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.

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

  • Michelle
    March 27, 2013 at 6:52 PM

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

    • gfshoestring
      March 27, 2013 at 8:33 PM

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

  • March 27, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    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

  • Jeri
    March 26, 2013 at 5:20 PM

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

  • stina
    March 26, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I think I love you!

  • Margaret
    March 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    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
      March 26, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      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

  • Michelle
    March 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

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

  • Lily S.
    March 26, 2013 at 11:17 AM

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

  • Laurie
    March 26, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    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.

  • Amybug
    March 26, 2013 at 12:57 AM

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

  • March 25, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    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
      March 26, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      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

      • April 2, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        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!!!

  • Deb
    March 25, 2013 at 8:10 PM

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

    • gfshoestring
      March 26, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      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

  • Brittany
    March 25, 2013 at 7:05 PM

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

  • Erica
    March 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    I. LOVE. YOU. SRSLY. ;)

    • gfshoestring
      March 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      No other way to love, Erica. :)

  • Debrah Hensley-The
    March 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM

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

    • gfshoestring
      March 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Pleasure, Debrah. :)

  • Mel
    March 25, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    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.

    • March 26, 2013 at 8:51 AM

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

  • March 25, 2013 at 1:14 PM

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

  • Chris
    March 25, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    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!!!

  • gulabjamen
    March 25, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    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
      March 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      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

  • Byerley79
    March 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

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

  • Deanna
    March 25, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    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
      March 25, 2013 at 10:28 AM

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

    • Ana Shannon
      March 25, 2013 at 10:40 AM

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

    • Dana
      March 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      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
      March 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM

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

    • Erin
      March 25, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Oh, and Earths Best :P

  • March 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    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
      March 25, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      :) 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

  • Michelle
    March 25, 2013 at 9:16 AM

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

    • gfshoestring
      March 25, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      Hooray, Michelle!!
      xoxo Nicole

  • March 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    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
      March 25, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      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!

      • March 25, 2013 at 1:11 PM

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

      • gfshoestring
        March 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM

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

      • Barbcam
        March 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        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
        March 26, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        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
      March 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM

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

    • Charity
      March 25, 2013 at 4:36 PM

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

  • Jeanine Friesen
    March 25, 2013 at 8:55 AM

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

    • gfshoestring
      March 25, 2013 at 9:41 AM

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

  • March 25, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Suggestions on making it dairy free?

    • gfshoestring
      March 25, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      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!


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