Five Mandarins You Should Have in Your Fruit Bowl

Flavorful, easy-to-peel, and often seedless, mandarins are the ultimate citrus season treat.

Oranges used to rule the American fruit bowl; nowadays they've taken a back seat to mandarins. It's easy to see why: Mandarins are flavorful and complex; have richly fragrant, easy-to-peel skin; separate readily into segments; and are mainly seedless. The fruit got its nickname when the species Citrus reticulata was brought to England from China in 1805, and the name has come to refer to the entire category of similar loose-skinned citrus. (Its other alias, “tangerine,” arose later in the century, when mandarins shipped through Tangier began arriving in the United States—though there is some debate among botanists as to whether tangerines should be considered a separate species.) Myriad cultivars and hybrids exist, each with their own palette of flavors. Take advantage of peak citrus season to enjoy some of the types below.

Common Mandarin

When mandarins are not specifically labeled, they may well be the Dancy cultivar, one of the oldest and most prolific varieties grown in the United States.

PROFILE:  Rich and sprightly, with moderate acidity



A cross between either a tangerine/mandarin and a pomelo (hence the name) or a tangerine/mandarin and a grapefruit, tangelos are slightly larger than an orange and typically feature a long, tapered neck (not shown here). The Minneola, developed in Florida in the 1930s, remains the most popular cultivar.

PROFILE:  Superjuicy, with fine-grained, almost plush flesh and bright, tart-sweet flavor

SEEDS:  Few to none

Satsuma Mandarin

One of the main citrus species grown in Japan, the satsuma is regarded as the sweetest of all mandarins. Though also cultivated in the United States, the fruit's vulnerability to bruising can make it hard to find, so scoop up satsumas when you see them.

PROFILE:  Juicy, sweet, and floral, with delicate flesh that melts in the mouth

SEEDS:  None


The smallest mandarin, with thin, shiny skin, its discovery in Algiers in the early 20th century is often attributed to a French missionary, Father Clement Rodier. Once mainly imported from Spain, it's the chief mandarin variety cultivated in the United States. Brand names: Cuties, Halos

PROFILE:  Floral and honey-sweet aroma

SEEDS:  None

Shiranui Mandarin

In Japan, this large, lumpy fruit sometimes goes by “dekopon,” a reference to its topknot (akin to the hairstyle of a sumo wrestler). The variety takes extreme care to grow and pick, so it's expensive ($3.49 to $3.99 per pound) but worth it. Brand name: Sumo Citrus

PROFILE:  Intensely flavorful, with balanced sweetness and acidity

SEEDS:  None

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