Homemade Tootsie Rolls (Without the Junk!)

homemade tootsie rolls

I’ll be the first to admit– I am not a purist when it comes to only eating “real” food.

Yes, I’m completely devoted to raw milk, cooking from scratch, and sourcing quality ingredients. BUT, I still follow the 80/20 rule. (Eat healthy 80% of the time, and don’t worry too much about the other 20%…) I think that stressing out *too* much about what you eat is probably just as unhealthy as eating junk in the first place…

That being said, even though I’ve admitted my secret love for *those* french fries, there are still some junk foods that I avoid entirely, purely because of the way they make me feel.

Like most candies for example…

I still struggle with my sweet tooth, but I’ve found that over time I have started to subconsciously steer clear of things like candy bars, hard candy, and other “concentrated” sweet treats. They make me feel just horrible, and aren’t worth the short moment of enjoyment I might have while eating them…

So, it makes me happy when I can find candy-replacements made with whole food ingredients. Easter is rapidly approaching, and with it comes all the tempting basket-fillers at the store.

I’ve seen other tootsie roll recipes floating around, but they usually include corn syrup and nonfat dry milk powder– two processed ingredients that I don’t buy. Thankfully I stumbled across this recipe and was able to tweak it– whole food style.

These quick, no-bake tootsie rolls would make a healthy addition to any Easter basket (or any time of the year, really…). They can also be gluten and dairy-free, which is a bonus if your family suffers from food allergies.

Homemade Tootsie Rolls (without the junk!)



Combine the honey, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. When you first start mixing it, it will be a clumpy mess. But just keep mixing and it will come together after a few minutes.

Mix in the melted coconut oil (or butter) and then the powdered sugar and salt.

Stir thoroughly, then begin to slowly add the tapioca flour (1/4 cup at a time). When the dough becomes too stiff to mix with your fork, use your fingers to knead the mixture together until you have a stiff, mildly sticky dough.

homemade tootsie rolls

Shape the dough into a ball and set aside on a piece of waxed paper for about 10 minutes. Depending on how much tapioca flour you added, the dough should relax a bit and spread out. If it doesn’t, help it out by gently pressing it into a thick circle.

Cut the circle into strips (or whatever shape you’d like), and individually wrap each chunk in a small piece of waxed paper.

If you are finding that the dough is too sticky to cut, place it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

I would definitely store these in the fridge– they are just a bit too sticky at room temp.

Kitchen Notes:

  • You can purchase organic powdered sugar, or make your own: Simply place granulated organic sugar into a high-powered blender and blend for several minutes until the granules turn into a powder. You can also do this with sucanat (aka rapadura– an unrefined cane sugar). Keep in mind that using powdered sucanat in this recipe will yield a slightly less-sweet result.
  • The orange essential oil is optional, but it definitely adds a nice depth of flavor. If you are using essential oils in your cooking, please make sure that you are ONLY using oils that are labeled as safe for ingestion. I only use a high-quality, very pure, brand of essential oils in my recipes. You can read about my personal essential oil journey here.
  • I originally tried coconut flour instead of tapioca flour. It was gross- NOT recommended!
  • Tapioca flour is also known as tapioca starch.
  • I get all my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions. They have awesome sales!

homemade tootsie rolls

Homemade Tootsie Rolls (Without the Junk!)


  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil OR butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • approximately 1 cup tapioca flour
  • Optional: 1 drop wild orange essential oil (to give it that "fruit-flavor" which is reminiscent of traditional Tootsie Rolls)


  1. Combine honey, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract in medium bowl
  2. Mix a few minutes until it is no longer a clumpy mess
  3. Add melted coconut oil (or butter) and mix
  4. Add powdered sugar and salt
  5. Stir thoroughly and slowly add in 1/4 cup of tapioca flour at a time
  6. When dough is too stiff to mix with fork, use fingers to knead mixture until you have stiff, mildly sticky dough
  7. Shape dough into ball
  8. Set aside on waxed paper for 10 minutes
  9. Depending on how much tapioca flour you added, it should relax a bit and spread out, but If it doesn't, gently press into a thick circle
  10. Cut circle into strips or other shape
  11. Individually wrap each chunk in a small piece of waxed paper
  12. If too sticky to cut, place dough in freezer 5-10 minutes
  13. Store in fridge

