How to Make Dried Orange Slices for Holiday Decoration

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Learn how to dry orange slices and use them to decorate your home for the holidays.

Dried orange slices are perfect if you want to add a pop of natural color to your holiday decor this year! They are easy to make, eco-friendly, and can add a lot of cheer for minimal cost.

There are so many ways to decorate with them that I can’t wait to share with you. Trust me when I say you want to keep these around long after Christmas!

But first, let’s learn more about this versatile winter citrus fruit. Then, I’ll share step-by-step instructions and insider tips for dry orange slices to use in your holiday décor.

Table of Contents

Christmas and Oranges

Why are oranges perfect for Christmas décor? It’s tradition! Dried oranges have been used in winter celebrations since the 1920s. They are associated with Christmas because they are typically in season during this time of year, making them both easy to find and usually very cost-effective.

During the 1930s and the Great Depression, citrus fruits were harder to find and were much more expensive. So oranges became a sign of wealth and were given to children in their stockings as a special treat for those who could afford them.

Using oranges as Christmas decoration
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Best Types of Oranges to Dry

Classic Navel or Cara Cara oranges are my favorite oranges to dry. They are large, have a uniform round shape, and make the most beautiful dried orange slices. You will find the Navel orange to be a lighter color and more on the yellow side. The Cara Cara is the most vibrant orange to dry, in my opinion. You also want to ensure your oranges have thick skin and are firm.

I have also used blood oranges to make dried orange slices before. The color is stunning and looks so beautiful for decorating during the holidays. But because they are already darker in color, it’s essential to keep an eye on them as you dry them. If you accidentally overcook them, they will turn brown.

variety of citrus fruits

Supplies

  • A variety of oranges
  • Pink grapefruit
  • A sharp knife
  • A mandolin
  • Parchment paper
  • Dehydrator or oven

How to Dry Oranges Slices

Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make perfect dried orange slices.

Slice the oranges

First, slice the oranges. I prefer a mandolin as it gives you even slices you cannot get by hand slicing the oranges. Even slices are essential, so they all dry at the same rate.

Blot the oranges

Before putting the orange slices onto trays, you should blot them first. Blotting removes excess juice which helps them to dry much faster and keeps them from sticking to the tray.

To blot, place them on top of a paper towel, then cover them with another paper towel. Apply just enough pressure to soak up some juice. Don’t push too hard, or you may squish them. Nobody wants a squished orange to decorate with!


Lay oranges on trays

Next, lay the orange slices out on trays. Using an oven, use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you use a dehydrator, lay the slices evenly on the trays. Be sure to spread them out in a single layer, so they do not overlap.

drying orange slices in dehydrator

Dehydrator vs. oven method for drying orange slices

Next, the instructions vary a little depending on the method you choose. My preferred method is to use a dehydrator. Or, if you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use an oven set at a low temperature. The dehydrator method takes longer but produces better results and requires less attention. The oven is quicker, but you must check them often to ensure they dry evenly and do not burn.

How to dry orange slices in a dehydrator

To dry orange slices in a dehydrator, set the temperature to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If your machine doesn’t have a precise thermometer, choose a “medium” or “fruit” setting if you have one.

Depending on how thick your slices are, the time it takes to dry orange slices in a dehydrator is about 8 hours, give or take. With this method, you don’t have to keep checking in on it. Instead, you can just set it and forget it. You can even let it run overnight and wake up to perfectly dried orange slices.

drying orange slices in a dehydrator

How to dry orange slices in an oven

Using the oven, set the temperature to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Note: every oven is different, so you may need to experiment to find what works best. The range could be anywhere from 175 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check on them often and flip them once or twice every hour to allow them to dry evenly. Depending on how thick the orange slices are, it will take 3 to 5 hours to dry completely. If the slices are not the same thickness, some may be done before others. Remove those to keep them from over-drying or getting too dark.

How do you know when the orange slices are dried?

The trickiest part of drying orange slices is knowing when they are done. Of course, they are thoroughly dried when they look dry, and the fruit is no longer soft or gooey. But, of course, they may still feel slightly sticky, and that’s OK.

