Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade

AlexandraBreakfast, Condiments, Gluten Free, Vegan84 Comments

Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

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Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Lemon Marmalade has always been a favourite with my parents, my father in particular. He has been without his homemade breakfast condiment for a few weeks now and has politely let us know that a jar of shop-bought marmalade is not on his agenda.

As fortune would have it, a friend presented me with some beautiful, homegrown lemons and I have set to work. This is a classic method of making marmalade. It requires just three ingredients, and one of them is water. That is all that you need to make this fresh-flavoured condiment.  

If you think that making marmalade is difficult, I want to assure you that it is easier than you may think. Although there is a great deal of science involved, it just requires that you follow a few simple steps.

Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Let me tell you a little about Marmalade:

Marmalade is a favoured preserve on many breakfast tables. It’s easy to appreciate that this zesty, tangy preserve is a great way to start the day.

Marmalade is only made from citrus fruits, unlike jam, which can be made from any variety of fruit. Moreover, citrus fruits are rich in a naturally occurring substance called pectin. High amounts of pectin and acid, such as in citrus, help the marmalade to set, making it ideal for preserving. As such, it is not necessary to buy special jam-setting sugar.

I regard homemade jams and spreads as luxury items. It’s not that they are expensive to make, especially when the fruit is a gift, but there is an investment of time. However, having jars of marmalade that you have made yourself is tremendously satisfying. The flavours are bright and clear and remember, there are just three ingredients. Compare that with the labels of some commercial varieties which often have a large range of additives.

Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Ingredients in my Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade:


Given that we will be using the entire fruit, it is preferable to use home-grown or organic lemons. Commercially produced lemons generally have a wax coating and may have been sprayed with toxic substances.

Wooden bowl of lemons.


I use regular, granulated sugar. It is a large amount of sugar but it does much more than sweeten the marmalade. Its main function is to combine with the pectin and fruit acids to form a gel. In addition, it acts as a preservative that inhibits the growth of mould.  

I don’t recommend reducing the amount of sugar as it may interfere with the setting and preservation.

White bowl of sugar on blue background.


I have used filtered water but regular tap water is also fine.

Jar and glass of water.

How to make Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade:

Making the marmalade is a two-day process. On the first day, you slice the lemons very finely and put them into a large bowl with water to soak overnight. Soaking the fruit serves two purposes. Firstly, it softens the peel and secondly, it helps release the pectin required for setting the jam. On day two you cook the fruit and add the sugar.

When setting point is reached, as outlined in the recipe instructions, I remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside for 10 minutes. This will help the fruit to settle and evenly distribute when poured into the jars. Without settling, the fruit will rise to the top of the marmalade. And finally, ladle it into jars and smile with satisfaction at the result.

Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Tips for success:

You will not need any special equipment to make this recipe. However, a large saucepan is essential. When you add the sugar, it foams up enormously. Without a very large saucepan, there is the risk of it boiling over.

Your jars and their lids must be sterilised. I do this by heating them in the oven as outlined in the recipe.

As we are using the whole fruit, it is best to use organic or home-grown fruit.  However, if you are only able to access commercially grown lemons, they need to be thoroughly cleaned.

Always use fruit which is in good condition and ideally some which are slightly under-ripe as they will contain more pectin. Bruised or damaged fruit may spoil the jam, causing it to deteriorate quickly.

It is important to cook the peel until it is tender before you add the sugar. Once you add the sugar the peel will no longer soften. After adding the sugar it is necessary to completely dissolve it before bringing the mixture back to the boil.

I find it best to check for setting point by checking a small amount of marmalade on a chilled plate. I use the “wrinkle” test, as detailed in the recipe. After reaching setting point, set the marmalade aside for 10 minutes to allow the fruit to settle.

Ladle the marmalade into hot jars to avoid the glass breaking.

Six jars of Lemon Marmalade on a lemon cloth.

Other uses for these ingredients:

We love lemons, and some of our other favourite ways to use them are:

More delicious condiments and edible gift ideas:

Holding up a jar of Lemon Marmalade.

When it comes to using the Lemon Marmalade:

First and foremost, this bright and zesty condiment with the zingy flavour of lemon is a great wake-up call, perfect when slathered on your morning toast.

However, there are other ways in which to use it:

  • A sticky glaze for chicken drumsticks;
  • Make a sauce for pork tenderloin;
  • Glaze a Christmas ham;
  • Make crostini with goat cheese and prosciutto;
  • Bake a lemon cake and make a glaze with the marmalade;
  • Serve with Coconut Scones by A Baking Journey.

This refreshing condiment highlights the bright, tangy flavours of lemon. Although it is an ideal toast topping there are other ways in which to enjoy this condiment. When you try it you will realise that there is no comparison between homemade marmalade and the commercially produced varieties.

Do let me know in the comments below when you have tried this delicious recipe.
Alex xx

Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.
Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade

This tart, zesty spread provides a much-needed wake-up call in the morning when spread on toast. Set some time aside to make the marmalade and enjoy it in the months to come.  You will enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes with making your preserves.
5 from 24 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Condiment
Cuisine: British
Keyword: delicious, easy, lemon, lemon marmalade, marmalade, simple
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours
Servings: 9 250 ml Jars
Calories: 790kcal
Author: Alexandra


  • 9 x 250ml Jars


  • 500 g lemons See Notes 1 & 2
  • 6 cups water
  • 1.8 kg sugar


To sterilise the jars:

  • Preheat the oven to 130 Degrees C (270F).
    Use glass jars with an airtight, metal lid. Wash them either in the dishwasher or by hand in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Check that the metal lids do not have rubber inserts.
  • Place upright jars and lids on a baking tray. Heat in the oven for at least 20 minutes, then remove and immediately fill with marmalade.


