Grapefruit Guajillo Marmalade

Once again, citrus season is upon us, and once again, I ordered a box of delicious Rio Red grapefruit from G & S Groves in McAllen, Texas. While I’ve been happily munching through some of my 12 pounds of pink-yellow-and-red glory, I had to save some for a batch (or two) of marmalade, lest my marm-lovin’ hubs revolt.

Although the flavor of last year’s vanilla bean version was lovely, the set left much to be desired, and this year, I just wasn’t feeling the vanilla-love. Too sweet. Too pedestration. Too lacking in alliteration. Guajillo now: spicy. Smoky. Hip. Now. And eminently fun to say. Say it with me: gwah-heeeeeeeeeeeeeee-yoh. Guajillo. Guajillo. If you say it really fast, you’ll sound just like Beavis.

For this year’s version, I added two guajillo chiles, and decided to macerate with sugar for the 3-day marmalade process, à la Mme. Ferber, in order to test any effects on the set. While the set of this marm is a definte improvement over last year’s rock hardness, it is still a little firm for my taste; certainly not of the lovely cara cara chile marmalada variety (I guess I really do need to add tequila to everything). This year’s is spreadable, if a bit firm straight out of the fridge, while packed full of fruit and low on the surrounding syrup (as is typical in my lower-sugar-marmalade-making ways, although this marm has nearly the classic 1:1 ratio of sugar:fruit). The flavor, however, is wonderful, especially if you like a bitter-tart-sweet, smack-you-in-the-face, take-no-prisoners, not-for-the-faint-of-heart marmalade. There is no real heat from the chiles, only an almost subtle smokiness with the barest hint of chile undertone. Personally, I would add another chile, and maybe some crushed red pepper flakes or a spicier dried chile or two, to amp up the heat, but Tai has raved about the flavor of this one. In fact, he’s given it his highest rating of “you are NOT giving any of this away! It’s mine, all mine! I’ll cut you.”

The critics have spoken. (But I don’t think another guajillo, and maybe a splash of tequila, would be amiss. But don’t tell the hubs.). Go ye forth and marmalade.

Adapted from Texas Grapefruit & Tahitian Vanilla Bean Marmalade


Grapefruit Guajillo Marmalade


  • 2 lb red grapefruit, preferably organic (I got mine from G & S Groves in Texas)
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, coarsely chopped, with seeds
  • water
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice)
  • 1 and 3/4 lb (3 and 3/4 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • large pinch sea salt


  1. Day 1. Scrub grapefruits well. Quarter fruits and trim off middle pith/membrane edge; remove any seeds. Slice each quarter lengthwise into 2 or 3 more sections. Thinly slice each section so that you yield tiny triangles of fruit + peel. Add grapefruit sections, along with as much of the juice as possible, to a large measuring cup. Measure fruit and add the fruit, an equal volume of filtered water (mine was 5 cups of each), guajillo chiles, lemon juice and sugar to a wide pot or preserving pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for 10 minutes, allow to cool slightly, transfer to a heat-safe bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Day 2. Transfer the fruit mixture to your preserving pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, simmer for 10 minutes, then cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Day 3. Prepare canner, jars & lids.
  4. Tip the fruit mixture into your preserving pan. Bring to a boil and boil hard, stirring minimally, until you reach the set point, 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer, about 25 – 30 minutes. Ladle hot marmalade into jars to ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields approximately 5 cups.


  1. This is a strongly-flavored, bitter marmalade. I actually think it could stand a bit more sugar; maybe up to another 1/2 cup. As usual when I make marmalade, there was a lot of peel and little syrup; the only way around this is to add more liquid and more sugar, but it’s a balancing act of enough syrup without the marmalade being overly sweet.
  2. So far, the chile flavor is very mild; just a bit of smokiness more than real chile spice. If it does not build over time, I would add another guajillo, or perhaps some crushed red pepper, for just a hint of spice next time.
  3. I did think originally of trying chipotle with the grapefruit; it’s an option, but I wonder if the smoky chipotle would overwhelm the somewhat delicate grapefruit flavor. If anyone tries it, please report back!


Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.




  1. those pictures are rockin! and i really really need to get some citrus in jars for 2012. what the hell am i waiting for?

    i don’t think i’ve ever had a guajillo chile, so you know, i am very intrigued.

    • Guajillos are nice, maybe somewhere in between an ancho and a cascabel. Quite mild, but without the overwhelming smokiness of the ancho, more of the capsaicin flavor comes through. I find that, whenever I run out, I think maybe I won’t get any more, as I always have tons of dried chiles to use up, and then… I think of something that just *needs* guajillo.

  2. Looks totally wonderful! I haven’t ordered grapefruits from the source in ages, but such a good idea. The ones we get here, even at Whole Foods, are just okay.

  3. every time I think I have my canning plan solidly in place, I read one of your posts and need to revise revise guajillo revise! made a version of the cara cara chili marmalada last week and am now a blindly devoted follower of yours. 🙂 many thanks (in advance) for this lovely stuff!

