Have you ever tried to make your own candy at home? Candy making can be a fun process to embark on but intimidating to approach for those unfamiliar with cooking down sugar.
When it comes to cooking sugar, one of the most important parts of the process is temperature. We all know how important hitting the right temperature is in baking and how being too hot or too cold can ruin a recipe altogether.
This is even more true for candy making, where improper temperatures of even a few mere degrees can completely ruin whatever candy it is you are trying to make. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable candy thermometer handy to help you get the job done.
In this guide, we’re going to outline everything you need to know about candy thermometers and their usefulness in the kitchen. Plus, we’re going to outline some of the best candy thermometers available on the market today. Let’s get started!
CANDY THERMOMETER RECOMMENDATIONS
1. CDN DTC450 DIGITAL CANDY THERMOMETER
This candy thermometer from CDN can help you to get the job done. This thermometer has an easy-to-read digital temperature display, ranging between 40 and 450 degrees, making it perfectly suitable for all forms of candy making.
This thermometer has some great features that can really help your cooking process. This display has pre-programmed candy stages to help you easily identify correct temperatures. The display can even show you the current temperature and the goal temperature simultaneously to give you a better understanding of your cooking process.
Handy sound alerts will also give a chime when you’re 3 degrees away from your ideal temp to help you get ready. This thermometer also comes with an adjustable stainless steel clip, so you can easily attach it to any size pan or bowl while using it.
2. EFENG CANDY THERMOMETER + SPATULA
This candy thermometer from Efeng is multipurpose in nature, making it a great addition to any kitchen tool arsenal. In this model, your metal thermometer probe is inserted into a 12.5-inch silicone spatula form, allowing you to work your sugar and take a temperature read all at once. This makes it great for reading temperatures while cooking, which can be especially useful if working with chocolate or jam making.
The display on this thermometer is an easy to read LCD that shows a single temperature. It has a temperature range between -58°F and 572°F, making it ideal for any and all candy making. Plus, this thermometer can also be used for taking meat temperatures in addition to candy making.
If you need to take a read without the spatula, the thermometer can be easily removed with the included screwdriver. This model even comes with a stainless steel clip to make securing the thermometer to your pan or pot a breeze.
3. OXO GOOD GRIPS GLASS CANDY THERMOMETER
This glass candy thermometer from OXO is perfect for any new candy maker. This thermometer features a traditional analog temperature vial, with markings in both Celsius and Fahrenheit for increased temperature accuracy. It also features a handy candy temperature gauge on the side, indicating ideal temperature ranges for different candy making stages.
It’s designed to be clipped to the side of a pot or pan while in use, with an adjustable extra-long clip and rounded feet to prevent any scratches or scrapes to your cookware. This thermometer is also multi-use and can be used to measure oil temperatures for deep frying in addition to its use in candy making.
4. TAYLOR 9839-15 DIGITAL CANDY THERMOMETER
This candy thermometer from Taylor is a reliable little gadget for your candy making needs. This thermometer features a handy LCD that can read temperatures between -40 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This screen is also on a convenient swivel head, so you can easily adjust it for optimal viewing while using it in the kitchen. This thermometer also comes with a handy clip to attach it to your pot or pan while cooking.
5. DIGITAL COOKING CANDY LIQUID THERMOMETER
This thermometer from PBKay is small but mighty! This five-inch stainless steel thermometer is great for candy making, with a temperature range between -58 and 572 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also be utilized for measuring temperatures in thin cuts of meat, fish, or poultry.
On this device, temperatures are displayed on an LCD, providing results in 5-10 seconds. Its small size makes it easy to carry, and thus a great addition to any chef’s kitchen tool kit. It can be easily kept in a pocket or a chef’s toolbox. It also comes with an adjustable steel clip to attach to the sides of pots and pans. Best of all, this device is backed by a lifetime warranty!
WHY ARE CANDY THERMOMETERS USEFUL
What makes a candy thermometer so useful, anyway? While it’s true that there are methods out there that can help you make candy without this nifty device, its use in your candy making can help you to ensure consistently good results. This is especially true for beginners who are unfamiliar with the visual temperature cues a practiced chef would use in their candy making process.
