Wondering what to do with leftover candy canes or what to do with an abundance of extra candy canes for the holiday season? How about baking with candy canes or cookies with candy canes, delicious recipes with crushed peppermint candy, using broken candy canes in holiday crafts or Christmas candy recipes, fruity candy cane ideas (what to do with different flavored candy canes). Also fun things to make with candy and information on how do you store candy canes for next year!
What To Do with Leftover Candy Canes After the Holidays
The holidays are over and your house is a wreck. It’s that time of year when you’re in the midst of taking down the tree and other holiday decorations and every year you have the same question: What to do with leftover candy canes for Christmas?
What can you do with leftover candy canes?
So, what can you do with old candy canes or if you have a ton of leftover candy canes after Christmas? Here are things to do with candy canes — peppermint and fruit flavored (and other candy cane flavoring) — and, you may be surprised, but it’s more than just recipes with candy canes / candy cane dishes and how to eat candy canes!
What can I do with leftover peppermint candy canes?
50 Ideas For Candy Canes:
- Make peppermint simple syrup for drinks.
- Bake peppermint iced brownies, peppermint brownie cookies, or other baking with left over candy cane recipes.
- Use for ice cream toppings.
- Melt them for candy cane pops suckers.
- Create Christmas crafts with candy canes.
- Make candy cane pops / peppermint suckers.
- Sing the 5 Little Candy Canes song and make your own five little candy canes.
- Dip candy canes in melted chocolate chips (semisweet chocolate), white chocolate chips, or dark chocolate for gourmet holiday candies. (Great for straight candy canes!)
- Make no-bake chocolate cookies with candy cane pieces. (Great if you’re looking for easy recipes with candy canes!)
- Use leftover candy canes or broken candy canes for kitchen science / STEM projects.
- Make candy cane cookies.
- Use crushed candy canes for baking.
- Make candy cane cheesecake / peppermint cheesecake.
- Coat white chocolate popcorn with candy canes.
- Use them for Christmas decorations / melted hard candy decorations.
- Make Christmas candy sleigh treats crafts.
- Create candy cane desserts for Christmas parties.
- Make dipped candy cane Milano cookies. (Regular Milano cookies, dipped them in melted chocolate and roll them in candy canes.)
- Make a candy cane Christmas tree for a holiday table centerpiece.
- Bake candy cane sugar cookies.
- Dip your leftover sugar cookies in chocolate and then top with crushed peppermint candy canes or even mini cherry candy canes!
- Bake a candy cane cupcake recipe.
- Make peppermint candy apples.
- Have extra large edible candy canes? Play candy cane games.
- Use the whole candy cane as a drink stirrer for a variety of beverages hot and cold!
- If it’s before Christmas, decorate Christmas cards with them.
- Roll homemade ice cream sandwiches in crushed candy canes.
- Make candy cane recipes leftover peppermint milkshakes.
- Use them for a leftover candy cane cookie recipe.
- Make homemade marshmallows with candy canes.
- Make white chocolate peppermint fudge (candy cane chocolate swirl fudge) or candy cane fudge
- Use them in art and craft projects.
- Make pink peppermint bark macarons.
- Make candy cane peppermint frosting.
- Dip them in chocolate and make chocolate candy canes (and then eat them)! (Yes, chocolate with candy cane is good!)
- Bake candy cane cake pops.
- Make homemade peppermint extract.
- Get out the hot glue gun and make mini candy canes garland.
- Crush and coat chocolate covered strawberries or marshmallows with them.
- Tie them onto the perfect gift for someone.
- Make no bake candy cane pie.
- Use them on the rim of shot glasses or hot chocolate mugs.
- Crush them and make a peppermint sugar scrub.
- Use them for a hot cocoa bar, coffee, or tea.
- Grind candy canes to a fine powder and mix with cocoa powder for hot chocolate gift jars.
- Crush them and sprinkle them on homemade whipped cream.
- Make peppermint white chocolate popcorn.
- Make chocolate peppermint bark (because mint and chocolate? YUM!) – aka: candy cane bark
- Find other recipes with leftover candy canes.
- Donate them! (It’s the perfect way to get rid of them and do kindness kids activities!)
Don’t miss our more suggestions for the best ways to use peppermint candy canes and what to make with leftover candy canes below!
