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The holidays are over and your house is a wreck.
You’re in the midst of taking down the tree or other decorations and every year you have the same question: What to do 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 do you do with them?
Throwing them away just seems … wrong.
Before we get to ideas for leftover candy canes and what to do with these hard candies, let’s answer some common questions…
Do candy canes expire after a year?
Candy canes, properly stored, are good for up to a year. 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.
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 before they start to lose flavor or change in consistency.
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.
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. To melt candy canes: remove them from their wrappers and place them on a parchment lined baking 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.
What can I do with leftover peppermint candy canes?
- Use them for a hot cocoa bar, coffee, or tea.
- Crush them and sprinkle them on whipped cream.
- Make peppermint simple syrup.
- Bake peppermint iced brownies.
- Use for ice cream toppings.
- Make peppermint milkshakes.
- Make white chocolate peppermint fudge or peppermint bark.
- Use them in art and craft projects.
- Dip them in chocolate and eat them!
- Coat chocolate covered strawberries or marshmallows with them.
- Crush them and make a peppermint sugar scrub.
- Make peppermint white chocolate popcorn.
- Donate them!
Don’t miss our full suggestions for peppermint candy canes below!
What to do with leftover fruity candy canes?
- 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 or ice cream.
- 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!
Here are 10 creative ways how to use leftover candy canes!
What To Do With Leftover Candy Canes? 10 Creative Ways
#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.
#2: Crush Candy Canes for Topping
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.
You can then use candy cane toppings for:
- Ice cream
- Whipped cream
- & MORE!
If you don’t use all the candy cane pieces, 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:
#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 or homeschooling craft!
#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.
There are candy cane recipes for:
And so much more!
Search online for cake, cookie or dessert recipes using leftover candy canes.
#5: Medicate Yourself Using 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!
#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)
- 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!
#7: Play A Game With Candy Canes
Don’t give up your candy canes just yet because you can play a game with candy canes (or two or five)!
#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 your gifts.
It’s a great way to get rid of your candy canes even before the holidays are over.
#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!
- Finely crushed peppermint candy canes
- Olive oil
- Peppermint essential oil
Mix together and use as a facial or body scrub!
#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!