The Skillet Tip That Ensures Perfectly Charred Citrus

Citrus fruits, like lemons, limes, and oranges, are staples in most kitchens. In their natural form, they add a zingy punch to countless dishes. On the other hand, charring them takes the flavor to a whole new level, and that's why charred lemons became a food trend. But, if you're having a hard time getting a perfectly even singe on your fruit, then this skillet tip is exactly what you need: Instead of just laying your citrus slices flat in the skillet, give them a little press with a spatula once they hit the hot surface.

This simple step ensures maximum contact between the fruit and the heated surface, creating beautiful caramelization and char marks to elevate your dish. Charring citrus brings major benefits — beyond the aesthetics, it's all about unlocking those hidden flavors. The tangy notes are mellowed, the sweetness is enhanced, and an irresistible smoky flavor is imparted on the fruit.

Perhaps the best part about charred citrus is how easy it is to make. First, slice your citrus in halves, slices, or wedges. Then, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and apply a little cooking oil on the cut side of the fruit before placing them, cut side down, in the skillet. If you want to end up with more caramelization, sprinkle a little sugar on the flesh before heating. Now is when you gently press the slices down with your spatula. Let them sizzle for a few minutes until they develop a beautiful char.

Elevate your meals and drinks with charred citrus

Once your citrus is charred, it's now ready to elevate your dishes. You can go about this three ways: squeeze out the juice, blend the whole fruit, or use it as is for garnishing. One popular option for lemon juice is to spritz it over grilled fish or other seafood. The smoky sweetness of the charred fruit complements the delicate flavors of the seafood, creating a mouthwatering combination. Charred citrus juice is also a fantastic addition to salsas or mixed in a lemon vinaigrette to drizzle over a bed of everyday salad.

You can take this cooking hack a step further by blending the whole charred lemon into salad dressings or dips. The heating process helps tone down the bitter taste of the rind and, by blending the whole fruit, you'll end up with a much thicker, sauce-like dressing that's more versatile as a topping for starches, meats, or salads. Moreover, you can use charred lemons to transform lemonade from good to great.

And, let's not forget the visual appeal of these caramelized slices. Simply place them atop grilled meats or vegetables to create a grand look. The singed citrus also makes a striking garnish for cocktails and juices in the same way that you'd use brûléed fruit to elevate any drink.