and one lemon wich I used all of – so I cut the recipe to 2/3. 6 cups sugar and 4 cups liqiud(2 cups water & 2 cups orange juice for extra orangey insurance) i also added a teaspoon of vanilla. This was an easy recipe to make if you have a mandolin- if not get one! I will never buy marmalade again. ( I got 7 half pint jars)

  • Alison says:

    Our daughter brought us some oranges from her tree in Texas. They are very bitter and taste more like grapefruit. Your recipe turned out great using them! Thank you! Now I’m just going to get fat. Haha! I almost burned it though as I wasn’t stirring it while in a panic as my thermometer wasn’t working. I had to guess at it. What kind of thermometer did you say you loved?

  • Jean Chorney says:

    Hello, would like to make this. Have one question…can I cut the recipe in half?

  • Janice says:

    Thank you for posting your recipe. Is my first time making orange marmalade.
    I read the directions over and over. The only problem is the orange rings are so hard. What did I do wrong????

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Janice,

      They are going to candy just a bit, put they should not be hard. My guess is that you might need to slice them a little thinner.

  • raquel says:

    Ok, I don’t know what I am doing wrong! This was my second attempt making orange marmalade, following directions, and it has been runny both times! I thought this recipe would be thicker due to not much water needed but it still came out runny! Please help.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Raquel,

      It could take a couple of weeks for the marmalade to set. The other thing you might watch is overcooking. Pectin can break down if it’s overcooked.

  • Patricia Blaine says:

    I have never canned and I am 70. Moved from Hawaii to my home in NH. Have a delightful very large kitchen and plenty of space to move around. Will be trying this very soon. When it comes out right, I will be making Christmas gifts 2017 for my friends and family. Thank you so much. The recipe seems quite easy to follow.

  • Paula Foley says:

    Thank you Jennifer,

    This is a very easy recipe to follow, second time making it and could not be happier with the results !

  • Jody B says:

    Thanks for this recipe. My husband and I are going to make it today. 🙂

  • Karin says:

    9 cups of sugar or is that the combined total of oranges and sugar? 12oz of sugar doesn’t add up to 9 cups or 3 lbs.

  • Amy says:

    I absolutely love canning, but I have never tried orange marmalade. I had a request by a co-workers husband to make orange marmalade, I loved the simplicity of your recipe and step by step instructions. The most time consuming part was reaching 222 degrees, I was patient and am hoping the recipe sets up great and tastes great. Thank you for a great recipe!

  • Rose Staupe says:

    I’ve been looking for a recipe where I can substitute splenda for regular sugar, can I do it with your recipe?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Rose,

      I do not use Splenda so I have not tried it with this recipe. You might consider experimenting with stevia instead of Splenda.

  • Leslie Ann says:

    Your recipe and instructions don’t mention pectin; however, in your comments you do… Not sure how much and when to add.


    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Leslie,

      You can use pectin for this recipe, but you don’t have to. The orange peels have enough pectin in them for the recipe to work. I usually don’t use extra pectin when I make this recipe. I should have said in the previous comment to use less orange peel. So sorry for the confusion!

  • suha ali says:

    I liked your site best cause the cooking time was short, however since I had a big batch of oranges I ended up doubling the receipe , which in the end came out too thick and with a bitter sweet taste which the kids didn’t like.I did exactly what you said and even sliced them as thin as I could but still wasnt great …help

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Suha Ali,

      If the marmalade came out bitter then you probably didn’t add enough sugar. Marmalade is an acquired taste, and honestly most kids don’t like it. If it’s too thick you can use less pectin. Hope this helps.

  • Tamara says:

    Thank you for a lovely recipe. I got a bunch of oranges cheaply this week and decided it was canning time. I like my marmalade a bit bitter so added a lemon, lime and grapefruit 1/2. I made 3 batches so some for Xmas gifts ?. It is just coming into Summer here in Australia and cherries and stone fruit are just coming in. Give it a few weeks and I’ll be using your recipe for Cherrie jam and peach jam.

  • Beth Dubeau says:

    It takes a long time to reach 220 on the thermometer. Cook time is 2 plus hours. Be patient! New standards from canning jar producers in 2014 -wash jars, lids in warm soapy water – no need to sterilize if processed in water bath for 10 minutes or more- a great time and mess saver and jars are much easier to fill!
    Very tasty recipe! Thanks for posting.

    Beth Dubeau

  • Dani says:

    I had a crap ton of Oranges and had no clue what to do with them. Your site came up from a google seatch of. “What can i make with oranges” it was fun to make something ive never made before. I read on another site that you can add spices to it so i added cinnamon and a little cloves to my 2 different type of orange marmalade. Dont ask why i had 2 different types of oranges, cause not sure either. But anyways thank you fpr an amazing and easy way to use my oranges. Its so yummy, and im soooo happy.

  • Angie says:

    When you put the canning jars in the oven – what temperature do you have the oven at ?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Angie,
      I put them on at 350F to sterilize them for about 10 minutes then turn them down to 200F until I’m ready to use them.

  • Beth says:

    Great recipe!! Quick question, what is the shelf life of an unopened jar?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Beth,
      An unopened jar will last up to a year. Some people find that home canned marmalade will last longer, but the recommended storage time for home canned food is one year.

  • Sherrie Graeter says:

    Can someone post what to do in the unfortunate event that this recipe doesn’t thicken?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Sherrie,
      The marmalade will thicken over time. There is almost no chance that this will not thicken if you follow the recipe. Pectin is made from either citrus or apples, with citrus considered the better option. You can read all about pectin here. If you add too much water then it might not thicken. In that case you might consider using it as a syrup or sauce.

  • Linda Tidwell says:

    thank you for this I have never canned anything and I was not sure I could do this

  • Damaria Senne says:

    Thank you for the recipe. I have a bunch of oranges and am going to make marmalade for the first time tomorrow.

    • Earl Netzlaw says:

      I made your recipe to a T and it is runny.

      • Jennifer Osuch says:

        Hi Earl,

        Sometimes it takes a few days to set. Another thing to consider is that when you make marmalade it’s easy to overcook the pectin. If you overcook pectin then it won’t set very well. I would give it a few days though because there is the added pectin in the oranges that will help. This recipe is actually really thick and one of the thickest spreads I make.

  • Shelle says:

    Great post and pictures! I have a box of oranges sitting on my counter and this is perfect inspiration to use them.

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