Sugar and Sweeteners – Overview of Different Types for Candy Making

  • Date: February 24, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.
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Candy-making is a fun and sweet hobby. When it comes to candying, sugar is a VERY important ingredient. Sugar and sweeteners are a crucial part of making candies, as we all know. And if you’re as crazy about candy as I am, you’ll sometimes have to have a little bit of knowledge about your own ingredients.

There’s nothing more disappointing than getting to the end of making candy that is bland or sticky. I will be sharing information about different types of sugars and sweeteners which is used to make and handle candies.

Solid sweeteners

Granulated sugar

Granulated sugar is also known as regular white sugar which has been refined and stripped of any naturally occurring molasses.

This is the staple of all candy-making. Most candy will consist of granulated sugar and similar sweeteners such as brown sugar.

Brown sugar

A form of granulated sugar with added molasses, which is a dark liquid sugar product derived from refining sugar beet or cane. It comes in two forms: light and dark brown sugar.

The difference between dark and light brown sugar is the amount of molasses added. Dark brown sugar contains roughly twice the amount of molasses compared to light brown sugar.

If you want a deeper, caramel flavor, dark brown sugar is the way to go. Light brown sugar is typically used for baking and sauces

Confectioners’ sugar (AKA powdered sugar)

Super fine and has small amounts of cornstarch added. Confectioners’ sugar comes in handy when your hard candy has already cooled and hardened but remains slightly sticky. A light dusting with powdered sugar will reduce stickiness in hard candy, making it ideal for longer-term storage.

You should always sift or filter confectioners’ sugar to separate the lumpy parts.

Invert sugar

To beginner hobbyists, invert sugar is an unfamiliar term. Invert sugar is used as a substitute for ingredients such as corn syrup in order to control the graining in making candy.

There are some key differences between using invert sugar and corn syrup:

  1. Resulting candy is little bit darker
  2. Invert sugar is sweeter than corn syrup (so use lower amounts!)

Coarse sugar

Coarse sugar has larger crystals compared to regular granulated white sugar. An easy comparison would be the salt crystals used on pretzels.

This type of sugar is typically used as a garnish or decoration. It is most common in pastries such as cookies or muffins in order to add that extra “crunch”.

Because of the size of coarse sugar, it is more resilient to heat, making it ideal for baking alongside cookies without melting.

Liquid Sweeteners

Corn syrup

Corn syrup is a staple when it comes to making candy. It slows or prevents the graining process and results in a smoother texture.

Hard candies made without corn syrup tends to end up with a gritty texture.


Compared to corn syrup, honey is a tad sweeter and makes a slightly softer candy. While you could substitute corn syrup for honey in a 1:1 ratio in candy making, it is quite finicky to work with, in my experience.

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