Tangerine vs Oranges

Tangerine and oranges are two citrus fruits that many people struggle to differentiate. Although both of them can have seeds or be seedless, oranges are generally larger than tangerines. You have to peel the skins before eating these fruits. Read on to learn other similarities and differences between these fruits.

This is a close look at a bunch of fresh ripe oranges on a wooden table.

Tangerine and oranges are both citrus fruits that belong to the family Rutaceae. Citrus fruits are delicious and rich in nutrients like flavonoids, folate, and vitamin C.  Although tangerine and oranges are very popular, many confuse them because they’re unsure of their differences and similarities.

The two fruits are similar and different in the following ways.

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Similarities and Differences of Tangerine Vs Oranges

Their Origins are Different

Tangerine

This is a close look at a bunch of Mandarine oranges ready to be harvested.

The origins of tangerines are Southeast Asia and North Africa, as suggested by their name, which is derived from two places, Tangier and Mandarines. These citrus fruits were first grown in Palatka, Florida. In the US, the names tangerines and mandarin are interchanged regularly. 

Oranges

These are ripe oranges hanging from the tree.

Oranges are a hybrid of mandarin and pomelo. Although the origins of oranges aren’t clear, they’re believed to have originated from China or India. Italian traders introduced these fruits into the Mediterranean in the 15th century, while the Spaniards introduced them to the US.

Most oranges today are produced in states such as Florida, California, and Arizona. 

They Have Different Seasons

Although oranges and tangerines are available year-round, different varieties are available in different seasons. Whenever these citrus fruits are in season, they have their best flavor.

For example, oranges are in season between November and March, while Navels and Valencias varieties are plenty during winter and summer, respectively. Tangerines are in season during October and January, with the various varieties having different peak periods. 

They Belong to the Same Family

Tangerine and oranges belong to the same family, and that could explain why they may look alike. However, they belong to different species. Tangerines are of Citrus tangerina species. They’re a specific type of mandarin orange.  

Oranges belong to Citrus x sinensis species. However, there are many varieties of this citrus fruit. These varieties include acidless or sweet, blood or pigmented, navel, and round or common oranges. 

They Have Slightly Different Flavors

Tangerine and oranges taste almost the same, although it depends on the variety of each fruit. The two fruits are delicious with the characteristic sweet-tart flavor associated with citric fruits. 

Oranges

This is a close look at a bunch of thin orange slices.

Oranges are also called sweet oranges because of their sweet taste accompanied by a refreshing tart flavor. The navel orange is sweeter than the other varieties. A blood orange, nevertheless, has a distinctively rich taste that isn’t overly sweet. Oranges are quite acidic with a PH value of 2.4-3.

Tangerine

This is a close look at a bunch of small tangerine pieces.

Tangerines are sweeter than their citric cousins. Most of them are also less tart than oranges. Tangerines are more flavorful than oranges because of their strong citrus flavor. 

They Differ in Appearance

Tangerine

This is a close at a bunch of small tangerines with leaves.

Tangerines are smaller and less perfectly rounded than oranges, and that’s why they’re sometimes called “baby oranges.” These citric fruits have flattened tops. Their skin is loose, reddish-orange, and therefore easy to peel.

Tangerine’s flesh is red-orange. Some tangerine varieties have seeds, while some are seedless. 

Oranges

These are a bunch of ripe oranges on a wooden table.

Different orange varieties come in different sizes and shapes. However, generally, oranges are larger and more rounded than tangerines. Their skins are bright yellow-orange, except for blood oranges which have dark red skins.

The flesh is yellow-orange. Some varieties, such as Valencia, have seeds, while others, like navel oranges, are seedless. Although oranges have thin skins, they’re tighter and therefore more difficult to peel. 

They Have Very Similar Nutrients

Overall, tangerines and oranges have the same nutrition content. However, due to the difference in sizes, the levels of these nutrients may vary. 

OrangeTangerine
Carbs  11.7 grams 13.3 grams 
Vitamin A4% DV14% DV
Vitamin C23.5 mg70 mg
Folate 8% DV4% DV

A single orange is 87% water, which supplies the body with a 4% daily value of carbs. In addition, the fruit contains almost no fat. 

A tangerine is 85% water content, which is composed of 4% daily value of carbs. Thus, the amount of fat is significantly low. 

Oranges and tangerines are good sources of vitamin C. However, oranges contain more than double the amount of the vitamin in tangerines. Orange fruit has 70 mg, which supplies 89 percent of a person’s daily vitamin C needs, while tangerines have 23.5 mg, which supplies 44 percent.

