Hard, deliciously sweet, and full of intense flavors, hard candies are one of the all-time classic sweets that can transport you right back to your childhood years!
Many of us can remember bowls of hard candy as a seasonal treat or family friends who always brought hard candies when they visited.
But which are the best hard candies available today? The best hard candies are full of natural flavors, with a minimum amount of additives and artificial ingredients. They should also be suitable for anyone following a specific diet and have the perfect level of crunch without excessive stickiness.
Tempted to try these tasty sugar-free jelly delights? Read on to find out what makes the best hard candies, and find out our picks for the 17 best hard candies.
What Are Hard Candies?
Although there are many popular types of confectionary items, when it comes to hard candies, these family favorites really have stood the test of time!
There is nothing quite like reaching into your handbag, car door, or pocket and finding a piece of long-forgotten hard candy. These individually wrapped sweets are the perfect sugar hit, ideal for getting us through a long or tiring day.
And whilst most sweets give us a quick fix of sugar, hard candies are designed to last. We want our hard candies to give us several minutes of enjoyment, and the very best hard candy will take far longer than this to dissolve!
In fact, different types of hard candies are now associated with many of our favorite times of year. Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without them!
With many different flavors, shapes, and sizes, you can now get hard candies to suit any occasion throughout the seasons.
With their bright colors and vibrant wrappers, a bowl of hard candies brings festive cheer to any household.
And as these handy individually wrapped sweets are small enough to pop into a pocket or handbag, we can keep a few stashed away for when we feel in need of a sugar boost.
Hard candy is the name used for a type of sweet made by heating sugar syrup, which is then infused with colors and flavorings. This thick syrup is poured into molds to cool and is then formed into the desired shape.
Most hard candy recipes use a huge amount of sugar, in the form of sucrose, glucose, or fructose.
A traditional hard candy is almost 100% sugar with just a tiny proportion of flavoring and coloring. These sweets are certainly not a healthy option!
Sugar-free hard candies have also been developed, which are a better choice for anyone trying to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet.
How To Choose The Best Hard Candies
If you are on the hunt for the best hard candies, here is what you should take into consideration:
Let’s face it, we’re buying hard candies because we love the flavor, right? But you don’t want to be disappointed to find your favorite flavor isn’t included in the pack you’ve bought!
Some packs of hard candies contain just a single flavor, while others have over ten different flavors in each pack.
These range from fruity flavor combinations, through to sweet toffee and butterscotch. For those of you without a sweet tooth, hard candies are also available in sour fruit flavors, and even coffee, mint, and licorice.
It is no secret that hard candies are, erm, hard in texture! When the sugar syrup used to make these popular sweets cools, it becomes stiff and brittle.
The texture of a good hard candy is difficult to describe, but good manufacturers take this factor so seriously that a test has even been developed to assess the hardness of these sweets.
The aim is to create a sweet that is not at all chewy in texture. It can be eaten by either dissolving it slowly in the mouth or by using your teeth to break it apart.
But if you attempt to chew hard candy, we must advise that you risk hurting your teeth!
Sugars & Additives
OK, so if you tasked us to find a healthy type of hard candy, we would probably fail. But some hard candies are worse for us than others, and the key to this lies in the additives used!
You might be trying to avoid specific types of additives, or simply just looking for the most natural product available.
It pays to investigate the additives contained in hard candies, as some will include artificial colors, flavors, and other ingredients.
The flavoring used may come from natural sources, such as plant extracts or essential oils. Other manufacturers may use artificial flavorings to create new and exciting flavors.
The type of sugar used in hard candy can also be a factor here. Many people consider natural fruit sugars to be less harmful than added manufactured sugar.
Others prefer to cut out the sugar altogether and opt for hard candies made with alternative sweeteners instead.
Candy isn’t just a sugar source you may want to eat in moderation. Some candies are a really bad idea for some dietary/health needs.
If you have specific dietary requirements, then you already know it is important to buy the right hard candies to suit your needs:
- Vegan & vegetarian: Some hard candies are suitable for vegetarians and vegans as well as non-vegetarians. However, if the packet does not specifically state that the sweet is free from animal products, then it may contain ingredients such as pork or beef gelatin.
- Ketogenic (Keto) diets*: If you have picked sugar-free hard candies because you are on a ketogenic diet, check that your candy is also carb-free. Some sugar substitutes contain carbohydrates, while others do not.
- Sugar-free diet: If you suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes, you may be trying to avoid sugar. Check if your sugar-free hard candies contain carbohydrates, as these can be turned into sugar in the body, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
*Psst! We also have a guide to the best keto candies if you’re interested!
