Desperate times call for four-ingredient delights. 

By Kaitlyn Yarborough
Cornflake Candy
Credit: Getty Images/Lacea Keller/EyeEm

Almost every person under the Southern sun has a grandmother, aunt, or mother known to make a batch or two of cornflake candy, particularly around Christmas and Easter. Made with just four ingredients and a whole lot of love, these hand-held treats make the most of humble items like sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter, and cornflakes—and still satisfy that sweet tooth like nobody’s business. The best part? All the old-school recipes passed down for generations don’t even call for any baking. No oven required. 

Southern women love to make these crowd-pleasing clusters into festive wreath shapes during the holiday season—dyed green and dotted with baby red M&M’s—and into cute little Easter stacks topped with pastel Cadbury Mini Eggs. The simple recipe is so easy to make that they’re also known to whip them up on any Wednesday afternoon when a sugar low hits. 

The short list of ingredients are combined in a similar way to homemade Rice Krispies Treats, but dropped onto a sheet pan like drop cookies for ultimate ease. No matter the batch size, these treats always call for equal parts corn syrup, sugar, and peanut butter, because we like to keep things simple down here. Follow these quick steps to have a batch of your own old-fashioned cornflake candy in minutes.

How to Make Cornflake Candy:

For an average-sized batch of about 12 to 18 candies, depending on your drop preference, you’ll want to use one cup of corn syrup, sugar, and peanut butter. Melt the sugar in the corn syrup on the stovetop before adding peanut butter, stirring until smooth and melty. Using whichever brand of cornflakes you prefer, add one cup at a time, mixing to combine. You can use any amount from 4 to 6 cups; we try to find a sweet spot of at least 5 cups. (Less cornflakes mean slightly more gooey candies, which can turn out to be a mess when storing.) While the mixture is still warm, quickly drop big spoonfuls into clusters on a greased or parchment paper-covered sheet pan. Let clusters cool until set and firm—then watch them disappear from the plate!  

Even better, you can customize your candy in tons of different ways. Many like to add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the sugar mixture for added flavor, and others prefer to coat the cornflakes in chocolate or butterscotch in lieu of peanut butter. For that, sub in semi-sweet chocolate chips or butterscotch chips. You can also add coconut flakes, nuts, or food coloring dye to your heart’s content. 

WATCH: Cornflake Wreath Christmas Cookies

Sometimes the simplest sweet treats like cornflake candy are everyone’s most favorite—especially when it’s a recipe fondly remembered from their childhood.