Chewy and sweet Turkish delight are fun to make at home – no gelatin needed! This simple jelly candy is perfect any time of the year and comes with tons of flavor options.
If your sweet tooth craves homemade candy like Ferrero rocher or Butterfinger bites, then you’ll quickly fall for Turkish delight. It’s a classic candy that delivers that same mouthwatering sweet and gummy satisfaction.
In full disclosure, I’ve been obsessed with this candy ever since I watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. So, it’s safe to say it’s been a constant dessert favorite for over 20 years!
Table of Contents
What is Turkish delight?
Also known as Lokum, Turkish delight is a popular confectionery originating in Turkey and popular amongst Middle Eastern countries. These chewy treats are lightly sweetened and flavored with fresh citrus and rosewater for that subtle taste. To finish, they’re coated in powdered sugar for sweet and satisfying bites!
Here are some reasons why I LOVE this recipe:
- Vegan and gluten-free. And that is by accident!
- An elegant gift. The pleasantly chewy texture, subtle rosewater flavor, and vibrant red hue of Turkish delight scream sophisticated gift-giving. Pack up a handful for Christmas and Valentine’s Day gifts!
- Very customizable. You can easily change the flavors, colors, and decorations for Turkish delight well beyond the traditional rosewater flavor.
- Gelatin free. Unlike other gummy-style candy, this skips the gelatin, cream, or thickeners.
Besides sugar and rosewater, there really isn’t much else needed to make this dessert. Here is what you’ll need:
- Granulated sugar. Only granulated white sugar will work here. Even brown or coconut sugar will affect the texture.
- Water. To make the simple syrup and cornstarch slurry.
- Lemon juice. The acidity gives this sweet candy a more balanced flavor while the pectin helps it set and develop its distinguishable firm, yet chewy texture.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the syrup and give the candy its dense and jelly-like consistency.
- Rosewater. This infuses the candy with a pleasant and delicate floral flavor. Please do not omit as this is the signature ingredient. You can find rosewater in the baking aisle, often next to the vanilla extract.
- Red food color. To give the candy a red color true to traditional Turkish delight. If you don’t want to use artificial red food dye, you can use beetroot or pomegranate juice for natural red pigment, but they may slightly alter the flavor. Otherwise, feel free to swap the red dye for any other color you like!
- Confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch. Combined and used to coat the Turkish delight. This improves the presentation and prevents the candies from becoming too sticky.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make Turkish delight
Step 1- Make the simple syrup. Heat the sugar, lemon juice, and some of the water in a pot until the mixture begins to boil. Lower the heat and cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. Once your candy thermometer reads 239ºF (115ºC), remove the pan from the heat.
Step 2- Make the cornstarch slurry. Combine the rest of the water and cornstarch in a small pan. Cook and stir continuously until the mixture starts thickening and no lumps remain. Remove the pan from the heat.
Step 3- Finish the candy base. Slowly whisk the slurry into the pan with the lemon simple syrup. Heat it over low heat and gently simmer until the mixture changes to a yellowish color. Stir it every so often to prevent it from sticking. To finish, turn off the heat and stir in the rosewater and food coloring.
Step 4- Let it set overnight. Pour the mixture into a small, greased container and set it aside overnight.
Step 5- Slice and decorate. The next day, use an oiled knife to slice the jelly slab into small cubes. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Toss a few cubes at a time in the sugar mixture to coat, then serve.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Keep the candy base moving. Remember to continuously stir the sugar-slurry mixture to achieve a smooth, syrupy consistency while preventing it from scorching.
- Patience is key. Once cooked, you must allow the whole sheet of candy to cool completely before cutting it into pieces. For the best results, keep the container on the countertop overnight.
- Always use a candy thermometer. This is the kind of recipe where precision is pretty important. Sure, you can guess when the syrup is done, but a thermometer makes it so much easier!
Flavor variations and decoration ideas
If you are a Turkish delight fiend like me, then you’ve no doubt tried all the varieties available. You can use my base recipe to change it up with just a few tweaks.
- Lemon. Use extra lemon juice and lemon zest for a stronger lemon flavor.
- Orange. Substitute fresh-squeezed orange juice, orange zest, and orange food color.
- Cherry. Use cold-pressed cherry juice or cherry extract.
- Mint. Use peppermint extract and green food coloring.
- Vanilla. Substitute rosewater for vanilla extract.
- Almond. Substitute rosewater for almond extract.
- Chocolate coated. Carefully dip each square into melted chocolate (dark, milk, or white), allowing the excess to drip off before placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside until the chocolate hardens.
- Decorative toppings. Consider sprinkling garnishes over the top before the candy fully sets. Chopped pistachios, walnuts, crushed hazelnuts, rainbow sprinkles, shredded coconut, and edible glitter would all be great!
To store: Transfer the Turkish delight to an airtight container. If you need to stack the pieces, place a sheet of parchment paper between each layer to prevent them from sticking together. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture for up to 1 month.
Frequently asked questions
A candy thermometer provides you with precise temperature readings to give you the most accurate results. If you don’t have one, watch for the bubbles to become smaller and closer together as the sugar syrup gradually thickens. It’s ready once the syrup begins to hold its smooth, glossy consistency and runs off the whisk in a slow, thick stream.
No. Storing it in the fridge or freezer can alter the texture and cause the candy to harden and lose its chewy texture.
It shouldn’t be! When it’s prepared correctly, Turkish delight should have a soft, chewy texture that doesn’t feel tacky to the touch. If yours is too sticky, dusting it with the powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture should help.
More homemade candies and sweets
- Candy Grapes– A healthier treat that satisfies the sweet tooth.
- Almond roca– 4 ingredients and perfect for the holidays.
- Almond Joy– My #1 favorite candy bar.
- Junior Mints– 3 ingredients and bite sized.
- Rocky road fudge– The ultimate no bake dessert.
Turkish Delight Recipe
- Slightly oil a small 9 x4-inch loaf pan and set it aside.
- Add the sugar, lemon juice, and 160ml of water into a saucepan and cook until the mixture starts boiling. Lower the temperature and leave the mixture to cook without stirring for 15 minutes on a medium temperature until the mixture reaches 115C on a candy thermometer. Set aside the pan.
- In a separate small pan, mix the rest of the water and five tablespoons of cornstarch. Cook while stirring until the mixture starts thickening. Set aside the pan.
- Slowly start adding the gelatinous mixture to the warm sugar mixture while whisking. Once you incorporate everything, turn the heat on to low and occasionally stir so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 40-45 minutes.
- Once the mixture turns yellowish in color, turn the heat off and add rosewater and color. Combine well and pour into the prepared container. Set aside over the night to cool.
- The next day, grease a knife and cut the slab into small cubes. Dredge the cubes into the mixture of powdered sugar and remaining cornstarch and serve.
Recipe originally published July 2023 but updated to include new information and a video for your benefit.
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