Ever wondered, “What the heck is a kumquat?” or “How the heck do I eat a kumquat?” Learn all about these tart little citrus fruits from my garden. 

A beautiful photo of a dish filled with homegrown kumquats with leaves and a small jar of kumquat marmalade.

Our property has about 5 kumquat trees of varying sizes. One is large and in the ground, while the others are dwarf trees in Italian pots. These trees look beautiful and add pops of green and orange, but they also produce tasty little citrus fruits. Guests often inquire about kumquats and how to eat them, so I thought I’d put together a post filled with everything you might want to know about kumquats. 

What is a Kumquat? 

A hand reaches to pick a kumquat off of a tree. This image shows how big a kumquat is in relation to the hand - about the size of a large olive.

Kumquats are a native Chinese citrus fruit resembling tangerines or oranges, but eaten quite differently. How big are kumquats? They are egg-shaped, about 1-inch long by 1 half inch wide, a bit like large grapes or olives.

Unlike other citrus varieties, the entire fruit is edible. The skin of the kumquat is sweet, while the juice and flesh are very sour. It’s no wonder kumquats are sometimes referred to as the inside-out orange. One friend compared them to “natural sour patch kids.” 

What Does a Kumquat Taste Like? 

As you might guess, kumquats taste sweet-tart like other citrus fruits such as tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. However, most of the sugar is concentrated in the skin, which is thinner than most other citrus varieties and pith-free. While the skin is the sweet part, the juice and flesh are very very tart. 

A large kumquat tree planted in the ground in a backyard.

Kumquat Tree

Kumquats grow well in growing zones 9 to 10, and I certainly recommend them if that’s where you live. Even if you don’t have much space, a small tree will brighten any patio. Just be sure it gets plenty of light and has lots of room in the pot. 

A beautiful dwarf kumquat tree in an Italian pot on a patio.

When are Kumquats in Season? 

There are several varieties of kumquat trees and they are in season at differently times. Here in California, one of our backyard kumquat trees has some fruit year-round. However, the smaller trees’ fruit ripens and turns from green to orange around January, with the winter citrus trees. 

Where to Buy Kumquats

You can find them in many grocery stores while they are in season. I have seen them in bags from Melissa’s Produce sold at Sprouts. You may also be able to find them at your local farmers market if you live in a warmer climate. When choosing your kumquats, pick fruit that is vibrant orange, shiny, plump, and free of blemishes, since you’ll be eating the skin. 

Kumquat Recipes

Though we usually just nibble these juicy tart kumquats like a snack, they are also beautiful on cheese boards, sliced on salads, used in dressings, muddled into margaritas, baked into muffins, or used in recipes like these below. 

Health Benefits 

  • High in Vitamin C 
  • High in fiber 
Yield: 1

How to Eat a Kumquat

Prep Time 2 minutes
Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 3 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Kumquats are entirely edible - skin, seeds, and all! In fact, the skin is the sweetest part. Here's how to eat a kumquat as a snack. You can also slice them and add to salads, bake into muffins, blend into dressings, and muddle into cocktails.

A hand picks a kumquat off a kumquat tree.


  • Fresh kumquats


  • None


  1. Wash your kumquats in water or an apple cider vinegar rinse. As you're eating the skin, it's even more important to choose pesticide-free and give a good rinse, if possible.
  2. Take a bite or cut about ¼" off one end. Squeeze out some of the sour juice and bitter seeds, if desired. Keep in mind the juice of the kumquat is very very tart. If you like super tart, eat the whole thing, juice and all. The more you remove, the sweeter the experience. Juice and seeds from a kumquat are squeezed out.
  3. Eat the rest! Repeat.


Store ripe kumquats, like all citrus, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to keep them fresher longer.