How many calories are in one Turkish delight?

Turkish delight, also known as lokum or rahat lokum, is a family of confections made primarily from starch and sugar. The classic form of Turkish delight is a cube dusted with powdered sugar. Turkish delight originated in the Ottoman Empire, and its invention is credited to confectioner Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir in 1777. Today, Turkish delight is popular around the world and comes in a wide variety of flavors beyond the classic rosewater or lemon.

What are the main ingredients in Turkish delight?

The primary ingredients in traditional Turkish delight are starch and sugar. The most common starches used are corn starch or wheat starch. Sugar, often granulated white sugar, makes up the majority of a Turkish delight’s sweetness. Rosewater or lemon are commonly used as flavorings. Beyond the core ingredients, Turkish delight recipes can vary widely based on preference.

Some additional common ingredients include:

  • Gelatin or pectin – Used as setting agents
  • Honey – For sweetness and flavor
  • Nuts – Such as pistachios, walnuts or almonds
  • Coconut – For texture and flavor
  • Fruit purees – Such as apricot or strawberry
  • Food coloring – For vivid colors
  • Essential oils – For flavoring like peppermint, cinnamon or anise

The flexibility of Turkish delight ingredients makes it easy to create new flavors. While rosewater and lemon remain iconic, you can find Turkish delight in a rainbow of flavors today like pomegranate, orange, mint, mango and many more.

What is the nutritional profile of Turkish delight?

The nutritional profile of Turkish delight can vary based on specific ingredients used. However, most versions share a similar high sugar and carbohydrate content with minimal protein, fat, fiber or micronutrients.

Here is the approximate nutritional breakdown for a 40g serving (about 1-2 pieces) of plain Turkish delight made with corn starch, sugar and rosewater:

Calories 158
Carbohydrates 39.5g
Sugar 29g
Fat 0g
Protein 0.5g
Fiber 0g

As you can see, nearly all the calories in Turkish delight come from carbohydrates. The high sugar content is responsible for its sweet taste but also causes it to be high in calories for a small serving size. There is minimal fat, protein or fiber.

How many calories are in one piece of Turkish delight?

The number of calories in a single piece of Turkish delight can vary depending on the brand, recipe and size. However, we can estimate calories based on typical serving sizes:

  • Small piece (10g): Approximately 40 calories
  • Medium piece (20g): Approximately 80 calories
  • Large piece (40g): Approximately 158 calories

These calorie counts are for plain Turkish delight without nuts or other add-ins. Ingredients like nuts, coconut or chocolate will increase the calorie count. You can estimate about 30 additional calories per 10g of nuts or mix-ins.

For example, a 40g piece of chocolate Turkish delight may contain around 200 calories. Or a nut-studded Turkish delight that weighs 50g could have approximately 230 calories.

How does the calorie count compare to other sweets?

Comparing calories in Turkish delight to other popular sweets can give context for how it fits into an overall diet or meal plan:

  • 1 regular Hershey’s chocolate bar (43g): 214 calories
  • 1 slice chocolate cake (80g): 237 calories
  • 1 cupcake (55g) with frosting: 250 calories
  • 1 piece baklava (40g): 130 calories
  • 1 chocolate chip cookie (30g): 140 calories

Turkish delight is on the lower calorie end compared to most cake, cupcake, and chocolate bar options. However, it still packs a high amount of sugar into a small serving. The calorie density is similar to other Mediterranean treats like baklava.

Does Turkish delight have any health benefits?

Turkish delight is considered an indulgent treat and does not offer particular health benefits beyond potentially satisfaction of a sweet craving. The high sugar content can actually be detrimental to health if overconsumed.

However, higher quality Turkish delight may provide small amounts of gelatin or nuts:

  • Gelatin – Can help with joint and gut health
  • Nuts – Rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals

Overall though, Turkish delight is viewed as an occasional sugary snack rather than a health food.

How can you make Turkish delight healthier?

There are some ways to modify Turkish delight to improve its nutrition profile:

  • Use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup instead of processed white sugar
  • Add collagen powder or protein powder for a protein boost
  • Use nut or seed butters for healthy fats
  • Incorporate nuts like almonds or pistachios
  • Flavor with fruit purees instead of just rosewater or lemon
  • Reduce the amount of starch slightly and replace with psyllium husk powder for fiber
  • Use dark chocolate or cacao powder instead of milk chocolate

While these adjustments can make Turkish delights somewhat healthier, they will still be high in natural sugars and best enjoyed in moderation.

What is the glycemic index of Turkish delight?

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food causes blood sugar to rise after eating. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0-100.

Most Turkish delight has a high glycemic index between 65-80. This is due to its high starch and sugar content.

For comparison, pure glucose has a GI of 100. Whole wheat bread has a GI around 70. And foods like non-starchy vegetables have a low GI of 15 or less.

The rapid spike in blood sugar from high GI foods may cause energy crashes later. This makes Turkish delight more of an occasional treat, especially for those with diabetes or metabolic concerns.

Should you avoid Turkish delight on a low carb or keto diet?

Low carbohydrate diets like the keto diet often limit daily carb intake to less than 50g per day. The goal is to reach and maintain ketosis, a metabolic state where you burn fat for fuel.

