How To: Segment Citrus Fruit

One of the things I always have on hand at my house is a variety of citrus fruits.   I use lemons and limes all the time to perk up both sweet and savory dishes.  Another trick is to use oranges and grapefruits in your cooking.  It’s a healthy way to brighten everyday foods and it adds a sweet punch!  A lot of times when recipes actually call for citrus, they ask for “segments” or “sections”.  It’s a method of cutting the fruit to avoid all of that chewy, bitter pith, just leaving the perfectly juicy flesh in beautiful uniform segments.  Since grapefruits are in prime season right now, I thought I’d use this gorgeous Texas Rio Star for a quick tutorial. Seriously, how amazing is that color?!  It was super sweet too (for a grapefruit!)

1.  Cut off both the top and the bottom of the fruit so it sits flat.
2.  Using a sharp knife and following the curvature of the fruit, cut the skin off in vertical cuts.
Now you can see all of the natural segments
See those little white lines?
3.  Insert your knife as close to that white line as you can get it, and then do the same on the other side of the segment.
and just pull it right out!
Continue until you have removed all of the segments.
Now the part that’s left still has tons of juice in it, so I always just squeeze it out and throw it in a smoothie or something.
And you’re left with gorgeous little slices that you can use in your recipes.

I’ve also found this is a great way to cut citrus to introduce it to little ones who can’t yet chew the tough membranes.  My baby loves to eat up orange slices this way!  Here’s some other ideas on how to use both grapefruit and orange segments:

– try oranges in place of mangoes in this Spicy Honey Chicken Salad, the dressing has oj in it so the flavors blend perfectly!

– try citrus in place of cranberries in this quick Sweet and Salty Salad Wrap

-decorate the top of a cake with a beautiful citrus segment star

-add segments to stir-frys and other Asian dishes (similar to pineapple)

-chop them on top of these Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes for a healthy and satisfying breakfast.

– citrus pairs especially well on salads with sweet dressings, like our Poppyseed Dressing.

-There’s also tons of yummy grapefruit and orange recipes on the Texas Citrus page if you’ve got a minute to browse!

How do you guys like your citrus?  Any other great ideas?

woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. This is one of my favorite kitchen tricks! I especially love it for grapefruit. I always hated how much flesh was wasted trying to dig in with a spoon, even when I made release cuts. This makes so much more sense.

  2. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I tried this with an orange for my 4 year old, and she told me, "Wow Mommy, you are really good at cutting oranges!" Also worked wonders at getting everyone to eat grapefruit.

  3. that grapefruit is so beautiful! I wish I liked to eat them, but they taste too much like earwax (or so I recall from the 1 time I tried it years ago as a child!) LOL! 🙂

  4. You've packed lots of good information into this post. I have a recipe for pink grapefruit salad dressing that you might enjoy. I love the food and recipes you feature here. They keep me coming back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  5. mmmmmmm. . . I always wondered how to do that! Maybe I can get my kids to actually eat grapefruit now. . .

  6. I just did that today with an orange to top my spinach and goat cheese salad. Then I took the leftover part of the orange, squeezed the juice into a bowl, and added white wine vinegar, salt, fresh-ground pepper, and olive oil to make a fabulous vinaigrette to top the salad.

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I love your blog.

  7. I LOOOVE your tutorials! Keep them coming! I am a self-taught cook and need all the help I can get 🙂

  8. I never thought of doing that for my baby. We have oranges right now, so I'll have to try this to see if she'll eat them! Good idea to juice the leftovers for smoothies too1

  9. Ha ha, Just yesterday I was cutting a grapefruit (apparently the hard way) and was thinking "I wonder if Sara has anything on her website with a better way to do this". I will have to get another one and try it again! Thanks!

  10. We would often just cut a grapefruit in half and sprinkle on a little sugar then eat it with a spoon when I was growing up.

  11. Jenn- tangelos have a similar taste to oranges so they'll work in most of the same thing. (And I've totally bought them on accident before too! lol)

  12. any ideas of what I can use tangelos for?

    Bought some on accident (thought I grabbed oranges).

    Love this tutorial!!

  13. This is how I've been segmenting my grapefruit/oranges and it is super easy!
    My favorite citrus food is to segment oranges and grapefruit into a big bowl, add some almost thawed frozen strawberries, mash a bit, add a tiny amount of sugar to taste, and you get what we call sploosh. We have this every Christmas morning and it's a huge hit! So refreshing and good for you too!

  14. I always wondered the "art" of segmenting fruit. And now I know. Thank you for another great tip!

  15. That was a great tutuorial. I have some grapefruit that was sent to us from Florida. It would be great to use them in some dishes. Thanks.

  16. thank you for the tutorial! i really like your idea of giving it to babies/toddlers. my daughter is a super picky eater and won't touch oranges. i'll try this method on her tomorrow!!!
    thanks for giving not just wonderful recipes, but the secrets to being a true chef (at least in my eyes).