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How to Make Hard Candy Without Corn Syrup (And Why You Should)

How to Make Hard Candy Without Corn Syrup (And Why You Should)

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Just about everyone across the world has their favorite type of candy. Some people prefer some of the more simplistic types of candy that have one or two steps in the cooking process. Other people may have favorite candies that they can only get at select stores.

No matter what your favorite type of candy may be, most people can generally agree that there are some candies out there that are not good for your body in any way whatsoever.

One ingredient that is commonly found in foods that are even remotely sweet is corn syrup. Corn syrup has no nutritional value to it, and many people agree that it can add an overly sweetened and artificial taste to candies that it is included in.

Because of this, you may be inclined to try and find candies and sweets that do not have the corn syrup in them.

Unfortunately, because corn syrup is incredibly easy and inexpensive to produce, it is commonplace in most candies for there to be some form of corn syrup. One of the types of candies that has the biggest problem with this is hard candy.

Hard candy is often made from cooking sugar to the point it becomes solid and translucent, with food coloring often added as well as taste.

Theoretically, there should be no place for corn syrup in a candy that is made exclusively of sugar, right? There are many people all around the world who feel the same way, and because of this, more and more people are taking to their stovetops to craft their own hard candies.

Not only will this ensure that there is no unnecessary corn syrup in the candy, but it also means that you would have full reign over the type, flavor, appearance, size, and shape of the candy.

When people are given full control over how they can design their candies, they will often be far more inclined to put the right amount of effort into the mix, allowing you to have a well-flavored hard candy that you can enjoy at any time of the day.

What Does Hard Candy Typically Need?

Light Corn Syrup Being Poured Onto A Spoon

Before you can work on barring a certain ingredient from being in your candy, you will first want to get a good understanding of how hard candy is made. When you are able to get a good understanding of what is going on, it will make it tremendously easier for you to know what you should do when it comes time for you to begin cooking the candy.

Typically, hard candy is made by mixing in the sugar, the corn syrup, and the water into a bowl. Here, you would just stir the sugar around in the bowl on a medium heat setting. You would continue on with this process until the sugar reaches a dissolved state, allowing the mixture to become translucent in opacity.

From here, you will want to stop stirring, wait a small amount of time so that the candy can cook, with the next step being that you should drop the candies into cold water so that you can be assured of the quality.

Once the candies have been dropped into the water to cool them down and solidify them, the flavoring for the candy is added as well as the food coloring. This is how hard candies are usually made with corn syrup.

The good news about this is that this process is not going to be too difficult to recreate. The largest problem with this kind of process is being patient and waiting for the food to be ready.

What Will You Need?

Scoop Of Cream Of Tartar

To make your corn syrup-free hard candies, you will first want to gather all of the ingredients that you will need to get the job done.

More often than not, you are going to start out with sugar and water, as these are the main components to any hard candy recipe. Next, you will want to add some cream of tartar to help keep everything together and tasting the way that it should.

If you want to keep the hard candies looking good, then you are also going to need to consider the food or vegetable coloring so that the hard candy that you make will be able to stand out above the rest, and the flavor of the hard candy is something that has next to no limits. The one ingredient here that may concern you is cream of tartar.

This ingredient is used as a binding agent to help ensure that everything sticks together to become a solid sheet of hard candy without having to rely on the use of corn syrup to get the job done.

With the amount that you will be putting into your recipe, you won’t need to worry about the taste of the hard candy being affected.

Speaking of the amount of ingredients you will need, the measures for most standard hard candies are going to be the following: two cups of sugar, two-thirds cup of water, and one-eighth teaspoon of cream of tartar.

The amount of flavoring and coloring is not going to be too important to the hard candy, so this can be saved for later.

The Cooking Process

Boiling And Caramelizing Sugar In A Saucepan To Make Lollipops

Now that you have a good idea of not only what you will need, but you also have a good understanding of what goes into making hard candy you will be able to enjoy your corn syrup-free hard candies in the comfort of your own home. In fact, making hard candy is one of the easiest ways that you can make a dessert, it just takes a lot of time.

To begin, you will want to mix the sugar and the cream of tartar together with the water. You will want to keep stirring and stirring the pot until all of the sugar is gone. This will help keep the hard candy’s naturally translucent appearance, which is something that many people can appreciate.

Next, you will want to heat the stovetop up to 290 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have a thermometer that you can use to measure the temperature, you can also use an ice-based method. This method involves putting a drop of considerably cold water into the hard candy and seeing if it forms a bead.

After the candy has reached the level of cooking that you want it to be at, you can add the flavoring to the candy so that you will get to enjoy a flavor that is unique to you.

At this point, all you will need to do is wait for the candy to cool down so that you can take it out of the pot and have some enjoyable hard candies for the holidays.

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Azeyl Booth

Monday 15th of April 2024

Can you make hard candy without Corn Syrup or Cream of Tarter?


Wednesday 1st of May 2024

@Azeyl Booth, yes use vineger


Sunday 17th of March 2024

Does cream of tartar have nutritional value?

Sarah Bridenstine

Monday 18th of March 2024

It has a decent amount of potassium, but that's about it.


Saturday 15th of April 2023

Hi, good tip on corn-free hard candy, but when I clicked on the link, "no page found" can you provide the link? Thanks! Sarah


Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Sounds good but where is the moulding process? I assume you don't leave it in the pot to go hard so how do I get those neat little balls?

Sarah B.

Thursday 14th of July 2022

Hi Lyn!

You can typically use candy molds at that point. You can buy them on Amazon or craft stores or even some big box stores. I hope that helps!

Fabry James

Sunday 10th of April 2022

I understand wanting to get rid of corn syrup, but ultimately, by using cream of tartar on sugar (sucrose), you are creating inverted sugar. Corn syrup is mostly glucose, and inverted sugar is a mix of sucrose, glucose and fructose. So basically, with this recipe, you are just creating an analogue to the typical corn syrup recipe, which is certainly not any healthier. And that's normal, because, well you're making candy. None of this is healthy. It's all sugar. It'll make you fat and diabetic if abused of, regardless of whether you use sugar, inverted sugar or corn syrup. The point of candy is the enjoyment. Eat it in moderation and everything will be all right.

That said, there is a valid reason to substitute corn syrup for inverted sugar, and that's cost. Corn syrup is 2-10× more expensive than sugar, so by using sugar and a tiny bit of cream of tartar (or another acid), you get far more candy for the same price. Roughly 1kg per dollar as of 2022, which is 5 times more than you get when buying cheap candy like Twizzlers, and 16 times more than commercial hard candy such as Life Savers.


Saturday 15th of April 2023

@Fabry James, the problem you are not even considering in this thorough reply is what if one is allergic to corn? Which I am. I label read everything I buy, if it has corn syrup or corn starch, I don't buy it. I agree with all candy in moderation, but it is lovely to make your own hard candy for the family that is made from organic, corn, and soy free ingredients. Have you read the ingredients list of a favorite candy from when a kid? It is disgusting all the processed, fake ingredients, even the colorings are fake. I love this option. I have cream of tarter as a staple in my pantry anyway...this is great to know another use for it!


Tuesday 17th of January 2023

@Fabry James, and what if you have a corn allergy? Guess you don't know it all


Saturday 18th of June 2022

@George J.,

I found that information super helpful

George J.

Monday 23rd of May 2022

@Fabry James, Relax jfc.