This citrus salad recipe features a colorful array of oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, and optional pomegranate seeds. The finishing touch is an easy-to-make honey, lemon, and vanilla syrup.

citrus salad on a serving platter surrounded by gold serving utensils, a cloth napkin, lemons, and a small bowl of pomegranate seeds.
Photo Credits: Kathrine Irwin

In the realm of culinary delights, few things rival the combination of sweet and tangy flavors that a well-crafted citrus salad brings to the table. Winter months are when citrus fruits truly come to life. I think of it as nature’s reward for enduring the cold.

As the seasons change, so does nature’s bounty presenting us with an array of vibrant citrus fruits. You can add citrus to salad greens like we do in this Fresh Fennel and Orange Salad, transform them into a Blood Orange Cocktail, or keep it simple with just fruit, a little honey and fresh basil as I do here. This citrus salad recipe is so vibrant and colorful, it looks like sunshine on a plate. And who couldn't use more sunshine?

The symphony of different kinds of oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi coupled with lemon zest, honey, and vanilla bean syrup, creates a combination that's quick, easy, and irresistibly delicious. It it on its own or add fruit to your Greek yogurt in the morning!

a close up of a serving of citrus salad on a plate.
Table of Contents
  1. Flavor Maker Spotlight
  2. Ingredients
    1. For the Syrup
    2. For the Salad
  3. How to Make Citrus Salad 
  4. What to Serve with Citrus Salad 
  5. More Sunny Citrus Recipes
  6. Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs
  7. Citrus Salad Recipe

Flavor Maker Spotlight

Nearly a decade ago, I was working for one of the Edible Communities publications and wrote a story on single-source honey. Before that experience, I had no idea how complex honey could be, and sparked a deep fascination with this sticky wonder. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, but I do have 15 different kinds of honey in my cupboard as I write this. 

When it comes to adding something sweet the Mediterranean Diet leans toward honey over other kinds of sugar. Honey is a natural product created by bees. The flavor profile varies from robust or subtle and floral or herby. Each kind offers a unique tasting experience. When I joined The Mediterranean Dish, I discovered another kind of honey that quickly became a favorite.

The Mediterranean Dish offers Greek Honey in the shop made from bees that feast on the flowers of thyme and other herbs. It’s moderate in flavor but strong enough to actually add complexity to recipes or even Hot Lemon Ginger Tea.

It’s my morning honey, which means it's my go-to to drizzle over the plain yogurt I eat almost daily for breakfast. 

ingredients for citrus salad including oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, basil, lemon, honey, water, and a vanilla bean.

Ingredients

Any citrus combination will do when it some to this fruit salad recipe. Choose your favorites. Leave out the kiwi, swap it for pineapple (not citrus but still good). Don’t want to bother with making the lemon vanilla syrup? Just drizzle the sliced fruit with honey and call it a day. 

For the Syrup

  • Large lemon: Just the zest is needed for this syrup. It infuses the syrup with a burst of citrusy brightness. Make sure you don’t use any of the white pith or your syrup will be bitter. 
  • Honey: adds a touch of sweetness that balances the citrus acidity.
  • Vanilla Bean Seeds: Elevating the syrup to a new level, the vanilla bean seeds introduce sweet and aromatic undertones. You can also swap in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste or leave it out entirely.

For the Salad

  • Cara Cara Oranges: These oranges lean a little pink. They are sweet but have a tart side—think subtle hint of cranberry. 
  • Navel Oranges: These are classics—all sweet and bright orange.
  • Blood Oranges: Adding a dramatic flair with their deep crimson hue, blood oranges contribute a slightly tart flavor, creating a visual and gustatory masterpiece.
  • Kiwi: Offering a refreshing contrast, kiwi slices introduce a tropical twist. Their vibrant green color and unique texture complement the citrus ensemble. No, they are not native to the Mediterranean, but Greece has been growing them since the 1980s and is one of the top 5 producers of Kiwi fruits.
  • Pink Grapefruit: The citrus spectrum would only be complete with the slightly bitter and wonderfully tangy pink grapefruit. Its rosy blush adds another delightful pop of color to the salad.
  • Pomegranate Seeds (optional): For those seeking a burst of juicy sweetness, pomegranate seeds are the perfect addition. Their ruby-red jewels add a delightful crunch and a pop of color. 
  • Fresh Basil (optional): Elevate the aroma and add a hint of herbaceousness with fresh basil ribbons. 
a close up photo of citrus salad on a serving platter.

