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How to Make Hard Candy at Home

FlavorJungle Blog

Alright, let's dive into the fascinating science behind candy making - and don't worry, it's actually pretty cool! When you whip up this hard candy recipe, you'll combine a delightful medley of sugar, water, flavoring, and corn syrup. So, get ready to embark on a sweet and exciting journey!

Homemade Hard Candy

By significantly increasing the amount of sugar, we achieve a phenomenon known as a "supersaturated solution" when dissolved in water. This captivating transformation occurs at a specific temperature, explaining why candy recipes often entail precise boiling temperatures. Remember, a thermometer is indispensable for this recipe!

Get ready for the magic to happen when this supersaturated solution cools down! By packing a whole bunch of sugar molecules into the water, they will cool in a super orderly manner. And guess what that means? Crystallization! Brace yourself for this mesmerizing transformation!

The size of the crystals in candy is determined by how much you stir the mixture. Stirring frequently creates small crystals, ideal for smooth candies like fudge. On the other hand, not stirring produces large crystals, which is what we aim for in hard candy. This is why following the instructions precisely is crucial!

In this hard candy recipe, you only stir before the sugar dissolves and then again after removing the mixture from heat if you're adding flavoring. Otherwise, you let the color incorporate through the boiling action. If you're curious, you can delve into the science behind candy making here. So, get ready to create delectable treats with perfectly sized crystals!

I usually skip candy molds too. But don't worry, there are a few ways you can work around that. The simplest method is to pour your hard candy into a quarter or half sheet baking tray that has been sprayed with oil.  If needed, spread it out evenly and let it harden. Then, break it up and toss it with powdered sugar for a sweet touch.

Another option is to get creative with free-form candies or suckers. Wait for the mixture to cool for just 1-2 minutes until it thickens slightly. Then, pour dollops of the mix onto parchment and let it harden. It's fun and delicious!

Ingredients for this Hard Candy Recipe

  • Sugar:  2 cups of granulated sugar.
  • Corn syrup: ⅔ cups of corn syrup (Sweetener and thickener)
  • Water: ¾ cup of water for dissolving sugar. 
  • Food coloring: Optional, have fun with color!
  • Flavoring oil: One teaspoon of flavoring oil to start. I used Tiger's Blood flavoring.
  • Powdered sugar: ¼ cup of powdered sugar.  This coats the candy to prevent them from sticking together.


Tools for Hard Candy Making

  • Candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer
  • Silicone spatula
  • 3 quart saucepan
  • Sheet pans
  • Parchment
  • Whisk

Best way to flavor Old Fashioned Hard Candy

Old fashioned candy

If you do want to flavor your candy, I recommend using flavoring oils. They are much more potent than extracts. I have tried both and the extract flavor is very mild, even when a lot is used. Add 1 teaspoon of flavoring, any more than that could be overwhelming with the amount of candy this recipe makes. Just be sure you are not leaning over the pot when you add them! They will make the mixture steam vigorously and that can burn easily.

How to make Hard Candy

  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3 quart saucepan.
  • Over medium heat, cook the mixture until sugar is dissolved. Stir until the sugar is just dissolved and then stop stirring.
  • Heat the mixture until it reaches 260 degrees F.
  • Add in the optional food coloring.
  • Continue to boil the mixture until it reaches 300 degrees F.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and then add in the optional flavoring oil.  Do not lean over the pot when doing this as the steam can burn you.
  • Stir the sugar until everything is combined.
  • Pour the sugar mixture into a quarter sized baking sheet and allow it to harden. Break into bite-sized pieces and then toss in powdered sugar to coat.
  • Optionally, you can choose to pour the mixture into candy molds and harden it into shapes.
  • Another option is to pour free-form candies onto a parchment lined sheet. After allowing the mixture to cool for a minute before pouring, this method becomes easier.

Tips for Clean-Up

By soaking anything with hard candy on it in warm water, you can effortlessly dissolve the candy and make cleaning a breeze.

How Long Does it Take for Hard Candy to Harden

Hard Candy will take about 2-3 hours to harden.

How long will Homemade Candy keep?

Although homemade candy doesn't have strict expiration dates, it can still spoil due to various factors like humidity, temperature, and storage conditions. As time passes, the candy may become soft, sticky, and chewy, so it's ideal to savor it while it's fresh for the most delightful experience. Keep in mind that the shelf life of candy depends on several variables, adding a touch of unpredictability to the mix.

Hard Candy Making FAQ

1. Can hard candy be frozen?

Freezing hard candy is not recommended as it tends to become sticky and messy when it thaws. It's best to avoid freezing it altogether.

2. Will hard candy stick to parchment paper?

Hard candy should not stick to parchment paper since it is designed to withstand such recipes.

3. Why is my hard candy chewy?

Several factors can contribute to making hard candy chewy instead of hard. For example, humidity levels and storage conditions can play a role. Additionally, if the candy was not heated to the proper temperature before pouring, it may not have reached the desired hard-ball stage.

4. What is a hard-ball stage?

The hard-ball stage refers to the point in the sugar/water boiling process when the sugar reaches around 260 degrees F. At this stage, tiny amounts of the sugar can be dropped into ice-cold water and instantly form into a ball shape.

5. What does cream of tartar do in hard candy?

Although this recipe does not call for cream of tartar, it is commonly used in hard candy to prevent sugar crystallization.

6. Can I make hard candy in silicone molds?

Yes, silicone molds can be used to make hard candy.

7. What do you use to pour hard candy into molds?

I recommend using a heat-proof baking pipette or carefully spooning the hot candy mixture into the molds.

8. Do you need to spray silicone candy molds?

No, there is no need to spray silicone candy molds. 

9.  What to do with a failed hard candy attempt?

Hard candy that didn't turn out to your liking sometimes happens.  If this happens, consider turning it into hard candy art!

Making homemade hard candy is a breeze! Just follow this easy and delightful recipe, complete with step-by-step instructions. Plus, you can easily switch up the flavors for a truly mouthwatering experience!

 Keywordhard candy recipe, hard tack candy, homemade hard candy
 Prep Time5 
 Cook Time30 
 Total Time35 

 Servings16 people

 Calories 144kcal

 Author Flavor Jungle


Explore Hard Candy Flavors and begin your candy making journey today!

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