Spicy Candied Kumquats

A simple little preserve, for that last pound or so of organic California kumquats: candied kumquats with a pequin chile kick!

I had big plans for my little kumquats: some of them went into Tigress’ pickle-tastic salt and pepper ‘quats, some others became Cakewalk’s wonderful habañero marmalade, a handful here & there were eaten fresh, and a handful more remain for recipe inspiration (I’ve been finding all sorts of great kumquat ideas on Ye Olde Interwebs; if I have time I’ll throw up a post of kumquat linklove). But I had a bit over a pound left, and I needed to do something quick & easy with them before they got too soft or shriveled. Then Autumn posted her candied mandarinquats with bourbon and ancho chile and I knew she was onto something. Candied sweet-sour bombs, perfect for a Sunday afternoon cocktail, with just a hint of spicy zing? Yes, please.

Candying citrus couldn’t be much easier: basically you simmer the fruit in a simple syrup of sugar and water and you’re done. I choose a method that worked for me: a long, low-heat simmer, followed by an overnight procrastination period rest before heating & canning. But there are plenty of recipes out there, plenty of methods that all work equally well. The point is, if you don’t candy some kumquats now, you can’t enjoy kumquatinis in July. And won’t that be a shame?

With inspiration from Autumn Makes and Does, Simply Recipes and Chez Pim

Spicy Candied Kumquats


  • 1 and ¼ lbs kumquats, preferably organic
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup sugar (organic refined/white beet sugar)
  • 9 dried pequin chiles, stems removed


  1. Wash kumquats, remove the tiny stem end, and slice in half lengthwise. Add kumquats, water, sugar and chiles to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover and simmer over low heat for approximately 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to rest at room temperature, covered, overnight. Alternatively, continue with step 2 immediately: not sure how much difference the overnight rest makes to the overall texture.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Bring kumquats in syrup back to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, fill hot jars with kumquats to about ½-inch headspace, packing fruit down gently so the kumquats do not lose their shape. Once all kumquats have been transferred to jars, bring the syrup to a lively boil, allowing it to boil for 1 to 2 minutes to reduce slightly. Add syrup to the kumquats to cover, up to a generous ¼-inch headspace. Make sure to bubble the jars, to ensure that no air pockets remain without syrup. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 3 cups.


  1. There are options galore: preserve in honey or brown sugar; add different spices, or omit altogether; get wacky with some dried herbs; go Asian with a stalk or two of fresh lemongrass and a hint of sake, or Middle Eastern with salt & aleppo pepper. Basically, the world is your kumquat.


Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, should last for months.




  1. so glad you sweetened some up and got them into jars! kumquats are most definitely the new Meyers – only better. between you and autumn i’ve already decided that next year some of mine are getting candied. that is of course if it’s not too late to buy some more this year!

  2. Rosalie McMenamin

    From the picture, it looks like you actually used the piquin peppers, didn’t that make the little quats very hot? I didn’t have any so I used 2 dried cayenne peppers from my garden. I’m guessing that the piquins at 140,000 SCU would make it way hotter than my 40,000 SCU peppers. Can’t wait for this to be done – just put the pot on to cook, and looking forward to some very tasty Margaritas later. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hi Rosalie,

      I’m not actually sure exactly what kind of chiles these are, but my guess is some sort of pequin/piquin cultivar. They are quite hot: I mostly use them dried, but I don’t think they go all the way up to 140,000, which is the low-habanero range. At any rate, they didn’t really impart all that much spice to the kumquats. It was nicely there, but not at all what I would call spicy. Of course, the chiles will continue to infuse the kumquats on the shelf, so they may gain in heat over time.

  3. Rosalie McMenamin

    My 2 dried cayenne peppers added quite bit of heat that I’m sure will be more so because I did put them into the jars with the kumquats. I did get 3 cups of quats and syrup with another cup of syrup left over, which will not go to waste, I was just surprised to have that much. Maybe I filled the jars too much with the quats and actually would have had 4 jars. Although I probably added to the left over syrup when I added 2 tbs of tequila, to give the kumquatritas a head start.

  4. Mary Brockmeyer

    In your picture, the kumquats look halved across the middle, not lengthwise. Prettier too. Any reason why that would change the recipe?

  5. Hi Mary,

    The cocktail in the picture has a couple of candied kumquats that sunk to the bottom of the glass, and a couple of thin slices of fresh kumquat that are floating on top. The candied ones were, in fact, sliced in half lengthwise; but there is no reason that you can’t slice them in half cross-wise, if you wish, or even slice them thinly into little wheels. If you go that route, however, you might want to simmer them for less time, in order to maintain a bit of texture.

    • Mary Brockmeyer

      Yum! Starting now! I have a bowl of kumquats sitting on the counter from my trees outside… Already made marmalade, so this is the perfect concoction to hand over to friends!

  6. I just started another batch of marm for my mom (she commissioned me), but if I can still find kumquats I’m doing these! I love candied jalapenos, and won’t have enough to last me until jalapeno season… so these will stand in the gap nicely!

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  9. Jenny C

    Been thinking about this recipe since last year, and finally have some kumquats with which to try it! Picked up a small box which is not quite a pound, so I’m planning a small batch to keep in the fridge rather than making myself crazy with the water bath.

    Here’s my question: I don’t know much about chiles (in spite of my husband being Mexican American). I’ve already got some dried ones in the spice cabinet and am wondering if they might be applicable. One jar of habaneros, which I realize would be on the hottest end. The other jar is labeled “birdseye” chile peppers – any thought on how those might compare to what you used? Thanks so much!

    • Bird’s eye chile would be the closest: in fact, that could be exactly what I used, since I’ve never been quite sure which chiles mine are, but they are tiny and red and the heat is about the same as a Thai chile.

      • Jenny C

        these are really unreal. made them today while working from home (in my PJs, which is the only way to go in this weather) and the are LIFE CHANGING.

  10. Jenny C

    Making another batch, since the first ones were/are so great (a few left in the fridge still). Fewer dried peppers and also a bunch of whole sweet spices – I went with cinnamon, allspice, clove, and coriander. We’ll see what they taste like!

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