How to Make a Candy Cane

Delight friends and family with these easily made sweet red and white striped treats––made with love.


  • Powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • milk
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint


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    Preheat the oven at a low temperature, just enough to make it warm, to be turned off when you first add the candy mixture for warming.
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    Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a silicon sheet purpose-made to line a cookie sheet. Doing this will help to prevent the sticky candy mixture from adhering to the cookie sheet surface.
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    Sprinkle a thick coat of powdered sugar on the cookie sheet.
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    Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan.
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    Cook the pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Stir continuously or the mixture will stick and burn on the base. When the mixture reaches the soft-crack stage (285ºF), stop heating it.
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    Remove from heat.
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    Add the 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint oil. Stir well.
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    Pour half of the mixture onto the cookie sheet. Try to pour in strips about six to eight inches (15-20cm) long. Place this into the preheated oven to keep it warm while you make the red part.
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    For the second half of the mixture, add the food coloring. Always err on the side of fewer drops, as you can always add more to increase the color intensity. Pour onto a marble slab or silicon cutting board and leave to form a skin.
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    Let the red mixture cool, just enough to handle (it needs to still be quite hot). Now it needs to be pulled. Candy pulling is a bit of an art form but it's also fun, so don't be frightened of it. It helps to wear food-grade gloves sprayed with vegetable oil, to prevent sticking and protect your hands from the heat. Hold the candy with both hands, one end each, and pull as if you're trying to make a rope. Bring the length back in and twist it together. Then pull out again to a long rope. Keep doing this until the candy looks opaque and glossy. When it reaches this texture, it will only be just warm; shape into a 2 inch (5cm) thick roll, place on a lined cookie sheet and pop into the warm oven to keep it warm while you work on the white part. This ensures that it remains pliable and doesn't dry hard on you.
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    Remove the white mixture from the preheated oven. Repeat the process outlined in the previous step, rolling into a rope shape, twisting and so on, until it becomes pearly white and glossy. As with the red candy mixture, finish by shaping into a 2 inch (5cm) roll.
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    Begin shaping. Take the red candy from the oven and shape as follows:
    • Cut a 5 inch (12.5cm) portion from each log.
    • Pull the two lengths together, gently twisting them into one another to form the stripes.
    • Use oiled kitchen shears to cut candy cane lengths from the twisted roll (about 8 inches/20cm is adequate).
    • Shape the hook on top of each cut candy cane.
    • Repeat with remaining candy mixture. It can be returned to the warm oven at any stage for making it pliable again if needed but never leave in too long or you'll get a melted mess.
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    Place onto a coated cookie sheet, at room temperature, and leave to set until hard. Once set, they're ready to share. You're now an official Christmas Candy Maker extraordinaire!


  • Candy canes need to be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in cellophane to prevent softening over time.
  • You're not limited to the usual hook design. Feel free to turn the candy "cane" into any shape you can think of; perhaps a candy pretzel, a candy spring, candy reindeer antlers––whatever strikes your fancy!
  • To make two toned candy canes, make two batches of candy and twist together. Do not try to pour half a batch into a cool pot and add food coloring––it will crystallize.
  • If you want a semi-colored candy cane, separate the batch into two, then combine when ready.
  • Instead of using the classic red food coloring, create variety by changing colors: green and purple for a Grinchy Christmas, or black and white for a nightmare Christmas decoration Jack Skellington would be proud of.


  • It may take a few tries before you get the hang of it.
  • Boiled sugar is scalding hot––wait until it has cooled sufficiently before handling, or you will get burned.
  • The candy cane won't look like the store bought ones but it will taste 179% better because it's made with love!

Things You'll Need

  • Cookie sheet (silicon or covered with parchment paper)
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon for stirring
  • Boxes for packaging if giving as gifts––it's recommended that you line them with wax or parchment paper to prevent sticking

Article Info

Categories: Christmas Cooking