Hard Candy, Easy Eating
By • Filed In: Christmas, Projects, Recipes, Winter

It’s candy making season!  Every winter before Christmas we get together with our mom and aunt to make homemade hard candy.  It all started when our Grandmother would get together with her bridge group each week.  Every December they took a break from playing bridge to make this Christmas candy recipe.  My Grandpa said the mint flavors would help with his sore throats while battling a winter cold.  For us on the other hand, it helps battle our sweet tooth!

Here’s what you need (for each batch):

2 cups of sugar

2/3 cup Karo Syrup

½ cup water

flavored oils (about 1 tablespoon, less for the strong minty flavors)

food coloring

a stick of butter, room temp

candy thermometer


clean scissors

Time!!! Each batch takes about 45-60 minutes. We made 10 batches on Sunday and it took us about 7 hours.

The picture on the right shows the flavors of oils we used.  We started with lemon then worked our way through anise/licorice (Cort’s fav), root beer, wintergreen, lime, lemon lime (by mixing both oils together), butterscotch, cinnamon, peppermint, and the new one we made this year, almond (I love it!).

 Here’s what you do:

Bring the sugar, Karo, and water to 300 degrees with a candy thermometer on a medium low heat, stirring constantly.  This can take about 45 minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too high or it will burn. Burnt candy = not so tasty.


Once the candy thermometer reaches 275 degrees, it’s time to butter up!  Take the room temp butter and spread it everywhere!  This is my favorite part.  You need to put butter on anything the candy will touch including the counter, the platter you’ll pour it on, the scissors you’ll cut it with, and your hands. The more the better!


Once the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees, remove the pot from the heat.  Add the flavored oil and the food coloring of your choice.  Since we made lemon first, we choose yellow.

Pour the liquid candy onto the buttered platter.  As soon as it starts to set just a bit (about 4 seconds) remove a section (pull or pour it onto the counter) and cut with buttered scissors into small pieces onto the buttered counter top.  Careful… it’s VERY hot and will burn! You have to work very quickly so the candy doesn’t harden into one big blob and so it doesn’t burn you. Pretend you are playing the game hot potato as a kid, by barely handling it as you quickly pull with your hands and snip with the scissors.  As it starts to cool it becomes much easier to handle with your hands.

Continue with as many flavors and colors as you wish!  Once we got into the groove and became comfortable with our method and flow of the process, we would begin to boil a new pot once the first one reached 200 degrees.  This left enough time between batches but also sped up the process.

This candy making is something you definitely do not want to do on your own.  It’s a good excuse to get family and friends together, get messy, and leave with yummy candy for yourself and as gifts.  Fill a short jar with the candy, finish off with a ribbon, and it’s an instant holiday gift!  My short jar, however, is on my desk at work.  Yup, I’ve been popping about 7 candies in my mouth throughout the day… tis the season for sugar!


I’ve even thought about spray painting the jar lid white for a clean look.  If you don’t want to buy jars, you can use old pickle jars!  Peel off the label and paint the lids.  Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest:



If you like the last picture, use pickle jars and paint the lids white.  Find wooden spindles at Hobby Lobby for the base.  Paint those white and glue them on.

Now that you know one of our favorite holiday traditions, take a moment to comment on your favorite family tradition!  I’m always looking to start new ones 😉

About the Author

I think chocolate and cheese should be their own food group. Or, at least I treat them as if they are. To say I like wine is an understatement. I hope to one day call myself a professional photographer, but in the meantime, I'll just pretend I am. I'm a second grade teacher by day but a potty mouth by night.