Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (2024)

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Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (1)

Is the Sugar Plum Fairy named after a traditional holiday candy? Yes. Nougat Fairy doesn't have the same ring does it?

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Are you wondering if sugar plums are real? Here's how to make the traditional sugar plum candy and everything you need to know about sugar plums!

Here's the scoop: sugar plums are a traditional holiday candy made of dried fruit, toasted nuts and crunchy sugar. They are completely delicious and incredibly easy to make. Taste one, and you'll find most of the holiday flavors you love are wrapped up in one bite!

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (2)

So, why are they called "sugar plums" anyway?

Way back in the 17th century, folks wrapped seeds or nuts in a hard sugar coating, which took days to produce and special skills, since nothing was mechanized and sugar work was done by eye. The process is called "panning"- and the modern day Jordan almond would be a good example of that. The resulting sugar-coated treats were round but not perfectly circular, similar to the shape of... wait for it... a plum. Due to the cost of the ingredients and the time to make them, sugar plums were only enjoyed by wealthy folks. Boiling fruit with sugar was also the most popular way to preserve fruit - including plums.

"Full of sugar plums" actually came to mean that someone was rich, and "mouth full of sugar plums" meant someone spoke sweetly but probably meant something else - similar to "bless your heart" in the South. I may start calling people sugar plum while delivering side eye. You've been warned.

Fast forward about 200 years, and candy making, food preservation and language had all taken big leaps forward. Sugar was easier to find, fruit and nuts easier to dry, and "plum" meant "good" in addition to meaning a fruit. That's where Sugar Plums 2.0 make their debut. This is the candy we've come to love during the holiday season.

Here's what sweet dreams are made of:

Sugar plums are made of dried fruit (including prunes, which are specific varieties of dried plums), toasted nuts, warm spices and a crunchy sugar coating. Anyone who tells you that they don't include dried plums or a crunchy coating is simply lying to you. You can tell them I said it. Alton Brown agrees with me. You can take into account that my family grows prunes if you like, which certainly colors my opinion but also doesn't change the facts.

In addition to the prunes, nuts, spices & sugar, I use cranberries and apricot preserves, because I like the sweet/tart contrast they bring.

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (3)
Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (4)

So, how do you make them?

I'm glad you asked. Making sugar plums is pretty easy. You chop up some dried fruit, and toast some nuts and nut flour/meal. Then you dump all that in a food processor with spices and a bit of fruit preserves or honey and blitz it up. Then you roll it in balls, and then roll the balls in sugar. Sound like energy balls/bliss bites/power balls? Exactly. It's exactly the same method and ingredients, minus the sugar. So you can feel pretty good about eating several of these, and feeding them to your kids too.

Pro tip: everyone freaks out about prunes and pooping. The real truth is this: prunes have fiber, like all dried fruit. They are great for gut health and bone health too. The U.S. is the only country that considers them the poop fruit - they're simply delicious in other countries, which is why you find them in French, British & Italian desserts and lots of Indian & Middle Eastern cuisine. The recommended serving is 4-5 prunes per day, and your won't hit the danger zone unless you eat 10+ in one sitting. Why do I know this? My family grows prunes. Plus I read.

Once you've made your own sugar plums, try my friend Meg's Sugar Plum Cookies and this Warm Sugar Plum co*cktail. Start impressing your friends and yourself with all the holiday goodness, people.

Try my Prosciutto Wrapped Prunes and Christmas Candy Chocolate Bark too!

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (5)

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (6)K.C. Cornwell

Here’s a recipe to make traditional sugar plum candies with dried fruit, toasted nuts, warm spices and crunchy sugar.

The recipe can be doubled to make extra treats - Sugar Plums are a fabulous gift.

4.78 from 94 votes

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Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 10 minutes mins

Course Dessert, Snack

Cuisine American

Servings 14 pieces

Calories 87 kcal


  • ½ cup California Prunes about 3.25 oz
  • ½ cup walnuts toasted & coarsely chopped (about 2 oz)
  • ¼ cup dates pitted & chopped (just over 1 oz, about 5) or dried figs
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries about 1.25 oz
  • ¼ cup hazelnut meal or almond meal* toasted (or hazelnut or almond flour) (see note to use whole nuts)
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot preserves or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground cardamom
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • ½ cup sugar I use coarse sugar for crunch


To toast the walnuts and hazelnut or almond meal:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (180C)

  • Spread the nuts out in a single layer on one side of a sheet pan, and pour the nut meal in a pile on the other side, and flatten with you hand or a spatula so it's an even layer, about ¼ inch thick. Place the sheet pan in the oven for 8 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

To make the Sugarplums:

  • Put the chopped prunes, walnuts, dates and cranberries in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are chopped into small, even pieces. Stop before the mixture becomes a ball.

  • Add the toasted nut meal, apricot preserves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and salt. Pulse several times (you may need to stop to scrape down the sides) until the ingredients are fully combined and the mixture will hold itself together when rolled into a ball. (You should still see some texture from the fruit & nuts.)

  • Line a tray or container with wax or parchment paper. Scoop the mixture into heaping 1 tablespoon portions and roll into 1 inch balls, and place on the paper.

    Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (7)

  • Roll the sugarplums in the sugar just before serving.

    Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (8)


You can store the sugarplums before they are rolled in sugar. Store at room temperature in a covered container (but not airtight/sealed) for up to 1 week. Or, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Allow the sugarplums to come to room temperature before coating in sugar.

*If you'd like to use whole almonds or hazelnuts instead of flour/meal, use the same toasting and chopping method as the walnuts.


Calories: 87kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 39mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 7IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg

Keyword candy recipes, gluten-free candy recipes, holiday recipes

Photos:Meg van der Kruik

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (9)

Once you made Sugar Plums: try these!

Get ready for your new favorite winter co*cktail: the Warm Sugar Plum!

Sweet dreams are made of.... spiced rum. Well, spiced rum, orange & prune juices, and some spices. You won't believe the incredibly Christmas-y smell this warm winter co*cktail fills your home with. And your friends will be begging for the recipe!

More prune goodness:Prosciutto Wrapped Prunes

Looking for an incredibly delicious easy-to-pull-together appetizer? ThisProsciutto Wrapped Prunesrecipe is a great choice!

Frequently Asked Questions about Sugar Plums:

Can you eat sugar plums?

Yes. Sugar plum candy is made of dried fruit, toasted nuts, warm spices and sugar.

What is a sugar plum and what does it taste like?

A sugar plum is a sweet treat made of dried fruit, nuts and warm spices coated in crunchy sugar. It tastes of the warm flavors found in many holiday treats, cinnamon, cloves, and sweet with a bit of tart.

Are sugar plums healthy?

Sugar plums are one of the healthiest holiday treats, since they are made predominately of dried fruit and toasted nuts, flavored with warm spices. While they are traditionally rolled in coarse sugar, the sugar plum base is essentially the same as an "energy bite" or "bliss ball" and is loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals from the fruit and nuts.

What flavor is sugarplum?

Sugarplum is the flavor of dried berries, fruit and toasted nuts with warm spices, like cinnamon and clove.

Are there real sugar plums?

Yes. Traditional sugar plum candy is made of dried fruit and toasted nuts with warm spices, rolled in sugar.

What's the difference between a sugar plum and a plum?

A sugar plum is a candy traditionally eaten during the holidays. A plum is a fresh stone fruit.

Are prunes and plums the same?

Prunes are dried plums, made of specific varieties of plums. While all prunes are dried plums, not all dried plums qualfiy to be called prunes.

How many prunes should you eat a day?

The recommended serving is 4-5 prunes per day to support gut health and bone health.

Recipe created for California Prunes (post is not sponsored). My opinions are my own, thank you for supporting the brands that support G-Free Foodie. And extra thanks for supporting the products my family grows.

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Warm Sugar Plum | Delicious Winter co*cktail Recipe »

Reader Interactions


  1. Rebecca says

    I found the article interesting until you became very condescending. You are not special because you read. You actually sounded like a bit of a jerk. I simply wanted a recipe for sugar plums, not get berated for not knowing what is in one. You may have a stronger "fan" base if you lose the superiority complex.


    • finn gibson says

      wow i think that it was nice tbh


      • K.C. Cornwell says

        Thanks Finn - you clearly get me 🙂


    • K.C. Cornwell says

      Rebecca - that's why we explained exactly what they are and how they came to be at the top of the post - because most people don't know and we don't expect them to. I will, however, as a fifth-generation farmer whose faily produces prunes among other things, continue to take issue with anyone to says prunes don't belong in sugar plums, as a lot of inauthentic recipes so.


    • Helen says

      Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (17)
      Wow! Some people are sooooo rude. Ever heard the phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say….don’t say anything at all?” I spend my life encouraging children to be nice to each other. If they have parents like you I may as well give up. I think the recipe and article is heartwarming. Thank you.


    • Cyndi Olsen says

      Agreed. Came here to add my own comments along those lines.


  2. Liz McCoy says

    Thinking of giving in treat boxes. How long will these last once they are rolled in sugar?


    • K.C. Cornwell says

      at least a week!


  3. Maria Melara says

    Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (18)
    Thank you very much for you explanation.
    Was excellent.
    The dray Prumes is very common used in my country for many diferentes deserts
    It is fabulous.
    The variety of deserts that is done with prumes or plums is uncountable. I love
    And thank you for this recipe it is a very old recipe done all over the world.
    Thank you for the explanation.


  4. Adam Kirkaldy says

    Hi - as delicious as these sound (and they surely do!,) sugar plums are originally preserved whole greengage plums, mostly from the Alentejo in Portugal!… look up ‘Ameixa d’Elvas’ - I thought you could’ve made that more clear.


  5. Lee says

    Can these be frozen?


    • K.C. Cornwell says

      You could freeze the candy prior to adding the sugar coating - then roll in sugar after thawing, prior to serving.


  6. Mississa says

    I've always wanted to try sugar plums but
    my family does not like walnuts or pecans. Is there a replacement nut for this recipe? Would almonds work?
    Thank you.


    • K.C. Cornwell says

      Pecans will work perfectly! I often swap them in.


