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Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

When you’re gluten free, there’s that moment when you realize that … you can’t have traditional licorice. But then there’s that moment when you find out that you can make your own gluten free red cherry licorice at home—and it’s easy!

Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

Really good gluten-free licorice is not an easy thing to come by. There are a few packaged brands, but they’re crazy lunatic expensive, not to mention just plain awful. If you freak out at the thought of cooking sugar, stop that right this minute! We’ll be together every step of the way. You do need a candy thermometer, but those are super cheap and really very useful. Without a thermometer, you will either cook the mixture too long (and burn the butter or end up with hard candy), or too little, and the candy won’t harden. Look at what you have waiting for you. Gorgeous, glorious gluten free red cherry licorice. Better than any licorice you have ever had, even B.G.F. (before.gluten.free).

Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

Red cherry licorice was always my faaaaaavorite. And then there was an incident with overeating Twizzlers when I was a kid. The aftermath wasn’t pretty, and wasn’t easily forgotten. But now I’m back, baby, and I’m loving every minute of it! Licorice is that strange candy that generally has wheat flour in it. It helps to stabilize the candy, and make it less like soft caramel without making it into hard candy.

Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

I love you so much that I’m even willing to show you these less-than-gorgeous photographs of the sugar mixture, as it cooks. Told you I’d be with you always and forever.

Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

Oh, and I tried cutting the candy into strips with every manner of knife – from sharp to dull, clean to serrated. Then I tried kitchen shears. Bingo!

Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice

If you’re really into black licorice, you need black food coloring + anise flavoring oil. No biggie. LorAnn flavoring oils are all gluten-free, and they’re very true-to-taste. Me? I’m all about the gluten-free red cherry licorice.

RECIPE NOTE: I don’t like using molasses in this recipe because it has a very strong taste and color, both of which I end up having to overcome with more food coloring and more flavoring oil.  If you don’t have/can’t find/don’t want to use Lyle’s Golden Syrup, try honey.

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 24 pieces (depending upon size)


1/2 cup (70 g) all purpose gluten free flour (any of my recommended blends will do)

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cherry flavoring oil (LorAnn brand is gluten-free)

Red gel food coloring, as desired (about 1/4 teaspoon)

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (168 g) light corn syrup

1/2 cup (156 g) sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons (84 g) Lyle’s golden syrup (can substitute an equal amount honey or molasses)


  • Grease well a 9-inch square baking dish with butter or vegetable shortening, and set it aside. Assemble your ingredients next to the stovetop. In a small bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the flavoring oil and a measuring spoon, plus the food coloring, to the side, within arm’s reach.

  • In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or honey or molasses). Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium so the mixture maintains a slow boil, and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Any higher and the butter will burn. Any lower and the licorice won’t hard enough as it cools.

  • Remove the mixture from the heat and add the flour mixture. Working quickly, mix everything well. Add the flavoring oil and food coloring (I generally use a toothpick to add gel food coloring), and mix well once again.

  • Pour the candy into the prepared baking dish, and shake it back and forth so that it is in an even layer. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator, and, with a thin spatula or other thin kitchen implement, remove the candy in one piece from the baking dish onto a flat surface. With kitchen shears, cut the square of candy in half, and then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Twist the strips at both ends to create the traditional licorice spiral. Allow to sit at room temperature until slightly hardened, and serve.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy! Take the stress out of gluten-free cooking and baking, and support the blog that loves you!


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  • Suggestions on making it dairy free?

    • gfshoestring

      I haven’t tested this with any substitutions, Kim, but I have made dairy-free sweetened condensed milk in my recipe for Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Fudge, and for the butter, maybe vegetable shortening. You’ll have to experiment!


  • Jeanine Friesen

    Just this weekend I was saying how I missed red licorice! I never thought to make my own, but I will now! :) Thanks!

    • gfshoestring

      These days, Jeanine, it seems like you can make almost anything at home!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sounds wonderful but… is there an alternative to the corn syrup and the evaporated milk? I can’t have wheat but Durham wheat is okay, I can’t have corn, I can’t have cow milk, I can’t have egg, I can’t have cashews. Thanks

    • gfshoestring

      I haven’t tested this recipe with any substitutions, Melissa. I have made dairy-free sweetened condensed milk (just search the blog for my recipe for dairy free egg nog), but the corn syrup I honestly don’t know. Feel free to experiment!

      • do you think brown rice syrup might substitute for the corn syrup?