  4. Taino Grosjean

    Honestly, folks, this marmalade is one of the best I’ve tasted. The grapefruit isn’t sharp, and the “chunks” give the texture a huge boost (for me, at least) over the traditional strips. The chiles aren’t hot, as K said; they offer a slightly smokey addition, very subtle. K’s idea of a little tequila wouldn’t be amiss (and really, adding a little tequila to something just can’t be bad)… it’s just that the marmalade is fantastic on its own.

    Yes, I’m biased.

  5. Cynthia

    I bought a box of TX red grapefruits this weekend. I didn’t see the label on the box which stated that the citrus had been treated fungicide and the peels had been waxed. Is it possible to scrub the peels enough to remove the chemicals or should I start over with organic grapefruits?

    • Hi Cynthia,

      It’s always a good idea to scrub citrus fruits, but I’m not really sure how much, if any, of any fungicides you would be able to scrub off. Undoubtedly, some of these chemicals have penetrated the peel: this is why I try to recommend organic citrus for marmalade, or any recipe that uses the peel. However, plenty of people eat non-organic marmalade: it’s really up to you. But if you want fungicide-free marmalade, I would use this box for eating just the flesh, and try to find some organic grapefruit for marmalade.

      Hope that helps,

  6. For what its worth, most of my citrus is non-organic. Both in budget and supply I am a bit limited. I do scrub quite briskly until the waxing is off and then wash with a produce wash. Am I still probably ingesting pesticides and the like? yeah. Until I have my own citrus grove or the cash to order in fruit thats good enough to warrant the cost of organic it will likely continue.

    And what is it with boys loving marmalade. A friend’s husband has said he would marry me just for my marmalade ability if he wasn’t already married and old enough to be my father….lol. That and the beauty of marmalade has pushed me to greater marmalade making than I may have otherwise.

    This sounds lovely, and I’ve just made my first chile marmalde (the habanero kumquat from cake Walk) but now I think I may have to try the cara cara with the chiles in it as intended….I happen to have a bag sitting in the kitchen anyway….

    • Hi Purple,

      Yes, organic citrus can be quite pricey, as well as quite hard to find. And if conventinally-farmed marmalade is put into the overall context of a diet of mainly organic/sustainably farmed foods, I wouldn’t worry too much. I just like to point it out, because you don’t hear much in the news about pesticide loads on citrus fruits (not like apples, strawberries, bell peppers, for example) because people don’t eat the peel.

      I think all of us northeastern folks just need to make friends with a Californian with a few citrus trees in the backyard. Then go visit once a year, round about January. 🙂

  7. Murlock

    Made this last night – stage 3 – 10 1/2 jars (used 3 large pink grapefruit = 3.5 lbs) and Adobe Chiles (4) since couldn’t find guajillo’s – boiled for close to 1 1/2 hours – added add’l cup water & 1 1/2 cups sugar (started with 3/4 cup sugar to fruit/liquid) – it set BEAUTIFULLY and tastes pretty freakin’ awesome – spread some on warm herbed bread w/unsalted butter and the first bite redolent of fresh picked grapefruit followed by just enough heat.

    I have seven empty jars left, and am torn between doing a batch of grapefruit with vanilla bean and some cardamom OR trying another batch of blood orange. Oh, the choices.

    Your blog ROCKS.

  8. Cynthia

    Ive been meaning to let you know that I made this Guajillo grapefruit marmalade, but I’ve been too busy eating it on everuthing. It is heavenly! Thank you for the recipe

  9. Debbie

    I saw a recipe in Bon appetit for grapefruit dusted with rosemary and chilis and it was delicious. I think the marm with waheeeoooos 🙂 would be wonderful!

  10. Asa Fulton

    I found this recipe a week ago, and thought I would give it a spin using the thin-skinned fruit from the Marsh seedless pink grapefruit tree growing beside my house in Orlando, FL, and other local Florida ingredients as much as possible.
    I cut up 4 grapefruit fruit from my tree, which yielded a little over 5.5 cups of cut up fruit and juice, and cut up 6 Florida key limes in lieu of the bottled lemon juice. I then chopped up 3 dried chipotle peppers and 3 dried ancho chiles; ~3 1/4 cups leftover sugars (~0.5 cups Florida orange blossom honey, ~3/4 cup each liquid Sugar in the raw, Florida Crystals Demeranra and Natural cane sugars); and 1/2 cup Bombay Sapphire gin. I forgot to add the sea salt, but the recipe works fine without it.
    I combined all of the above with 5 cups Florida spring water in a Demeyere 9 quart sauce pot, brought the mixture to a boil, boiled it lightly for 20 minutes, and let it cool down for an hour before putting the lid on and refrigerating it overnight. The next day I uncovered it and brought it up to a boil and let it boil down gently for ~90 minutes until it thickened sufficiently, turned off the heat, and put it in jars for refrigerated storage.
    Result is superb, if you like strongly flavored, bitter marmalade with a smoky, peppery bite. The chipotle/ancho pepper combo works – it has enough of a pleasant bite to let you know its there, but the smoky chipotle and ancho flavors are not overbearing. The gin’s bitter character blends in well (I got this idea from a British grapefruit marmalade) and adds an interesting note to the flavor.
    So, thanks for your recipe!

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