Recipe: Llokume (Turkish Delight)

Makes approximately 50 pieces
Llokume was popularized in Eastern Europe and North Africa during the Ottoman empire. This recipe makes enough Turkish Delight to share. Bring the confection to a special friend or a party, and you will learn why Albanians are just one of many cultures that find this dessert delightful.


For the candy:

4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp real lemon juice
1 1/2 cup water, plus an additional 2 3/4 cups
1 cup cornstarch
1 tsp cream of tartar

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp orange extract
yellow food coloring
red food coloring

For the coating:

2lb bag confectioners sugar
1 cup cornstarch


SPECIAL NOTE: Be careful when cooking with boiling hot sugars. Only use glass or metal bowls/containers. No plastic.

Day One:

1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan combine sugar, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture reaches 240F, or soft ball, on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

NOTE: Sometimes thermometers are slightly off. Because of this, my Turkish Delight came out rather soft. To avoid this, drop some of the sugar mixture into cold water. When it cools off, bite it. If it has the texture of a chewy ball, you are on track. Here’s a video that might help. A few degrees over is better than a few degrees under.

Heating sugar mixture up to “softball” stage”

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan combine 3/4 cups water with cornstarch and cream of tartar. Stir, removing all lumps. Add remaining 2 cups of water. Stirring continuously, heat the mixture over low until it bubbles, turning thick and glossy. A wooden spoon will stick straight up in the glue-like mixture.

Cornstarch becomes really thick

3. Ladle a little of the sugar mixture at a time into the cornstarch mixture. Completely whisk  each ladle of the sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture, until it is fully incorporated.  Your bicep will be burning when you are done, and the mixture will form thick ribbons when dangled from the whisk.

NOTE: Do not rush this process or you will get lumps.  If you get lumps, your llokume will not thicken up properly. Here is a photo of improperly prepared (i.e. lumpy) llokume:

4. Once the mixture is smooth and combined, heat on low for another hour, stirring occasionally. There should be no bumps.

5. Meanwhile, line 2 small casseroles (8×8) with oiled aluminum foil (parchment paper is okay, but it is harder to get to lay nicely in the corners).

Disposable tin foil pans with lids are good for this project since the mixture has to sit around for a day (I don’t want bugs, how about you?).

OPTION: You can just use one casserole and layer your two flavors on top of each other. They will be twice as thick, however. I did this and really liked it.. here’s a picture of orange and pink together:

Pink (Rose Water) and Orange (Orange Extract) Llokume.

5. Work quickly once the mixture is off the heat. Separate mixture into 2 small bowls.  To the first bowl: add rose water and one drop of red food coloring, making a pink hue. To the second bowl: add orange extract and at least 4 drops of yellow food coloring, making an orange hue.  6. Working quickly, pour one mixture into each casserole, making sure it flows evenly.

NOTE: If you go too slowly, the mixture will set up in mounds and there isn’t too much you can do about it. I did make this mistake and managed to flip over my warm (not hot!!!) Llokume onto the uneven side. The weight of it flattened the bumps out.  Be careful if you do this and have someone help you.

7. Do your dishes. They are easy to do right away. Wait a day, or even several hours, and you just might pull your hair out.

8. Let sit, covered, for 24 hours. Do not refrigerate.

Day Two:

1. Unmold the candy onto a clean, odor free cutting board (or counter). Using an oiled knife, slice the Turkish Delight into bite size pieces, approximately 1″ x 1.5″.

2. In a large bowl, sift together cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar.

3. Fill a large casserole (a lasagna pan will do) with the 1/2 coating mixture (confectioners sugar and cornstarch). Lay out the Turkish Delight carefully, leaving at least 1/4″ between each candy. Cover with remaining 1/2 of the coating mixture.

Cut Llokume, ready to be buried in powdered sugar.

4. Now that the Turkish Delight is buried in the coating, let stand, covered, for 2 days. This critical step develops a crust that keeps the soft, moist interior from sweating outwards. If some candies do start to “emerge” from their sugary bed, just cover them back up. :)

This mess is the result of crowding. Leave 1/4″ between each candy.

Day Four:

Enjoy your Turkish Delight!

Store leftovers in the coating mixture. Do not refrigerate.


Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.


  1. This was so good! I couldnt stop eating them! Yum!!

    • I’m glad you like them. I think I am going to make them again … to see if I can get them firmer.

    • thanks soo much! :) I have been looking for a comprehensive guide to Turkish delight making, this is great :) good tip about leaving them in their ‘sugary bed’ for a few days!! it will test my patience though… :P

  2. Grammie Sue aka Mom aka susan says:

    This has always been one of my very most favorite “candies” …along with those Italian ones that come in little boxes..
    I am amazed at the actual recipe. …thought for sure there must have been egg whites,.It is a lot like sherbert in the ice cream department… …flavored sugar sans the dairy.

  3. WOW – they look perfect!! what a challenge! I remember eating these when I lived in Istanbul for 3 years, brought back memories. mmm num num :)

  4. jose isper says:

    congratulation !
    You are the only who discussed about candy “sweat”
    It is´been a nightmare for about 10 years
    Are you sure if leave it for 4 days it will be dry ?

    • Thanks Jose. Candy sweat can really be controlled by the powdered sugar. I would recommend you check the candy every day or so – just dig one out and try it. You may decide you like them better if you take them out sooner. If you are giving them as a gift, however, I would recommend doing it the full time so that they survive transportation. And I would even store them in the powdered sugar (if they last that long!)

      Good luck! :)

  5. My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  6. Love your adventure and was quite happy to find your recipe for Turkish Delight. i have shared with my readers of my blog about Downton Abbey ( English aristocracy went ga ga for Turkish Delight as another version of jello! This recipe fit in in nicely with the tongue and cheek tribute to Mr. Pamuk, a dandy turkish diplomat which turned the head of Lady Mary and ended up badly. Thanks for sharing the technique and enjoy your ongoing travels.

  7. It is not the heat or too less heat. It is the amount of accid. Accid breaks down the starch and specially the sugar into fruitsugar and glucose. This avoids cristallisation. So don’t use lemon juice as you can’t calculate the accid. Take cream of tartar or lemon accid. 1/8 of a teaspoon of lemon accid is more than enough for 900 g of granulated sugar. If you do not add any flavour than you can taste the beautiful honey-like flavour. The powder sugar on the outside let the skin cristallize. The accid in the inside breaks the lokum slowly down and makes it soft over time. So when you buy lokum from turkey it will be hard outside and softer on the inside.

    Greetings from Austria

  8. Hi there

    I have tried this recipe three times and I just can’t get it right :(

    The first two times it tasted great but wouldn’t set properly… I could cut it but it would just fall apart and was squishy.

    So the third time, today, I boiled the sugar for even longer in case this was the problem, and after mixing it into the corn starch everything looked perfect. Then all of a sudden it went runny. Now after 5 hours its still very liquid.

    Please help!!!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Are you checking the temperature with a candy thermometer? That’s the most accurate way to get it to the right stage – it’s really hard to eyeball the cooking temp on this kind of recipe.


  1. […] Of course, we can’t forget about Turkish delight, which was first brought to my attention in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when the evil queen offered it to Edmund to buy his sympathies.  As I read, I thought it was a savory treat, but soon discovered that Turkish delight is a lovely confection covered in powdered sugar and often seasoned with rose water and orange blossom water. I had the joy of making it way back on the blog, when I cooked Albania). […]

Speak Your Mind