        • gfshoestring

          I’m afraid, no, Stacey. Brown rice syrup is much, much thinner/less viscous than corn syrup, and not nearly as sweet.

          • Barbcam

            I also miss licorice terribly – both the red and black. I need a corn substitute, too, so I may give it a try with either honey or agave. I wonder if there’s a sub for the xanthan gum, or if it could be left out?

          • gfshoestring

            I would try using guar gum instead of xanthan gum if you are sensitive to xanthan gum, Barbcam. But I wouldn’t leave it out entirely.

    • Charity

      I have used agave in place of corn syrup with good results. :)

    • Charity

      I have used agave in place of corn syrup with good results. :)

  • Michelle

    I am SOOOO excited! Twizzlers was one of my favorite candies until I was diagnosed celiac. Totally making this ASAP!

    • gfshoestring

      Hooray, Michelle!!
      xoxo Nicole

  • I’m SOOO not a candy maker but I think I WILL try these! Thanks “compromising” (NOT) your integrity by showing your “less-than-gorgeous” pics, lol.

    • gfshoestring

      :) You don’t need to be a candy-maker, Scotty. This is easy. Just think of it like you’re cooking just like normal. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Deanna

    My kiddo would be so excited if I made this. I’d have to de-dairy it, but that’s easily accomplished. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • gfshoestring

      Love your can-do dairy-free attitude, Deanna!
      xoxo Nicole

    • Ana Shannon

      How do you plan to replace the milk? I need to for my son as well. Please advise :)

    • Dana

      Would you reply back once you’ve tried the recipe dairy free and let us know how it worked and what substitutions you made? Thanks!

    • Erin

      Me too – I’m going to try condensed coconut milk

    • Erin

      Oh, and Earths Best :P

  • Byerley79

    Can’t tell you how excited I was to see this recipe!! Twizzlers were my FAVORITE… prior to going Gluten Free!! Thanks so much!!

  • gulabjamen

    Yay yay yay!! I just last week drove past someone with a giant tub of twizzlers he was munching on and got that sad I can’t have that anymore feeling. Thanks for proving me wrong once again!! :-)

    • gfshoestring

      I know that feeling! In fact, I’m always trying to guess at what might cause that feeling, and then confront it. With a recipe. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Chris

    Black licorice is my absolute favorite…black jelly beans, please…but, no more. You have given me renewed hope!

    Also, did you try the pizza cutter? That might work well if kitchen shears are not an option. I will try that route! I simply can’t not try this!!!

  • this looks incredible! I used to LOVE cherry-flavored licorice Nibs. I can’t wait to try this recipe out. Must buy candy thermometer. :)

  • Mel

    Sorry to be the lame gluten-eater here but I have to confess, I never knew that most storebought licorice had gluten in it and I have to say, gluten or not, I’m making this licorice. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Way to go, Nicole. I’m seriously, seriously impressed.

    • Nearly all of it does. And hey, we’re happy to share good food with the gluten-eaters :D

  • Debrah Hensley-The

    Oh yummy! I have been missing cherry licorice like crazy. (((big hugs))) Thanks, Nicole.

    • gfshoestring

      Pleasure, Debrah. :)

  • Erica

    I. LOVE. YOU. SRSLY. ;)

    • gfshoestring

      No other way to love, Erica. :)

  • Brittany

    EEEEEEEEEE!!! OMGOMGOMG! I cannot wait to make this! Thank you so so so much!

  • Deb

    Did you use the cherry or Washington cherry LorAnn flavoring? Thanks!

    • gfshoestring

      Good question, Deb! I used the cherry LorAnn flavoring and really love it more than I probably should (it’s just so good!). I feared the Washington cherry might taste more like cough medicine, but I have absolutely no basis for that fear. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • one of the first things I bought GF for my then 15 year old daughter when she was first diagnosed was Red licorice. It was a favorite of hers pre diagnosis and it looked so good in the package. It was just awful and I think she cried herself to sleep that night, thinking that nothing was ever going to taste good again. She got over that worry after I made several of your recipes (I own both your cook books) and I can’t tell you how happy this licorice recipe is going to make my kid. I can’t thank you enough for spending the time that I don’t have to get these recipes ready for folks like us!!!!

