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Does anyone have a recipe for a hard candy without corn syrup?

I'm hoping to make some this evening but don't want to have to go to the grocery. Any suggestions? I've been scouring the internet, but not having any luck, I know that it must be possible!

asked by Jessica Mont-Eton almost 3 years ago
10 answers 40913 views

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

The corn syrup is there to interfere with crystallization. When you melt sugar you get a pile of sucrose molecules, which have a penchant for forming crystalline structure around any stray sugar grain or other debris, or when they get disturbed. The simple sugar molecules (fructose and glucose) found in corn syrup act as a buffer for the process, because they get in between the sucrose molecules making it harder for them to link up. You could try adding something to invert the sucrose molecules into fructose and glucose molecules -- cream of tartar or lemon juice are common inverting agents. Or you could use a different invert syrup - pure glucose syrup, agave nectar, or golden syrup would all likely work. The commercial corn syrup available is not the same as the high fructose corn syrup used in food processing, if that makes you feel any better about using it.

added almost 3 years ago

I've made hard candy with maple syrup. I don't have the recipe at hand, but it worked well


Sam is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

I wonder if the submitter is worried about high fructose corn syrup? Corn Syrup isn't the same product. Although it's a very sugary product with high glyemic index--it's not equal to HFCS.

added almost 3 years ago

It sounds as if the submitter simply doesn't stock corn syrup in her pantry and wants to make candy without having to go to the store first.
It's not really a hard candy, but you can try making honeycomb candy (http://chemistry.about...) It's a lot of fun, if a bit finicky and can taste a bit like soda if you're not careful... maybe don't try that unless your in the mood for an experiment.
There are a lot of recipes that use honey instead of corn syrup that seem pretty credible if you like the flavor of honey. I found a bunch by searching "honey candy recipe".


Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added almost 3 years ago

I agree with Ophelia. Honey is a good sub for corn syrup (aka Karo). All invert sugars (sugar in dilute form) contain just enough acid to prevent the molecules from bonding at opposite poles and therefore re-crystallysing.

added almost 3 years ago

Thank you all for the lovely answers! I am not so much concerned with HFCS, but I would always rather use pure cane sugar if I can help it, also it makes for one less ingredient in my too-full baking cupboards.

I do know about cooking with sugar in general, my favorite buttercream is an Italian meringue, but thanks for all the tips on that as well!

added about 2 years ago

I am concerned about HFCS (if you stop eating something for a month and feel better chances are it's the thing you cut making you feel like crap) so I am glad to find instructions to make candy without this modern killer (high fructose corn syrup) Thanks to those who answered without judging. :)

added about 1 year ago

some people (like me) are allergic to corn and all corn products. Try finding candy without it!

added about 1 year ago

Just as another suggestion I didn't see here; You can add any vinegar you want to the sugar/water mix if you don't have lemon juice or cream of tartar. Any acid will work, and I actually like how the vinegar helps to cut some of the sweetness of the sugar and makes the candy taste more balanced. White distilled or any light flavored vinegar would work well(red can work in a pinch, but it isn't recommended).

Also, as long as you are careful to make sure all crystals are dissolved before bringing the candy up to temp you don't need any addition like corn syrup or acid. They just help make things more fool-proof/easier but aren't necessary. What I do is bring the water and sugar up to a boil, but as it starts to simmer and the sugar begins to melt wipe the sides with with water and a pastry brush being careful to get any stray sugar crystals. Let it come up to a boil for a couple minutes and do another wipe with water/pastry brush. No need to worry about the extra water being added to the mix since it'll just cook out.

Then after wiping it down put a tight fitting lid on for a couple minutes or so to allow the steam to dissolve anything you missed and you should be crystal free.

Hope that helps.