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How to Make Salt Water Taffy in One Hour

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You can make soft and chewy salt water taffy just like you find on seaside boardwalks in just one hour! Start with this funfetti version and then experiment with your own flavors using my recipe as a base.

Salt Water Taffty in a white bowl on a checkered cloth

Working with taffy is sticky, messy, and super stretchy – sort of like the slime that people buy for kids to play with. But, when you are all done pulling and stretching, your effort is rewarded with melt-in-your-mouth goodness!

Making this is a project, but not one that will take all day. With help from my mom and “help” from my toddler, we made and wrapped 50 pieces of taffy in an hour.

I got the idea for the funfetti version from a similar flavor made by Taffy Town (a company that’s been making the confection for over 75 years). My homemade version has a rich vanilla flavor (just like my vanilla cupcakes) and is loaded with rainbow nonpareils (tiny sprinkle balls).

What is It?

saltwater taffy in a jar with a pink background

Salt water taffy is a super chewy candy that originated on the New Jersey shore.

Commercially, it is made by stretching sticky boiled sugar, butter or vegetable oil, flavorings, and sometimes colorings until it gets lots of air in it so it’s light and chewy. Then, it’s cut into small pieces and wrapped in waxed paper to keep it soft.

Pink salt water taffy being pulled on a machine

Can You Make Salt Water Taffy at Home?

My mom pulling taffy

You can make salt water taffy at home, but you will have to do all of the pulling yourself. It’s hard work, but you can save yourself a trip to the gym.

Also, I suggest grabbing a friend or two and a couple of kids to help out. Back in the day, people used to have taffy pulling parties to make taffy. Trust me, this more fun to do with others.

Salt water taffy being pulled with a little kid watching

Does Salt Water Taffy Contain Salt Water?

It does typically contain salt. But, so does does most taffy. Salt water taffy and taffy are the same thing!

The name salt water taffy started as a marketing gimmick when a taffy shop by the Atlantic shore was flooded.

Are Chews the Same as Taffy?

Yes, chews are another name for the same thing. It is what salt water taffy is called in Britain.

Ingredients and Equipment

Ingredients

Salt water taffy contains sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, water, salt, and flavoring. You can make salt water taffy in all kinds of flavors.

The most popular flavors according to Taffy Shop are peppermint, vanilla, banana, watermelon, frosted cupcake, cotton candy, raspberry, and strawberry.

Two rows of fave small bottles of candy flavoring
Product image from Amazon

Tip: If you are making any of these flavors at home, you can use candy flavoring from LorAnn. You can buy a 24 pack of different flavors very inexpensively. Once you own them, you can also you use them to flavor other candy recipes like homemade jelly beans.

I like to make mine by using vanilla or vanilla bean paste (vanilla that includes the vanilla beans) and nonpareils (small round sprinkles).

Note that the ingredients include corn syrup. Corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. While both products are made from corn starch, regular corn syrup is 100 percent glucose, while high-fructose corn syrup has had some of its glucose converted to fructose enzymatically. Always check product ingredients to ensure that you are buying the right one when you make candy at home.

Equipment

Polder Candy thermometer resting in a pot

The good news is that you don’t need a professional taffy puller to make this recipe. But, there is one kitchen item that is required.

You’ll need a candy thermometer. These come in all different varieties, but a really cheap one will work just fine.

Tip: Make sure your candy thermometer has a clip to attach to your pot. This will make your life easier.

How It’s Made

Toddler pulling a piece of salt water taffy over waxed paper
Myles pulling taffy

Place sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, butter, water, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat and mix thoroughly.

Heat until the mixture reaches 255 F on a candy thermometer and immediately remove from the heat.

Pot of boiling taffy with a candy thermometer on it

Tip: If you read other salt water taffy recipes, you’ll see a range of temperatures. The higher the temperature, the harder the taffy will be. 255 F makes a candy that holds its shape but dissolves in your mouth.

Mix flavoring into the hot taffy. I used vanilla bean paste in my taffy. It’s like vanilla extract with the addition of vanilla beans.

Tip: This is also when you would mix in food coloring.

Pour the hot taffy into a buttered baking dish.

Pouring taffy into a baking dish

Cover it with a layer of nonpareils to make funfetti salt water taffy.

Adding nonpareils to taffy in a baking dish

When it is cool enough to touch, butter your hands, form a big ball, and begin to stretch and pull. Imagine you are a kid with bubble gum in your mouth, pulling a piece of it way out, rejoining it to the ball, and then pulling again (but, if you can resist, don’t put any in your mouth yet – it will be much better after pulling).

