Grapefruit topped with burnt brown sugar DSC3170

An epiphany about grapefruit

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like grapefruit. And this makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong—grapefruit is pleasing on many levels. It’s pleasing to the eye with its bright red color, pleasing to the nose with its clean, floral scent and pleasing to the touch with its receptive flesh. But for me, it’s not so pleasing to the taste—I find it too bitter and it makes my face contort into unattractive shapes.

I’m not completely adverse to grapefruit-flavored things. Fresca is one of my favorite soft drinks. And grapefruit bread, if done well, can be a delicious treat. But the thought of tucking my spoon into a halved grapefruit just fills me with dread. That is, unless you add sugar.

Grapefruit topped with burnt brown sugar | Homesick Texan
If you know me, you’ve probably heard me trumpet my lack of a sweet tooth. But I think we both know that I’m just lying to myself. And while it’s a New Year and like most people I am trying to temper some of my appetites in order to regain my pre-holiday health. I also can’t avoid that grapefruits are in season and if I’m going to get any joy out of eating them, I’m just going to have to add sugar.

When I was in Oxford, Mississippi back in October, I had the pleasure of eating breakfast a couple of times at the very fine Big Bad Breakfast—BBB for short. If you’re ever there, do yourself a favor and make a point of trying BBB’s house-smoked bacon and sausage, cheesy grits, fluffy biscuits and homemade jams. They also offer a half of grapefruit that’s been topped with a spicy sugar crust.

I didn’t order that when I was there but one of my friends did, and she got so much obvious joy out of digging her spoon through the crunchy shell into the soft fruit that it almost made me regret ordering biscuits and gravy instead of grapefruit. Almost.

When I recently got my hands on some big, juicy grapefruits, I decided that I would have to recreate that grapefruit brulée at home. I halved a grapefruit and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over the fruit. I placed the two halves under the broiler for a few seconds and they came out a bit warm covered in glassy, shiny sugar layer. It’s sweet enough to cut back some of the grapefruit’s bitterness without the grapefruit losing its essence. And as it only takes a few minutes to make, I think I just may have my new go-to winter-morning meal.

Grapefruit topped with burnt brown sugar | Homesick Texan

OK, I’m lying again. I’d still rather have breakfast tacos or pancakes early in the morning. But even with the sugar, this grapefruit is healthy enough and so I might as well enjoy them while they’re in season. Heck, grapefruits could even become one of my favorite fruits.

5 from 2 votes

Grapefruit topped with burnt brown sugar

Servings 2
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Slice your grapefruit in half at the equator. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top of the grapefruit and then spread the brown sugar on top. Place under the broiler for 20 seconds and then dig in!

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Recipe Rating


  1. FYI on the grapefruit.. a pack of splenda per side, a dash of cinnamon, 45 seconds in the microwave, and suddenly grapefruit has transformed into the most wonderful, comforting snack ever… my husbands grandmother taught me this trick… and I love it

  2. Anonymous says:

    i don’t like the ruby red grapefruit because it is bitter but last week when i passed by the farmer’s market, there was a stall selling oro blanco grapefruits and they were sweet.

  3. I’m a Texan in upstate NY, and I was jumpin’ and shoutin’ in the aisle at Sam’s the other day. they had a shipment of Texas grown Rio Stars (sweeter than Ruby Reds). The. best. grapefruit. I may be biased. My grandfather was a friend of the man who developed/refined this strain, and I used to get them fresh from the grove. Nothing beats them, and you’ll never be able to eat any from CA or FL again, but it’s worth that. Simply amazing.

  4. Hi Lisa,

    Jennie from London, England.

    Loving your blog. Your entries make my mouth water, except for this one! I find grapefruit too bitter as well. I have memories of ordering " jus de pamplemousse" on holiday in France without realising what it was. Started gulping it down and… lets just say my family found my facial expressions very amusing!

    One day, I might pluck up the courage to try it grilled with sugar on top. It might not be for a while.

    Take care

  5. Honey is delightful too!