When they are done, turn off the dehydrator and let them cool completely. If using an oven, remove them from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

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FAQ about dried oranges

How long do dried oranges last?

Dried orange slices can last years if they are dried and stored correctly. They will look their best in the first couple of years, and then the color will start to fade, or they may start to turn brown. They are still usable now; they won’t be as vibrant and pretty!

What is the best way to store dried oranges?

There are a few different ways you can store dried orange slices. The key is keeping them in a cool, dry place where somebody will not crush them. I layer them in a Tupperware container and seal them tight. Or you can layer them in a glass jar and store them in a dark place, such as in the back of your pantry.

Will my orange slices grow mold?

If you have dried your orange slices properly, they should not grow mold. However, if they are dried too slowly or not dried long enough, there may be enough moisture for mold to grow. Orange slices will continue to dry over time as they are hung out as decorations. Once fully dry, you should not have to worry about mold unless you live in a humid climate.

Can you air-dry orange slices?

Air-drying orange slices is not recommended. It is technically possible under perfect conditions but very difficult to achieve. Instead, use a dehydrator or oven for the best results.

Ways to decorate with dried orange slices for the holidays

There are many ways to use dried orange slices in your holiday decorations. They look great paired with other natural materials and create a beautiful pop next to winter greenery. A few of my favorite decorations are shown below, along with a few others I can’t wait to try myself.

Make ornaments

An easy way to use dried oranges is to turn them into ornaments. Just create a small hole in the ring of a dried orange slice, then thread a piece of twine, ribbon, or wire through the hole. I glued a few orange slices together and added some cinnamon, star anise, and a sprig of rosemary. Create a knot around the rind and tie it in a loop to hang. So simple and so pretty!

dried citrus sliced ornaments
dried citrus sliced ornaments

I used these ornaments to decorate arrangements all over my home. They look so fresh and beautiful against the greenery in these potted trees.

small Christmas tree decorate with orange slices

Decorate a Wreath

I also used some of my orange slice ornaments to decorate another Christmas wreath for the door of my She Shed last year, but beware….. the squirrels love to eat them!

Christmas wreath decorated with dried orange slices

Make a garland

Do you like to make garlands? orange slices work great for this! First, use the natural hole in the center of your orange slices to string them onto twine or string. Then, add other natural elements such as pinecones, pods, wooden beads, and cinnamon sticks. I’ve used my garland to create an arrangement for my front porch.

arrangement for my front porch using garland made from dried oranges

Other ideas for dried oranges

  • Create a centerpiece for your holiday table using fresh or faux greenery, pinecones, and orange slices.
  • Decorate a gift with a dried orange slice ornament.
  • Use as a garnish for a holiday cocktail.
  • Add decoration to a Christmas treat, such as a cake or bread.
  • Hang in a window or in front of string lights. They look so pretty when lit up from behind!
  • Make a Stove Top Potpourri ( see my recipe below)
Christmas package wrapped with dried orange slices
Dried orange slices on wooden cutting board at Christmas

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful! If you’re looking for more holiday decorating ideas, follow my blog. I’ll be posting new content regularly leading up to the holidays.

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15 Comments

  1. kristie says:

    I love how you used different types of oranges in your wreath. Very nice.

  2. Beautiful and informative post, Wendy! I’ve never done this and think this is the year. Thanks for all the great tips!

  3. Anna says:

    There are so many good tips in this post. I particularly liked the info on a dehydrator vs an oven. Also, the slicers you linked are helpful. The blood oranges look amazing when dried!

  4. Cindy says:

    This is one of my favorite things to do each year. I love simple Christmas decorating. Thanks for your tips Wendy!

  5. Wendy, happy Sunday!
    I made these a few years ago and still have them in my Christmas box! I love the natural element and color! Not to mention they are so easy to make.

  6. I have been drying oranges for several days and can’t wait to use them.

  7. Renae says:

    I love this. So many great ideas. Hugs to you.

  8. One of my favorite things to do at the holidays. I love how you used different colored oranges…great idea!!

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