The 17 Best Hard Candies
Now part we’ve all been waiting for! Today our mission is to find the ultimate list of hard candies to suit every occasion, and we’re pretty pleased with the results.
|1.||Werther's Original Hard Caramel Candy||Individually wrapped, buttery caramel candy|
|2.||Jolly Rancher Hard Candy||Variety mix of fruity hard candies in original flavors|
|3.||Hermann the German Bavarian Fruit Hard Candy||High-quality fruit-shaped hard candy in a mix of flavors|
|4.||Life Savers Hard Candy Rolls||Pocket-sized rolls of small hard candy sweets|
|5.||Kopiko Cappuccino Hard Candy||Made with real coffee bean extracts for an authentic coffee flavor|
|6.||Lemonhead Lemon Candy Tub||A giant resealable tub of zingy lemon-flavored hard candies|
|7.||Arcor Fruit Filled Hard Candy||A hard candy outer shell filled with fruit juice for a zingy, refreshing flavor|
|8.||Cavendish & Harvey Creamy Butterscotch Drops||The perfect balance of butterscotch flavor in a stylish tin|
|9.||Original Spree Hard Candy||Unwrapped candies, ideal for reducing your plastic waste|
|10.||Claey's Old Fashioned Root Beer Hard Candy||An authentic soda-house rich and earthy root beer flavored hard candy|
|11.||Colombina Candy Assorted Sour Balls||A lip-puckering selection of sour hard candy balls|
|12.||Lifesavers Pep-O-Mint Candy||Light and refreshing, with a delicate mint flavor|
|13.||Reed's Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Hard Candy||Premium butterscotch hard candies with a long-lasting and decadent taste|
|14.||SweetGourmet Licorice Starlight Pinwheels||Full-flavored licorice pinwheel hard candies|
|15.||Colombina Fussione Fruit Creamy Delight||A selection of smooth and creamy fruit-flavored pinwheels|
|16.||Assortit Starlights Spearmint Hard Candy||Retro, old-fashioned spearmint candies|
|17.||YumEarth Organic Hard Candy||A selection of organic fruit-flavored candies, perfect for children’s parties|
Here are the 17 best hard candies to try:
1. Werther’s Original Hard Caramel Candy
Werther’s Original Caramel Hard Candies are without a doubt the finest hard candies you will ever come across!
These magical sweets combine real butter and fresh cream with the delicious sweetness of caramel to give the ultimate rich, smooth flavor.
Individually wrapped, these candies gently melt in the mouth, leaving behind a buttery, sweet taste that lingers on the tongue. Unlike many caramel sweets, they don’t stick to the teeth and give a long-lasting and full-flavored experience.
Although eating just one of these candies may take a while, don’t expect a bag to last you for long! Fans of Werther’s hard caramel candies will tell you that once you’ve had one, you just can’t stop ….
2. Jolly Rancher Hard Candy Original
Jolly Rancher has long been one of the market leaders when it comes to hard candy, and it is easy to see why! With their innovative flavors and bright colors, these hard candies are simply irresistible.
Made with a mix of artificial and natural flavors, this original selection contains apple, cherry, watermelon, grape, and blue raspberry sweets.
There’s a flavor for everyone in this bag. Just try not to fight over your favorites!
As each sweet is individually wrapped, Jolly Rancher’s hard candies are ideal for holiday stockings and trick-or-treat bags. They also look great as part of a festive display, perfect for sharing with friends and family when they visit your home.
3. Hermann the German Bavarian Fruit Hard Candy
Now for something for the grown-ups!
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated hard candy, this Bavarian assortment is good enough to use as a centerpiece for a buffet dessert table.
Each piece of candy is carefully molded into the shape of the fruit used to flavor it.
Made with natural food dyes, these hard candies are fat-free and absolutely adorable. Each one is bursting with flavor, without being overly sweet and sickly.
Definitely a good option for the adult in your life who loves hard candies!
4. Life Savers Hard Candy Rolls
Hands up if you only just realized how Life Savers got their name?! Yes, the penny just dropped here too – it’s because they look like tiny life preservers!
So now we’ve got that revelation out of the way, let’s take a look at why Life Savers have been on the market for over 100 years.
The delicious flavor of these little sweets really has stood the test of time. The 5-flavor packs contain a fruity selection of cherry, raspberry, watermelon, orange, and pineapple, all of which taste as delicious as they sound.
The great thing about Life Savers is their small size, ideal for when you just want a quick sugar fix. Many hard candies are huge and take hours to eat, while these little sweets will be gone in just a few minutes!
The roll shape also makes it easy to carry this candy in a coat pocket, lunch bag, or in your car.
5. Kopiko Cappuccino Hard Candy
Not everyone enjoys fruit-flavored hard candy, and here is something for the coffee lovers out there!
Although these coffee and cappuccino hard candies still pack a punch in terms of sweetness, this is pleasantly counterbalanced by the delicate bitterness of the coffee flavors.
Made from real coffee bean extracts, both of these hard candies have an authentic coffee flavor, but the cappuccino variety has an added creaminess as well. The texture is absolutely perfect, too, with the right level of hardness that will not stick to your teeth.
6. Lemonhead Lemon Candy Tub
Made with real lemon juice, these sweet and sour candies have a hard candy core tucked inside a soft outer shell.
Each round sweet is individually wrapped and stored inside a large resealable tub, ready for when those sweet treat cravings come along.
If you’re a fan of lemon-flavored sweets, these Lemonhead hard candies come top of the table every time!
7. Arcor Fruit Filled Hard Candy
For many people, every one of these fruit-filled candies tastes like a little hit of sunshine!
