Our Citrus Dessert Recipes Are Sure to Delight

Lime-Coconut Cream-Pie jars recipe
Photo: Paola + Murray

Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes shine in cake, cookies, fritters, sorbet, tart, and more. If you're in the mood for something a little sweet and a little tart, you can't go wrong with these recipes.

01 of 25
Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée
Con Poulos

When life gives you lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits, why not let them sparkle in mouthwatering citrus-flavored desserts? We can all agree that citrus is wonderful for eating out of hand, refreshing as juice, and shines in all kinds of salads, but if you ask us, its potential for sweet applications is underrated and under-appreciated. Citrus desserts are where these fruits really dazzle, as evidenced by the Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelèe that you see right here.

Both in baked goods and spoonable, scoopable treats, citrus is sublime, and the glorious dessert recipes we've gathered here feature everything from fragrant slices and fresh-squeezed splashes of juice to aromatic zest from a hit parade of varieties. That's right, varieties—our recipes feature different types of citrus, and then different varieties within the same category, like Cara Cara, blood oranges, and mandarins, all of which you can find in the produce section of your local supermarket. Fill your basket up with the season's best, and then turn them into some sweet, bright sunshine with these citrus dessert recipes.

Want to start with a stunner? Our Citrus Upside-Down Cake is it. Though it looks next-level, it's actually easy to make; no layers, no frosting, just a simple sour cream cake batter over the shingled rounds of citrus. When the weather turns warmer, or when you just want a blast of sunshine on your spoon, turn to our refreshing citrus sorbet recipe. It's a formula you can change over time; once you master the basic recipe for grapefruit, try the variations with tangerine or blood orange. Then move on to customizing this frosty treat to your own liking: Add fresh herbs, pairing blood orange with rosemary or thyme, or take it into grown-up territory by spiking the sorbet with a little Aperol or Campari.

And don't miss out on the cutest individual dessert around: We have a recipe for a deconstructed cream pie that's a cinch to make. We like that the process of preparing these jars is less of a challenge than making and baking a graham cracker crust, and it helps that these mini desserts are much easier to serve, too.

These 25 citrus dessert recipes show the versatility of the colorful, juicy fruits. Embrace their beauty and their flavor with these must-make cookies, cake, pie, fritters, sorbet, tart, and more.

Recipes by Shira Bocar; art direction by James Maikowski; prop styling by Tanya Graff; food styling by Judy Kim.

02 of 25

Grapefruit Sorbet

Grapefruit Sorbet recipe
Paola + Murray

Classic sorbet calls for a simple juice-to-sugar ratio that you can customize to fit your ingredients, your menu, and your fancy. Try our grapefruit sorbet and once you have the basic math down, have some fun. Embolden blood orange with fresh rosemary or thyme, spike grapefruit with Aperol or Campari, or take tangerine a notch with a squeeze of lime.

03 of 25

Citrus Upside-Down Cake

Citrus Upside-Down Cake recipe
Paola + Murray

This creation looks formidable, but it's practically foolproof. You slice peeled oranges into rounds, nestle them in a butter-rum glaze in a square pan, spread the batter over them, bake, and flip. To achieve the effect of the stained-glass windows at Chartres, we combined blood oranges, Cara Caras, and mandarins.

04 of 25

Black-and-Pink Grapefruit Cookies

Black-and-Pink Grapefruit Cookies recipe
Paola + Murray

Here's a really good riff on New York black-and-white cookies. These beauties get their blush from ruby-red-grapefruit juice and a couple of drops of food coloring.

05 of 25

Lime-Coconut Cream-Pie Jars

Lime-Coconut Cream-Pie jars recipe
Paola + Murray

These individual cream "pies" get silkiness from coconut milk and a lift from limes. They're also fun to make, especially if you have kids who love spooning stuff into containers.

06 of 25

Citrus-Scented Ricotta Fritters

Citrus-Scented Ricotta Fritters recipe
Paola + Murray

Astonishingly easy and unbelievably light—that's how we'd sum up these crisp fritters. Just whisk ricotta with eggs, sugar, flour, and a few other basic ingredients; stir in fresh lemon and orange zest; and drop spoonfuls of the batter into hot oil. Then gently roll them in sugar and sprinkle with more zest.

07 of 25

Candied-Orange Chocolate-Caramel Tart

Candied-Orange Chocolate-Caramel Tart recipe
Paola + Murray

This knockout is a paean to the legendary chocolate-caramel tart created by the equally legendary pastry chef Claudia Fleming. The crust is built with crushed chocolate wafers, then topped with caramel flavored with the syrup left from candying orange peel. A thick stratum of chocolate ganache follows, and sprinklings of the candied zest and fleur de sel glimmer on top like encrusted jewels.

