Low-Carb Black Licorice | THM: S

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I am so excited about this low-carb black licorice recipe!

Both my husband and I are of Dutch descent. My Mom was born in Holland, as were all eight of our grandparents, and our great-grandparents. We’ve got Dutch blood running through our veins from as far back as we can tell, and we both grew up eating many traditional Dutch foods like boterkoek (I have a Trim Healthy Mama-friendly Boterkoek recipe here), boerenkool (okay, only my family ate that), stroopwafelshutspotfrikadellen, vla, and of course, dropjes!

Dropjes, or drop, is Dutch black licorice.  It’s similar to the black licorice you can get in North America, but it comes in all different textures, shapes, sizes, sweetness, and saltiness. My husband likes double zout drop the best, or doubly salted black licorice. I like mine sweeter.

The flavor of the low-carb black licorice recipe here is somewhere in between plain black licorice and the salted kind. If you prefer sweet black licorice, you can leave the salt completely out of the recipe; if you want a double zout flavor, you can increase the amount by a 1/4 tsp.

You probably have most of the ingredients in this recipe on hand. Gelatin (any kind of unflavored will work: Knox, Just Gelatin, or Great Lakes), an on-plan sweetener (I used xylitol, but you can also use Gentle Sweet in half the amount), molasses, fine sea salt, heavy cream, and butter.

The two “odd” ingredients are things you can buy locally or online: anise extract and activated charcoal.

  1. Anise extract is essential to this recipe. It’s what gives black licorice its flavor.
  2.  The activated charcoal is only used as a natural food dye and has bonus health benefits of relieving gas and bloating, whitening teeth, cleansing your digestive system, and reducing high cholesterol! It is tasteless.

Activated Charcoal:

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Pure Anise Extract:

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You can use a fancy mold to make pretty, bite-sized candies, or pour into 9×13 and cut into licorices of your desired size with a knife.

Because this black licorice is low-carb and doesn’t contain whole wheat flour (or any other flour, for that matter), its consistency is closer to that of a gummy candy. It’s soft, flexible, and not as chewy, but the flavor is spot on and it holds up well with or without refrigeration after the licorice has set. This means you can keep a bag of them in your purse when you’re out and about!

Yield: 100 candies

Low-Carb Black Licorice

Low-Carb Black Licorice

This delicious low-carb black licorice recipe is incredibly easy to make! A THM S candy that's just as enjoyable to eat yourself as it is to gift to a friend!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1/4 cup unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup xylitol (OR 1/4 cup Gentle Sweet)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal (optional: for color)
  • 1 Tbsp anise extract


  1. Add gelatin, xylitol, heavy cream, water, butter, molasses, and sea salt to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until gelatin and sweetener are completely dissolved and mixture beings to boil. Remove from heat. Whisk in activated charcoal and anise extract until smooth. Pour into candy molds or 9x13 and chill in the fridge until set, about 15-20 minutes. Cut into the desired size if not using candy molds.


The activated charcoal acts as a natural food dye (with added health benefits), but you can leave it out if you don't mind a brown "black licorice." πŸ™‚

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65 thoughts on “Low-Carb Black Licorice | THM: S”

  1. You made my day when you came up with the boterkoek recipe, but droppies??? YAYYYY!!!! I’m going to try this today. I hope I can find activates charcoal. Where should I look?

  2. I have wondered if you are dutch πŸ™‚ that is one thing I find hard with THM…. I’m going to miss my dutch meals. We eat a lot of stampot because they are easy for little kids to eat and it’s hard to beat… hutspot, boerenkoel, zuurekoel, endive stampot,beet stampot etc…

  3. Thank you so much for this recipe! I didn’t have anise extract but had anise seed so I just soaked 2 TBSP seeds in the 1/2 cup of water (did with hot water like a tea) and it worked pretty well. I’m sure the anise extract will make a much more licorice flavor so I’ll have to buy some soon. I also made it with 1/3 cup of Swerve as I’m out of xylitol and it’s slightly on the top sweet side. But overall it’s crazy amazing and if I’m not careful I’ll have the whole batch gone tonight!

  4. Just got my activated charcoal in the mail today and immediately made the black licorice—thank you so much! I have always enjoyed black licorice, (though I’m not Dutch!) and I love this! Really hits the spot for just a bite of something

  5. OH MY GOSH! I am so excited! You had me at ‘double zoute’. I spent 4 years in Holland as a child and got hooked. I’m in my 50’s now and crave it all the time. I will be trying this as soon as I get the anise.

  6. My husbands love language is licorice:) I have these in the fridge now, waiting to surprise him when he comes home! The liquid is tasty..so looking forward to having it jelled! Thanks

  7. Oh thanks a million times over! I’ll be searching for activated charcoal tomorrow and making dropjes…..❀. And then the boeterkoek. I love finding Dutch recipes that have been THMified! We have a houseful of second generation Canadians (with Dutch-immigrant grandparents) who love Dutch food. Thanks!!

  8. Yummy! I just licked the pot before putting them in the fridge- such a great flavor! I am loving your recipes, when are you going to put them in a book? I would like a cook book, much easier then online!

  9. Hi Jacinda! I came to find your ‘dropje’ recipe that my sister SarahLynn made today! I didn’t know you even had a blog! I’m going to have to do some browsing around on here one of these days!
    Anyway… is anise extract a liquid or powder? Sorry if that’s a dumb question, but I am shall we say… ‘challenged’ in the kitchen, so I’m not sure exactly what I should look for. Same goes for activated charcoal… is that a powder?
    Loved reading your testimonial, and browsing your house tour!

