How to Make Dried Oranges and Citrus Garlands

By Brittni • Updated on 12/13/2023

Dried orange garland is popping up everywhere this year. And after making a bad batch the first time around (and 5 good batches after that), I’ve honed in on exactly how to make orange garlands the easy way. Prep time on these orange garlands is just 10-15 minutes!

large bowl filled with dried orange slices, sitting in the sun

Let’s talk orange garlands! Admittedly, my first round of dried oranges for the holidays did not turn out well. In fact, they were actually BAD! So why would I write a post about how to dry oranges for a citrus garland? 

Well, I learned from my mistakes and gathered some info from other sites and Instagram DMs. Then, I tried again and again and again – drying out oranges and lemons in the oven. I made 5 good batches of dried oranges and lemons for garlands, over the course of 2 weeks.

And now, I feel pretty confident I know what I’m doing… at least when it comes to drying citrus.

In years past, the task of letting citrus slices dry out for HOURS (like at least 4 hours) seemed too long for me to even attempt.

But now that I’ve done it a good number of times, I’ve realized it’s super easy. And the amount of time doesn’t really matter much because it’s only like 10 minutes worth of prep. And then you just check on them every so often. EASY!

two stacks of dried orange slices, featuring a good example and a bad example

dried orange slices sitting on a wood table in the sun

Mistakes I Made the First Time Around

Okay! Here’s what my dried oranges looked like after the first batch. NOT GOOD. 

  • The oranges were seriously wonky.
  • They were way too thick.
  • And every single one of them had a huge hole in the middle.

Not exactly the holiday vibe I was going for.

I asked multiple people what they thought the problem was and the consistent answer was that the slices were too thick. So, for the second round, I would have to slice the oranges even thinner than I thought (like 1/8 inch or thinner).

Which meant I would also have to select oranges, lemons, and grapefruits that were not ripe yet.

The first batch of oranges were extremely ripe. And I think that’s why they had such a big hole in the middle of them.

Plus, because of how ripe they were they were also very juicy. Which made them harder to cut and meant I couldn’t get the slices as thin.

orange and lemon slices dried out and lined up on a kitchen counter with tea towel

What I Learned for Round Two

For the second batch of citrus (and all the ones after that as well), I picked oranges and lemons that weren’t ripe yet. This made it much easier to cut thin slices because they weren’t mushy and overly juicy.

I made the slices about 1/8 inch thick (or even thinner if I could).

I also tried to keep the thicknesses as uniform as I could. That way if one of the slices needed more time in the oven, it was likely that all of them would. Making them all more evenly dehydrated and looking similar.

After all the slices were cut, I laid them all out on a large tea towel. Then I placed a second tea towel on top and pushed down on each and every citrus slice to remove as much moisture and juice from them as I could. I did this twice and I think it helped them to cook evenly and faster too.

*You could also use paper towels for this, but I don’t use paper towels, so I used cloth tea towels instead.

thinly sliced dried oranges stacked in a row on a pattern tea towel in the kitchen

How to Make Dried Orange Garland

What do I preheat the oven to?

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, while you’re slicing everything.

Once the slices are ready for the oven, put them in and set a timer for 2 hours. Once the two hours is up, flip every slice over, and then put them back in the oven for another 2 hours.

I used the middle rack for the large oranges and the top rack for the smaller lemon slices. Some of the lemons turned out darker than the oranges, which I actually like. I also love the size of the lemon slices, so tiny and cute.

Nice to have a variety of sizes for the garlands. And a range of colors too, imo.

How long do the citrus slices have to dehydrate in the oven?

Total oven time is roughly 4 hours. That was the magic number for me that worked well each time, after the first unsuccessful batch. But the time will vary based on how thick your slices.

Remember to flip every slice over after the first two hours, to keep them even dry / not burnt.

After 4 hours is up, check on them. You want to make sure that each side is properly dried out (not sticky to the touch) before your take them out.

Again, depending on your oven AND how thick your orange slices are, it may take a little longer than 4 hours to dry them out enough for garlands. 

Oven Time Ranges for Dried Oranges

  • 1/8 inch thick orange slices will range from 4-5 hours to completely dry out. As I said, mine only took 4. But it could take up to 5 hours.
  • If your slices are thicker than 1/8 inch, you’ll likely need to keep them in the oven longer than 4 hours. The range for 1/4 inch slices for example would be anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. After the 4 hours is up, flip the citrus slices again. And then flip them again every 30 minutes until they are full dried out.
  • At 200 degrees, 6 hours should really be the absolute max that it would take to dry oranges out.
  • For lemons, because they are smaller, they may not take as long. My 1/8 thick lemons were very thoroughly dried out after 4 hours on the top rack.
  • If you’re using grapefruit for citrus slices, you’ll probably have to go beyond the 4 hour mark no matter the thickness of each slice. Because grapefruits are on the larger side. So my time range for grapefruits would be 4-6 hours. At the 4 hour mark, be sure to turn all the slices over again. And continue flipping them at 30 minute intervals until they’re fully dry and no longer sticky.

Closeup of dried orange slides on a muted blue fabric string

How do you know when orange slices are dried out enough?

Once the slices are dried out, remove them from the oven and let them sit until cool.

You’ll know they’re fully dried out when they don’t feel soft or sticky to the touch. You want them to feel crisp.

If there is a tiny bit of softness to the oranges and you’re not sure if they’re done, you can take them out of the oven.

Leave them out to set for 15 minutes and see if they have crisped up. If they’re still soft or sticky, they need to go back in the oven.

How to string dried oranges to make garlands

Then they’re ready to string up as a festive holiday garland. You can do this a few ways. I used scrap pieces of fabric that I cut into strips as my string. But you can also use ribbon, twine, or yarn.

Once you have the string you want to use, you can use a knife or a pair of scissors to cut slices into the dried orange and lemon slices and then push the string through.

OR you can use a large eye sewing or upholstery needle and thread your string or yarn through that. Then poke the needle through each citrus slice until they’re all on the string. And then you can space them out more evenly before cutting the string down to the size you need. 

Leave extra string / yarn on each side, so you can tie the garland onto whatever you’re adding it to – a fireplace mantle, a Christmas tree, a larger holiday garland, etc.

What else can I use dried oranges and citrus for?

You can use leftover citrus slices for simple ornaments. Just add a wire hook.

Or use them as decorative embellishments for gift tags when wrapping gifts. 

Another option would be to use them on a door wreath, rather than a tree or fireplace. It looks super festive, without much effort.

So, that’s it for making citrus garlands.

It’s really easy and they’re so pretty hanging on a tree, fireplace mantle, etc.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Lined up oranges all sliced up and in neat rows, laying on patterned tea towel

closeup of lined up, dried orange slices, ready for holiday garlands and decor

thinly slices orange slices, dried out, and ready to use for decorative holiday garlands

3 comments | Click here to reply

People don’t know how many times i’ve used dry oranges to create ornaments!!! Lovely post btw

Slade

I definitely tried to make some of these a while ago and it turned out awful!
I’m going for a retry, definitely

Jade Dolan

A dried oranges garland is such an original idea. I never heard of it before, but sounds pretty good to me. I think I will give it a try and surprise my family these christmas. Thank you for sharing.

Ann Checker
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