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Mandarin Oranges 101

These sweet little juice bombs are a gift from nature, and we’re about to give them the appreciation they deserve. Read on for all the juicy deets you need to know about mandarin oranges, and stick around for a citrus-wonderland of recipes in the coming days.

Close-up photo of a mandarin orange peeled.

So what are mandarin oranges?

Mandarin oranges are a small, loose-skinned variety of the common orange, typically sweeter and less acidic than the larger oranges. Thought to have originated in India, they travelled across China where they picked up the name “mandarin”. They made their way to England and Euro-tripped it down to Italy, eventually making it to the Moroccan port of Tangier, where they garnered another name, “tangerine”.

How to Peel a Mandarin Orange Video

Mandarin Orange Varieties

Are mandarins and clementines the same thing? In short, sort of! Mandarin oranges are a smaller descendent or the common orange. Because mandarins are easily crossed with other varieties of citrus and can grow in a number of climates, many varieties of mandarins have been created…around 200! Here are the most popular varieties of mandarin oranges:

  • Clementines: This sweet variety is usually seedless and easy to peel, making it great for kids. Brands like “Cuties” or “Sweeties” commonly use clementines (but…fun fact! As different varieties go in and out of season, these brands will swap which kinds of mandarins they include in the packs)
  • Tangerines: Though “tangerine” was originally just another word for the fruit “mandarin”, the term “tangerine” has begun to take on another meaning. What we call tangerines in the U.S. are commonly more tart and have a deeper orange/red color than the common mandarin. Varieties of tangerine include Darby and Fairchild.
  • Satsuma: This is a seedless variety originating in Japan. The tree is more tolerant to cold, so you’ll find these in colder climates. This variety has a thick but delicate skin, meaning it’s quick to peel but bruises easily, making it great for either eating locally or canning for shipment.
What are mandarin oranges?

Are canned mandarin oranges good for you?

Canned mandarin oranges can be a great way of getting more fruit into your diet, especially when mandarin oranges aren’t in peak season. You’ll need to make sure they’re not canned in sugar. Look for a label on the can that says “no added sugar”.

How to select mandarin oranges

You’ll find a variety of mandarins are in season from November to April. Choose fruits that are heavy for their size and unblemished.

How to store mandarin oranges

Store mandarin oranges in a cool, dark place (like the fridge). At room temperature they’ll last about 1 week. Refrigerated in a bag they should last 2 weeks to 1 month.

Close-up photo of a mandarin orange peeled.

Mandarin Orange Recipes

Mandarin oranges can be used in place of oranges in most recipes, but they are especially great in salads and breakfast bowls! Here are my favorite mandarin orange recipes:

What are mandarin oranges?

Mandarin Orange Nutrition Information

per 1 large (120 g) mandarin orange

  • Mandarin Orange Calories: 64
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Fiber: 2 g, 9% of Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • 53% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
  • 16% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
  • 6% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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  1. Kate says:

    What a great post! I’ve eaten hundreds of these little beauties over the years, but now I know so much more about them!

  2. Jill says:

    We love oranges in our household. Generally I section what our grocery calls “lunchbox oranges” (5 for a $1) for my daughter’s lunch. I keep the peel on. I’ll show this video to her – I’m sure she’ll want to try this way of sectioning an orange 🙂

    1. Sarah says:

      My family ALWAYS had them when they were in season too! They’re such a healthy snack to have sitting out 🙂

  3. Love oranges, especially clementines! We have been buying them by the boxes too recently at our local market – excited to learn so many things about them and also to see what recipes you have in store!

    1. Sarah says:

      I think if I didn’t buy them by the boxes I’d be going to the store for more every other day!

  4. Megan Marlowe says:

    My son loves mandarin oranges! I love this informational post and can’t wait to show him the video!

  5. Kristen says:

    these are so pretty! We love oranges, and I love putting the smell after I put the orange peels down the garbage disposal.

    1. Sarah says:

      Oh that’s a great idea! Unfortunately garbage disposals aren’t so common here in Europe. But I’ve heard that boiling the peel also smells mighty nice!

  6. I had no idea that tangerines, clementines and satsumas were all a kind of mandarin! I must admit until recently if it was round and orange I just called it an orange regardless of its size. I love all kinds of oranges, mandarins or otherwise so I really should take the time to find out more about them. Great post!

    1. Sarah says:

      I didn’t know either until I started looking into them more! So I figured there was no way I could included ALL oranges in this ingredient spotlight…there are so many things to learn about mandarins alone!

  7. Aubrey says:


    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for asking, Aubrey. Yes they are. Feel free to email me at [email protected] to discuss licensing.

  8. Ralph says:

    How many pounds of Mandarin Oranges are needed to feed 22 people giving them 4 ounces each?

    1. Sarah says:

      That’s a whole lot of mandarin oranges! Looks like you’ll need 5.5 lbs 🙂

  9. Anne Binderup says:

    what happens if you swallow a whole mandarin orange? Asking for a friend 😉

    1. Sarah says:

      Well you’ll have an instant does of vitamin C!

  10. Jim says:

    I have a mandarin tree that was in the yard when we bought our house 10 years ago, the fruit is large and juicy, BUT, the skin is thin and hard to peel, and if left for a week after picking goes rock hard. any suggestions

    1. Sarah says:

      Hmm now that’s a tricky one! Could you use a vegetable peeler while they’re still soft?

  11. Cole says:

    I bought 5Ib from Costco. I peeled one and it was white. I have never seen this before. Usually I purchase from Aldi. How do I know manderine is spoil and to throw out?

    1. Sarah says:

      Strange, I haven’t seen this before! It’s probably just a lot of pith.

  12. Dave says:

    I love mandarin oranges in my salad. I prefer not to buy food from China. Do you know of any brands or stores that sell canned mandarin oranges that are not from China?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Dave! I’m actually not sure, this is a great question! Many southern states, along with Mexican, commercially grow mandarin oranges. You could try focusing there (or your local farmer’s market). I’m guessing even just buying them fresh in the store (rather than canned) will increase your likelihood of them being local.