Oranges Vs Mandarins – What’s The Difference?

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Vitamin C is a nutrient that can do wonders to our bodies as it provides many different health benefits. Though it can be found in many different fruits and vegetables, it comes in the highest amount in citrus fruits.

Grapefruits, tangerines, oranges and mandarins are just a few of these citrus’ that are not only refreshingly tasty, but also provide a hearty amount of vitamin C. 

However, many have a difficult time understanding the differences between these fruits. Specifically, the difference in the characteristics of oranges and mandarins.

So, what is the difference between oranges and mandarins? While both are citrus, orange-colored, and grow from trees, oranges tend to be quite larger with a thick skin that can be hard to peel with a more tart taste, while mandarins are much smaller with thin and easy-to-peel skin and are much sweeter. 

Keep reading to learn more about oranges and mandarins, their taste, texture, and uses, as well as the big differences between the two fruits. 

What Is An Orange?

Oranges are part of the Rutaceae family, also known as the citrus family.

They grow on trees and are large and round, being just a tad smaller than the average grapefruit. 

The outside of the orange is a bright orange color with a leathery and almost oily casing. This outer peel tends to be a bit harder to peel than other citrus fruits.

The inside of the orange is divided into segments. Each segment is coated in an edible and fibrous casing that is covering a juicy center.

The entire part of the fruit is edible; however, the outside is not very pleasant and is usually discarded.

There are different varieties of oranges including Navel, Valencia, Cara Cara, and Blood oranges

Navel and Valencia are what would be considered your “typical” oranges and Cara Cara and Blood Oranges are a bit unique with different characteristics (like color and taste). 

Cara Cara oranges are a more pink or salmon color in the middle and the Blood Orange is a deep dark reddish-purple in the middle. The outsides are both orange like a Navel or Valencia. 

For the remaining part of the article, when we say “orange” we are referring to Navel and Valencia.

What Do Oranges Taste Like?

Both the outside peel and inside flesh of the orange are edible. 

However, the outside tends to be rough and extremely bitter, therefore it is often not eaten.

The one exception is when orange zest is required in a recipe (which is taking a grater and grating just the most outer layer of the orange into a dish).

The inside of the fruit is both sweet and tart. Depending on ripeness, the sweetness level changes. The riper an orange, the sweeter the taste. It is also extremely refreshing.

But oranges do tend to be on the sourer side compared to some other citrus fruits (the exception being grapefruit, lemons and limes).

What Is The Texture Of Oranges?

The texture of the inside and outside of the orange are quite different from one another.

The outside of the orange is slightly dimpled and a bit leathery and waxy. This outside texture can make it hard to peel at times. 

When the skin starts getting peeled, it also lets off a bit of a mild oil that can sometimes be left on your hands. That oil is what leaves the smell of orange on your hand after peeling. 

The texture of the inside of an orange is both fibrous and squishable due to the flesh of the fruit being kept in a casing. 

The casing is fibrous and when bitten into you get a juicy and messy bite; it is the casing that helps keep all of that inside. 

What Do Oranges Smell Like?

The smell of an orange is one that is easily identifiable. 

Oranges have a sweet, fresh, fruity, and clean scent to them that is quite pleasant. Both the inside and outside of an orange smell nice.

To make the outside of the orange release its smell, try rubbing or scratching the outer layer of the orange’s skin!

Because of its delightful smell, the scent of oranges has been used in perfumes, candles, and even cleaning supplies as it is pleasant in many different forms. 

Oranges Nutritional Facts

Adding oranges into your diet will help you get in more nutrients including minerals and antioxidants. 

Specifically, oranges are a great source of vitamin C, producing 95.8 milligrams of it in a 1 cup serving. With the daily serving value being anywhere between 65 and 90 milligrams, 1 cup of orange will exceed that.

Vitamin C has many benefits including producing collagen, protecting your immune system, and assisting in fighting cancer-causing free radicals. Therefore, adding oranges into your diet may help with these things.

Oranges also contain 326 milligrams of potassium in a 1 cup serving, which is just under the potassium content in a banana (which is the go-to fruit when needing to up your potassium intake).

Potassium is great for muscle and nerve health, and specifically is great to incorporate for those who have extremely active lifestyles.

Potassium also helps to regulate your heartbeat and stabilize blood pressure.

Not only are oranges full of vitamin C and potassium, but they are also a great source of fiber, calcium, and folate.

How Are Oranges Used?

Oranges are an extremely versatile fruit that can be used in many different recipes. Oranges work well in both sweet and savory foods!

First, oranges can be eaten by themselves as a snack. They are refreshing and perfect on a hot summer day. 

Oranges can be juiced and made into a classic morning staple: orange juice. Orange juice is typically served at breakfast, sometimes with a little champagne added to make a mimosa, and it is a great drink to start your day with.

Speaking of drinks—orange juice is used in many different types of drinks. It is used in juice blends, smoothies, and cocktails like a Tequila Sunrise or a Screwdriver.

Orange is a great addition to fruit salads, regular salads, or a part of a fruit board/spread. 

They can also be used in desserts like ice cream or gelato, cakes, scones, cinnamon rolls, and bars.

However, oranges also work well on the opposite side of the spectrum in savory recipes. 

They are a great addition to ceviche and aguachiles to help cure and cook the fish and shrimp.

Oranges are a great addition to glazes and sauces for meats like pork tenderloin or orange chicken, a Chinese takeout special. Salad dressings can benefit from oranges as well.

You also can use the zest of the orange as a garnish or to add a fresh element to any of the dishes I mentioned. 