I think these taste pretty darn close to the real thing. The texture is maybe just a tad different, but my family didn’t complain one bit. 😉

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    • says

      Well, the orginal recipe called for nonfat dry milk powder in place of the tapioca. However, I don’t like using that stuff since it’s so processed. But if you were in a bind, you could always substitute that. 😉

  1. Dia says

    I had forgotten about the orange flavor in the original tootsie rolls! This might be something to do with my grands (at least the oldest) Happy Easter/Passover. Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Yes– I even checked out the Tootsie Roll website and then mentioned the “subtle fruit flavoring”. So, I think the essential oil makes a nice alternative to the fake stuff I’m sure they use in the real thing. 😉

  2. Farmlife Chick says

    Right now my favorite homemade candy is Mounds bars! I am hoping to get a post up about it tonight. Very easy and it’s better than store bought. It’s made with real food!:) thank you for these tootsie rolls!:)

  3. says

    I told our kids about this, and they wanted to make it RIGHT NOW. :) Wow–so cool & not even any boiling involved! :) Thanks for sharing this!!

    We love nut candy–ground cashews or almonds (or cashew or almond butter), honey, vanilla if desired, and dry oats stirred in to make thick, if desired. Put in pan & fridge. Yum. :)

    • says

      Yes- I definitely think the extract would work. I might steer clear of the zest, though– I think it would make for an undesirable consistency in the final product. :)

  4. Melodie Barton says

    I absolutely love this idea. My husband and son love Tootsie rolls. We do not buy them for same reasons as above. I will definitely give these a try this week. I wonder if you can make tapioca starch just by blending tapioca pearls? I have a lot of it and it would be a good way to use it up. BTW, I used your refried bean recipe the other day. It was the best I have ever ate. I do not give compliments like that, if they are not earned, so thank you.

    • says

      Hmmm… Possibly? I think you would need a very high-powered blender though. The tapoica starch I have is very, very fine. But, worth a try! And I am SO pleased that you liked the refried beans. :) So much better than the canned ones, huh?

    • Molly says

      we actually had the same thought- to grind the tapioca pearls. i wouldn’t recommend it. our vitamix was going for over a half an hour and finally we just gave up and put it in. it was gritty. i wouldn’t recommend it. next time we’re going to try arrowroot powder. we also added a splash of molasses and that made the flavors really pop for me! it also adds some much needed iron into our bodies! thanks for the great recipe!!!

  5. Jackie says

    Thank you so much for the recipe–really want to try it! It was so neat to see you mention the ’80/20′ rule. My husband is always reminding me of this (there seem to be so many food restrictions/rules circulating these days that it’s easy to get obsessive).

    Maybe sometime you could expound on your comment about milk powder. I didn’t realize it was considered a processed food, but that does make sense (heated, dried, powdered…).

    Have a great day!

    • says

      Yes, it is easy to get obsessive sometimes… Been there, done that! :)

      I’d have to re-research about the milk powder, but I know there is a part of the process which supposedly causes it to oxidize, which makes it even more unhealthy for you– beside the fact that it’s been stripped of all it’s fat. So yeah, I usually steer away from it!

  6. says

    I LOVE it! It even looks like a tootsie roll! And I bet it tastes even better….none of that garbage in them.. Definitely going into my recipe file! Maybe I will be ambitious and make them for Halloween…..nahhhh probably not…I would need WAY too many.. 😉

  7. Catherine Clark says

    Nice idea; however, not portable. That is my one beef with most of the healthy chocolate options – must be either frozen or refrigerated. If you travel, all of those are out the door. I would LOVE to see things like this that will actually travel well!

    • says

      Yes– unfortunately most homemade chocolate items aren’t portable– at least when it’s hot. But, that is one of the trade-offs when you aren’t using hydrogenated oils…

  8. Katie says

    I am totally and absolutely disappointed!!!! :-( I really wanted to make some nice tasty tootsie rolls for my family when i realized I was/am out of honey, and tried to use……..MOLASSES instead!!!! IT WAS SO TERRIBLE WE’RE GIVING IT TO MY NIECE AND NEPHEW TO USE AS NON-TOXIC PLAY-DOH! I’m absolutely sure that if i had used honey though, it would have been great! :-) Well, I can’t give you a thumbs up review right now, but maybe when we get some honey I can try again. *sigh* :-(

    • says

      Oh, bummer! :( Yes, I would think that molasses would give it a rather *strong* flavor… But– it would make good playdough. Hope the honey version works out better for you!