Inside the hard candy exterior is hidden a hit of juicy flavor, giving you the perfect refreshing end to this decadent treat.
This variety pack contains five flavors: cherry, pineapple, orange, lemon, and strawberry. It would be hard to pick a favorite here, as they all taste incredible!
Luckily the bulk size bag means that you won’t run out for a while.
8. Cavendish & Harvey Creamy Butterscotch Drops
Whilst Werther’s are undoubtedly the best caramel hard candies out there when it comes to butterscotch then these Cavendish & Harvey Creamy Butterscotch Drops are pretty much unbeatable.
Each stylish tin contains a selection of gourmet butterscotch hard candies, each dusted with a delicate coating of fine sugar.
The taste is similar to caramel, but with a slight hint of alcohol – just like any good butterscotch. Don’t panic though! These are alcohol-free treats that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
9. Original Spree Hard Candy Bulk Pack
In the modern world we are all becoming aware of the waste problem, and looking for ways to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce.
These unwrapped hard candies are perfect for large families or parties, as you can tip individual servings into bowls for everyone to enjoy!
So, no more chasing wrappers around the park that your kids have dropped, or finding sweet wrappers stuffed down the sides of the furniture! That’s a lot less waste to get your candy fix, too.
This giant 5lb bag contains an assortment of fruity flavors for you to savor, including grape, lemon, lime, cherry, and orange.
10. Claey’s Old Fashioned Root Beer Hard Candy
If you’re a fan of root beer, you’ll love the authentic flavor of this old-fashioned hard candy.
These round, bite-size sweets are modeled on those fountain root beer drinks sold in iconic soda shops, which makes a refreshing change from the more common fruity flavors.
We love the authentic packaging of these sweets, which takes us back several decades to when life was simpler and sweets were, well, sweeter!
This classic flavor is rich and earthy, with just the right level of sweetness to be refreshing without becoming sickly.
11. Colombina Candy Assorted Sour Balls
Sour sweets, a contradiction you’ll either love or hate! (But we think you’ll love ’em.)
These lip-puckering sour hard candies come in a range of flavors, including orange, lemon, strawberry, cherry, and green apple.
The sour flavors give a level of refreshing taste that is often missing in sweeter candies, making them ideal for when you need a quick snack on the go or to get you through a long afternoon in the office.
12. Lifesavers Pep-O-Mint Candy
You know ’em, you love ’em: Lifesavers mint candies!
We can guarantee that if you open a bag of these minty hard candies they won’t be around for long! Which you probably already know if you’ve ever had one before.
Each individual mint is fat-free and contains just 15 calories, ideal for when you need to freshen your breath. Or when you need a sweet and minty pick-me-up.
Keep them handy in the car or at work when you feel your concentration lagging. Fill a bowl at the office for everyone to enjoy – if you can bear to share ’em!
13. Reed’s Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Hard Candy
It can be so hard to find sweets that are free from artificial colors and flavorings, but here we have a delicious butterscotch hard candy that does just that!
Fans of these sweets say that the intense flavor lasts right to the end, unlike lesser quality sweets which just don’t seem to last as long.
These are not the cheapest sweets on the market, but if you’re looking to reduce your intake of artificial additives then they are worth a try.
The slightly higher price tag means you’ll savor every last mouthful of flavorsome deliciousness! It’s definitely worth a try.
14. SweetGourmet Licorice Starlight Pinwheels
When it comes to licorice, we’re back in that ‘love it or hate it’ territory again!
Most licorice sweets are soft and sticky, so it is refreshing to come across a genuine licorice hard candy for a change.
The licorice flavor is great to refresh your palate after a meal or to give you a zingy boost during a long, tiring day.
We love the beautiful pinwheel design of these hard candies, which would look great as part of a Halloween display.
These sweets come in a handy resealable pouch, so you can take what you need and stash the rest away for later. If you’re a fan of licorice, we doubt they’d last that long though!
15. Colombina Fussione Fruit Creamy Delight
Many people find the flavor of fruit sweets somewhat overpowering, but the added cream in these hard candies is perfect for giving a mellow, smooth flavor.
Made with artificial and natural flavorings, each back contains a mix of blackberry, peach, and strawberry sweets.
Colombina is world-famous when it comes to manufacturing sweets, and these delightful pinwheel candies are certainly a masterpiece in design. They are colorful, beautiful, and almost too good to eat!
16. Assortit Starlights Spearmint Hard Candy
Another beautifully retro hard candy with a distinctive pinwheel appearance, these spearmint starlights are a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
Each candy is individually wrapped, making them perfect for popping into a party back or festive stocking.
The flavor is a delicate balance of sugar and spearmint, making them delightfully refreshing and tasty.
17. YumEarth Organic Hard Candy
And last on our list, we have that rarity in the sweet world – a completely organic selection of hard candies!
These delicious sweets are free from artificial colors and flavors and are also suitable for vegans and anyone following a gluten-free diet.
This pack includes imaginative flavors such as pomegranate pucker, mango tango, wet-face watermelon, strawberry smash, very very cherry, and perfectly peach, each individually wrapped for freshness.
This selection would be perfect for children’s parties, as they are not only organic but also free from the top eight most common allergens.