  7. Melanie says

    Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (19)
    Wow! This recipe is easy and tasty. My first sugar plums in the making. Thank you for the article too. I enjoyed the humor as much as the recipe.


    • K.C. Cornwell says

      I'm so happy to hear that Melanie!


Let Us Know What You Think

Traditional Sugar Plums Recipe | Real Sugar Plum Candy | G-Free Foodie (2024)


What was the original sugar plum? ›

A sugar plum originated as a piece of dragée or hard candy made of hardened sugar in a small round or oval shape. "Plum" in the name of this confection does not always mean plum in the sense of the fruit of the same name, but commonly refers to small size and spherical or oval shape.

What ingredient did the original sugar plums not have? ›

Because, the truth is, they didn't contain a single morsel of plum. As explained by Mental Floss, from the 1600s to the 1800s or so, the sugar plum (also known as a "comfit" or "dragée") was a popular candy made from just two key ingredients — sugar and a center of either seed, nut, or spice.

What does sugar plum mean in slang? ›

Wiktionary. Term of endearment; sweetheart, darling. Wiktionary. Alternative spelling of sugar-plum. Wiktionary.

What is the difference between a sugar plum and a plum? ›

What are Sugar Plums and Where Do They Come From? Well, they're not sugar-coated plums. Instead, a sugar plum is a piece of hard candy made of hardened sugar coating and a seed, nut, or spice, not a plum or another fruit. In fact, part of the name, "plum," refers to its small size and oval shape, not its taste.

What country are sugar plums from? ›

Sugar plum varieties are believed to have been developed in the Mediterranean and are descendants of plum cultivars transported from Asia and Syria into Europe.

Are sugar plums good for you? ›

Plums are extremely nutritious, with a variety of health benefits to offer. They contain many vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and antioxidants that may help reduce your risk of several chronic diseases. You can consume plums fresh or dried.

Are sugar plums the same as Italian plums? ›

And there are round, green Reine Claudes. But the most common plums of the European species are oval. Their skin is deep purple, their flesh pale lime-yellow. In America, we call them sugar or Italian plums, and we grow them primarily to dry into prunes.

What is Princess sugar plum? ›

Princess Sugar Plum is a T.V series and Movies watched by Brianna Maxwell. She is obsessed with her and she is always nagging Nikki Maxwell to let her play it on her phone .

What is the history of sugar plums? ›

In essence, sugar plums are sugar coated seeds or nuts first made in the 17th century. They were made by skilled craftsmen who apprenticed for years, absorbing the nuances of a trade that makes Julia Child look like a scullery maid in comparison.

What does it mean when a guy calls you sugar? ›

It is primiarily a term of endearment along the same lines as “honey” or “darling”. Calling someone sweet, like sugar, is like saying they are very nice (and possibly naive).

What does XO stand for? ›

Hugs and kisses, abbreviated in North America as XO or XOXO, is an informal term used for expressing sincerity, faith, love, or good friendship at the end of a written letter, email or text message.

What does it mean to be a plummy girl? ›

In Britain, it's used far more often as an informal way to say "very desirable," like an actor's plummy role in a new movie, or "upper class," like your wealthy cousin's plummy accent. It's also applied to sounds that are rich and full. Definitions of plummy. adjective. very desirable.

What happens to your blood sugar when you eat a plum? ›

Blood sugar.

Plums are chock full of fiber, which helps slow down a blood sugar spike after you eat carbs. They can also boost your body's production of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels.

Are prunes made from sugar plums? ›

As time progressed, sugar plums evolved into a beloved candy containing dried fruits, toasted nuts, warm spices and a crunchy sugar coating. And in case you're wondering, this version DID include dried plums (aka prunes – and yes, prunes are dried plums).

Can dogs eat plums? ›

Generally speaking, plums are safe for dogs to eat in moderation as an occasional treat. But there are some risks. Namely, always make sure to remove the pit of the plum. Plum pits are toxic to dogs and can also cause your pooch to choke or create an intestinal blockage.

What is the story behind the Sugar Plum Fairy? ›

Clara. In English National Ballet's Nutcracker, Clara herself transforms into the Sugar Plum Fairy at the end of the ballet. After her many adventures, and after the Mouse King has been defeated, she transforms into the Sugar Plum for the lavish celebration that takes place in an enchanted garden.

What is sugar plum fairy Sofia the First? ›

Sugar Plum Fairy
Production Details
First appearanceStF: "The Mystic Isles: Undercover Fairies"
Played byYvette Nicole Brown

Where did the song Sugar Plum Fairy come from? ›

The "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is the third movement in The Nutcracker. This piece is from Act 2 of the 1892 ballet The Nutcracker. It was choreographed by Lev Ivanov to music written by Tchaikovsky. the choreographer wanted the Sugar Plum Fairy's music to sound like "drops of water shooting from a fountain".

Why is the Sugar Plum Fairy so important? ›

The Sugar Plum Fairy is about the hope and faith that there is something in life far greater, more beautiful, and more powerfully good than any earthly human being. We can each aspire to be like her in some way and she will bring us to a higher spiritual place.

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