17 Delicious Candy Recipes That Are Perfect for Beginners
Master the sweet art of making fruit jellies, brittle, chocolate bark, fudge, caramel, and more with this guide to candy making.
Whether you are a seasoned pro in the kitchen, a curious new cook, or a budding scientist, making your own candy is a fun (and tasty!) educational experience. Before you start making your own candy, it's important to be honest about your intentions. Simply put, you don't set out to make candy, like the Easy Fudge Bites shown here, because of the cost or time savings. It's actually much cheaper and faster to pick up a bag of candy at the store. Instead, view making homemade candy as a labor of love—maybe you want to do it because you think you'll enjoy the process or because you want to make thoughtful homemade gifts for friends and family. Either way, you will surely feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after trying your hand at making the confections in this gallery.
Candy makes up a huge category of items spanning from chocolates to jellies to caramels. But stripped to its most essential concept, candy making is all about manipulating a few ingredients—mainly sugar—to get the desired texture. For example, recipes in this gallery like the crunchy toffee, chewy caramels, and simple fudge all start with a sugar syrup in common. So, how do you go from a fudge that melts in your mouth to a toffee that snaps and crackles? The answer is time and temperature. The longer the sugar-based syrup is cooked for, the more the water evaporates; the less water you have in your syrup, the harder the candy will be.
The candy recipes here run the gamut from a quick and easy bark that will satisfy a sudden craving to immersive projects like caramel-nougat swirl sticks. For the latter, make sure you have a good candy thermometer to help you know how far to take the cooking process. Candy thermometers are different from meat thermometers because they can withstand temperatures as high as 400°F. They often come with a clip attached so you can have it hooked to your pot of bubbling syrup the entire time.
Once you've gotten the hang of your favorite candies, consider perfecting them for this year's round of holiday gifts. Candies last longer and are usually hardier for shipping than baked goods like cookies and cakes, and a recipe will typically yield enough for many recipients.
Without further adieu, grab your candy thermometer and put on an apron. It's time to start making your own confections!
If you're new to the art of making treats, start with an easy entry into the world of fruit-based candies. There's no better place to start than with these super-simple jellies that require only four ingredients and take less than half an hour to prep.
Candied Citrus Peel
After you master fruit-based candies, move on the world of brittle, bark, and toffee. We suggest you start with a classic: Peanut brittle is a crowd favorite and is great for holiday gift-giving. Package in decorative tins for a pretty presentation.
This honey-sweetened brittle has all the appeal of peanut brittle and is a better choice for gifting when you don't know the allergy status of the recipients. Package the crunchy treat in a cellophane bag sealed with this festive fold-over "Seasons Eatings" gift label.
Got 15 minutes? Then you can make this easy chocolate bark. That's a good thing as looking at these recipes may activate your sweet tooth all of a sudden! This recipe has a "choose your own adventure" topping style, taking it from basic to brilliant in no time at all.
Fleur de Sel Toffee
Toffee is sweet, snappy, and buttery. What more could a person want? The answer is a light sprinkling of flaky sea salt, which cuts through any hint of cloying sweetness and elevates this simple recipe into an elegant gift-worthy treat.
Dipped Chocolate Truffles
Trends come and go (cake pops, anyone?) but chocolate truffles will never go out of fashion. The rich ganache at the center of these chocolate-enrobed truffles is easy to make. You can always stop there and use this recipe to make simple truffle balls instead, or sharpen your chocolate-tempering skills to make a treat that rivals the finest store-bought chocolates.
Chocolate-Dipped Luxardo Cherries
The hidden gem found inside each of these chocolate-covered confections is a Luxardo cherry, store-bought Italian candied marasca cherries that are steeped in syrup. They're coated in tempered chocolate, a classic technique well-worth learning—it stabilizes the chocolate and creates a glossy sheen with a snappy texture.
Classic Caramel Candies
When it comes to making a caramel that will be firm enough to slice into bite-size, wrappable candies, taking the sugar to right temperature stage is critical. Make sure you have a good candy thermometer at the ready before you start, and head here for a step-by-step guide to everything caramel.
Simple Chocolate Fudge
If you didn't grow up eating fudge from the local candy shop, then you may not know that fudge isn't just a block of melted chocolate. In fact, it doesn't even need to have chocolate to be considered fudge, but we think it's awful nice when it does. Fudge has a creamy and smooth texture that results from manipulating the sugar crystals in the recipe through heat and stirring. Start with this beginner's recipe for fudge, then level up with our triple chocolate variation.
These hard candies are a shining example of the many things you can make with just granulated sugar and a few other pantry ingredients.
Citrus Zest Lollipops
Italy's answer to nougat, that's torrone. The chewy, fluffy, whipped-like confection that's most famous in the States for its role in a Milky Way bar. Nuts are standard in a torrone, and you can go further—and make it festive for the holidays. Our cranberry-studded version is a guaranteed winner.
While you can't beat the convenience of store-bought, whipping your very own marshmallows into existence is an experience worth trying at least once; plus, the creamy flavor and fluffy texture just can't be beat. Once you've mastered the mallow, try your hand at making your own Peeps!
If this collection of recipes is like a 101 class in candy, consider this recipe the final exam. These twists combine two candies in one, so while a little challenging, it won't be brand new if you have had success making caramels and nougat.