The 3 Best Ways to Cut an Orange: Wedges, Slices, and Supremes
Oranges are one of our favorite fruits. Juicy and just the right amount of sweet, this citrus is also brimming with good-for-you Vitamin C. Not to mention, as evidenced by its presence at soccer game sidelines across the country, it’s refreshing! But how you cut an orange depends on how you plan on using it.
Of course, you can simply peel the orange with your hands, then break off segments for snacking. But that method can be messy and sticky — and it’s not ideal for sharing. It’s also not as visually appealing as other techniques, and it can give your slices a bitter flavor, thanks to the presence of the fibrous white pith lining the interior of the skin.
Keep reading, and we’ll explain (and show!) three easy techniques for cutting an orange, along with some simple variations. Whether you want to cut an orange for snacks, cooking, or salads, these are the three simplest ways to do it.
The Tools You Need to Cut an Orange
To cut an orange, you’ll need a cutting board and a knife. To cut supremes, it’s helpful to have two knives; more on that in a moment. A wood cutting board works well — unless it has been used to cut strong-smelling foods, like onions and garlic. Plastic cutting boards are scent-free and easy to clean, as most can be popped right into the dishwasher.
A chef’s knife is ideal for cutting an orange. Its long blade and sturdy handle will help you confidently slice, peel, and cut the fruit. If you prefer a smaller knife, like a paring knife, for the job, that’s fine. In fact, we prefer to use a paring knife for removing segments in the last technique described below.
Before You Cut an Orange, Do This
An orange’s skin protects the inner flesh from bumpy rides in the orchard, global shipping adventures, and dusty supermarket shelves — a clever little design by Mother Nature. But before you cut that orange, it’s important to rinse it first. You don’t need to remove any PLU stickers (you’ll be discarding the skin, after all), but be aware that some composting services prefer food scraps to be free from stickers.
In the methods we describe below, your knife will come in contact with both the skin and the edible fruit. To avoid the risk of contamination, rinse your orange thoroughly under running water, and dry it well with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Now you’re ready to proceed (and yes, contrary to myth, citrus peels biodegrade just fine).
How to Cut an Orange into Wedges for Snacks
Cutting an orange into wedges is the easiest method — you don’t even have to remove the skin. This technique is best for snacking (either immediately, or for taking on the go). If you want to use your orange pieces in a salad or recipe, skip to the second or third techniques.
First, set the orange on its side on a cutting board. Hold the orange steady with your non-dominant hand. With your dominant hand, carefully use a chef’s knife to vertically slice the orange, from navel to end, into two pieces. (Mind your fingers!)
Place one half on the cutting board, cut-side down. This will give you better control over the orange, as the fruit will stay stationary while you make the further cuts. (Putting it cut-side up causes it to rock back and forth.) This time you will cut crosswise, across the segments, which the eater can pull out individually if they wish to.
It’s up to you to choose how many wedges you get out of each half. For small oranges, you may make just one more cut on each half, leaving you with four total wedges. For large oranges, you may choose to cut each half into two pieces, and then again—giving you a grand total of eight wedges.
You may notice a fibrous white portion on the top of each wedge. This makes up the core of the fruit, and while it’s edible, it does not taste great. You can remove it by placing each wedge on its side and using your chef’s knife (or a smaller paring knife) to slice it off. You can now snack to your heart’s content — or stick the entire wedge in your mouth, skin-side-out, and snap a selfie.
How to Cut the Peel Off an Orange
For the next two methods, you’ll need to know how to cut the peel away from an orange. Don’t worry — it’s easy, and all you need is a knife and a cutting board. A large chef’s knife is ideal, as it gives you better control and covers more surface area. But if all you have is a small knife, like a paring knife, that’s OK too — you just may have to make more cuts.
First, cut off the very top and bottom of the orange. Try to avoid taking off too much—you want to slice away just enough so that the orange stands upright without wobbling.
