Calamansi is ever-present in the Filipino kitchen. What is sometimes called the Philippine lime or calamondin is a versatile pantry staple that finds many uses in everyday cooking. Its juice lends a unique balance of sweet and tart to dishes that no other citrus fruit can. Although it is smaller than lemons and limes, even a slight squeeze of the calamansi already packs a punch. It is used to add freshness to marinades, to give a light contrast to hearty dishes, and to cut through rich Filipino dishes. It also plays a vital role in the local sawsawan culture. The calamansi is truly a (citrus) gift that keeps on giving.

Below are three easy-to-follow recipes that highlight the mighty citrus fruits’ versatility. The fish recipe features a calamansi-based marinade that can also be used for other seafood and even meats. The addition of turmeric gives the final result a tinge of yellow and a hint of spice. The dessert recipe is inspired by the way many Filipinos eat fresh papayas—with a squeeze of calamansi, a sprinkle of sugar, and sometimes a drizzle of milk. This time, it takes the form of a frozen treat. The calamansi-based beverage is a version of everyone’s favorite calamansi juice but leveled up with a pandan-infused syrup. The rum in the recipe is optional if you would like to serve this to kids as well.

Whole Grilled Fish with Calamansi and Turmeric

Serves: 2 to 3
Total time: 1.5 hours

  • 3 tablespoons calamansi juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 500 grams whole fish like pompano, cleaned and scored
  1. Combine calamansi juice, honey, olive oil, garlic, turmeric powder, chili powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
  2. Stuff fish with squeezed calamansi halves.
  3. Pour calamansi mixture over fish and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Wrap fish in foil or banana leaves. Grill fish until completely cooked, about 7 to 8 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Calamansi and Papaya Popsicles

Makes: 4 to 6 popsicles
Total time: 15 minutes, plus freezing time

  • 3 tablespoons calamansi juice
  • ½ cup sliced papaya
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup diced papaya
  • 1 teaspoon calamansi zest
  1. Blend calamansi juice, sliced papaya, coconut milk, and sugar until smooth.
  2. Add diced papaya and calamansi zest. Mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight before serving.

Calamansi-Pandan Cooler

Serves: 3 to 4
Total time: 1 hour

For the pandan syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • Zest from 1 calamansi


  • ½ cup calamansi juice
  • ½ cup pandan syrup
  • 2 cans (325ml) sparkling water
  • 1 cup dark rum (optional)
  • Ice
  1. Make the pandan syrup: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let stand for 45 minutes. Remove pandan leaf.
  3. Combine calamansi juice, pandan syrup, sparkling water, and dark rum (if using) in a pitcher. Fill with ice. Serve immediately.