How to Peel a Grapefruit

When I was a little girl, I begged my mom to buy those nifty serrated spoons so I could copy grapefruit eaters on television. Cut the grapefruit in half, stick your spoon in, and enjoy, right? I was dismally disappointed when she bought a set of serrated spoons and I got to try it out for myself. I found that there was an enormous amount of waste, and that I could not really release the grapefruit from its peel very cleanly. I never used the serrated spoon again.

I know there are many nifty ways to peel and segment a grapefruit. Sometimes I do use a knife to segment the citrus, gliding my knife between the segment and the peel to release clean cuts of grapefruit. However, my favorite way of peeling and segmenting a grapefruit actually relies more on my own hands. It was the method my mother taught me, and one I had assumed everyone knew about.

I realized that my method of segmenting grapefruit was different when I was pregnant with my daughter. Talk about pregnancy cravings! While I was carrying her, I could not get enough of grapefruits! I had at least one a day, and in my old office lunchroom, you could probably bet that I was in there, peeling a grapefruit by hand. My coworkers were intrigued by my technique, and even my husband confessed that he had never seen anyone segment a grapefruit my way before. But all agree that it definitely yields less waste.

So, I’m curious – how do you segment a grapefruit? This is how I do it:

I realized that the best way to show you is by video, so I put together a short clip so you can see my method in action!

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by Liren Baker on January 17, 2011

67 Responses to “How to Peel a Grapefruit”

  1. betsy January 17, 2011 @ 1:33 pm (#

    Great post! I agree that those little spoons do nothing..but make a mess and turn the grapefruit into mush. Love this tutorial.

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:43 am

      Thanks, Betsy, glad you liked it! Yes, I just love how this technique preserves the grapefruit – less juice lost and less mush for sure :)

  2. linda l January 17, 2011 @ 1:54 pm (#

    That’s how I peel grapefruit and pomelo also. If I’m lazy I’ll cut the grapefruit into slices like you would get at a chinese restaurant.

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:44 am

      Hi Linda! Yes, this is how I like to do the pomelo, too!

  3. Kate @ January 17, 2011 @ 3:57 pm (#

    I used to eat them with those spoons, but I never got the entire segment so, just as you, I decided to start peeling them in the same manner. It takes a while, but I enjoy eating them after all that hard work. :))

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:44 am

      Oh good, someone else who eats it this way! Yes, it’s worth the extra effort :)

  4. Liz January 17, 2011 @ 4:08 pm (#

    That’s funny, that’s the only way I’ve ever eaten grapefruit!

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:45 am

      I’m so glad to hear – all this time, I just assumed no one else ate it this way because people used to make comments when they would see me eat grapefruit this way! Glad to know I’m not alone.

  5. Brian @ A Thought For Food January 17, 2011 @ 4:58 pm (#

    This is a great tutorial! And the video is a wonderful way to demonstrate it.

    (I’ve never done this before and I can’t wait to use your technique!)

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:46 am

      Thanks Brian! Glad you liked the tutorial and video – you’ll love this technique!

  6. Debi(Table Talk) January 17, 2011 @ 7:01 pm (#

    I eat a grapefruit almost every night during the winter months. (Had a Ruby Red tonight, in fact!), and use a knife to peel and segment.
    The video looks great!

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:46 am

      H Debi, grapefruits are one of my favorite things about winter. They have been so good lately, too!

  7. Stephanie January 17, 2011 @ 8:21 pm (#

    I’ve never peeled a grapefruit by hand, but that makes a lot of sense! Thanks for sharing your technique!

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:47 am

      I’m so happy to share this – hope you try it and it works for you!

  8. Tracey@TangledNoodle January 17, 2011 @ 9:28 pm (#

    I try my best to avoid one-task tools (like egg-toppers & grapefruit spoons!) but will admit that when I’ve botched peeling an egg or piece of fruit by hand, they start to look good! 8-)

    Thanks for this excellent tutorial – it’ll be particularly handy for dishes that call for segmented citrus like grapefruit. The presentation would be so much nicer than my usual hacked up version 8-)!

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:48 am

      I know what you mean about those tools – my drawer is cluttered with many of them. In the end, I find our hands make the best tools!

  9. norma January 18, 2011 @ 3:41 am (#

    I used to use those little spoons myself and thought of what a waste they were. I think I still have a couple around. I guess we gave a lot in common because this is also my method. Great tutorial. Thanks.

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:49 am

      Hi Norma, glad to know someone else who peels grapefruit this way :)

  10. Becky January 18, 2011 @ 4:59 am (#

    Your tutorial was very helpful. I’ve tried those serrated spoons, and they don’t work. Thanks for making the video!

    • Liren replied: — January 18th, 2011 @ 7:49 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Becky! I felt the photos could not explain it as well as a video, even despite my poor video skills :)

  11. Kelsey{itsybitsyfoodies} January 18, 2011 @ 8:53 am (#

    Liren, I’m just like you. While pregnant, I crave grapefruits. I’m eating at least one a day lately! I’ve never tried those spoons…but I don’t think I will after reading all of these posts. I either peel them or use a serrated knife.

