The Difference Between Black Licorice Made in the North America and the Netherlands

The Difference Between Black Licorice Made in the North America and the Netherlands

Black licorice is a confectionery enjoyed by many around the world, with each region offering its own unique twist on this classic treat. When comparing black licorice made in the United States to that made in the Netherlands, several differences in ingredients, flavors, and production methods stand out. In the Netherlands alone, there are over 400 different types of black licorice, highlighting the country's deep-rooted appreciation for this candy. We offer more than 75+ types of black licorice, discover them now! 

What is Black Licorice?

Black licorice is a type of candy flavored primarily with the extract of the licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra). This extract gives the candy its distinctive flavor and black color. Historically, licorice root has been used for its medicinal properties, but today, it is more commonly enjoyed as a sweet treat. The flavor of black licorice is often described as earthy, slightly sweet, and somewhat bitter, with a complex taste that can be polarizing—people either love it or hate it.

How is Black Licorice Made in North America?

In North America, black licorice is often flavored with anise extract rather than traditional licorice root extract. Anise provides a similar, though not identical, taste to licorice root. This substitution is primarily due to cost and availability. Anise is more readily available and less expensive than licorice root, making it a practical choice for mass production.

The production process for black licorice in North America typically involves the following steps:

1. Mixing Ingredients: The base ingredients—sugar, corn syrup, flour, and water—are mixed together to form a thick paste.
2. Flavoring: Anise extract, along with other flavorings and colorings, is added to the mixture.
3. Cooking: The mixture is cooked to a specific temperature to achieve the desired consistency.
4. Shaping: The cooked mixture is extruded into various shapes, such as twists, ropes, or drops.
5. Cooling and Packaging: The shaped licorice is cooled, cut to the desired length, and packaged for sale.

The result is a sweet, chewy candy that appeals to a broad audience, though it may lack the complexity of licorice made with traditional licorice root.

Black Licorice in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, black licorice, known as "drop," is made with traditional licorice root extract, which gives it a rich and authentic flavor. The Dutch have a long history of licorice consumption, and their licorice is often considered the gold standard. The licorice root extract used in Dutch licorice provides a more intense and genuine licorice flavor compared to the anise-flavored versions commonly found in the United States.

Dutch black licorice comes in many varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the common types include:

1. Sweet Licorice (Zoete Drop): his type of licorice is sweetened with sugar or honey and has a milder flavor.
2. Salted Licorice (Zoute Drop): Salted licorice contains added salt, often ammonium chloride, giving it a salty and slightly tangy flavor.
3. Double Salt Licorice (Dubbel Zoute Drop): This is an even saltier version of salted licorice, favored by those who enjoy intense flavors.
4. Honey Licorice (Honingdrop): Licorice sweetened with honey, offering a unique sweetness and a smooth texture.
5. Salmiak Licorice: This type of licorice contains salmiak salt (ammonium chloride), giving it a distinctive, pungent taste.

The production process in the Netherlands involves:

1. Extracting Licorice Root: The licorice root is boiled to extract its flavor and active compounds.
2. Mixing Ingredients: The licorice root extract is mixed with sugar, glucose syrup, and sometimes starch or gelatin.
3. Cooking and Shaping: The mixture is cooked and then shaped into various forms, such as coins, diamonds, or animals.
4. Drying and Packaging: The shaped licorice is dried to achieve the desired texture before being packaged.

What is the Difference in Flavor?

The primary difference in flavor between black licorice made in the United States and the Netherlands lies in the use of anise extract versus licorice root extract. Licorice root extract imparts a complex, deep, and earthy flavor with natural sweetness and subtle bitterness. This complexity is often missing in anise-flavored licorice, which has a more straightforward, sweet, and slightly spicy taste.

Dutch licorice also offers a broader range of flavors due to the variety of ingredients used, such as honey and various salts. This diversity makes Dutch licorice a more adventurous and nuanced confectionery experience. The addition of ammonium chloride in salted and salmiak licorice provides a unique tanginess and a salty kick, which is relatively rare in American licorice. Discover all our 75+ type of Black Licorice from the Netherlands and Europa.

Cultural Significance and Preferences

The cultural significance of black licorice in the Netherlands cannot be overstated. It is a beloved treat enjoyed by people of all ages and is deeply ingrained in Dutch culinary traditions. The Dutch appreciation for licorice extends beyond just the candy; licorice root is also used in herbal teas and traditional remedies. Also to read: Why is Black Licorice so populair

In contrast, black licorice in the United States tends to have a more limited appeal, often overshadowed by other types of candy. The preference for anise-flavored licorice in the U.S. reflects a broader trend towards sweeter, less intense flavors. However, there is a niche market for traditional licorice root candies among enthusiasts who seek out specialty stores or import Dutch licorice for its authentic taste.


While black licorice is enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic, the differences in ingredients, flavors, and production methods highlight the distinct approaches taken by the United States and the Netherlands. The use of anise extract in American licorice results in a sweeter, less complex flavor, while the Dutch use of licorice root extract provides a rich, authentic, and varied licorice experience. Whether you prefer the straightforward sweetness of American licorice or the bold, nuanced flavors of Dutch licorice, there is no denying the unique charm of this classic confectionery.

Exploring the Dutch Licorice here and find your new favourite treat! 
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