Types of Oranges to Know for the Best Sweet, Puckery Bite
Juicy oranges provide a sunny, sweet bite to any dish, and are touted as an immune-boosting, vitamin C powerhouse. But there are so many types of oranges on the shelves these days, it can be hard to keep up with the difference between the navel orange, blood orange, and mandarin orange in front of you. Learn your way around the orange section of your supermarket and bring some home for noshing out of hand, adding to salads and sauces, and squeezing for juice. For eye-popping party desserts, we'll also share some citrus-filled treats to make. Read on for a list of the common orange types as well as a few of the up-and-coming varieties landing in stores today.
Small, round, with blushing orange-red skin, the blood orange is famous for its reddish-orange flesh that gets its color from the pigment anthocyanin. It has an intense orange flavor with hints of raspberry or strawberry. They can have some seeds. Try stuffing them for a fun treat.
- Best for: salads, compotes, and eating fresh
- In season: December to July
Cara Cara Orange
On the outside, Cara Caras look like bright-skinned navel oranges. Cut one open, and you’ll see a distinct pinkish-red and orange flesh. This seedless variety is sweeter, slightly tangy, and less acidic than traditional navel oranges.
- Best for: salads, eating out of hand
- In season: December to May
Commonly known by the brands Cuties and Halos, teeny clementines are a mandarin orange hybrid. These seedless fruits are sweeter than most other citrus. Try them in our orange-roasted chicken (pictured above).
- Used for: baking, compotes, salads, eating fresh
- In season: October to January
Not much bigger than grapes, kumquats are intensely sour fruits with a sweet, bitter finish. They have delicate skin that can be eaten whole—you might also come across a seed, which is edible but can be bitter. Cooking mellows them and brings out the fruit’s natural sweetness. Try them with pan-seared salmon.
- Best for: Candying, cooking, eating fresh
- In season: January to June
The large, round navel is the most common variety of orange. It's very juicy, sweet, seedless, and easy to peel. The versatile citrus fruit can easily be used in any recipe simply calling for "oranges."
- Best for: baking, cooking, salads, compotes, juicing, eating fresh
- In season: November to June
Test Kitchen Tip: Get the most juice from your oranges by taking the fruit out of the fridge so it’s at room temperature. Roll the fruit back and forth on the counter to soften it and crush the juice cells. Then cut the fruit in half crosswise, and give each half a good squeeze.
As if the name "sumo" didn't already give it away, this variety of orange is giant. The large citrus hails from Japan and has a signature bump on the top. Super sweet and easy to peel, Sumo oranges are perfect for snacking. Learn even more about this fun-shape orange.
- Best for: eating fresh
- In season: January to April
This type of orange has a pebbly, pumpkin-orange zipper skin with a sweet interior. The only hassle you'll come across when snacking is the fact tangerines usually contain many seeds.
- Best for: baking, jams, eating fresh
- In season: November to March