  12. A Canadian Foodie January 18, 2011 @ 1:53 pm (#

    I cannot eat a grapefruit any other way, and haven’t for years. Love the little video and I am sure many will find it so helpful. I am just surprised more don’t do this with a grapefruit as the pith is so bitter while the fruit is so refreshing! I sometimes freeze these segments, and then make a special little before dinner “amuse bouche” salad laying one on a little bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, sprinkling a bit of crisp toasted coconut over it, and then zest of lime and lime juice. That is all it takes and it is really a lovely little palate pleaser!

  13. Priscilla - She's Cookin' January 18, 2011 @ 8:49 pm (#

    I didn’t know there was any other way, until I attended a cooking class and had to use a paring knife to “supreme” the grapefruit and ended up with a bunch of grapefruit pieces :) Using your hands is much more efficient!

  14. foodwanderings January 18, 2011 @ 8:55 pm (#

    Liren, It is exactly how I do it, so now there are two people in the world with youe method. I don’t like the waste with other method but i like the fruit, pulp in tact. So yay & great job with gorgeous pics and video.

  15. Kitchen Runway January 18, 2011 @ 10:40 pm (#

    This is how we peel pomelos for a Vietnamese Shrimp and Pomelo salad. YUM!

  16. Carissa January 19, 2011 @ 4:53 am (#

    I peel all my citrus like that! Way easier to eat than with that spoon!

  17. Monet January 19, 2011 @ 11:13 am (#

    Smile. We have very similar techniques except I don’t score my grapefruit and I tend to eat the inner skin. I have been craving grapefruits so badly this month. I think my body knows it needs that vitamin C!

  18. CurlyCupcake January 19, 2011 @ 11:33 am (#

    This is how I eat a grapefruit too, and I also thought no one really ate them peeled like this. It takes a little bit of time/effort but its really worth it to get more of the delicious fruit!

  19. Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen January 19, 2011 @ 11:44 am (#

    This is so timely! I’m planning on making grapefruit marmalade this weekend! Thanks for your video.

  20. Hailey Kocol January 19, 2011 @ 12:58 pm (#

    That is EXACTLY how I peel too! I just kind of figured it out the other day. We bought a big bag of grape fruit from Costco and I did the slice in half method a few times. But it was hard and I felt like I wasn’t getting much grape fruit. So out of frustration I just decided to peel it like an orange and eat it like an orange. However, the “skin” as I call it got in the way, so I then started peeling that off too. So after a few trial and errors, I ended up with the exact method you described above!

  21. timlee January 19, 2011 @ 3:45 pm (#

    Oh my goodness! I thought I was the only one that peeled them like that! It definitely takes more time, but is totally worth it. I don’t eat it any other way.

  22. Magic of Spice January 19, 2011 @ 4:33 pm (#

    OK, so that is pretty much how I do it but mine never come out so nice… Maybe I need to practice :) Great post and video!

  23. Cristina January 19, 2011 @ 4:59 pm (#

    Thanks for sharing about peeling and segmenting a grapefruit, Liren…very good video demo. You are so neat and orderly about it. I think I just look for a good place to stab the outside with my fingernail, usually up at the base and then start peeling away. I guess I’m kinda beastly about it compared to your refined method. =)

  24. HeatherS January 19, 2011 @ 5:24 pm (#

    This is exactly the way my 84-year-old father taught me how to peel a grapefruit and the way that I eat them to this day. When I was a teen, I could eat 2-3 grapefruit at a sitting. Now that I’m a Mom, they are a once-in-a-while thing, but I’m feeling a binge coming on right now!

  25. angi January 19, 2011 @ 6:16 pm (#

    You’re reminding me that it’s been too long since I’ve had a grapefruit. :) Lovely video, Liren – your grapefruit-peeling method is similar to how I usually deal with pomelos. But I like the idea of using it on grapefruit! It looks much less messy than the knife method.

  26. sacha January 20, 2011 @ 1:10 am (#

    i just got 5 grapefruits from my mom’s orchard today! that’s the same way i’ve been peeling them since i was 13.

  27. thumba January 20, 2011 @ 9:10 am (#

    that’s the way my mother taught me too…although, we usually use it for pomelos.

    how many things do you grow up with that you think are “normal” that you grow up to find out others never heard of!!!

    in my case, i didn’t know you could cook (ie, baked potatoes, etc) in the microwave until i was a senior in high school.

  28. Jean January 20, 2011 @ 11:19 am (#

    Liren, that’s the only way I eat a grapefruit. I always thought it was such fun to be able to remove the entire segment from the skin. Gee, like you, I thought this was how everyone else did it.

    Great video tutorial!

  29. Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot January 20, 2011 @ 10:58 pm (#

    I had no idea this could even be done! I normally just hack the crap out of mine. The only citrus fruit I ever attempt peeling is a mandarin and even then I take forever to surgically remove every spec of white.