08 of 25

Cara Cara Oranges with Toasted Honey Meringue

grapefruit dessert
Marcus Nilsson

Slices of intensely hued orange (we think the flavor of Cara Caras is more intense, too!), are served with meringues made with honey rather than refined sugar.

09 of 25

Lemon-Meringue Sheet Cake

lemon-meringue sheet cake recipe
Con Poulos

Feed a crowd with this sheet cake version of everyone's favorite meringue pie. The easy sour cream cake batter is infused with lemon zest.

10 of 25

Honey Flan with Citrus and Kiwifruit

honey flan with citrus and kiwi-fruit
Christina Holmes

Clementines, tangerines, and pink grapefruits, along with peeled kiwifruit wedges, make a colorful and refreshing accompaniment to this sweet and creamy flan.

11 of 25

No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake

no-bake key lime cheesecake
Armando Rafael

This key lime dessert is one of our most popular recipes—is that due to the fact that no-bake cheesecake is always a winner or because everyone loves a key lime sweet? Try this recipe out and let us know.

12 of 25

Mixed Grapefruit with Ricotta and Cardamom Honey

Armando Rafael

Use all the different colored grapefruits you can find to make this easy citrus dessert as bright and colorful as possible. Creamy white ricotta is the perfect foil for pink, white, and Ruby Red segments. The only cooking required is to heat the honey with cardamom.

13 of 25

Citrus Mousse Cake with Buttercream Frosting

citrus mousse cake with buttercream frosting
Ngoc Minh Ngo

When you want to go all out with dessert, this cake is the answer. Just be sure to have a pedestal to display this six-layer beauty on. There's lemon in the cake layers and lime mousse between them, making it a delight for citrus lovers.

14 of 25

Cranberry-Curd-and-Citrus Pavlova

cranberry curd and citrus pavlova with sliced oranges
Ryan Liebe

A swirl of sunshine in the winter, this citrus dessert combines a crisp meringue shell with a plush, marshmallowy center with a tart orange curd that balances the meringue's sweetness; and whipped cream infused with a few drops of orange-blossom water to bring out the juicy citrus toppings.

15 of 25

Clementine Granita

clementine granita

A knockout presentation takes this easy clementine granita to the next level. If you don't want to hollow out clementines for serving, just use espresso cups or small bowls. However you serve it, this is a frosty citrus treat.

16 of 25

Key Lime-Pie Sundaes

Marcus Nilsson

Key lime pie deconstructed! Fold homemade key lime curd into vanilla ice cream, then finish with a bruléed meringue topping and shortbread triangles for a truly unforgettable sundae.

17 of 25

Triple Citrus Bundt Cake

citrus bundt cake on cake stand
Christopher Testani

If you want to count the ways citrus is used in this Bundt here's the score: there are lemons and orange, juice, zest, and segments in the batter; lemon juice and orange juice in the syrup that's brushed over the cake; and lemon juice in the glaze that finishes the cake.

18 of 25

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Pie

Ryan Liebe

A gluten-free take on a favorite pie, this vintage lemon-curd-and-cream dessert has a meringue crust. You skip making and rolling out pie crust but don't miss out on the creamy citrus flavor.

19 of 25

Citrus-and-Spice Cheesecake

Citrus-and-Spice Cheesecake
Gentl and Hyers

Jewel-like grapefruit and orange segments and a fragrant blend of ginger and allspice take classic cheesecake to new heights.

20 of 25

Key Lime Cupcakes

Mike Krautter

Key lime zest brightens the batter of these special-occasion cupcakes, while more zest and juice jazz up the accompanying cream cheese frosting.

21 of 25

Lemon-Mascarpone Crepe Cake

Lemon-Mascarpone Crepe Cake
Jonathan Lovekin

Take the concept of layer cake to the next level with this delectable dessert composed of 20 crepes sandwiched with lemon curd cream, and thickly topped with mascarpone cream.

22 of 25

Citrus Terrine


A refreshing, jewel-like dessert, this terrine is made with segments of clementine, orange, and grapefruit, making it another triple threat citrus dessert.

23 of 25

Blood Oranges with Caramel Sauce and Cocoa Nibs

David Meredith

Top rounds of blood orange rounds with crunchy cocoa nibs and homemade blood-orange caramel for a simple yet spectacular dessert.

24 of 25

Triple Citrus Tart

Triple-Citrus Tart

Use segments of grapefruits, blood oranges, and navel oranges to decorate the top of this tart. The citrus provides a refreshing contrast to the filling of pastry cream and the pâte sucrée crust.

25 of 25

Citrus Cornmeal Cake with Wine-Roasted Strawberries

citrus cornmeal cake
The Ingalls

An easy-to-make cake that's loaded with flavor. Olive oil replaces butter and there's both orange zest and juice plus shredded coconut to make the cake tender and moist.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles