Homemade “Jolly Rancher” Candies

So, this recipe is essentially the same as the one for Candy Apples.. well, aside for the apples, anyway!

The ingredients and technique for making the candy syrup are the same – it’s what you do with it afterwards that makes the difference. The techniques described here can also be used to make “Jolly Ranchers” from leftover candy syrup when making candy apples.

Home Made “Jolly Rancher” type hard candies

3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
3/4 cup water
Several drops food coloring*
1 tbsp flavor extract (we used Cherry!)
1/4-1/2 tsp citric acid powder, optional

Generously grease the bottom and sides of a large cookie sheet (one with sides at least 1/2″ tall). Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir well, bring to a boil on medium or medium-high heat. Affix candy thermometer to pan.

Boil mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 310 degrees. Remove from heat, quickly stir in food coloring and flavoring (and citric acid, if using). Stir mixture until it stops boiling, and most of the “bubbles” disappear – this will minimize texture in your finished candies.

Carefully pour molten candy into prepared cookie sheet. Allow to cool until still very warm to the touch, slightly malleable, and firm (not brittle).

Turn slab of candy out onto a cutting board, taking care not to stretch it. Using a large knife, score candy slab into rows about 1″ apart. Turn slab 90 degrees, and score again – 1/2″ for long skinny candies, 1″ for square ones.

Working quickly, cut all the way through the candy slab along the score lines, separating candies into rows, then individual candies. You will need to have all of your cutting done while the candy is still fairly warm and malleable, or it will shatter when you attempt to cut it.

Hard candy is very hydrophilic – it pulls moisture out of the air, and absorbs it. This will result in sticky or “sweaty” candy – you’ll want to either wrap them individually, or keep them sealed in an airtight container.

Below: My husband swiped an unscored “row” of warm candy, and shaped it. Awww! Brownie points for him!

Author:Marie Porter

Marie is an award winning cake artist based in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Known as much for her delicious and diverse flavor menu as for her sugar artistry, Marie's work has graced magazines and blogs around the world. Having baked and designed for brides, celebrities, and even Klingons, Marie was proud to share her wealth of baking knowledge in her two cookbooks: "The Spirited Baker" and “Evil Cake Overlord”. Marie has also authored a book about her experiences surrounding the 2011 Minneapolis tornado: "Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir"

15 Responses to “Homemade “Jolly Rancher” Candies”

  1. July 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Received an email question from a read, figured I should answer it here as well:

    > I was trying to find a way to make liquor infused hard candy and came
    > across your recipe so my question is do you think that adding alcohol to
    > the recipe will affect the hardening of the candy itself? Any help is
    > appreciated ..thanks for your time! 🙂

    No, it shouldn’t affect the hardening, but it may affect how long it takes
    to reach the candy stage – and there will be no alcohol left in there by
    that point. Also, depending on what you’re using, some ingredients may
    scorch (certain liqueurs, etc)

    Best thing to do is experiment!

  2. Random Person
    October 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    How long does it take to harden?

    • October 7, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      Not long, but depends on how thick you pour it, etc

  3. Aaliyah
    October 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Can you make jolly rancher Popsicles out of jolly ranchers or a warm jolly rancher drink and also can you make jolly rancher fondant or icing or cupcakes if so please post recipies

  4. Tanya
    February 5, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    I wondered if adding citric acid would make these more tart? Would i still need cream of tartar if i used citric acid?

    • February 12, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Yes, it would… and no, you wouldn’t 🙂

  5. Bad Candy Cook
    March 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    How much candy does this make?

  6. joy
    March 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Yes how much does this yeild I’m making 6 different colors I’m trying not to make more then 2 pounds of candy this is for St.Patty’s day

  7. lesley
    April 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Does this actually have the same jolly rancher taste or does it taste just like regular flavoured hard candies?

  8. Jodie
    September 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Hi, I wanted to make a jolly rancher flavor pink lemonade.
    I wondering if I should use sour pink lemonade
    Or add malic acid. To get a similar outcome?

    • September 26, 2014 at 6:32 am #

      Well, actual lemonade would scorch and probably turn brown, and I doubt it would impact enough flavour. I know you can buy pink lemonade flavour oil, is there a reason not to just use that?

  9. Rachel Massie
    December 19, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    How much Candy does this make approximately? I would like to make several different flavors but I don’t want to end up with a huge quantity of candy. Thanks so much!

    • December 23, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      I think about a baking sheet worth? It’s been so long since I’ve made them!

  10. April 5, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    Too bad you forgot to add when to put in the flavoring.

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