Tip: Buttering your hands is really important. Taffy is VERY sticky!

Pulling a thick brown piece of salt water taffy

Keep doing this for about 15 minutes.

Salt Water taffy being pulled over a baking dish and sticking to my hands

Tip: Do not skip the pulling stage! Pulling the taffy aerates taffy, which makes it softer and more chewy. As you pull, you’ll notice that the color becomes significantly lighter. You’ll also notice that it will get much tougher to pull. When your arms get really tired and it starts to feel like you are using one of those exercise stretch bands, you’re done. Don’t stress about doing it right. Just have fun!

Do one last pull to make the taffy into a long rope with the thickness that you’d like your final product to be.

salt water taffy being pulled when it is almost done and a lighter color
Notice how much lighter the taffy is at the end of the pull.

Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Tip: As crazy as it sounds, it will make it easier to cut the taffy if you butter your scissors. Be careful not to cut yourself.

Cutting salt water taffy with scissors

Cut wax paper into small squares.

Tip: While parchment paper and wax paper are both non-stick, wax paper works much better for rolling up candy.

Wrap taffy.

Four photos that show folding waxed paper over salt water taffy and wrapping it up

Why This Recipe Works

Even though home candy makers don’t have a pulling machine, the act of pulling and stretching the candy does the job. This is the original way taffy was made and it works perfectly!

Best Tips for Making Salt Water Taffy

  • Grab a friend! Making salt water taffy can be really tiring if you do it alone.
  • Keep on pulling. The more you pull, the better the taffy will be.
  • Always use a candy thermometer. Guessing at the temperature simply won’t work. You need to get the temperature correct.
  • Experiment with different flavors. You can even divide your batch in half to make two flavors from the same recipe.
Pink serving dish filled with square and round bonbons painted with gold
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Salt Water Taffy
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4.57 from 23 votes

Funfetti Salt Water Taffy

You can make soft and chewy salt water taffy just like you find on seaside boardwalks in just one hour! Start with this funfetti salt water taffy recipe and then experiment with your own flavors!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 50
Calories 32kcal
Author Stefani

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter You’ll also need some extra butter for buttering a baking dish, your hands, and scissors.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla plus the seeds from a vanilla bean
  • rainbow nonpareils to taste

Instructions

  • Thoroughly butter a small baking dish and set aside.
  • Place sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, butter, water, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Heat until the mixture reaches 255 F on a candy thermometer and immediately remove from the heat. Note: If you read other salt water taffy recipes, you’ll see a range of temperatures. The higher the temperature, the harder the taffy will be. 255 F makes a candy that holds its shape but dissolves in your mouth.
  • Mix vanilla bean paste into the hot taffy.
  • Pour the hot taffy into the buttered baking dish.
  • Cover taffy with a layer of nonpareils.
  • When the taffy is cool enough to handle, butter your hands, form a big taffy ball, and begin to stretch and pull. Imagine you are a kid with bubble gum in your mouth, pulling a piece of it way out, rejoining it to the ball, and then pulling again (but, if you can resist, don’t put any in your mouth yet – the taffy will be much better after the pull). Keep doing this for about 15 minutes. Pulling the taffy aerates it, which makes it softer and more chewy. As you pull, you’ll notice that the color of the taffy becomes significantly lighter. You’ll also notice that the taffy will get much tougher to pull. When your arms get really tired and it starts to feel like you are using one of those exercise stretch bands, you’re done. Don’t stress about doing it right. Just have fun! Look at the color of the taffy at the very beginning of the pull. You’ll see that it gets much lighter as the process continues.
  • Do one last pull to make the taffy into a long rope with the thickness that you’d like your final product to be.
  • Butter a pair of scissors (be careful not to cut yourself).
  • Cut the taffy into bite-sized pieces.
  • Cut wax paper into small squares.
  • Wrap taffy in the wax squares.

Notes

  • Grab a friend! Making salt water taffy can be really tiring if you do it alone.
  • Keep on pulling. The more you pull, the better the taffy will be.
  • Always use a candy thermometer. Guessing at the temperature simply won’t work. You need to get the temperature correct.
  • Experiment with different flavors. You can even divide your batch in half to make two flavors from the same recipe. Buying a 24 pack of candy flavoring from LorAnn is a good place to start.
While I read many salt water taffy recipes, the one that I most closely adapted mine from was the vanilla nut salt water taffy recipe from Get Off Your Butt and Bake.

Nutrition

Calories: 32kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Sodium: 26mg | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Calcium: 1mg
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