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!

Red licorice on white background

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).

Licorice on biege surface

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.

Close upon boiling ingredients

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.

A close up of cherry licorice before being cut on beige paper

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!

A close up of a licorice of beige paper

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.

Like this recipe?

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!


Comments are closed.

  • April 1, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    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!!

  • April 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    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.

  • Ada
    March 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    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

  • Kim
    March 28, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    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!!

  • cynthia
    March 27, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    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!

  • March 27, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    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
      March 27, 2013 at 8:31 PM

      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

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