Red Hot Lollipops

Say goodbye to red dye no. 5—these scarlet suckers are naturally colored with dried hibiscus flowers. Lollipops owe their clarity and hardness to a lengthy cook time; the resulting evaporation allows the sugar molecules to pack tightly together, yielding these long-lasting treats. Cinnamon oil (and optional cayenne for spice lovers) brings warming flavor to these lollipops. If making the hibiscus dye ahead of time, let it come to room temperature before using to prevent the lollipop mixture from seizing. Stir leftover dye into cocktails or tea to add festive color. To package these for gifting, individually wrap dried lollipops in cellophane and secure with a decorative string or twist tie.

Red Hot Lollipops
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
2 dozen lollipops


  • 24 (4-inch) lollipop sticks

  • 2 ounces edible dried hibiscus flowers (about 2 cups)

  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil (such as LorAnn)

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Place 2 (12-cavity) lollipop molds (about 11/3 inches per cavity) on a silicone mat or parchment paper–lined large rimmed baking sheet. Insert lollipop sticks about 3/4 inch into cavities. Set aside.

  2. Cook hibiscus flowers and 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 15 to 28 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, and press flowers with back of a spoon to extract liquid to yield about 1/4 cup. Discard solids. Let cool 30 minutes. Set aside 1 tablespoon hibiscus dye; reserve remaining dye for another use.

  3. Stir together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high, swirling pan occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 310°F (hard-crack stage), 12 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a long wooden spoon and standing as far back as possible, stir in cinnamon oil, 1 tablespoon reserved hibiscus dye, and, if desired, cayenne. (When the cinnamon oil hits the hot syrup, it will release an intense aroma.) Stir until mixture stops bubbling and syrup is translucent, about 1 minute. Pour mixture into a heatproof measuring cup with a spout. Working quickly, pour syrup to fill each lollipop cavity (about 1 1/2 teaspoons each), using a spoon to catch drips between cavities.

  4. Let lollipops cool completely at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Remove from molds; wrap individually in cellophane, and store in a cool, dry place up to 2 months.

Make Ahead

Covered hibiscus dye will keep in refrigerator up to 1 week. Store lollipops in a cool, dry place up to 2 months.


Cinnamon oil can be purchased on Be sure to use cinnamon oil and not extract, as the latter will evaporate as soon as it hits the hot candy syrup rather than infusing it with flavor.

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