On keto and other very low carb diets, Turkish delight should be avoided completely or only eaten in tiny servings. Even a 20g piece may contain around 20g of carbs, which could exceed an entire day’s allowance.

There are some low carb versions of Turkish delight using sugar substitutes and more nuts or fat to replace the starch. However, carb counts still need to be monitored carefully when following keto.

Should you avoid Turkish delight on a low sugar diet?

Low sugar diets aim to limit added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Recommendations vary, but targets are often around 25-50g of sugar per day.

In this case, small infrequent servings of Turkish delight may be able to fit into the diet. However, the high density of sugar means it can be easy to overdo it. Paying close attention to portion sizes is key.

Alternatively, you can search for low sugar Turkish delight recipes made with natural sweeteners, more nuts and less starch. But the texture may become less like the traditional version.

Can people with diabetes eat Turkish delight?

Turkish delight is very high in carbohydrates, so people with diabetes need to be cautious with portion sizes. The American Diabetes Association provides the following recommendations:

  • Count Turkish delight as a starch or sweet treat instead of a free food
  • Stick to a small piece with about 15g of carbs at a time
  • Limit Turkish delight to an occasional treat a few times per week at most
  • Pay attention to carbohydrate counts from other meals and snacks that day
  • Pair it with protein, fat or fiber to help slow absorption and prevent blood sugar spikes

Diabetics should also look for versions with a bit of protein from nuts or collagen. Frequent blood sugar monitoring after eating Turkish delight can help determine safe portion sizes.

Is Turkish delight gluten free?

Classic Turkish delight recipes are naturally gluten-free, as they do not contain wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing grains.

However, some mass-produced varieties may contain fillers or thickeners with gluten. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should check labels and look for brands that are certified gluten-free.

Homemade Turkish delight with simple ingredients like corn starch, sugar, water and rosewater will be gluten-free. But any flour-based thickening agents should be avoided.

Does Turkish delight contain gelatin?

Many traditional Turkish delight recipes use gelatin, a protein derived from animal collagen, to help achieve the classic chewy texture.

However, gelatin is not required to make Turkish delight. Alternative thickeners like starch, pectin, agar or guar gum can also be used.

If avoiding gelatin, check ingredient labels carefully. Or look for vegan Turkish delight recipes made without any animal products.

Is Turkish delight vegetarian?

Turkish delight made with gelatin is not considered vegetarian, since gelatin comes from animal sources. However, gelatin-free Turkish delight can be perfectly vegetarian.

Agar, pectin or starches like corn starch make good substitutes. There are many vegetarian and vegan Turkish delight recipes available.

That said, some brands or homemade versions may use non-vegetarian ingredients like honey or eggs. So always check ingredient lists if following a vegetarian diet.

Is Turkish delight vegan?

Classic Turkish delight contains gelatin and honey, so it is not vegan. However, it’s certainly possible to “veganize” recipes.

Here are some substitutions to make vegan Turkish delight:

  • Use agar flakes instead of gelatin to set the confection.
  • Replace honey with maple syrup, agave, or rice malt syrup.
  • Use dairy-free milk or coconut cream instead of heavy cream.
  • Flavor with rosewater, vanilla, or orange blossom water rather than eggs or dairy.

There are many delicious vegan Turkish delight options available online and in stores. Homemade versions can also easily be adapted to be fully plant-based.

Is Turkish delight keto friendly?

Turkish delight is not generally considered keto friendly, since the ketogenic diet strictly limits carbs to 20-50g per day.

Most Turkish delight contains around 20g of carbs or more per piece, which could use your entire carb allowance.

However, it’s possible to create lower-carb versions using sugar substitutes like erythritol and sticking to nut- or coconut-heavy recipes.

These “keto Turkish delights” may have around 5g net carbs per piece, allowing you to potentially enjoy a few pieces. But carb counts still need to be closely watched on keto.

Is Turkish delight paleo?

Turkish delight is not paleo compliant due to two primary ingredients:

  1. Refined sugar – Paleo avoids added and refined sugars.
  2. Starches – Paleo prohibits grains and legumes, including corn starch.

However, some modified versions may be considered paleo-friendly if they use:

  • Natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup
  • Starch alternatives like arrowroot, tapioca flour or nut flours
  • Coconut sugar
  • Collagen powder

While not an everyday paleo food, modified Turkish delight could potentially be enjoyed occasionally by less strict paleo followers.

What is a healthy portion size of Turkish delight?

Considering its high sugar content, healthy portion sizes of Turkish delight are quite small. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Children – One small 10g piece or less
  • Women – One medium 20g piece
  • Men – One medium to large 20-40g piece

Ideally, limit Turkish delight portions to a few times per week at most. Pair with protein, fat and fiber for better blood sugar control.

You can reduce the sugar content by making your own with less sugar, more nuts and collagen powder or oats. But restraint is still needed!


Turkish delight is a sweet treat that contains anywhere from 40-160 calories per piece, depending mostly on size. The high starch and sugar content gives it a soft, chewy texture but also a high glycemic index.

Enjoying the occasional piece of Turkish delight is fine for most healthy adults. However, portion control is key due to its high calorie density from sugar. Those with diabetes or on low carb, low sugar, paleo and keto diets need to be especially mindful of servings.

While not the healthiest choice, Turkish delight can be a nice occasional treat when eaten slowly and in moderation.

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