Homemade Holiday Candy Recipe

If you love family traditions, you have to start this one with your family!  One of our all time favorite family tradition, that brings the family together for good old fashioned fun in the kitchen, is making Candy.

Making holiday candy has been a Christmas tradition in my husbands family for several generations.  When my mother in law suggested we make homemade candy with our children, I was thrilled to start this tradition!  She told me there were several Christmas candy recipes, also know as, rock candy, but her recipe was easy.  I like easy!

Over the years, I have found that homemade candy is messy!  So, if you are a neat freak, get over that for a day of candy making fun.  Not to worry, it all cleans up!  The first year, Grandma was a little rusty for not making it in a while, so the process was SLOW.  However, with my go, go, go multitask personality, we found having two pots or “batches” of candy going helps speed up the process and be more productive.

 We like to plan on making candy together after Thanksgiving.  This allows me to divvy up the candy into pretty glass mason jars or small holiday bags.  Our homemade candy is a perfect gift to family, friends, teachers, neighbors and co-workers.  With a printed label reading “Nelson’s Holiday Candy” with the particular color and flavors of that year.  Everyone loves this special treat!

Let’s begin with the Homemade Holiday Candy Recipe, then I will go over each step and how to make it go more smoothly.  It take all hands on deck, the more the better to help with kids if you will have them help.

Homemade Holiday Candy Recipe:


 2-3 bags of powdered sugar.  Pat down several (4-5) cookie sheets or flat pans with 1/4″ powdered sugar.  This will be where you pour the candy into thin strips or ribbons of candy.  DO NOT pour into one large pan of holiday candy or you will not be able to break it up.

  • 3 3/4 C Sugar
  • 1 1/4 C Karo
  • 1 C water 



Combine above ingredients in large saucepan, on medium high and heat to 300 degrees stirring occasionally.  This is VERY important.  If you cook over 300 degrees the sugar and syrup can turn dark and your color of candy will not look bright and colorful.  Most candy thermometers will indicate “hard crack stage” on it at 300 degrees.  Cooking the ingredients usually takes about 15-30 minutes per batch, depending on your stove. Once you get to about 280 degrees, the last part goes very quickly so you need to have someone else get the color & flavor ready to stir in.


Remove from heat quickly then add the desired flavoring and food coloring to desired shade.  Blend quickly and then pour over prepared pans in ribbons.  Grandma did not have any fancy molds in her days, so we simply pour into ribbons, but I think I will try some fun molds soon.)  This step is extremely hot and will burn so be very careful.  I highly recommend wearing hot pads over hands to protect when pouring and keep others out of the way.  After it cools, about 10 minutes, break into bite size pieces.  The powdered sugar gently coats the candy so it doesn’t stick.  Put each flavor into a separate bowl.  I usually pull out all my big mixing bowls and Tupperware tubs to store the different flavors.  Our favorite flavor is cinnamon, which we color red, peppermint, which we color light green (only a few drops will do), orange, cherry, grape and any other flavor they have on hand.  TIP: Go easy on the dark colors as those tend to get very dark.  Once our purple looked black and was not very appealing to eat.  I store all the leftover powdered sugar in gallon baggies for next year.


Once your Homemade Holiday Candy session is complete, it is great to take 1-2 handfuls of each flavor, then mix into a cute little jar or bag for homemade holiday gifts.  Be sure to include the “Christmas Candy Recipe” with a note from your family.  All of our family and friends have come to love this homemade candy recipe.  Not to mention the kids LOVE the process.  Needless to say, the floor is usually covered in white dusting of powdered sugar, lots of sampling of candy is done and many laughs are had in our family tradition.  I hope you have fun and enjoy this easy Christmas candy recipe as much as  our family does.  Note: the homemade candy shelf life is approximately 6 months.(I will update pictures after Thanksgiving)