How to Make Citrus Salad 

  • Make the syrup: Use a vegetable peeler to remove the lemon zest in long strips leaving behind as much of the white pith as possible. Juice the lemon into a small bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine honey, water, vanilla bean seeds and pod, strips of lemon peel, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Let simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until it’s infused and slightly thickened. Stir and remove from heat.strips of lemon peel and the vanilla beans simmering in a saucepan of honey, water and lemon juice.
  • Prepare the fruit: Cut the top and bottom portion off of one of the oranges – you just want to expose the flesh. Set the orange on a cutting board and remove the skin and white pith working from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. Flip it over and cut away any remaining pieces of skin. The fruit flesh should be exposed. Slice the orange into rounds. Repeat with the remaining oranges and kiwis. For the grapefruit follow the same process as you did with the oranges, but instead of slicing into rounds, supreme the fruit and segment it. slices of kiwi, orange and grapefruit for the citrus salad on a cutting board.
  • Dress and serve: Remove the lemon peel and vanilla bean pod. Transfer the sliced citrus and kiwi to a bowl. Add the vanilla honey syrup. Add the ribboned basil (or mint). Gently toss to coat. For a casual presentation serve this salad in the bowl and garnish with pomegranate seeds. For something a little fancier, arrange the sliced fruit on a platter, garnish with pomegranate seeds and a few more herbs then serve. an overhead photo of citrus salad on a serving platter surrounded by a cloth napkin, gold serving utensils, basil, lemons, a small bowl of pomegranate seeds and a jar of dressing.

What to Serve with Citrus Salad 

I often just eat this as a snack because it keeps so well in the refrigerator. But I also spoon leftovers from this citrus salad recipe over plain yogurt and top it with a sprinkle of crushed nuts like pistachios or almonds.

If you’re thinking of more of a dinner or light lunch side dish then you are in luck! This recipe pairs well with chicken, fish, and vegetarian dishes. Here are a few of my favorites. 

  • Lemon Garlic Chicken: The smoky char of grilled chicken complements the citrusy freshness, creating a balanced and satisfying meal.
  • Chickpea Toast: For a light, vegetarian option, serve the citrus salad alongside chickpea toast.
  • Broiled Salmon: Elevate your seafood experience by pairing the salad with lemony salmon. The sweet and savory combination is simply divine.

More Sunny Citrus Recipes

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

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Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs

Dress your citrus salad with the highest quality honey from the Greek island of Crete.

a jar of greek honey from the mediterranean dish.
Savor a burst of sunshine with our Citrus Salad—a vibrant medley of oranges, kiwi, and grapefruit, finished with a zesty lemon-vanilla syrup.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 5 minutes
Total – 15 minutes
Cuisine:
American/Mediterranean
Serves – 6
Course:
Dessert, Entree/Salad

Ingredients
  

For the Syrup

  • 1 large lemon
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise seeds removed

For the Salad

  • 2 cara cara or navel oranges
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 kiwi
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil or mint, cut into ribbons (optional)
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Make the syrup: Use a vegetable peeler to remove the lemon zest in long strips leaving behind as much of the white pith as possible. Juice the lemon into a small bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine honey, water, vanilla bean seeds and pod, strips of lemon peel, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Let simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until it’s infused and slightly thickened. Stir and remove from heat.
  • Prepare the fruit: Cut the top and bottom portion off of one of the oranges – you just want to expose the flesh. Set the orange on a cutting board and remove the skin and white pith working from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. Flip it over and cut away any remaining pieces of skin. The fruit flesh should be exposed. Slice the orange into rounds. Repeat with the remaining oranges and kiwis. For the grapefruit follow the same process as you did with the oranges, but instead of slicing into rounds, supreme the fruit and segment it.
  • Dress and serve: Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lemon peel and vanilla bean. You’ll end up with about ⅔ cup. Transfer the sliced citrus and kiwi to a bowl. Add the vanilla honey syrup. Add the ribboned basil (or mint). Gently toss to coat. For a casual presentation serve this salad in the bowl and garnish with pomegranate seeds or for something a little fancier, arrange the sliced fruit on a platter, garnish with pomegranate seeds and a few more herbs then serve.

Notes

  • When I make this salad for my family I usually only use about half of the syrup, but I like tart grapefruit. Then I save the rest to add to my hot tea or sparkling water.
  • To scrape the seeds out of a vanilla bean pod, split the pod lengthwise. Then use a knife to scribe the inside of the pod. The tiny seeds will be on the end of your knife. Just add them to the honey syrup. Once the pod is scraped you can add it to the honey syrup pot as well, or stuff the pod in your sugar dish to make vanilla-scented sugar. 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 113.9kcalCarbohydrates: 29.3gProtein: 1.5gFat: 0.5gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 2.9mgPotassium: 253.8mgFiber: 3.6gSugar: 23.1gVitamin A: 646.6IUVitamin C: 71.9mgCalcium: 46.2mgIron: 0.4mg
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Summer Miller is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and an IACP finalist in essay writing and memoir. Her recipes, food writing, and editing chops span both print and digital media. You can find her work at Simply Recipes, Eating Well, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and the Kitchn among others. She is the Senior Executive Editor at The Mediterranean Dish.
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