  • Place 2 saucers or small plates in the freezer, ready to check for the setting point of your marmalade.
  • Thoroughly wash the lemons. Remove each end of the lemons and cut the lemons into quarters lengthways. Holding two of the quarters together, slice as thinly as possible and remove any seeds.
    Finely sliced lemon on a white board.
  • Place the lemon slices in a non-reactive bowl. See Note 3.  Add 6 cups of water, cover the bowl and leave the lemons to stand overnight.
    Lemon slices and water in a saucepan.
  • The following day, drain the lemons and water into a large, non-reactive saucepan. – See Note 4.
    Lemon Slices and water in a saucepan.
  • Over medium-high heat, bring the fruit and water to the boil. Boil for approximately 15 minutes or until the lemon peel is tender, stirring occasionally with a long-handled wooden spoon. – See Note 5.  The time may vary slightly depending on the variety of lemon and the thickness of the slices.
    Lemon slices and water in a saucepan.
  • Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve it. After dissolving the sugar, return the fruit to the boil, stir occasionally and skim to remove any foam. Continue to stir until the marmalade reaches setting point, about 20 minutes. – See Note 6
    Skimming the top of the marmalade as it boils.
  • To test for setting point, I use the “wrinkle” test. Take one of your saucers from the freezer and pour a small amount of marmalade onto it. Let it cool for a minute then push against the marmalade with the tip of your finger. If the surface wrinkles it means setting point has been reached.
    Doing the "wrinkle test" on some marmalade on a white saucer.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and let the marmalade stand for about 10 minutes. This will help evenly distribute the fruit throughout the jars.
    Cooked marmalade in a saucepan.
  • Remove your jars from the oven and carefully ladle the marmalade into the heated, sterilised jars. You need to be very careful. Splashing yourself with hot marmalade will result in a very serious burn. I suggest you have clothing with long sleeves and ensure that you do not have children nearby.
    Ladle full of marmalade, ready to pour into jars.


  1. The weight of the lemons, before trimming the ends and removing the seeds, was 530 gm/1.2 lbs.
  2. As the peel is such an important part of the marmalade, I like to use organic or home-grown lemons. Commercially produced lemons generally have a wax coating and may have been sprayed with toxic substances. If this is all that you can obtain, you can clean the lemons by placing them in a colander and pouring over freshly boiled water. Then, scrub them gently with a nail brush while holding them under cold running water.
  3. Non-reactive bowls and saucepans are stainless steel, glass, ceramic or enamelled cookware. Aluminium, copper and iron bowls or pans are reactive. Acidic foods, such as lemons, may discolour and take on a metallic taste if these are used.
  4. A large saucepan is essential. When you add the sugar, it foams up enormously. Without a very large saucepan, there is the risk of it boiling over.
  5. To stir, use a long-handled wooden spoon. Metal will become dangerously hot.
  6. Boiling time depends on several factors, the width of your saucepan and the heat at which the fruit is boiled.
  7. Please note, the nutritional information is based on one 250ml jar. Please take this into account, as you most likely won’t be consuming a whole jar in one sitting. 


Calories: 790kcal | Carbohydrates: 205g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 201g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg
About the Author


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I'm Alex – a passionate foodie and writer. I love sharing delicious and simple recipes to inspire you in the kitchen. Try a recipe? I'd love to see your creations! #itsnotcomplicatedrecipes

84 Comments on “Three Ingredient Lemon Marmalade”

  1. 5 stars
    What a delicious recipe and like always… oh so easy! I love that you can preserve them too, it makes it so easy to prepare a big batch and keep some for later!

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I was currently looking for something to fill my craving for sour food.. This would be great.

  3. 5 stars
    This sounds great. I love marmalades so much.. This would definitely a new family favorite.

  4. I’ve just learned how to make jam, recently, I think I could give this a go too. I do like marmalade, didn’t realise it could be this easy.

  5. Oh my goodness, this looks like such a delicious recipe! With so many autumn parties coming up in the near future, this would be a great thing to make and bring along as a host/hostess gift!

  6. Thanks! I may do something similar soon! I love lemon and all the benefits that goes with it. Not to mention the taste. My kind of fruit. Hehe

  7. 5 stars
    This lemon marmalade looks delicious and easy to make. Lemons are in season right now, so I will have to try out this recipe soon.

  8. 5 stars
    With only 3 ingredients I will definitely try this at home and this recipe deserves a 5 stars.

  9. 5 stars
    Ohhh this is interesting. I have never thought of making my own marmalade. I usually just buy orange marmalade from the supermarket. But this is more safe and nutritious.

  10. My mom makes fantastic lemon marmalade!! And like you said, I love its zesty and tangy taste! I’ve always thought it’d be difficult to make, but your recipe seems simplified enough to try it out!

  11. 5 stars
    What a lovely idea and the color is so beutiful too. I need some lemon marmelade in my life now. I am so inpsired to make this!

  12. 5 stars
    It really is so satisfying to make your own jams and marmalades. Your father knows best, storebought just won’t do. 🙂

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