Citrus Salt Recipe

A spectrum of citrus salts made from all sorts of winter citrus zest - clementines, wild lime, Meyer lemon, kalamansi oranges, and mandarinquats. Couldn't be simpler.

Citrus Salt

I'm not kidding when I tell you it looks like a citrus orchard shook out its limbs in my kitchen. There are sweet limes and Meyer lemons on the counter near the sink, wild limes in the corners of window sills, oblong mandarinquats and petite kalamansi oranges scattered across other flat surfaces. And then, the prize of all prizes, a massive, electric-yellow Buddha's hand (direct from a very special Southern California garden) putting off more fragrance than the rest combined. So, I set to work making a spectrum of citrus salts.

Citrus Salt

They're pretty, and provide a pop of surprise, and your friends will love you even more when you hand them little jars to take home. Mostly, I use these as finishing salts. I love the wild lime salt sprinkled over coconut milk-based curries, or as a finishing touch on spring rolls. Mandarinquat salt sprinkled over homemade sea salt caramels? Give me a minute while I add that to my to-do list. Later in the year, the clementine and Meyer lemon salts are perfect on fava beans and asparagus. Beyond that, heirloom tomatoes.

Citrus Salt

I'm going to give you my basic technique down below. You can use that as a jumping off point and go from there. A lot of what this comes down to is personal preference. You'll notice I call for flaky sea salt. For this sort of thing, I like the kind of light, flaky salt crystals you can crush between your fingertips. I use Maldon. You give this salt a good, long toss with the citrus zest and then bake the mixture dry. You can certainly leave the salt like this, but I like to give it just a few pulses in the food processor to break it down a bit. It's still light and flaky, just less so. All said, feel free to experiment with different salts. And process them powder fine if you like. I typically use about 1 tablespoon of zest to 1/2 cup of salt, but you might want to increase or decrease the amount of zest. Again, play around. Make blends. Take notes related to which ones you like, and how you're using them.

Citrus Salt

One other note. You'll only use the zest here. But you don't want all that amazing juice to go to waste, so zest the citrus first, then juice it as well. You can freeze the individual juices for later use, or, I like to make riffs on this sort of strong citrus ginger juice.

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Citrus Salt

I used Maldon sea salt flakes here, but you can certainly experiment with other kinds of salt (this looks beautiful). Also, try to buy good, organic, citrus. And avoid waxed citrus. If that's what you have on hand though, just be just to give it a good scrub with warm water. Also, dry completely before zesting.

For each type of salt you'll need:

1/2 cup / 2.25 oz / 65 g flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon citrus zest

Preheat your oven to oven 225F / 105C. Combine the salt and citrus in a medium bowl and mix well. Really work the zest into the salt, making sure there aren't any clumps of zest. Spread across a parchment lined baking sheet. If you're making more than one flavor of salt, repeat this as many times as necessary. For example, this time I made 6 salts, and I arranged them across two baking sheets (see photos).

Bake for 70 minutes, or until the citrus is completely dried out. Flecks of zest should crumble when pinched between your fingers. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. At this point you can pulse each salt a few times in a food processor if you like, which is what I do. Or, you can enjoy it as is. Salts keep in an air-tight jar for a couple of months.

Makes 1/2 cup of finishing salt.

Prep time: 5 minutes - Cook time: 70 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Yum! So glad I found your cookbook @ Ferry Terminal! Have enjoyed dining, cooking, and trekking with you ever since. Thanks for the awesome salts!!

Carol Cook

Yum! Gorgeous. Love citrus, too. Thank you for lovely inspiration.

I love this idea! Meyer lemons are one of the few consulations of the winter but I fee like I underuse them. Will definitely try this weekend.

Wow, the possibilities are endless. I love the idea of giving them as gifts. I don't cook with too much salt, but these are great.

Beautiful recipe and photographs, as always. Heidi - where did you get that incredible ceramic holder for your wooden spoons in the last photo? I've been searching for the perfect one and may have just fallen in love with yours! Any suggestions? Thanks!

HS: Hi kb, I came across that one at a garage sale. I see them quite often. Another idea would be to check on, I'll be there are a number for sale there as well. Happy hunting!

kb in to

Oh, what a brilliant idea - and so easy, too. I have a prolific lemon tree and I hate seeing them drop on the ground. This idea will be on my list for gifts, thanks.

I'm a little obsessed with finishing salts and yet I've never considered making my own! Can't wait to try this out!

I've got a shelf in the fridge designated the "citrus shelf" at the moment, and it's overflowing with grapefruit, oranges, lemon, lime, and pomelo. I can't wait to give this salt a go! It's grapefruit week at la domestique blog and I'm thinking a grapefruit /lime salt would be fun.

What a great activity for a cold winter's day! Thanks :) And congrats on the cookbook food52 news! :)

Heidi, I always love your photography, but the photos today absolutely sing of spring to me. I have been looking for more ways to enjoy fresh citrus juice, and zest since receiving a fresh citrus gift basket. I am constantly surprised at how even just a little lemon juice has feel-good benefits beyond just being a wonderful flavor enhancer. I think I may add a little rosemary in my sea salt batch as well. Warmly, Noelle

Heidi, thank you for your lovely blog, your beautiful photography and your constant inspiration! I've been browsing your blog and Pinning so many of your recipes for over a year now and thought I should finally express my thanks! I plan on buying your book soon. So many great recipes and my 16 yr. old daughter is a vegetarian (for 2 years now), so you're site gives me so many options for her! Thanks!!


I am a serious salt lover and have recently been into trying out different types of salts. Thanks for the inspiration to venture into trying to make some of my own!

Beautiful in every way! I'm wondering if something similar would work with pepper as in lemon pepper...dry the zest and pulse zest and peppercorns?

Ann from Montana

thank you for posting this - i've never even heard of citrus salts before! i've learned something new today, and i'm totally thinking grapefruit salt because i have so many of them at the moment.

Each and every of your posts is a gem: I know I am going to find simple and great ideas, without fail. I'm also a big fan of your books. I can't help being excited by Nigella Lawson's review - two of my food goddesses together! Too much!

What a great idea Heidi. I love how you take simple ideas but make them so special. Kaffir lime salt sounds wonderful sprinkled over coconut based dishes as you suggested. Beautiful little glass jars. Would love to try these out and give away as gifts too. Thanks! Good luck in the cookbook tournament! :) Just read the write up.

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