Turkish delight, also known as lokum, is a sweet confection made from a gel of cornstarch and sugar featuring various flavors like orange and rose with crunchy pistachios. The intense sweetness of this jelly-like dessert is balanced by the bright tanginess of pomegranate and lemon juice.
When you make this Turkish Delight recipe, you will be creating a dessert that has been beloved for centuries. I think of these as a larger gum drop confection, this classic confectionary treat might even be described as one of Turkey’s national treasures!
Don’t fret, though — as exotic as lokum may seem, it is really quite simple to make. You only need a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience to create your own Turkish Delight. I do also recommend a candy thermometer for this recipe. You only need it when making the syrup, but it is important to get the temperature right from the beginning.
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I love to make a big batch of these candies to give away as gifts during the holiday season or any special occasion. For more gift-worthy candy recipes check out this Pistachio Brittle, Sesame Seed Candy, or Tahini Chocolate Bark.
Turkish Delight Video is in the Recipe Card
Be sure to watch the video to see the step by step way to make this incredible Middle Eastern confection!
- Sugar – Provides sweetness and encourages a thick, syrupy texture. Plain white sugar is perfect.
- Lemon Juice – Balances the intense sweetness with a complimentary pop of bright citrus flavor.
- Pomegranate Juice – Adds a tantalizing tartness with a hint of sweetness. Other fruit juices or flavors like bergamot or cinnamon can be used.
- Cornstarch – Thickens the confection and prevents the cut candy pieces from sticking together.
- Orange Water – Also called orange blossom water, this ingredient adds a delicate, floral essence. Look for it in the international foods aisle at the supermarket or at a Middle Eastern market. If you choose to substitute in rosewater, look for it in the same places and double-check to make sure it is food grade.
- Pistachios – Gives the Turkish delight a hint of crunchiness and an earthy, nutty flavor.
- Powdered Sugar – Mixed with equal parts cornstarch, this provides a coating to keep the candy cubes from getting sticky.
- Prepare the Pan. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. Set aside.
- Make the Syrup. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine and dissolve the water, lemon juice, and sugar together, then bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking for around 15 minutes, or until the syrup reaches a temperature of 240 degrees F (the soft ball stage).
- Make the Base. Whisk together the pomegranate juice, water, cornstarch, rose or orange water, and lemon juice for the base in a separate Dutch oven or saucepan. Place over low heat and cook until thickened, stirring often.
- Stir in the Syrup. Working in half-cup increments, carefully stir the syrup into the base until all is incorporated. Make sure there are no lumps, then continue cooking on low for 45 minutes. Stir often and expect the mixture to thicken and reduce quite a bit.
- Transfer & Chill. Mix in ¼ cup of chopped pistachios, then carefully pour the lokum mix into the pan. Spread it to the edges and leave the pan to cool for one hour at room temperature. Then, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
- Prepare the Coating. Add the cornstarch and powdered sugar to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Sprinkle some of the mix onto a clean dry cutting area. Loosen the candy by running a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan before turning the pan over on the prepared cutting area. Discard the parchment paper.
- Cut and Coat. Use a very sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the candy into 36 squares. Sprinkle the cut Turkish delight with some of the sugar mix, then gently scoop it into the bowl and toss it with your hands to evenly coat.
- Serve or Stash. Feel free to enjoy this locum recipe right away. Stash any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.
Turkish Delight is sweet as can be
This lokum recipe makes candies that are quite sweet. You may want to cut tiny squares to be enjoyed one at a time.
Lokum is a divinely delicious candy boasting a soft, succulent, gumdrop-like texture.
Rosewater is the most popular and traditional flavor of these starch, sugary confections, but it’s certainly not the only one. Other common flavors of Turkish delight include lemon, orange, bergamot, pomegranate, mint, and honey. Premium locum recipes might contain chopped dates, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and more.
This confection is sticky by nature, which is why it gets coated in the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. It adds a layer of protection that helps keep the pieces from sticking together (or to your fingers!) and becoming a big mess.
If things are still too sticky after making this locum recipe, apply more of the sugar mixture or even just a bit more cornstarch for a less sweet option. Alternatively, you can use finely chopped pistachios to accomplish the same goal.
Turkish delight should be chilled to help it set, but it should not be stored in the refrigerator after that. The cold environment will make the candy sweat, lose moisture, and end up with a tougher, chewy texture.
For the best taste and texture, be sure to keep your candy leftovers at room temperature. Ideally, you want to store it in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.
Turkish Delight (Lokum Recipe) + Video
- Coat the inside of a 8×8″ pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a square of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Dissolve the sugar, water and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and continue cooking until syrup reaches the Soft Ball stage with a temperature of 240°F (about 15 minutes).
- In another saucepan or Dutch oven, whisk together the base ingredients of pomegranate juice, water, cornstarch, orange or rose water and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, whisking often, until thickened.
- Carefully whisk in the syrup in half cup increments, making sure there are no lumps until all is incorporated. Continue to cook on low for 45 minutes, stirring often. This will reduce and thicken considerably.
- Stir in 1/4 cup pistachios. Carefully pour the Turkish Delight confection into pan, spreading to edges. Let rest at room temperature 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
- In a medium bowl mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Use a rubber spatula and run it around the inside edges of pan to loosen. Turn the pan over onto a cutting area sprinkled with some of the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Remove the parchment paper and discard. Cut into 36 squares (I use a pizza cutter or sharp knife).
- Sprinkle the exposed cut Turkish Delight with some of the powdered mixture. Scoop it all into the bowl, and gently with your hands, toss to coat evenly. Store the coated Turkish Delight in an airtight container, and keep at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.
- To prevent pieces from sticking together, Turkish delight is coated in a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar. If desired, you could use finely crushed pistachios instead.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.