    • Hi Anita! Yes, I have a little ol’ blog. So fun that you discovered it!

      Not dumb questions! Anise extract is a liquid. You would find it where you find vanilla and other baking extracts. The Bulk Barn and Zehrs should have it. Activated charcoal is a powder. You can find it at an health food store. It’s also great for whitening teeth and warding off the flu!

  10. And to second all these other cookbook comments I see on here…. I’d buy your cookbook in a heartbeat! From what I’ve seen of your recipes so far… they’re super delicious, easy… and the photography is beautiful!

    • Well, thank you for the vote of confidence! Maybe one day I’ll venture down the cookbook road. It’s a pretty big undertaking, I hear and I feel like I’m pressed for time as it is!

  11. Well, first time I made these, I followed the recipe as I usually do. They were not quite strong enough.

    Today I made them, using a rounded tsp of sea salt. They were so good!!!

    Thanks for the recipe, I sure do appreciate this! Hetty

  12. I”m wondering how you store this? After slicing, it’s like it glued itself back together! lol Maybe I needed more gelatin…

  13. Love it, made the batch twice this week already. I reminds me of the Dutch ‘trekdrop’
    Very, very similar! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  14. Just came across this after 8 months on Keto and missing my salty licorice. I know in most salty ones you can by there is Ammonium Chloride in the ingredients. I watched a Youtube video where Dr Berg recommends this when you have swollen or arthritic hands. Have you ever used this in cooking. Seems like the bags of it on Amazon are for fish tanks…. I have noticed the sore fingers in the last 6 months, and maybe it is due to the fact that I gave up my salty licorice…

  15. I just made this. Added 1 extra tsp with Sea Salt and 1/3 tsp Guar Gum. Now they are cooling down outside. Smells great and im waiting! πŸ˜€

  16. I love this recipe! After feeling guilty about scarfing down a bag of regular licorice, I looked for a keto friendly recipe and only found this one that was close to regular licorice. I made it as written first and it was amazing but didn’t quite have the chewiness I was looking for so I tried making it with coconut flour and whey protein isolate and it turned out perfect. I made a double recipe the second time and added 1/3 cup coconut flour and 1/3 cup whey protein isolate. I added them after I took it off the heat and used an immersion blender to get the lumps out. Next I’m going to try adding some cocoa powder or dipping it in chocolate, or I could just do it the lazy way and take a bite of 80% cocoa chocolate bar and a bite of licorice, yum!! Thank you, I would have never thought of this in a million years! Also, I found that using a bit of fractionated coconut oil or Now organic vegetable glycerin kept the pieces from sticking to each other.

    • Kathie, thank you so much for this comment. I came on here to ask about this exact thing. I’ve never made licorice before and had no idea how to modify this recipe. The first try was “okay” to my tastebuds (I can’t do sugar alcohols as they are a migraine trigger for me, so I subbed Monk Fruit and it’s always a gamble how that will work with a new recipe), but it was rather slimy. My husband already isn’t a fan of black licorice (he’s nuts) and he really, really didn’t like the texture. Next time smaller bits for sure and trying your suggestion.
      One question: our protein isolate is vanilla flavored, is yours? One more question: is it really that useful? And, finally, one more question: CHOCOLATE? I’ve never tried this!

    • I just made this vegetarian with 1-1/2 teaspoons powdered agar-agar subbed for the gelatin and it was delicious! I love the creamy, buttery sub-flavor.

      • Did the 1.5 teaspoons of agar-agar give you the same consistency that is described for this recipe? Is it firm chewy or soft chewy? Did you store it in the fridge because of the agar-agar? I’m a vegetarian on keto and I’m CRAVING black licorice….Thank you!

  17. I just made this for the first time and accidently put the charcoal and extract in while still cooking. Does it ruin the flavor of the extract? The licorice flavor seems mild to me even though they have cooled completely yet.

  18. Question…..can I use swerve? I dont have xylitol! And if I want it to have more “tooth” what do you teccommend? Xantham gum, coconut flour?

  19. Hey Jacinda,

    thanks for the recipe. I made it twice in the last few days, its just gone too fast… I have some licorice-free months to make up for.. πŸ˜‰

    Two questions:
    Is there a particular reason you used anise (as opposed to licorice root powder or a combination of the two) ?
    I have some “Salmiac-Salt” at home (which contains mainly and licorice root powder and Ammonium Chloride). Do you have any experience using this?


    • I can’t wait to make this. I’ve been craving licorice candy for a long time. All I need to buy is the anise extract flavoring. Thank you for making my day.

  20. Thank you!! I made these for my dropje-loving hubby for our second anniversary and they were a success! He’s trying to figure out which kind of dropje they remind him of πŸ˜‰
    I used at least 1.5 tsp salt, and did less sweetener. (I did 1/8 cup Gentle Sweet and 1/8 cup coconut sugar, because that’s all the G.S. I had in the house!)

    Also, my maiden name is Vandenberg – maybe we’re related?

  21. Hi, I am a big liquorice fan, and I am delighted that I do not have to give this up. The photos look stunning. How did you manage to “glue” the different colors together? Did you simply prepare the different layers and then put them on top of each other and that was it?
    I watched the video, but for a non native speaker like me partly the speaking was a bit too fast, so I am not sure whether I will have missed any information.


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