Difference Between Mandarin and Tangerine (With Table)

Fruits can rightfully be considered one of the most enjoyed foods all around the world. Not only are they lip-smackingly delicious, but they also provide the body with the required nutrients. Nowadays, one can easily observe the shift from ‘eating junk food and not caring about health’ to ‘leading a much healthier lifestyle’.

People have switched to incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their daily meals. Even fast-food joints have added a few healthier options to their food menu. Meals such as smoothie bowls, fruit salads, freshly pressed juice, and so on are a few ways through which people can have the required intake of fruits in a much more interesting way.

As mentioned earlier, eating fruits helps us by providing the required nutrients. There are different fruits that are rich in different vitamins and minerals, which is why doctors advise us to eat certain fruits to make up for the deficiency of any particular vitamin or mineral in our bodies.

Two such fruits that are rich in nutrients are mandarin and tangerine. These two fruits are often mistaken to be simply an orange. They are also confused with each other. However, there are certain distinctions that will help us understand each of them better.

Mandarin vs Tangerine

The difference between a mandarin and tangerine is that a mandarin is a citrus fruit that is further divided into three main categories- Satsumas, Tangerines, and other miscellaneous hybrids whereas a tangerine is a type of mandarin.

Comparison Table Between Mandarin and Tangerine

Parameter of ComparisonMandarinTangerine
Type  A mandarin is a citrus fruit that is further divided into other types.A tangerine is a type of mandarin, that is, it is one of the different types of mandarins.
Classification  According to the above difference, all mandarins are not tangerines.According to the above difference, all tangerines are mandarins.
Etymology  The word ‘mandarin’ comes from the Chinese officials called Mandarins who used to wear orange-colored clothing.The word ‘tangerine’ comes from a city in Morocco named Tangiers, which acted as a channel for its export.
Physical characteristicsMandarins are bright orange in color and oblate in shape, with soft skin.Tangerines are dark orange in color and spherical in shape, with hard skin.
Taste  Mandarins are sweeter and less tart than tangerines.Tangerines are tarter and less sweet than mandarins.

What is Mandarin?

Fruits are not just delicious but also a healthier choice of food to eat. It keeps one healthy and fulfilling yet not so full that one cannot get up from a sofa.

They are the perfect way to feel refreshed and energetic in the fastest way possible. They are also easy to carry and dispose of, with a few exceptions such as watermelon, pineapple, jackfruit, etc.

A mandarin is one such fruit that is easy to carry and delicious to eat. A mandarin is a citrus fruit. It is also called a mandarin orange. Mandarins belong to the citrus family Rutaceae.

Mandarins are further divided into three categories or types: –

  1. Satsumas
  2. Tangerines
  3. Miscellaneous hybrids

Thus, according to this above classification into three major types, all mandarins cannot be considered as tangerines. That is, all mandarins are not tangerines, because a mandarin can also be a Satsuma or any other hybrid.

Mandarins received their name from the name of the Chinese officials who were called Mandarins. These officials wore clothing of orange color, thus leading to the name ‘Mandarin’ for the fruit. A mandarin orange has a bright orange colour to it. It is less spherical and more oblate in its shape, that is, it is flattened in the top and bottom, giving it a shape that is not a perfect sphere.

It also has soft skin that is easy to peel, making it travel-friendly. You can easily peel the fruit and eat each segment. In terms of taste, mandarins have a sweeter taste when compared to tangerines. It has a sweet taste and is less tart than a tangerine.

Mandarins are often used in fruit salad bowls, cakes, and ice creams, to give it a sweet and juicy hint.

What is Tangerine?

As mentioned above, mandarins are divided into three major categories. A tangerine is a type of mandarin orange. It is a sub-group or sub-type that comes under mandarin. A tangerine is also a citrus fruit. However, it is one of the three sub-categories of mandarins.

Thus, according to this classification, all tangerines are mandarins, since every tangerine is a type of mandarin orange. Tangerines received their name from the city called ‘Tangiers’. It is a city in Morocco. Tangiers is the city from where tangerines were exported to Europe, thus getting the name ‘Tangerine’ for the fruit.

Although both a mandarin and tangerine come under the citrus fruit (orange) family, there are differences in their physical characteristics as well as in their taste. Tangerines come in a dark orange color. It is more spherical in shape when compared to a mandarin.

Contrary to a mandarin, a tangerine has a hard skin, making it quite hard to peel its skin off. Thus, tangerines are suitable to be exported to other countries, with their tough skin dampening down the risk of it perishing. In terms of its taste, tangerines are less sweet than mandarin. Tangerines are tarter in taste. They are tangy and tart.

Main Differences Between Mandarin and Tangerine

  1. A mandarin or a mandarin orange is a citrus fruit that is further divided into three sub-types: – Satsumas, tangerines, and miscellaneous hybrids. But a tangerine is a type of mandarin orange, that is, it comes under a mandarin.
  2. All mandarins are not tangerines. But all tangerines are mandarins.
  3. The word ‘Mandarin’ comes from the Chinese officials called Mandarins, who wore orange colored clothing. But the word ‘Tangerine’ comes from the Moroccan city Tangiers from where the fruit was exported to Europe.
  4. Mandarins are bright orange in color, with soft skin. But tangerines are dark orange in color, with hard skin.
  5. Mandarins are less spherical and more oblate in shape. But tangerines are more spherical in shape.
  6. Mandarins are less tart and sweeter than a tangerine. But tangerines are less sweet and tarter than a mandarin.


Both mandarins and tangerines are part of the citrus fruit family, Rutaceae. However, the differences lie in their type, etymological origin, shape, color, skin, and taste.

While mandarins are bright orange in colour with soft skin and an oblate shape, tangerines are dark orange in colour with tough skin and a spherical shape. Mandarins are sweet while tangerines are tart and tangy.

No matter how different they are from each other, both are equally delicious, nutritious, and fun to eat!


  1. https://www.treatt.com/content/6-treatt-news/technical-articles/20031002-riding-the-citrus-trail-when-is-a-mandarin-a-tangerine/riding-the-citrus.pdf
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781845697341500212
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