Salt Water Taffy

29 Sep

Print the recipe page!  salt water taffy

My kids and I have had a ball learning how to make taffy this month!  After trying a number of batches and learning what works along the way, this one from Paula Deen is the one we’re keeping and adding to our food storage cookbook.    Now that we’ve got the recipe and the system down, we’re ready to invite some friends over for an old fashioned taffy pull!

makes about 60 pieces of taffy


2 cups sugar

2 TBS corn starch

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup water

1 cup light corn syrup (*see note)

2 tsp. glycerin (*see note)

2 TBS butter (*see note)

flavoring (extracts, oils, etc.)

coloring (optional)


Tools and Supplies:

candy thermometer

silicone mats (2 — *see note)

wax paper

disposable vinyl gloves (*see note)


Before starting, prepare your pans by greasing the sides and laying down the silicone mats.  Gather up everything you’ll need for the recipe beforehand as time is precious near the end — you’ll avoid having to scramble for things if you have everything ready to go.  Also, enlist some help to start cutting the 3 x 3 inch wax paper squares for wrapping.

Combine the sugar, salt and corn starch in the saucepan, and mix well. Add corn syrup and water, stirring frequently over medium heat so the sugar and salt are fully dissolved before it comes to a boil. Once boiling, stop stirring and brush the inside edges of the pan down with a moist pastry brush. Boil until syrup reaches 260 degrees (*see note).

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Very gently stir in the food coloring and vanilla. Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheets and allow to cool just enough to handle.  The centers will take longer to cool than the edges, so after a little while of cooling fold the edges over into the center of the taffy to prevent it from cooling unevenly.

Butter or spray your hands with a non stick cooking spray and begin to pull the taffy until it’s light in color and has a satiny gloss (*see note).  For a group who are pulling individual portions, instructions should be given to “use your fingertips to lift the candy up, and then to pull out about 12 inches.  Quickly fold the taffy back from one hand to the other, catching the center, and then pulling again.”  If just two people are pulling, you should pull the taffy in a pattern, pulling the ends out from center, then folding them into the middle.

When your taffy is very hard to pull and holds its shape when laid out on a platter, it’s ready to cut into pieces.  Use either a greased knife or kitchen scissors to cut the hardened taffy into bite sized pieces.  Wrap the pieces in wax paper squares, twisting each end.


Prepare your pans…

Someone needs a job to help get those wrappers ready!

Ready to start!  Mix the dry ingredients together in the pot, then the wet ingredients.  Stir to dissolve the sugar completely before the syrup begins to boil.

Next, brush down the inside edges of the pot with a wet pastry brush to remove any leftover sugar.  This will prevent any sugar crystals forming which (if they fell into the syrup) could cause some recrystallization.

Cook until syrup reaches 260 degrees, just before hard ball stage.  You can test to see if it’s done by dipping a spoon of hot syrup into a cold glass of water. The consistency you get by testing it will pretty much tell you how your taffy is going to turn out.  I learned it was best to do this test *just before* hard ball stage (260 degrees) because while you’re conducting the test the syrup is still cooking.  It’s easy to over cook it (making it hard in the end) if it’s over done.  S0 long as the cold water test was good (and even a little soft) at 260 I quickly took the pot off the stove.  Remember, if you wait too long and it’s tough to chew at this point, your  jaw is going to get a work out with the finished product!

Remove the pot from the heat and add the butter until melted.  I tried it using oil (just to find out if it would work) and it did, but I used just 1 TBS oil.

Add in your flavoring and food color if wanted.  The oils I used (LorAnn oils, we used raspberry here) is extra concentrated, so I used 1/4 tsp.  As far as coloring goes, 4 drops will give you a nice pastel shade.

Pour onto prepared pans.

Allow the taffy to cool for about 5 minutes then pull the edges into the center so it will cool evenly.

While you’re waiting for it to cool, make sure everyone has clean washed hands!

Once it’s cool enough to pull, start handing out the portions to your helpers!  Oh, and this is what it looks like as you begin…

Once it turns pastel and satin-like, and is difficult to pull, you’re done (about 10 minutes).  Lay down in 1/2 inch ropes and cut using a knife or kitchen shears.  Once it gets harder (as it cools) we found it easier to use a greased knife on a cutting mat.  Wrap in in wax paper wrappers, twisting the ends.

Beauty!  The end result…



  • Glycerin is a colorless liquid made from fats and oils. It can be found in most drugstores, some grocery stores and in craft stores in the cake decorating area (I found mine at a cake supply store) . Using glycerin in this taffy recipe helps to make the candy soft and creamy.
  • In one of the tests we tried using honey in place of the corn syrup.  It worked, but the taste of the honey was quite over powering.  If you were to do this I’d suggest using just vanilla as your flavoring.
  • About the silicone mats… you need them, trust me!  I tried this using (greased) glass pans as well as pans lined with (greased) wax paper.  They were both a huge mess and I lost half my candy just trying to scrape it off (not to mention what a mess it was to clean up).  These are the most important items you can buy (if you don’t already have some) to make for an enjoyable experience.
  • I was surprised when in pulling I actually got blisters on my hands from the friction from the taffy!  I’d read about it happening but I thought those who it had happened to had picked up the taffy when it was still too hot.  For the future I’m going to try getting myself some disposable vinyl gloves to wear.  None of the kids had this problem, but they were pulling much smaller pieces.  Also with this particular recipe, I didn’t spray my hands with cooking spray (or butter them) as the recipe recommends.  That probably would have helped.
  • The flavorings I use (that I like a lot) are by Lor Ann.  There are all kinds of flavors you can try!  They’re available at cake supply stores or online.

4 Responses to “Salt Water Taffy”

  1. plicketycat September 30, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    A note on the honey instead of the corn syrup — if you don’t add any other flavoring, or maybe just a tiny bit of vanilla, this is the basic recipe for “Bit o’ Honey” candies. Also, using the honey, a citrus extract and a bit of ginger makes a nice chew without being too overwhelmingly honey flavored.

    If you plan to make these, or any other wrapped candy, frequently I highly suggest stocking up on pre-cut wrappers as they don’t cost much compared to wax paper and save time (and hand cramps!). Just do a search for candy foils, taffy wrappers or confectioners paper.

    You can speed up one-man taffy pulling with a wall-mounted hook. I found a common large coat/robe hook mounted shoulder height worked fairly well. Grab a large clump (up to a lb!) hold each end with the hook in the middle, and then pull while you lean or step back until your hands are by your sides hip height. Transfer both ends to one hand, and grab the middle off the hook with your other hand, give it a twirl (like a wet towel) to spin the two sides together. Fold it in half lengthwise, then middle on the hook and pull again. Rinse-lather-repeat until it’s nice and glossy. You can do a 1lb batch in about the same time it takes to pull smaller batches with just your hands.

    • myfoodstoragecookbook September 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      I was wondering how you’d pull it with just one person! Thanks for the explanation! And you’re right, the honey ones (the ones with vanilla only added) did taste just like “Bit o’ Honey’s”. This gives me a Christmas gift idea for someone on my list who loves those!

  2. Lisa Derr September 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    I remember taffy pulls for fun. It was Rexburg in the 70’s and before we even had a McDonalds! We would “drag main”, (drive around main street and see our friends), and have parties. A popular party was a taffy pull! Ah, for the good old days.
    You never cease to amaze me! Mom

    • myfoodstoragecookbook September 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks Mom! The kids seriously had so much fun! We’ll do it again for Christmas when you’re here!

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