Homemade Black Licorice

June 30, 2021
8 Ratings
Photo by Christina Lane
  • Makes 20 pieces
Author Notes

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?

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.

Recipe adapted and scaled down from Saveur magazine. —DessertForTwo

What You'll Need
  • 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 (use blackstrap for the strongest flavor)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black food coloring gel
  • 3/4 tablespoon anise extract (use 1 tablespoon for a stronger flavor)
  1. Line a 9 x by 5 x by 3-inch bread loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving excess to form handles for easy removal.
  2. Grease the parchment paper with extra butter.
  3. Clip a (calibrated) candy thermometer to the side of a heavy 2-quart saucepan, being sure that the gauge is not resting directly on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, molasses, and salt. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil. Stir the mixture frequently to prevent scorching in the corners.
  5. Once the mixture reaches 240° F, remove it from the heat, and immediately stir in the flour and black food gel. Once they're fully incorporated, stir in the anise extract.
  6. Pour the mixture into the buttered loaf pan and let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the pan, and either dice it into squares or slice it into ropes and twist.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Joe Schramer
    Joe Schramer
  • Lindsay Arakelian Grega
    Lindsay Arakelian Grega
  • Dave Fankhanel
    Dave Fankhanel
  • strozyk
  • Jeff Russell
    Jeff Russell

30 Reviews

MikkoAlamäki December 9, 2022
What is this? How can you call it liquorice if there is no liquorice in it? It's literally just anise candy with black food coloring
Lazy J. April 3, 2022
I would recommend using the full tablespoon of anise extract. That being said, for me, the rest of the recipe worked really well and set rather quickly. Made it as a surprise for my neighbor's birthday and she loved it!!
SW June 30, 2021
This was a delicious recipe. The first time I made it, I read the reviews and incorporated the feedback. I cooked it to 260 degrees, added 2x food dye, and 1 TBSP anise. Next time I make it, I will add maybe 1 1/2 TBSP anise for a better flavor. Overall, delicious and definitely a crowd favorite.
Joe S. August 19, 2020
240 degrees while appropriate for soft crack in sugar is not enough when using a mixture like this. The butter and molasses force it to remain softer. Try raising the temp by 20 degrees for a firmer candy.
Also, for those complaining about the color or flavor just bump it up. It also helps to add the color and anise absolutely last.
Jg4040 September 27, 2019
Thanks for a great recipe. Do you know how I Can make This into dried pastilles like Swedish Lakerol?
harvey February 10, 2019
Nope. This recipe is a fail. You know that Aussie Licorice that you can buy in the supermarket? This recipe makes NOTHING like that. It yields a brown fudge with a hint of anise flavor. Searching google overwhelms you with this recipe and it is terrible.
I wanted black licorice. I got brown fudge. I used the black gel color in the correct volume. It stayed brown. I removed from heat at 240F EXACTLY. FAIL. Find another recipe. You will be disappointed, I was. What a let down food52.
Anthony D. January 4, 2018
Why would you use aniseed rather than root liquorice to make liquorice?
Joe S. August 19, 2020
anise extract works best
Lindsay A. December 23, 2017
I just realized the thermometer I ordered can not be calibrated. How essential is that for this recipe?
Marion B. January 24, 2015
Love this! Very quick and easy to make. I used 3/4 tsp anise oil and skipped the black coloring; which is fine. It looks like caramel. I used a buttered pizza cutter and wrapped them individually in waxed paper. Will definitely make again and again!
Dave F. December 17, 2014
I was quite bummed by this recipe as I followed it perfectly and I thought the molasses was severely overpowering.
Damian December 10, 2014
To those having trouble cutting it - I had difficulty as well, until I thought to use a pizza cutter. That actually worked really well. My problem was that after I did cut it, I put it in a container and it conglomerated back to one solid blob. Someone mentioned individually wrapping the pieces - I'd definitely recommend that (but hadn't seen it before I made mine).
Carol December 8, 2014
A much better recipe here, without all the toxic stuff (corn syrup, black food coloring, granulated sugar...):
1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon powdered licorice root (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried anise, root (POWDERED ( or to taste)
1 cup flour (enough to make a workable dough)
powdered sugar

Boil the molasses gently for 5 minutes. Be careful it does not burn. Cool. When it is still very warm, add the licorice root powder and the dried anise powder.

