Small Batch

How to Make Black Licorice From Scratch

By • August 29, 2014 • 23 Comments

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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Christina Lane from Dessert For Two makes a homemade version of a controversial candy that will convert you to the dark side. 

Black licorice can be a polarizing issue in the candy store. Some people seek it out exclusively and prefer their entire bag of jelly beans to be black. Others will crinkle their nose at the mention of the word "licorice" and keep their distance. But in my opinion, that just means more for us!

Even if you think you're a card-carrying member of the Licorice Haters Club, I beg you to try homemade licorice. It's soft, chewy, and the anise flavor is much more subtle than it is in the commercial versions. Dare I say that it's delicious enough to make a convert out of you?

More: Can't get enough chewy candy? Here's more.

The base of black licorice consists of several different forms sugar: granulated sugar, dark corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and molasses. If you prefer a stronger black licorice flavor, use blackstrap molasses. If you're easing into the Licorice Lovers Club, go ahead and use plain baking molasses.  

Homemade Black Licorice

Makes 20 pieces

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons molasses (blackstrap or regular)

Pinch of kosher salt

6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon black food gel

3/4 tablespoon anise extract (use up to 1 tablespoon for a stronger flavor)

Line a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving excess paper to form handles for easy removal. Grease the parchment paper with extra butter.

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Ensure the gauge is not resting directly on the bottom of the pan. Add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, molasses, and salt. Turn the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Stir frequently to prevent scorching in the corners.

Once the mixture reaches 240° F, remove it from the heat, and immediately stir in the flour and the black food gel. Once these are fully incorporated, stir in the anise extract. 

Pour the mixture into the buttered loaf pan, and let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Remove the licorice from the pan, and either dice it into squares or slice it into ropes and twist them.

More: Want a candy that's a little zestier? Look no further.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Christina Lane

Jump to Comments (23)

Tags: how-to & DIY, small batch, homemade, from scratch, candy, licorice, candy making, black licorice

Comments (23)


2 months ago Henk Nonsens

I think the writer has to mention that this is an artificial way op makeing licorice. The real licorice is made from a plant called licorice... Or in latin the Glycyrrhiza glabra. The roots of this plant are boiled in water to extract the licorice flavors. These falvors are mixed with startch or gum arabic to give it a better concistancy. Some more info can be found here:


3 months ago PurposefulShelly

I have a bottle of Essential Oil-Anise....Would I be able to use the Essential Oil in place of the extract? I figure I would just use a small amount, like about 1/4 of a teaspoon, maybe an 1/8 of a teaspoon...what do you think?? Thanks


4 months ago Skye Johnson

is there any way this can be made gluten free, vegan and corn free? or is that pushing it?? I'm obsessed with licorice but can't eat it because of the above dietary restrictions....


4 months ago Becky Hering

Just Curious I made a double batch of this and my husband loved it, but after a week or so the sugar crystallized and the licorice lost that great texture? Is this not meant to keep or??


4 months ago Lauren

This recipe is definitely not for people who eat healthy organic food. Wow, this is toxic: Corn syrup, granulated sugar and black food dye!


4 months ago Mark Knopfler

yes you should go eat a raw turnip instead.


4 months ago Maya Mells

Lol. Love your reply!


5 months ago andrea mauer

King Arthur flour and Bob's Red Mill have good gluten free flours...


5 months ago Leslie

Is there something I can substitute for the wheat flour to make it gluten free?
I love black licorice, but gf versions can be hard to find


5 months ago andrea mauer

Not at all. It has no flavor, juts enhances the aesthetics of eating "licorice". I would leave it out entirely as it is a big mess for a klutz like me. .


5 months ago Merlin Dieter Jobst

How essential is that black food gel, d'you think?


5 months ago andrea mauer

Francesca, I was wondering the same thing. Anise does not taste like Licorice root. I checked the bag of my favorite licorice and there is Licorice root extract, but no anise. I love licorice, but not fond of anise. Anise taste like the jelly beans and gumdrops, licorice tastes like Jagermeister, and most black licorice candy does not have anise.


5 months ago Francesca Murphy

Shouldn't there be some form of licorice, extract or otherwise, for it to be called licorice?


5 months ago andrea mauer

You could use a thickened simple syrup (sugar and water) instead of corn syrup.


5 months ago Layla Corcoran

I wonder how this would taste if you use rye flour.


5 months ago Heleen

I am a big liquorice lover! I am from Holland, where we eat and produce a lot of liquorice (drop). What I miss in your liquorice is liquorice root attract (extract from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant root) and ammonium chloride. But maybe ajarican loco rice taste different from dutch 'drop'.


5 months ago Sandra Laurentino

I live rather close to Holland, so I guess that's the licorice I like!


5 months ago mjdeck

Would you have to use whole wheat flour? Would regular flour work?


5 months ago Blind Guy Cooks

I have an old family recipe for springerle cookies that uses baker's ammonia and anise oil so I have anise oil on hand. I will assume I can use that instead of anise extract.


5 months ago Sandra Laurentino

Count me in as a licorice lover! I would love to give this recipe a go but I have never found corn syrup for sale anywhere in Europe. Do you know of any alternatives?


5 months ago Aaron

Sandra, although I have not tested it in the recipe above, in most cases you can substitute glucose syrup for corn syrup.


5 months ago Sandra Laurentino

Aaron, I don't think glucose syrup is a common thing here, either. But maybe rice syrup can do the trick instead.


5 months ago dtremit

Sandra -- our corn syrup is pretty similar to what is sold as "golden syrup" in the UK.