TIP: If you’re wondering what to do with old candy canes, test them out before using them in recipes. If they taste old or are too sticky, use them only for crafts.
There are easy ways to come up with ideas for what to do with leftover peppermint candy canes and recipes with a minty flavor, but what about fruit flavored candy canes or different colored candy canes?
What to do with leftover fruity candy canes?
What can I do with leftover candy canes that are fruit flavored?
- Use them for fruity milkshakes
- Melt them for stained glass cookies
- Crush them and dip chocolate covered strawberries into them
- Use them on whipped cream
- Mix them with sprinkles for an ice cream topping
- Crush them and roll a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone in them
- Use them in crafts
- Crush them and add them to rice krispie treats
- Freeze them!
(Don’t miss our full suggestions for fruit candy canes below, easy recipe ideas, and what can you make with leftover candy canes that are fruity below.)
Before we get to ideas for leftover candy canes and what to do with these hard candies, let’s answer some common candy cane questions including, Do candy canes go bad?
How To Store Leftover Candy Canes and How To Preserve Candy Canes
How long will candy canes last?
How long do candy canes last? Candy canes have a surprisingly long shelf life. You can keep them in a cool, dry place for up to a year and probably beyond (some lists wrapped candy canes can be stored for 2-3 years). After 12 months, candy canes may start to lose some of their flavor. Just be sure they aren’t sticky when you unwrap them.
How do you store leftover candy canes?
You can store candy canes in thick, sealable storage bag with the air removed. Be sure to place them in a cool, dry place for storage. They will last this way for up to a year (or more) before they start to lose flavor or change in consistency.
When do candy canes expire?
Do candy canes expire after a year?
Yes, candy canes expire. Candy canes, properly stored, are good for up to a year (and beyond sometimes). After one year, the candy canes are still safe to eat, but depending on how they are stored, they may start to get sticky, get soft, or even start to taste stale. It’s best to eat or use them within the year.
Can you freeze candy canes?
Yes, you can freeze candy canes! Place the candy canes in thick freezer storage bags, remove as much air as you can from the bag, and then freeze them for up to a year or more.
This means you don’t have to search for where to buy candy canes in summer if you need them for a recipe or want to decorate with candy canes outside of the holiday season! (Use mini candy canes for crafts all year!)
IMPORTANT: Red Band stick candy is different than regular candy canes. I’m not sure about freezing those!
Can I melt candy canes?
Melting candy canes may seem like a weird concept, but you can actually melt candy canes to use in recipes or for crafts or other projects.
How to melt candy canes:
- Remove candy canes from wrappers.
- Place candy canes on a parchment lined baking sheet or cookie sheet.
- Bake for 5 minutes or until candy canes have completely melted.
- They will burn, so keep an eye on them!
Can you melt candy canes in microwave?
It’s difficult to melt candy canes in the microwave. It’s better to use another method, like in the oven or on a double boiler to melt your candy.
Now, let’s get to ideas on using up leftover candy canes!
Things to Make with Leftover Candy Canes
Sure, they looked pretty on the Christmas tree, hooked onto the stockings or sitting in a jar on your counter, but let’s face it; those pretty peppermint sticks are not the kids’ choice of Christmas candy any longer.
So, what to do with leftover candy canes after Christmas?
Throwing away all that candy just seems… wrong.
What if we told you that there are so many leftover candy cane uses after Christmas?
Here are 10 creative ways when you’re wondering what can I make with leftover candy canes, how to decorate with candy canes, and what to do with extra candy canes…
10 Creative Ways To Get Rid of Christmas Candy Canes
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #1: Freeze Candy Canes for Later Use
Did you know that you can freeze hard candy?
(I didn’t until a friend of mine let me in on this secret a few years ago.)
And, there are so many recipes for leftover candy canes and things you can do with them throughout the year.
Leave the candy canes wrapped in their individual plastic and place them inside an airtight freezer bag.
Freeze the candy canes for up to a year and use them in baking and making great treats and drinks!
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #2: Crush Candy Canes for Topping
Crushing candy canes or breaking candy canes into pieces is an easy way to use candy canes leftover.
What is the best way to crush candy canes?