  9. Christina K. says

    Thank you so much for this! I read through the comments before posting to see if anyone used rice flour instead of tapioca? Anyone?…We have all the ingredients except the tapioca and orange oil. They sound great. Just wanted to quickly comment on some other comments I read(forgive my silliness but it’s after 2 am here)…someone said it’s not portable, well that’s why God created man and man created coolers and ice packs – so coolers and ice packs are a gift from God! I use them almost every time I take my kids out…also noting the posts about powdered milk. IIRC the powdered milk process also uses horrible chemicals that you would not want to ingest on top of producing a rancid, unhealthy not-real-food product. And just think of how many babies are started out on this! So sad. Thank you again!

  10. suzanne says

    does anyone know if I could powder up some coconut sugar and use that instead? any reason to go to such a great length, or just deal with the sugar so I don’t wreck it? hmm…

  11. Gabriele Lejeune says

    I used to love tootsie rolls as a child and will surely give your recipe a try!! Just one question! Is it really necessary to add the extra sugar with all the honey? Great blog!! Thanks a bunch!! :)

    • says

      I left the powdered sugar in there to help with the texture/consistency. But, it might be possible to omit it and add in more starch instead? Worth a try I think!

  12. Beth H. says

    This is so awesome. I am a tootsie roll junkie. I will definitely have to make this.

  13. Jen says

    Just wanted to note to the folks who want portable chocolate….its the coconut oil that melts, that’s why it has to be refrigerated/frozen. While I like the taste of coconut oil better, you may want to try Cocoa butter. This stuff does not melt. It is a a little waxier in recipes, but it doesn’t melt! I have made a chocolate with it using cocoa butter, nut butter, carob powder, vegetable glycerine (like a runny honey, but WAY less carbs, discourages yeast growth in the body) AND IT WORKS! Just mix it all together (cocoa butter melts on low heat on the stove) and you are good to go, melt free.

      • says

        >Kim- thanks! I added some posslibe replacements; of course, when I read no sugar, I was thinking plain ol’ white sugar I still have a lot to learn when it comes to sweeteners and sugar alternatives! Yes, family approval is needed and nothing beats my three-year old telling me yum, mom, you made a really good recipe! Thanks for doing the challenge, it’s great inspiration and I look forward to participating in more!K- it’s always great when a grocery store trip is not needed! I hate when I want to make something, but don’t have the ingredients. Talk about a burst in the food-baking bubble

  14. says

    OH YES! and you can also make powdered raw coconut sugar! i don’t use cane sugar and will certainly be making these with coconut sugar – OR maple sugar. thanks for this post! can’t wait to make ’em :)

  15. Dorsey says

    I tried these and there is one problem with them……………I can’t quit eating them!!!!! I have 6 left that I hid so I don’t think of them but single handedly ate the rest of the batch in just a few days. They are truly addictive!! I didn’t have the orange oil so added a pinch of my home made Vit C powder that I make from the rinds of organic oranges or lemons. It seemed to work as they do taste like tootsie rolls but a bit more tender which is good for my old teeth! Yes….. I am in my 70’s and hit these like you wouldn’t believe. If I want to have them for visiting grandchildren I will have to wait till the day their coming so that they actually can have some. LOL Thanks for a great recipe.

  16. Leslie says

    Wondering if almond flour would work? It seems everything I make with almond flour is very tasty. I have all ingredients except the Tapioca flour. Guess I could try a partial recipe. Just wondering your thoughts.

  17. Kailyn says

    We didn’t have tapioca flour on hand, so I made these with Arrowroot starch hoping they would still be good and they’re delicious! Although, I added 1/8 – 1/4 cup more arrowroot starch. Also, Orange EO isn’t among my EO’s right now so I had to omit that, but they still taste great. I will definitely make another batch when I have Orange EO on hand.

  18. Brandy says

    I have a son with milk protien allergies so real tootsie rolls are not an option. I want to try these but I only have regular , unbleached flour. Is this too different to make the recipe horrible?