    • gfshoestring

      Oh my gosh Elizabeth that is so sad, and I totally get it—and it breaks my heart! She remembers what she can’t have. She’s really lucky to have you as her mom, as you know it’s not “just licorice.” It’s her memories, and her normalcy and sense of self. You’re gonna give it all back to her!
      xoxo (and more xo for your daughter!) Nicole

      • So, I made the licorice. I was excited to use my scale too, no more pouring sticky things in a measuring cup and them into the bowl. I just re tared my pan after each ingredient. Easy peasy. However, I was wondering if you tried cornstarch instead of flour? My licorice was a little cloudy, not translucent. Just a nit picky thing. Lol! And I would increase the cherry flavor. We are BOLD at my house with flavor hahahaha!!!

  • Amybug

    Oh my gosh. I don’t think I could love you more right now.

  • Laurie

    You are a mind reader. Once again Nicole waves her magic wand giving us our hearts’ desires!!!!!!! I haven’t posted before, but I realize you, just like the rest of us, need affirmation…so I am posting. I loved your blog so much, I bought your first book for my sister-in-law. I bought the second book for myself. It is everything I hoped it would be. My family loves the doughnuts. We had some batter in the fridge and easily made doughnuts this morning. They were just as good as they were when I made the batter yesterday. Thank you for making our lives better.

  • Lily S.

    I am totally going to make GF Nibs! This looks awesome! (And yes, I am intimidated by cooking sugar…)

  • Michelle

    Wondering where you got the flavoring? Is that something you can get at a craft store? Thanks!

  • Margaret

    Oh god, this could not have better timing. We’re going on a road trip in a week and road trips just haven’t been the same for the last five years since I was diagnosed Celiac. No trip is truley complete without licorice. Can’t wait to try this!! Thanks!

    • gfshoestring

      Hey, thanks for letting me know, Margaret! I had a vague recollection of the in-house publicist at the publisher mentioning this, but I had completely forgotten. I took a look online, and it looks great! I really appreciate your mentioning it! (and of course your buying the book. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • stina

    I think I love you!

  • Jeri

    Do these taste like Red Vines or Twizzlers? Loved Red Vines but never liked the taste of Twizzlers.

  • It’s been 20 years since i’ve had red licorice! I’m bee-lining it to the store to get what I need. First your way, then try to make it dairy and corn free. Love your blog

  • Michelle

    Where can I get the flavoring? Is that something sold at craft stores like Michael’s? Thanks!

    • gfshoestring

      Michelle, I found it on amazon, but they sell it all over. I’d check Michael’s website.

  • Hi Nicole! As soon as I stumbled upon this recipe I knew I’d have to try it. Today was that day. Followed recipe to the T and used LorAnn Cherry and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Licorice was amazing and so fresh! Not sure if you tried cutting the strips using this method but I used a pizza wheel cutter and it worked flawlessly and SUPER quick!!

    BTW, your recipes rock!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, John! I’m so glad you posted after making them! Actually, I tried every other sharp implement in my kitchen except the pizza wheel! I stopped at kitchen shears since they worked really well, but it’s great to know that the pizza wheel was easy peasy. Sounds like it might be even easier than the shears. So glad you enjoyed them, and thanks for the nice note!
      xoxo Nicole

  • cynthia

    I am so excited to make this! My sweet 7 yr old (and me too) so miss our red cherry twizzlers…especially when we see dad eating them or trying not to make it obvious he is sticking one in his mouth….

    thank you for another wonderful recipe!

  • Kim

    Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes. You have saved my sanity, and I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for you. My 6 yr old son was ecstatic to know he could have licorice again. You have allowed him to be a “kid” again with your wonderful recipes!!

  • Ada

    I’m in canada and everything seems harder to get…lyles syrup? What the heck? Googling lead me to the UK to order. Hardly seemed worth the trouble…then yesterday I was at the grocery store and passed through the British section (never noticed it before) and OMG. There it was! And I can order the oils online from within Canada, avoiding customs debacles. I Am Beside Myself. I miss licorice so, so, so much. Best news ever. Xoxo

  • I love your blog, we were told to go gluten free for both our kids who have ADHD. And your blog is actually the only blog I’ve signed up for ever and I’m glad it did. We are moving in a month to a different Provence, we currently live in the Yukon Territory in Canada’s north. So there is not much for specialty shopping. So we are waiting to start fresh when we move. Thank you for this. And when we move I will defiantly be ordering your book.

  • Super excited to try this! My daughter LOVES twizzlers, and it has been so hard for her to give them up. We’ve made several recipes out of your books (have them in hard copies and Nook versions so we can always access them) and for the first time since her diagnosis last summer, we’re not eating only pre-made (GROSS) GF products! Thank you for making easy, affordable, amazing recipes that we can follow!!

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