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Homemade Hard Candy

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Homemade Hard Candy is easy to make and really easy to customize to whatever flavor and color you want! This hard candy recipe will become a favorite in your family.

close up of broken red homemade hard candy

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Serve this homemade hard candy on a holiday treat table with Christmas Oreo Bon Bons, Christmas Crack, Cinnamon Sugar Candied Almonds, and Easy Peanut Butter Fudge.

How pretty is this candy? I like that it looks like broken glass.

I didn’t realize hard candy was so simple to make, it’s just a little time consuming, much like crystal rock candy. Only six ingredients and really, the food coloring & powdered sugar dusting at the end are optional.

What is hard candy?

Hard candy is a boiled sweet made of sugar that is usually brightly colored and made to slowly dissolve in your mouth.

You can color it with food coloring and flavor it with whichever oils or extracts you like.

The flavors we used were strawberry and lemon but you can use whatever extracts you can find. Meijer had orange, cherry, mint, etc. in the baking aisle.

sugar boiling in a pot with a candy thermometer

Is hard candy cruelty free/vegan?

Yes, hard candy is vegan and cruelty-free because is is made with no animal by-products.

Ingredients needed to make homemade hard candy

  • Sugar – White, granulated sugar. This is candy, after all.
  • Light Corn Syrup – Karo syrup is used for a light sweet flavor, in sauces and jams and such. It is made with real vanilla.
  • Water
  • Extract or Oil Flavoring – We used strawberry and lemon in this batch but there are many possibilities. Oils will be more potent that extracts but use what you can find.
  • Food Coloring – Not necessary, but candy just isn’t as pretty without it.
  • Powdered Sugar – You’ll dust the finished candy with powdered sugar to prevent it from sticking.

Equipment needed to make hard candy

  • Candy Thermometer – You NEED a candy thermometer to make this hard candy. Not optional.
  • Lipped Baking Pan (Jelly Roll Pan) – You also need a pan with a lip. You’ll pour the hot mixture onto the pan to cool and without a lip…you’ll have a mess.
  • Silicone Baking Mats – It’ll make your life easier to line the baking pans with silicone baking mats. It’s easy to peel the cooled candy off of.
  • Flavor Oils or Flavor Extracts – Like I said, you can likely find individual flavor extracts at your grocery store, but this set has some unique ones – crisp champagne or salted caramel, anyone?
  • Food coloring – I always recommend this color performance kit. It has a really helpful color chart that makes mixing whatever color you want really easy.
close up of candy dish with yellow and red homemade hard candy

You can easily adjust how much flavoring/color your candy has and you could color coordinate for a party or shower.

How to make homemade hard candy

Making homemade hard candy is probably easier than you think.

STEP ONE: First, you’ll combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until dissolved.

STEP TWO: Then, you use a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature gets to 290 degrees, which takes about 35-45 minutes.

STEP THREE: Once it hits temperature, you remove from heat, add whichever coloring and extracts you’re using, stir it up, then pour it onto a baking sheet to cool.

STEP FOUR: Once it’s cooled, you break it up into whichever size pieces you want. Sprinkle in powdered sugar & you’re done. Easy!

How much flavoring for hard candy?

You can use whichever flavor you like for this hard candy recipe and how much flavor you use is also customizable. It’s best to use a highly concentrated candy oil that can stand up to the heat without losing flavor. You’ll typically use a teaspoon of flavoring if it’s super-strength, or one Tablespoon if it’s “regular” strength.

Extracts are somewhat easier to find and will work, they just aren’t as potent.

overhead shot of candy dish with homemade hard candy

Homemade Hard Candy FAQs

How do you store candy?

Hard candies can last up to one year if they’re stored properly. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from humidity and heat. The coating of powdered sugar at the end of the recipe helps to keep hard candies from absorbing moisture from the air.

Can hard candy go bad?

Hard candy doesn’t have an expiration date but it does get less desirable the older it gets. It can get sticky or chewy when affected by humidity or fluctuating temperatures so it is best to enjoy it as soon as possible.

Can you use silicone molds for hard candy?

Yes, you can use silicone molds to make hard candy or lollipops, as long as they are heat safe (some aren’t!). Make sure you check the labels – they should be heat safe to 350+ degrees. This set would work for fun shapes and this set would work for suckers.

Can you use chocolate molds for hard candy?

Yes, most molds double for chocolate or hard candy, just double check that they’re heat safe.

Can you use extract instead of oil in hard candy?

Yes, you can easily substitute oils and extracts in this recipe and most others. Since flavoring oils are so much more concentrated, you only need a few drops in place of a teaspoon of extract.

