Oranges can do it all, from making juice to marmalade to marinade. But not all oranges are created equal: Each variety boasts its own unique flavor and appearance. Mostly in season from late fall through spring, each type of orange has its own special power, whether it’s best for cooking, juicing or snacking on straight out of the peel. Here are ten popular types of oranges to consider buying next time you’re at the grocery store or farmers market. (Oh, and just for the record, oranges can be kept at room temperature, though refrigerating them extends their shelf life—just be sure to let them come to room temperature after chilling so they regain their juiciness.)
10 Types of Oranges for Juicing, Snacking and Everything in Between
1. Navel Oranges
These sweet, slightly bitter oranges are arguably the most common type of all. You’ll know a navel orange when you see one, thanks to its signature mark on the bottom that resembles a belly button. Because of their inviting flavor and lack of seeds, navel oranges are a great pick for snacking on raw or adding to salads. Their sweetness also makes them great for juicing, as long as you’re going to drink it immediately. You can also use the zest in baking, like making quick breads or muffins, to brighten up a dish’s flavor. Navel oranges are in season from November to June, so feel free to incorporate them in any recipe from fruit salad to grilled fish year-round.
2. Cara Cara Oranges
This type of navel orange is extra sweet. Cara Cara oranges are famous for their low acidity and refreshing sweetness, which make them prime for snacks, raw dishes and juice. (They also tend to have minimal seeds.) Also called red-fleshed navel oranges (their flesh has a deeper color due to natural carotenoid pigments), the Cara Cara is sort of like a cross between a blood orange and a navel orange, as it has a complexly sweet flavor with hints of berries and cherries. They originally hail from Venezuela, but now they’re grown mostly in California from December to April.
3. Valencia Oranges
If you have your sights set on fresh-squeezed OJ, look no further than sweet Valencia oranges. They have thin skins and a ton of juice, meaning you’ll get the most bang for your buck when it comes to making a fresh glass. You can also snack on them raw, as long as you keep an eye out for seeds. Despite its Spanish namesake, Valencia oranges were created in the mid-1800s in California; they’re also grown in Florida. Unlike other popular varieties, they’re mostly harvested in the summer from March through July. Use Valencia oranges to make juice or eat them raw as part of a salad or solo.
Try it: Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad
4. Blood Oranges
Ah, blood orange: No winter cheese board or holiday dessert spread is complete without it. They get their name from the deep red color of their flesh, which is super juicy, sweet and tart. Their flavor is unique, sort of like tart oranges mixed with plump, ripe raspberries. There are three main types—Moro, Sanguinello and Tarocco—which range from tart to sweet, respectively. This makes them a stellar addition to desserts or sauces, plus a great base for marmalade. They can also be juiced or eaten raw. Blood oranges are most widely available from late fall through winter (about November to March).
Try it: Blood Orange Eton Mess
5. Seville Oranges
These Mediterranean fruits are also called sour oranges for a reason. Seville oranges are minimally sweet and big on tartness and bitterness. This makes them the best choice for marmalade, as they can hold their own against and complement the substantial amount of sugar that needs to be added. The oranges and their peels are also great for flavoring marinades. Because they’re so acidic, they’re not typically enjoyed raw. If you can get your hands on some Seville oranges while they’re in season from December to February, use them in fish or pork marinades, jellies and marmalades, sauces, salad dressings or sweetened cocktails.
Try it: Cranberry Orange Marmalade
6. Lima Oranges
If you ever see this Brazilian gem in the produce section, scoop some up before they disappear. Common in South America and the Mediterranean, lima oranges are also known as acidless oranges because they’re super sweet with minimal acidity or tartness. They have thick peels and some seeds, but they’re great for snacking on raw nonetheless because of their soft, tender texture and distinct juiciness. The only downside of lima oranges is that their lack of acidity also gives them a short shelf life. So, enjoy them raw or squeeze them into juice and indulge ASAP. You just might be lucky enough to find them from late winter to early spring.
7. Mandarin Oranges
Here’s the thing: Even though it’s often referred to as a “mandarin orange,” mandarins technically aren’t oranges at all. Mandarin oranges are a group of citrus fruits that have loose skin, are small in size and have a somewhat flattened appearance. Oranges are actually hybrids of mandarins and pomelos (which are similar to grapefruit, but less bitter). Mandarins are small and sweet with easy-to-peel skin, making them popular salad toppers and snacks. They’re also great for baking since they’re practically seedless. Fresh mandarins are in season from January to May, but they’re also commonly found canned and packed in syrup for year-round consumption.
While they’re often lumped into the same family, tangerines and oranges are two different types of citrus. Tangerines are technically classified as a type of mandarin, and they’re a close cousin of the clementine. (The main difference between the two is that clementines are basically seedless while tangerines aren’t.) In general, oranges are bigger and tarter than tangerines, which are small, sweet and easy to peel, making them great for juice, snacking, baking, drinks and salads. They have a pretty long season from November through May, so you have plenty of time to snag some while they’re at their best.
They’re tiny, seedless, sweet and downright adorable. No wonder everyone loves packing these for a bright lunchtime pick-me-up. Like tangerines, clementines are easy to peel and eat, thanks to their little segments. A clementine is technically a tangor, which is a cross between a willowleaf mandarin orange and a sweet orange—that’s why they have such unique, honey-like sweetness and low acidity. They’re a cinch to peel because of their loose skin and minimal pith, making them great for snacking on raw, baking with or adding to a salad. Their peak season is November through January.
OK, follow along closely: If an orange, by definition, is a hybrid of a mandarin and pomelo, and the tangelo is a hybrid of a tangerine (which is a type of mandarin) and a pomelo, then the tangelo is *basically* a super special orange…right? Tangelos have a notable nipple that separates them from other citrus fruit. Their skin is tight and difficult to peel, but the flesh inside is super juicy, tart and sweet. So, while they might be tough to eat raw, they’d make a killer glass of juice. They can also be used as a substitute for mandarin oranges and sweet oranges. Keep an eye out for them from December through March.
Try it: Tangelo Granita