A whole orange supplies the body with 4% of the daily needs of vitamin A, while a tangerine provides 14%.

An orange has an average of 2.4 grams of fiber, while a tangerine has 1.8 grams. Overall, the former has more soluble fiber than the latter. The fiber supplies the body with carbohydrates. 

Oranges and tangerines are also good sources of other important nutrients such as folate, thiamin, and potassium. They also supply the body with essential minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. 

How to Eat Tangerines and Oranges

This is a close look at an orange a couple of slices on a pair of hands.

Ripe oranges don’t have to be bright in color. Nevertheless, it’s important to ensure that you select firm fruits with smoothly textured skins. 

Ripe tangerines are deep in color and semi-soft. Although they’re easy to peel, you shouldn’t go for those with brown skin. 

Tangerines and oranges can easily be eaten by hand. They can be taken as a quick and easy snack or fruit salad. You can use your fingernails to roll back the skin to enjoy these citrus fruits. You shouldn’t eat the seeds if the fruit contains them. 

You can also eat tangerines and oranges by cutting them using a knife. You can then eat the juicy meat directly from the skins. 

Alternatively, you can make orange juice at home using a juicer or blender. Valencia oranges are the best for juice as it’s hard to eat them with your hands because of their juiciness. Tangerine juice has a sweeter flavor than orange juice. 

These citrus fruits can be stored on the countertop at room temperature. You can also refrigerate them to prolong their lifespan. 

Health Benefits of Taking Oranges and Tangerines

A glass of fresh orange juice with ripe oranges on the side.

Eating fruits belonging to the citrus family, such as oranges and tangerines, supplies the body with nutrients that improve immunity in the following ways.

Boost heart health

Taking oranges and tangerine can supply the body with nutrients that help lower heart disease and stroke cases. In addition, the soluble fiber and flavonoids found in these citrus fruits improve cholesterol levels, thereby boosting heart health. 

Protection against cancer

Citrus fruits are rich in nutrients such as flavonoids, which protect the body from certain cancers such as pancreatic. Some nutrients act as antioxidants and help protect the body against cancer by suppressing or inactivating cancer-causing cells. In addition, they block the regeneration or formation of new cancer cells. 

They are good for the brain

The destruction of the brain cells causes certain neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Oranges and tangerines have flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory features which enable them to protect brain cells. Therefore, you can protect your brain by eating these citrus fruits regularly. 

Where to buy tangerine and oranges

A couple of tangerines peeled on a wooden table.

Fresh oranges and tangerine can be found in groceries near you. The two are available all year round because they can be imported when they’re not in season locally. You can also buy Mandarin oranges and other citrus fruits or their juices in online stores such as:

  • Amazon
  • Halegroves
  • Orangesonline 
  • Wallmart 

FAQ Section

Are tangerines and oranges the same?

A: Although tangerines and oranges are both citruses, they’re not the same. Oranges are larger than tangerines, though the latter is sweeter. Tangerines are a variety of Mandarin oranges. 

Which is better between whole oranges and orange juice?

Citrus juices contain high amounts of vitamin C and other nutrients. However, juices aren’t very healthy as they have high amounts of sugar and less fiber. Whole oranges are better because when you take juice, large amounts of fructose are introduced into the body at once and converted to fat. However, when you take whole oranges, the fiber slows down the rate of fructose absorption in your blood. 

What is the difference between grapefruit, tangerine, and orange?

These citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Grapefruits are larger than oranges, and are larger than tangerines. In addition, grapefruits have pink or red meat, oranges have yellow-orange meat, while tangerines have red-orange flesh. 

Are tangerines as good as oranges?

Both the tangerines and the oranges are rich in vitamin C and other nutrients. Although tangerines are generally sweeter than oranges, it depends on the variety of each fruit. 

Can dogs eat oranges and tangerines?

These citrus fruits aren’t toxic to dogs. Due to the high sugar levels in oranges and tangerines, they may get GI upsets after consuming many of them. 

How can I tell the difference between oranges and tangerine without opening them?

A tangerine has reddish-orange skin, while an orange has yellow-orange skin. Oranges are also larger than tangerines.  

Are Cuties tangerines?

Cuties are small seedless oranges. They can be confused with tangerines because the two are very sweet. Cuties are also easy to peel.  

Is eating too many oranges and tangerines dangerous?

A: Although oranges and tangerines are very nutritious, overconsumption of these citrus fruits is associated with adverse effects such as irritation of the mouth, throat, and digestive tract. 

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