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The Best Candy Thermometers for Perfect Homemade Candy


A top view of a person using a digital thermometer in a pot of chocolate that is surrounded by baking tools.
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.com

Making great homemade candy requires careful monitoring of the temperature throughout the process. Whether you are tempering chocolate or heating sugar to make hard candy, brittle, soft caramel, fudge, or nougat, you will get the precision you need with these candy thermometers.

Accurate temperature readings are crucial in making candy and creating optional hardness. When sugar syrup heats up, and the water boils away, the syrup’s sugar concentration and temperature rise. The highest temperature the syrup reaches determines the consistency of your mixture when it cools. Going over your target temperature just a few degrees can completely change the texture of your candy. And reaching temperatures over 350-degrees Fahrenheit means you have a pot full of burnt sugar! Tempering chocolate also calls for precise temperatures. If you heat your chocolate over 130-degrees Fahrenheit, the chocolate will scorch or seize, ruining an expensive ingredient. To avoid mishaps, here are some fantastic candy thermometers we recommend.

Choosing the Right Candy Thermometer

To find a good thermometer, search for these features:

  • Accuracy: A thermometer that allows you to calibrate and adjust the temperature reading is a big plus! You should always calibrate thermometers, even digital ones, with the boiling-point and ice-point methods. To check the boiling point, bring a pot of distilled water to a boil and insert the thermometer in the middle of the liquid. At sea level, it should read 212-degrees Fahrenheit. For the ice-point test, fill a glass with crushed ice and add water till it’s full. Place the thermometer in the center without touching the sides. The temperature should read 32-degrees Fahrenheit. Even if you can’t actually change the temperature readings at those points, you can adjust your target temperatures by taking your calibration into account. Remember to adjust the boiling temperature for high altitudes: subtract one degree Fahrenheit for every 550 feet above sea level. Also, note that at 5,500 feet above sea level, the boiling point of water is 202 degrees Fahrenheit. The effect of altitude on the freezing point is minimal and does not need to be taken into account.
  • Safety: Clips to hold a thermometer while you are cooking are a good way to avoid burns from spattering syrup — just remember the sides of the pot are usually a couple of degrees cooler than the center. Also, be sure to purchase a readout style that’s easy for you to see while in use to keep your face from getting too close!
  • Durability: Thermometers should be break-resistant, and the markings on them should not fade. While some thermometers are dishwasher safe, washing by hand may extend the life of your product.

Top Choice: Polder Candy/Jelly/Deep Fry Thermometer

On the left, a full-length view of a metal thermometer. On the right, the same thermometer is clipping inside a stainless steel pot.

This candy thermometer is designed for ease of use and durability, with a stainless steel body that has a large display for deep fry, hard crack, soft crack, hard ball, and soft ball temperature ranges; the total range is -90 to 400-degrees Fahrenheit (30 to 200-degrees Celsius). The pot clip is adjustable and holds securely to the side of a pot during stirring for consistent readings. The insulated handle at the top stays cool for easy handling, and the liquid inside the capillary tube is mercury-free. It’s dishwasher safe on the top rack but also easy to clean by hand to preserve temperature markings longer. From making candy to yogurt and jam, this thermometer gives you great results.

Top Choice

Polder Candy/Jelly/Deep Fry Thermometer

This thermometer features a sturdy build for everyday use.

Best Digital: Gourmia GTH9185 Digital Spatula Thermometer

On the left, a white spatula with a whole in the head where a probe peaks through. On the right, a person stirs chocolate with the spatula.

The precision probe gives you accurate readings between -58 and 572-degrees Fahrenheit. Attached to its BPA-free ABS plastic and silicone spatula, this thermometer displays instant temperatures on an easy-to-read LCD screen as you stir your sugar mixture or chocolate. This thermometer is powered by one LR44 battery, which is included. To clean, separate the probe from the spatula and wash it by hand. This thermometer is especially great for tempering chocolate as you will be able to turn out chocolate truffles and bars with the perfect texture, snap, and sheen!

Best Digital

Gormia GTH9185 Digital Spatual Thermometer

This silicone thermometer is food-safe and easy to use.

Best Dial Face: Escali Candy/Deep Fry/Confection Thermometer

On the left, a thermometer with a upwards facing dial display and clip. On the right, the thermometer clipped to a pot with boiling sugar.

The 2.5-inch, large-print dial face on this thermometer faces upward for easy reading, with temperature ranges clearly marked for jelly and soft, firm, or hard candy, as well as for deep fry temperatures. The total temperature range is 100 to 500-degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 260-degrees Celsius). It is designed with an adjustable target temperature marker on the outer edge of the dial and a snug clip to secure the thermometer to the side of pots for ease of use. The probe measures 5.5 inches for moderately deep pots and is dishwasher safe.

Best Dial Face

Escali Candy/Deep Fry/Confection Thermometer

The large dial is shatterproof, making it great for clumsy confectioners.

Best Programmable: CDN DTC450 Programmable Thermometer

A close up of a white thermometer with a digital display and metal clip.

The dual progress display on this thermometer shows the target temperature and the current temperature on a large LCD screen. When you set the target temperature, the thermometer will sound alert warnings at 3-degrees Fahrenheit before the low-temperature range you need, during the temperature range, and when you reach the high point of the range. There are seven preprogrammed candy ranges and one all-purpose temperature setting, with a total instrument range of -40 to 450-degrees Fahrenheit. The extra-long probe is secured to the side of the pot with an adjustable clip.

Best Programmable

CDN DTC450 Programmable Thermometer

Has an auto-off to conserve battery and features sound alerts at key temperatures.

Lisa Walenceus Lisa Walenceus
Lisa Walenceus has 20 years of research and writing experience as an educator, news reporter, and freelancer. She writes to learn and digs deep to find how things work. Read Full Bio »
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