Place a few candy canes at a time into your blender or food processor and crush them into very small pieces or a fine dust. (Yes! Candy cane dust!)
You can then use candy cane toppings for so many different treats!
Drinks and festive treats to make with crushed candy canes:
- Ice cream
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate covered fruit topping
- & MORE (this is one of our favorite what to make with crushed peppermint candy ideas / recipes with peppermint candy)
If you don’t use all the pieces for recipes with candy cane, place them in freezer bags (don’t forget to label them!) and freeze until you need a topping for your desserts, drinks, and more!
ALSO CHECK OUT:
Homemade Hot Chocolate with Mix-Ins, Toppings, and Hot Cocoa Bar (perfect for candy cane hot chocolate – a fun winter break activity for family!)
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #3: Repurpose Candy Canes for Valentine’s Day (For real!)
(You read that right.)
You can actually make Valentine’s Heart candy with your leftover candy canes.
This is good for peppermint or fruity candy canes.
How to Make Candy Cane Hearts:
- Place metal heart cookie cutters on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Break apart candy canes and place pieces inside the cookie cutters in a single layer.
- Bake for 5 minutes, or until completely melted. (Keep a close eye on them! Candy canes will burn!)
- Remove from oven and, using a knife, immediately trim any excess (if needed).
- Allow to cool and harden.
Wrap them in individual bags with a pink or red ribbon and you have sweet treats for your kid’s class, homeschool co-op, or friends and family!
What a fun family craft or homeschooling craft!
You can also roll chocolate dipped Valentine hearts in the crushed candy canes.
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #4: Use Candy Canes In Baking
Candy canes are great for baking!
Anytime a recipe calls for peppermint or even candy of some kind, you can substitute candy canes.
What to bake with leftover candy canes:
And so much more!
Search online for cake, cookie or dessert recipes using leftover candy canes and how to bake candy recipes.
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #5: Medicate With Candy Canes.
Peppermint candy can act as a throat lozenge, especially for those dry, hacking coughs. Break the candy canes up into bigger pieces and wrap in cling wrap or put in a plastic baggie. Keep them in your purse, pocket or car for easy use.
Also, don’t forget to add them into a soothing tea!
This is one of those old-fashioned, forgotten things to do with peppermint candy or candy canes and it’s a great way to soothe throats for kids, too!
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #6: Make Drinks With Candy Canes
Candy canes are fun to add to drinks because, not only do they taste good, they also look pretty!
- Milk (Including warmed milk and chocolate milk)
- Candy cane milkshake recipe
- Hot chocolate
- Coffee or a candy cane coffee creamer
Don’t use them just to mix into the drink, but crush them up and dip the rim of your glass in crushed candy canes, too!
Or make peppermint whipped cream for yummy Christmas candy cane recipes for hot chocolate or Christmas cakes.
Also, make use mini canes or mini fruit candy canes as candy cane stir sticks for shot glasses or martini glasses if you’re making adult beverages or even mocktail cocktails.
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #7: Play A Game With Candy Canes
Ready fun candy canes activities for kids and holiday family time?
Don’t give up your candy canes just yet because you can play a game with candy canes (or two or five)!
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #8: Use Candy Canes in Crafts
There are so many great crafts to use with candy canes — candy cane wreaths, candy cane hearts for Valentine’s Day, and more.
One of our favorite is this Not a Creature Was Stirring craft that can also be used for name tags for gifts, too.
It’s a great way to get rid of your candy canes even before the holidays are over so you’re not stuck with a big pile of surplus candy after Christmas.
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #9: Make Peppermint Scrubs with Candy Canes
You probably didn’t even think of this, but you can make an awesome scrub with your peppermint candy canes!
How To Make Peppermint Scrub:
- Finely crushed peppermint candy canes
- Olive oil
- Peppermint essential oil
Mix together and use as a facial or body scrub!
Leftover Candy Canes Ideas #10: Donate Candy Canes
If all else fails and you’re just ready to get rid of them, donate them!
Check out local shelters, nursing homes, and even organizations that help military families where you can ship treats to those serving overseas!
You’ll be surprised at the organizations that will take a bunch of leftover candy canes that are still good! Great way to give back and give your candy canes a second life!
FYI: Throw out the unwrapped candy canes. You won’t be able to donate those.