  30. CurlyCupcake January 21, 2011 @ 6:01 am (#

    I had to follow up and let you know I used your method! Usually when I peel a grapefruit, I pull the segments apart before taking the skin off of them. It was so much easier to slide my thumb between the fruit and skin like you do! And they stay in whole pieces (in my method they often don’t). This is the way I’ll do it from now on! Thanks!

    • Liren replied: — January 21st, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

      This makes me so happy! I’m so glad the technique worked well for you – thank you so much for letting me know :)

  31. Jackie January 23, 2011 @ 10:06 pm (#

    Super cute video, Liren! That’s actually exactly how I eat pomelo, but that’s because the pith is so tough that you can’t eat it. looks delicious =)

    Jax x

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  33. Kathy Diaz January 25, 2011 @ 11:17 am (#

    Sassy video. You have a sophisticated way of peeling and segmenting your grapefruit. I should follow your lead. I literally just slice in half and use a regular spoon to scoop out the meat. I must say, lots of waste using my method. Love this post!

  34. Gina @ Skinnytaste February 22, 2011 @ 7:11 am (#

    So I’m at my desk with a grapefruit and figured I’d use your method! Kind of reminds me of opening a pomegranate! Thanks Liren

    • Liren replied: — February 22nd, 2011 @ 7:45 am

      Hi Gina! You’re right, it’s very similar to opening a pomegranate…one good thing is at least grapefruits do not stain! So glad it worked for you :)

  35. Sarah December 8, 2011 @ 9:52 am (#

    So about 15 minutes ago i looked at 5 grapefruits on my counter with a breaking heart. I thought im not gonna fight with that thing for a few measly pieces why did i buy you? Then a lightbulb went on and i googled and found this. Im now eating everything that grapefruit has to offer and so pleased to be lounging and reading all your comments. Thanks you’ve actually changed this part of my life forever.

    • Liren replied: — December 9th, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

      Sarah, you made my day. I’m so glad you were able to enjoy your grapefruits – I’m so excited that they are back in season, I have 5 sitting on my counter right now, too :)

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  37. Becca March 26, 2012 @ 1:51 am (#

    I do the same thing! I googled skin of a grapefruit expecting to see someone else peeling it the same way as i do because i never see anyone around me ( not even my mother) eat a grapefruit like i do.

  38. Lorence May 1, 2012 @ 7:01 pm (#

    Liren, I saw you post on Pinterest, thanks for posting this technique. I’ve don this for years and thought I was the only one! I’m glad that there are others out there doing this, too, makes me feel not so crazy. I always use a small serrated knife to split the inner skins away from the segments, works great!

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  40. Carson February 7, 2013 @ 8:28 pm (#

    This is a much better way to eat a grapefruit then using a spoon, a little more work but worth it. I also enjoyed your video, you have a very sweet voice. Thanks!

  41. Jared February 14, 2013 @ 4:32 am (#

    Aargh! Where was this video last night and this morning when I was butchering and wasting my precious grapefruits :D

  42. Ken November 22, 2013 @ 5:59 am (#

    My mom taught me how to peel a grapefruit the same way you described, over forty years ago!

  43. Kathy February 9, 2014 @ 12:56 am (#

    To be honest, this is how I learned how to peel a grapefruit and pomelo and most Filipinos do it this way :)

  44. Whitney March 13, 2014 @ 8:24 am (#

    We always ate our grapefruits with a spoon, but when I was little, it frustrated me no end trying to remember which way to cut to halve the segments. :P Some come out cleaner than others, but it’s true, it’s not an efficient method (and we only had regular tea spoons, no serrated ones). I think my sister started peeling them like this a few years ago (and we all looked at her funny, too ;) but I do need to try it. I never liked the spoon method.

  45. John March 23, 2014 @ 7:46 am (#

    The trick with using the serrated spoons is to use a narrow, sharp knife to cut out all the sections. All the way around each “pie” shape. I do like peeling and eating this way better though.

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  49. Hema November 24, 2014 @ 11:19 am (#

    Peel and the pith part of any Citrus fruit, incl. Grapefruit, contain a lot more nutrition than the fleshy part. You lose a lot of the goodness when you discard the peel and the pith and eat just the flesh. 

  50. Noel December 21, 2014 @ 9:56 am (#

    The toughest part of segmenting is separating the skin at the two tips of the “crescent moon”. So before segmenting I like to cut the ends off- removing all the segment tips in just two slices. Then it’s easy and clean to insert a paring knife at the tips between the segment skin and the segment meat- the sharp end toward the thin fruit center side, then slitting the segment “bag” open. I found a paring knife that comes with a sheath that I keep in my desk at work. I segment holding the fruit over the trash can. But really I loose only a few drops.

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  53. Deanne January 15, 2016 @ 6:30 pm (#

    I don’t score the peel first, just rip it off. And I eat the thin skin. More vitamin C packed in that part. I do enjoy it without any and do occasionally peel it completely so thanks for sharing your way. 

    • Liren Baker replied: — January 16th, 2016 @ 9:20 am

      You and my husband are in agreement – he loves eating the skin, too!

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