Mix in enough flour so the dough is workable. Take a small amount and roll it into a tube ~ 1/2 in diameter. Cut into desired lengths.

Place on cookie sheets and allow to dry. The licorice will harden when cool.

mmmassey April 7, 2016
Corn syrup, colouring, sugar.....TOXIC???????
HandyCandy October 7, 2016
This is much closer to an actual recipe for old-fashioned licorice candy, as the original recipe is for an anise-flavored caramel. However! The flour typically used is NOT whole wheat, unless you want a very, very firm licorice, plus is also cooked in a paste, not added when the mixture goes off the heat (raw flour flavor anyone?)
Delphine B. December 24, 2016
What flour is traditionally used? I was thinking of using arrowroot.
Diane July 31, 2018
Where does the powdered sugar come in?
Cing K. September 7, 2019
ToXIc?????? I'm being sarcastic!
How is coloring toxic?
So what most things have sugar in them in the present day!
Plus, most jello/jelly-like candies have corn syrup!
Even though is not healthy, people still use them sadly.
strozyk December 1, 2014
Has anyone tried this gluten free? I'm wondering about just using sweet rice flour (mochi flour). Does it need a starch?
HandyCandy October 7, 2016
It needs a starch, but corn starch, or tapioca starch, rice flour, or potato starch could be used will need to adjust amounts as their thickening abilities differ. Please do not add raw flours/starches at the end of cooking! It will taste of raw starch.
PurposefulShelly November 8, 2014
MAYBE Anise Is used here due to the following reason:
Small amounts of licorice, such as those found in candies, do not pose a risk. However, licorice is a powerful drug, and serious health problems can result from taking it at medicinal levels for long periods of time. People who have high blood pressure, glaucoma, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, as well as anyone who is taking digitalis or who has had a stroke or heart attack should limit their licorice intake.
HOWEVER...Saying that above, read this:
The Health Benefits of Licorice
Licorice is especially useful in fighting bronchitis, upper respiratory catarrh, and coughs. It stimulates mucus production and helps to loosen sticky phlegm. It also contains a chemical that has cough-suppressant properties.

Licorice also helps reduce stomach acid and increases mucus secretion in the gastric tract, soothing irritation and inflammation. It can be used to fight heartburn, indigestion, and gastric and duodenal ulcers. It may also shorten the healing time of mouth ulcers.
But then again...Anise Seed is OFTEN used in the Place of LICORICE ROOT EXTRACT:
In the United States, anise seed is a popular substitute flavoring for licorice. Although the anise seed has an unmistakable licorice flavor, it is not related to the European plant whose roots are the source of true licorice.
I got ALL this information here:

I DO have Anise Seed Essential Oil....I was wondering if I could use that instead of the extract? Just use less of it, due to the strength of the Oil....what do you think?
Jeff R. November 1, 2014
No, Jamie, it isn't. If there's no actual licorice root then it's not real licorice.
Becky M. October 20, 2014
Thanks for the recipe. The recipe was easy to make but I had a hard time cutting it as well. I would have loved to twist it, but instead I just cut them into small square. I left out the black food coloring and used light corn syrup (as I didn't have dark).
Jamie L. October 11, 2014
Anise is the plant from which licorice extract is made, Rob.
Chelsea P. September 17, 2016
anise and licorice are two different herbs
Chelsea P. September 17, 2016
Chelsea P. September 17, 2016
Katrina S. May 5, 2020
Licorice is it's own plant, and licorice root is where licorice extract is derived. Anise is extracted from the Anise star which is a completely different type of plant/herb and a completely different part of the plant (Root vs. Seed) is used to have the oil extracted.
Steph October 10, 2014
This was pretty easy to do. I wish I had doubled the amount of anise and used blackstrap molasses because I didn't find the flavor very strong. I made this for a friend's birthday. I am not a fan of licorice, but I really liked this. It also sat for more than 30 minutes in the fridge before I cut it into pieces. I found it rather difficult to cut. I wrapped them individually in parchment paper. Thanks for the recipe! I liked the amount that it made.
rob W. September 3, 2014
A true licorice uses licorice extract not anise.