What Are Candy Canes Made Of?

While most recipes are straightforward and simple, some candy cane recipes have ingredients you would not expect. Here is an explanation of the main ingredients and why the alternative recipes have seemingly unnecessary ones. To answer the question of what candy canes are made of, lets explore what candy canes are made of.

How to Make Homemade Candy Canes - Chowhound

First, there is butter or cooking spray used to ensure the pliable candy does not stick to the countertop or cookie sheets used when making the candy canes. So, it’s not really an ingredient, but is needed. All recipes call for sugar and water. Some recipes have sugar and corn syrup. If making candy canes at home, it’s best to stay away from corn syrup because it dries out the sugar and is very hot. 

For the flavoring, recipes call for pure extracts or food-grade flavors. Artificial flavors should be avoided at all costs, since the heat of the molten candy can further degrade the fake flavor. Pure extracts are always recommended as the taste and smell will be maintained throughout the candy making process. 

When choosing coloring for the candy cane, either food-grade coloring or food coloring paste can be used. If a recipe calls for the paste but you only have regular liquid coloring, be careful of the amount you add, since too much could lead to a softer candy striping. Color choices are usually paired with the flavor that is chosen. Peppermint is usually red, apple is green, cinnamon is pink and red, and tutti fruity is often several colors like pink, green, yellow and turquoise. 

Seemingly unnecessary ingredients include a dash of salt, cream of tartar, or vinegar. A little salt helps the chemical reaction in the sugar mixture. Such a small amount is used that it is not tasted in the final product. Professional confectioners use vinegar or cream of tartar to prevent recrystallization of the sugar. Cream of tartar also helps to stabilize the mixture. If you use vinegar, don’t worry about the taste, the potent taste dissipates out of the mixture as it cooks. 

 With rather simple ingredients, the hardest decision will be what flavor to make! Do you have a favorite recipe for candy canes? Drop us a line and let us know, we’d love to hear from you.


Burnell, Melissa. “Make Your Own Candy Canes.” Budget 101.com. Retrieved: September 13, 2020.

Eddy, Jody. (Dec. 13, 2019). “How to Make Homemade Candy Canes.” Chowhound. Retrieved: September 12, 2020. 

Torres, Jacques. “Candy Canes.” Food Network. Retrieved: September 12, 2020. 

Recent Content