Turkish Delight

Red cube-shaped Turkish delight coated with powdered sugar
The Spruce
  • Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Resting: 8 hrs
  • Yield: 2 pounds (32 servings)

The Turkish name for this confection, lokma or lokum, means morsel, and these sweet squares are exactly that: a delicately chewy treat, perfectly sweetened, and infused with the fascinating and sweet flavor of either rose water, bergamot, lemon, or mastic. Dates, pistachios, hazelnuts, and walnuts are bound in a gel-like concoction that is then perfumed with other flavors and colored by food coloring or natural ingredients. The squares are dusted with icing sugar, cream of tartar, or copra (coconut dust) to avoid sticking and caking, and are usually sold by the pound or in decorative, festive boxes with different flavors.

Vegan and gluten-free, freshly made Turkish delight need top-quality ingredients for best results, as store-bought sweets are commercially produced with flavor and quality often sacrificed for value. Look in Middle Eastern online retailers or local specialized supermarkets to find rosewater or other Middle Eastern flavors that can be hard to find in standard food stores.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rose water
  • (Optional) 2 to 3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making Turkish delight
    The Spruce
  2. Prepare a 9 x 9-inch pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

    Prepared pan with foil and cooking spray
    The Spruce
  3. Place the granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups of the water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring the mixture to a boil.

    Stirring sugar, lemon, and water in a saucepan with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce
  4. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming and insert a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature.

    Brushing down the inside lip of the pan with a pastry brush, while the sugar-lemon mixture boils
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  5. Allow the sugar mixture to continue boiling, without stirring, until it reaches 240 F on the candy thermometer. This process can take from 45 minutes to an hour. When the sugar syrup is around 225 F, gather the rest of the candy ingredients.

    Allowing the sugar mixture to boil, while checking candy thermometer
    The Spruce
  6. Place the remaining 3 cups of water in another, slightly larger saucepan. Add the cornstarch and cream of tartar and whisk until the starch dissolves and there are no lumps.

    Adding water, cornstarch, and cream of tartar to another saucepan
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  7. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly. The mixture will become thick and pasty.

    Whisking until the mixture is white, thick, and pasty
    The Spruce
  8. Once the sugar syrup is at 240 F, remove it from the heat. Slowly and carefully pour it into the cornstarch mixture, whisking until it is fully incorporated.

    Adding sugar syrup to the cornstarch mixture and incorporating it with a metal whisk
    The Spruce
  9. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking it every 8 to 10 minutes, for about an hour, until the candy has turned a light golden yellow color and is very thick and gluey.

    Cooking mixture until golden and gooey
    The Spruce
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the rose water and the food coloring into the preparation.

    Whisking in the red food coloring and rose water
    The Spruce
  11. Pour the candy into the prepared pan and allow it to set uncovered overnight.

    The red candy is poured into the prepared pan
    The Spruce
  12. The next day, remove the candy from the pan using the foil as handles. Dust a clean and non-porous work station with powdered sugar and flip the candy onto it. Carefully peel off the foil from the back and dust the top with more sugar. Use an oiled and sharp chef’s knife to cut the Turkish delight into small squares. Dust each side of the square with powdered sugar to prevent stickiness.

    Finished Turkish delight covered with powdered sugar
    The Spruce
  13. Enjoy.

Storing your Turkish delight

  • Turkish delight is best soon after it is made, as it doesn’t keep very well. For best storage, keep it at room temperature in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers of squares, and dust the sides with more powdered sugar before serving.

Why Isn't My Turkish Delight Setting Up?

Turkish delight is meant to be soft and chewy, but what if your candy isn't solid enough for cutting into squares? Problems often arise when cooking this mixture, so the usage of an accurate candy thermometer is required. Make sure you boil the sugar mixture until it reaches 240 F. Once you've combined the two preparations, cook the final mixture until it is very thick and golden. Let it sit several hours before cutting.