Learning how to make licorice at home is a simple and fun project. Here is our basic homemade licorice recipe complete with vegan and gluten-free options.
Licorice has long been a favorite of mine because it has a satisfying texture and a distinctive taste. Real licorice is black, but you can find it in red, orange, pink, and other wild colors. I never thought to make my own until I found an old recipe. Then, I tweaked it for today’s world and added some vegan and gluten-free options.
Homemade Licorice Recipe
This is my basic recipe for homemade licorice. Also included are gluten-free, vegan, and other recipe variations.
- ½ cup flour
- pinch of Himalayan pink salt (find it here)
- ½ cup coconut oil (use this type if you don’t want the coconut flavor in your licorice)
- ¼ cup honey, brown rice syrup, or molasses
- 1 cup of raw sugar
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon extract of licorice root (find it here, or make your own using the instructions below)
- optional, 1 teaspoon beetroot juice for color
Combine the dry licorice recipe ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, syrup, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to heat until the temperature reaches 240°F. This is the soft ball stage. You can check the temperature with a candy thermometer or but dropping a small spoonful into a glass of cold water. Reach into the water and try to form a ball from the syrup with your fingers. It if stays together for a few seconds, it’s ready. Remove from the heat right away and pour over the flour mixture. Mix well.
When mixed, add the beetroot juice for color and the licorice extract for flavor. Mix these in well too. Pour the mixture in a greased pan and set in the refrigerator for about an hour, or until set and well chilled.
When chilled, turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. Cut into strips with a pizza cutter, keeping the strips about ⅓ to ½-inch wide. Twist if you like. Dust with arrowroot powder to keep from sticking. Store in an airtight container.
You don’t need to color homemade licorice, but it may end up being a dull grayish color. I use beetroot juice because it makes the licorice a nice rosy color. You can use any juice or concentrate that you like.
How to Make Gluten Free Licorice
If you want to know how to make gluten-free licorice, you can substitute the flour with a number of other choices. With some of them, like coconut flour, you may need to add more moisture. Coconut flour, in particular, is very absorbent. Others, like rice flour, can be grainy, so these may require some adjustments as well.
Gluten-free flour options include:
- Coconut Flour
- Chickpea Flour
- Rice Flour and Brown Rice Flour
- Tapioca Flour
- Oat Flour (not all oats are gluten-free, so be sure to check labels)
- Almond Flour
- Buckwheat Flour (note that this is not “wheat”)
- Sorghum Flour
- Amaranth Flour
Again, you may need to do a test batch to see what the consistency will be like.
Although this recipe is mostly vegan, there are some ways to make it completely animal-friendly. You can use the brown rice syrup instead of the honey called for. For the sugar, you can make sure that it is vegan by looking at this list. And when choosing sweetened condensed milk, you can find a dairy free one, or make your own with this recipe using a vegan milk substitute (like almond milk or coconut milk).
Homemade Licorice Extract
You can buy a licorice flavor, but commercially made products are often filled with artificial ingredients. If purchasing, we recommend getting a high-quality extract. It’s also fairly easy to make your own.
Supplies include dried licorice root (cut into thin slices), a mason jar, and some alcohol. I use 40% vodka, but you could use any alcohol that is 40% or higher. Alcohol at this level will help keep bacteria and mold from forming.
Fill the mason jar about half full with licorice root and then cover with alcohol. Cap the jar and seal tightly. Shake well and place in a sunny location for about six weeks. At the end of this time, strain and decant into a dark bottle. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Licorice extract made this was can be used exactly as above.
If you want another flavor, you can make extracts from many herbs.
Have you ever made a homemade licorice recipe? If so, tell us about your experience!