Now, use your non-dominant hand to hold the orange steady on one side. Set the blade of the knife on the other side, at the very top of the orange. Slice all the way down to the bottom, following the natural curve of the fruit. Try to keep the blade as close to the peel as you can—otherwise, you’ll cut away edible fruit. Repeat this process all over the orange, turning it to situate the next patch of peel next to your knife.
Once you’ve cut away all the peel, you may be left with some white pith attached to the flesh. This is easy to clean up: Hold the fruit steady and use your knife to slice away the remaining pith.
You can now cut your orange into slices or supremes — keep reading for the techniques.
How to Cut an Orange into Thin Slices, with or Without the Peel
Looking for more delicate, thin orange slices? This technique can be done with the peel on or off. It’s a good choice for serving snacks to a crowd (you’ll get a lot of slices!) or adding flair to a salad.
How to Cut an Orange into Half-Moon Slices (with the Peel)
This method is great for feeding lots of people (as soccer moms everywhere can attest). Simply rinse the orange, then place it on its side and use a chef’s knife to cut it in half vertically (as you would to make wedges).
Set one half cut-side down and use your knife to cut 1/4-inch-thick slices horizontally all the way down the orange. Here, you’re cutting it “the short way,” rather than “the long way.” You can discard the first and last couple of slices, because they will be very small. Each half-moon-shaped slice can be eaten individually; just discard the peels when you’re done.
How to Cut an Orange into Circular Slices (without the Peel)
Glistening and juicy circles of orange can add showstopping appeal to recipes. First, you’ll need to remove the peel. Use the technique outlined above, and discard the peel.
Now, set the orange on its side (so the top and bottom are now off the cutting board) and hold it steady at one end with your non-dominant hand. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut 1/4-inch-thick slices horizontally all the way down the orange. This may be a little trickier than cutting half-moons, but a steady hand will ensure that the orange doesn’t wobble around the cutting board. For the prettiest presentation, make sure you’ve removed all of the pith from the outside edge of the orange. This is easiest to do when you cut away the peel, but can be cleaned up with a knife after you’ve sliced the circles.
How to Cut an Orange into Supremes
When you supreme (pronounced soo-PREM) an orange, you cut the individual segments out of their fibrous walls. In French culinary terms, a supreme is the finest, most delicious part of any food — and in this case, it’s the tender, juicy heart of an orange wedge without its fibrous wall.
Supremes are ideal for salads and desserts because their texture is softer. They look pretty, and as a bonus, you’ll get lots of juice as a byproduct.
To supreme, first cut away the peel in the method outlined above. If you were using a chef’s knife to remove the peel, you may want to switch to a paring knife for the next part. Some people find a chef’s knife is too big for this intricate task.
Working over a clean bowl, hold the orange in your non-dominant hand. Look for the segments, which are between the two white lines you see above. Choose one segment and use a paring knife to cut at a slight angle, parallel to the side of the segment wall surrounding it on one side.
Then do the same on the other side of the segment.
Use the edge of the blade or your finger to pop out the segment.
Rotate the orange slightly and repeat with the next segment until you’ve cut away all of the fruit. Some segments may be oddly shaped or small; just do your best to follow the walls as a guide.
Why do this part over a bowl? As you cut away segments, the orange will produce lots of juice. The bowl will catch it, so you can use it in a recipe (or just drink it). When you’ve cut away all of the segments, give the remaining portion a good squeeze to extract as much juice as you can, then discard the empty walls.
Ideas for Using Orange Segments
Looking for creative ways to use those pretty orange segments? Here are some recipes that put them to work.
- Salads: Supremed orange segments are great in salads, like this hearty kale salad, or this refreshing beet and fennel salad. Of course, they’re a star in fruit salads.
- Oatmeal or yogurt topper: Prefer to eat your Vitamin C, rather than drink it in the morning? You can add orange segments to oatmeal, breakfast porridges, or smoothie bowls.
- Grain salads: Refreshing citrus is a good match for grain salads; it plays surprisingly well with roasted veggies and cheese toppings.