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collage of homemade hard candy making

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE HARD CANDY

Homemade Hard Candy

Melissa | Persnickety Plates
Homemade Hard Candy is easy to make and really easy to customize to whatever flavor and color you want! This hard candy recipe will become a favorite in your family.
4.57 from 16 votes
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 20
Calories 209 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 ⅓ cups light corn syrup Karo syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon extract flavoring we used strawberry & lemon
  • food coloring 7-10 drops, depending
  • powered sugar for dusting

Instructions
 

  • Line cookie sheets (it’s best to use cookie sheets that have a lip) with silicone liners. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and set aside.
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan and continuously stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Once dissolved, insert a candy thermometer to the pan (it should rest about an inch from the bottom of the pan) and continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 290 degrees. It should take around 35-45 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add food coloring and extract. Eyeball the coloring to get the color you want. We matched red with strawberry and yellow with lemon.
  • Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and allow it to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, lay a clean towel or parchment/wax paper over the candy and gently tap with a hammer/meat tenderizer/mallet to break into pieces.
  • Sprinkle candy with powdered sugar & toss to coat.
  • Repeat process for each flavor/color you’re making.

Notes

Each batch makes a cookie sheet worth of candy, which you break up into whatever size pieces you want. So, it makes a lot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 209kcalCarbohydrates: 54gSodium: 15mgSugar: 54gCalcium: 3mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Tried this recipe? Tag me!Mention @melissa_pplates or tag #persnicketyplates!

Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying/pasting and/or screenshots of full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Content and photographs are copyright protected.

Originally published December 31, 2012.

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  1. Emily Dicks says

    I love how pretty the colors turned out, stopping by from Wednesday Whatsits 🙂

  2. Donna says

    We lightly greased a cookie sheet, no powdered sugar used and rather than breaking with a hammer, just lift one end of candy with a knife, it will easily snap into pieces.

  3. Tracey says

    You really need to get to 300 degrees on the candy thermometer and use Loann oils instead of extracts

    • Melissa Williams says

      I haven’t had problems at 290 or with the extracts, but I’ll have to try the oils. I have heard good things.

  4. Jan says

    have you ever molded this recipe into lollipops?

    • Melissa Williams says

      I have not, but that sounds fun & I think it would work! Let me know if you try.

  5. Deborah says

    Burned before it got to 290 not happy I never left it

    • Melissa Williams says

      Hi Deborah – it sounds like you had your heat up too high. Medium heat and stir constantly, if you try again. I haven’t burned this, but many batches of caramel & I know it’s frustrating.

    • Kelly says

      5 stars
      Hi – do we stir it or not? Your recipe states, “…continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 290 degrees….”

    • Melissa Williams says

      You do not stir it while it’s coming to temperature.

  6. Wayne says

    I would like to make a hard candy from real coffee and I just can’t find it anywhere. Would you please help me with this? I know a lot of people that would really like to have a coffee hard candy from real coffee.

    • Melissa Williams says

      Hi Wayne, I have not tested any coffee recipes, but thanks for the idea 🙂

  7. JENNI says

    Candy is beautiful, but ours didn’t taste like strawberry. We used a tablespoon of extract. Any ideas? I have other flavors to try, but don’t want to overdue the flavor

    • Melissa Williams says

      Which brand did you use? They’re not all created equal. I like LorAnn.

  8. Casie says

    5 stars
    Yes I am gona try this for the first time and I wana know where I can find the other colors u mentioned? I got a ton of LorAnn flavors and I wana be able to make all kinda cool colors to go with the flavors.

    • Melissa Williams says

      If you already have the flavors, you just need food coloring. I link some on Amazon above but any market should have some 🙂

  9. Casie says

    Oh and I also forgot to ask what else I can use for the bottom of my cookie sheet? Can I just use the powder sugar? I don’t have anything to put underneath it. Thanks

    • Melissa Williams says

      How about foil? You want something to help you with cleanup 🙂

    • Casie says

      Ok thank u! I appreciate the feed back. Do u think it would be ok to use gel food coloring? I’ve never used that kind but but husband could not find any.

    • Melissa Williams says

      I haven’t used gel in this, but I think it will work fine.

    • Bernie says

      Don’t use foil it will stick, just use powdered sugar on your pan before spreading. Please be extra careful because it is very hot!!!

  10. Gina says

    I’m wondering if you can help me my daughter is in a cocktail competition and she had the idea to make this hard candy but she wants it to be clear with a silver backing so that when it’s broken it looks like broken glass. Is there a way that it can be clear because I know a lot of the times it turns out to be an amber color without any food coloring. Any advice would be much appreciated!

  11. Mary Lane says

    3 stars
    I love the flavor I think another way to test if it is ready is to put a little bit (1/2teeaspoon) into a bowl of COLD Water and if it makes like a tear drop with a string on the end it is ready

    • Melissa Williams says

      I’m a lil confused about the “love the flavor” but only 3 stars comment 🤔

  12. Michaelle Tuckus says

    Hello, I just made my first two batches last night and the one i flavored with strawberry extract tasted really good but a little weak so now I know Use more since it was the extract, but the one I made with LorAnn apple, and cinnamon oils and it tasted horrible and because I used green food coloring it was hard to tell if it was just burnt or just too much oil? So Im trying this again but before i do I wanted to know about mixing the flavor oils or extracts together to make a new one for example by boyfriend wants me to mix the maple and the coconut extracts should this work and also how much do I use of each? should it be equal parts 2 tsp. maple and 2 tsp. coconut? if you can please help I would love to try this combo and others

    • Melissa Williams says

      Are you using the super strength oils? I know a little bit goes a LONG way so start small. I haven’t tested those particular flavors to tell you the ratios.

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