Regardless of how you choose to use it, adding oranges to your dish will help brighten and freshen it up.

Are Oranges Easy To Find In Grocery Stores?

Because there are quite a few different varieties of oranges, they are easily accessible in grocery stores. 

You can guarantee some type of orange will be in your grocery store if you are looking for one. 

The peak season for different oranges comes at different times which helps make this fruit more widely accessible. 

Navel oranges are in season from November to June, Valencia Oranges are in season from March to October, Cara Cara oranges from December to May, and Blood Oranges from November to May.

As you can see, oranges are in season year long making them readily available at your local grocery store. 

What Are Mandarins?

Now that we have thoroughly looked at the characteristics of oranges, let’s look at the mandarin.

A mandarin is actually a type of orange itself, therefore it is also a part of the Rutaceae, or citrus, family.

Like other citrus fruits, they grow on a tree and, compared to the orange, a mandarin is much smaller and not as round. The top and bottom of the fruit can be a bit flat.

The outside of a mandarin is a darker and deeper orange than a regular orange. The outside is also a lot softer and easier to peel and is edible but often too bitter and rough to swallow.

The inside of the mandarin is divided into small segments that are also coated in a fibrous but edible casing that protects the juicy flesh of the fruit. 

As you can see, the mandarin and the orange are almost identical in looks, except the mandarin is a much smaller version and a tiny bit flatter.

Also, tangerine and mandarin are one and the same. So, if you see tangerine somewhere, you are eating a mandarin orange!

What Do Mandarins Taste Like?

Like the orange, both the outside peel and inside flesh of the mandarin is edible. However, the outside tends to be rough and extremely bitter, and it is also discarded. 

The inside of the mandarin is much sweeter than an orange; however, it does have a tiny bit of tartness to it. They are very crisp and refreshing tasting as well.

What Is The Texture Of Mandarins?

The texture of a mandarin is almost identical to an orange. The one way the texture differs is in the outer peel.

Mandarins’ outer peel is softer and easier to rip than an orange peel. It is still a bit leathery with dimples or indents, but it is not as tough as an orange.

Mandarins also give off an oil when peeling that leaves your hands smelling like citrus.

The texture of the inside of mandarins is identical to the inside of oranges. The texture is both fibrous and squishable due to the flesh of the fruit being kept in a casing. 

Like an orange, the casing of the inside of the mandarin is fibrous and when bitten into you also get a juicy and messy bite. 

What Do Mandarins Smell Like?

A mandarin smells similar to an orange, but it tends to smell a bit sweeter.

Mandarins smell sweet with a slight tart undertone, fruity, fresh, citrusy, and almost floral

Like oranges, if you scratch the peel of the mandarin this smell will ruminate off the fruit and leave your hands smelling like citrus. 

Mandarin Nutritional Facts

There are quite a few benefits to adding mandarin oranges into your diet.

Though oranges are higher in vitamin C, (oranges have 95.8 milligrams in a 1 cup serving where mandarins have 52.1 mg) mandarins are pretty equal in different nutrition categories. 

For potassium, mandarins have 324 milligrams in a 1 cup serving compared to oranges 326 milligrams.

However, mandarins are higher in vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B3, and B6.

They also are higher in iron, magnesium, and phosphorus

It is up to you and your own personal health goals to decide which citrus fruit is better for you to consume.

How are Mandarins Used?

Mandarins are versatile, like oranges are. 

You can eat them by themselves as a refreshing snack on a hot summer’s day.

Though mandarin juice is not on the shelves at the grocery store, you could make your own at home for a sweeter version of your typical orange juice

You could use the juice of the mandarin for sweetening up sauces or adding to salad dressings. 

Mandarin oranges are an excellent addition to fruit salads or savory salads, like a Chinese chicken salad.

Add it to desserts like scones, cakes, tarts, and ice cream or gelato.

Like oranges, the flesh of the fruit works best when used raw, like in salads or a ceviche, where the juice of the mandarin is what should be used if applying heat.

Are Mandarins Easy To Find In Grocery Stores?

Unlike oranges, mandarins may be a bit harder to find at your grocery store. What we mean by that is finding mandarins that are actually labeled as “mandarins” may be hard to find. 

However, tangerines and clementine’s, which are a variety of mandarin oranges, are accessible year-round. So, if you cannot find a box labeled “mandarin” at your grocery store, do not fret. 

You will be safe buying tangerines or clementines if looking for mandarin oranges.

Oranges Vs Mandarins 

Now that we have looked at oranges and mandarins separately, let’s compare the two citrus fruits. 

(Based on a 1 cup serving)

Nutritional FactOrangeMandarin
Vitamin C95.8mg26.7mg
Folate (B9)54ug16ug
Vitamin A19.8ug34ug
Vitamin E0mg0.2mg

As you can see, oranges and mandarins are quite similar to one another. 

They are almost equal in the protein and carbohydrate categories, yet an orange has a much higher vitamin C, potassium, and calcium content

But mandarins are richer in vitamin A and vitamin E

However, the sugar content in mandarins is much higher than in oranges.

Which One Is Better? Oranges or Mandarins?

There does not seem to be a “better” choice between oranges and mandarins. 

Both are a delicious and refreshing citrus fruit that have different nutrient levels

Depending on what you are looking to add into your diet, one might be better than the other.

Both oranges and mandarins are a great addition to your diet.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for this unique look at mandarins and oranges, breaking down the nutritional values of both is really helpful. Just for the record I’m a mandarin guy.


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