In vitro and in vivo experiments were designed to evaluate the effectiveness of laboratory-made di-d-fructose dianhydride (DFA)-enriched caramels. The DFA-enriched caramels were obtained from d-fructose (FC), d-fructose and sucrose (FSC), or d-fructose and β-cyclodextrin (FCDC). In the in vitro experiment, raftilose and all caramels increased (P<0.05) l-lactate concentration and decreased (P<0.05) pH. Total short-chain fatty acid concentration was higher (P<0.05) than controls in tubes containing raftilose, FSC, FCDC and commercial sucrose caramel (CSC). Raftilose, and all caramels tested except FSC and FC (1%), increased (P<0.01) lactobacilli log10 number of copies compared with the non-additive control. FSC, FCDC and CSC increased (P<0.01) the bifidobacteria number of copies as compared with controls. All additives, except FCDC, decreased (P<0.01) Clostridium coccoides/Eubacterium rectale log number of copies. Compared with controls, raftilose, FC and CSC led to lower (P<0.01) Escherichia–Shigella and enterobacteria. For the in vivo experiment, a total of 144 male 1-day-old broiler chickens of the Cobb strain were randomly assigned to one of the three dietary treatments for 21 days. Dietary treatments were control (commercial diet with no additive), inulin (20 g inulin/kg diet) and FC (20 g FC/kg diet). Final BW of birds fed FC diet was higher (P<0.01) than controls or inulin-fed birds, although feed: gain values were not different. Feed intake of chickens fed FC was higher (P<0.01) than that of inulin-fed birds but not statistically different from controls. Crop pH values were lower (P<0.01) in birds fed FC diet as compared with control diet, with inulin-fed chickens showing values not different from control- or FC-fed birds. Lower (P<0.05) lactobacilli number of copies was determined in the crop, ileum and caeca of birds fed the inulin diet compared with the control diet. Inulin supplementation also resulted in lower (P<0.05) C. coccoides/E. rectale, bacteroides and total bacteria in caecal contents. Addition of FC to broiler diets gave place to lower (P<0.05) enterobacteria and Escherichia–Shigella in crop and caecal contents compared with controls. The bacteroides number of copies increased (P<0.05) as compared with controls in the ileum, but decreased (P<0.05) in the caeca of chickens fed the FC diet. Energy, ADF, NDF and non-starch polysaccharides faecal digestibilities were greater (P<0.05) than controls in chickens fed diets containing inulin or FC. Fat digestibility was higher (P<0.05) in FC-fed birds compared with controls or inulin-fed chickens. In conclusion, DFA-enriched caramels tested here, particularly FC, may represent a type of new additives useful in poultry production.