Temperature plays a key role in making candy. In its most basic form, candy making requires a baker to cook down sugar. In this cooking process, sugar transforms from its solid crystal form to a liquid form and transforms into different workable stages as it is cooked.
Because specific and consistent temperatures are needed for candy making, a candy thermometer must help you keep an eye on the process. Thankfully there are useful guides out there to help you learn exactly what temperatures are needed for various candies depending on what you’re cooking.
Candy thermometers are useful for anyone making candies such as hard sugar candy, toffees, caramels, or even jams. These recipes all need sugar to be boiled to a specific temperature.
These recipes require a candy thermometer specifically, as they can go to a much higher range than your typical meat thermometer. Candy thermometers can accurately read temperatures up to 400+ degrees Fahrenheit. They also often have features that make them easy to use with the saucepans needed in candy making.
CANDY THERMOMETER BUYING GUIDE
Now that we know more about a candy thermometers role in the kitchen, let’s learn more about the things to consider before you invest in your new thermometer:
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: temperature is key when candy making. It’s important to ensure your candy thermometer is as temperature accurate as possible before you invest.
It’s important to know that some thermometers may need to be calibrated for temperature accuracy, depending on the brand. However, some are good to go right out of the box.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR THERMOMETER’S ACCURACY
- Insert your candy thermometer into a pot of water and bring it to a boil. The baseline boiling point for water is around 212 Fahrenheit.
- Leave it in the water for about 5 minutes. Make sure that the thermometer is fully immersed in the water and not touching the bottom or sides (this may give you a false reading).
- After 5 minutes, check the temperature. It should be around 212 Fahrenheit. If it’s not, then you may have a faulty thermometer.
As candy making can require both speed and accuracy, you’ll want a display you can easily read. There are many varying display types available on the market today that you can choose between for your candy thermometer needs.
A digital display is common on most modern made thermometers, which give you a digital readout of the temperature of your food on an LCD screen.
Digital thermometers can be great for getting a temperature read at a quick glance. Many even include special features, such as alarms for when your food is at the right temp. While these screens can be fast, easy to read, and accessible, it doesn’t allow for a clear visual gauge on fluctuations in temperature the way other displays might.
A dial display is common on the kinds of thermometers you’d typically use for meat, but they can be found on candy thermometers as well.
While these may be more old school than newer digital displays, they can be great for showcasing temperatures with better accuracy. These displays will often have a dial with both Celsius and Fahrenheit, too, which can be useful for cooks.
An analog thermometer is the thermometer type that comes to mind for most people when they think of temperature. These thermometers feature a glass gauge with a temperature scale, usually mounted on a steel panel, rising and falling as your temperature changes.
These thermometers can be especially great for candy making, as they can include helpful features and often can be clipped to the sides of pots while cooking for accurate readings.
HANDHELD OR CLIP-ON
With candy thermometers, you’ll often find models that come in either handheld or clip-on forms. There are benefits and drawbacks to each.
As we touched on above, a clip-on thermometer can be clipped on the inside of a pot for active temperature readings. While this can be useful for those who like to set and forget and keep their hands free, there can be limitations or unease when it comes to looking for a reading.
Handheld thermometers can be great to put in a pot to get a clear reading that is easier to see in most cases. However, it does not have the consistent temperature read accuracy a clip-on has, and you may find yourself uncomfortable with the heat of holding a thermometer in a hot pot for long.
Thankfully, there are tons of thermometers in both styles on the market. At the end of the day, it truly comes down to user preference.
CANDY MAKING TIPS
If you’re ready to embark on your candy making journey, be sure to keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of your candy thermometer.
When we say candy making requires very specific temperatures, we mean it! As such, be aware of your surroundings when making candy. Candy needs to be made in an extremely dry environment. Sugar naturally attracts water, making wet or humid environments a no go. Avoid candy making on a rainy or humid day or in a humid kitchen.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Candy making is a fast process! In baking, there is some leisure with how and when you can prep, but in candy, making temperatures rise quickly. Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go. You won’t want to rush to chop some ingredients as your sugar heats and not make it to the pan in time!
TEST FOR ACCURACY
As we continue to stress, the temperature is everything when it comes to candy making. Before you start, you should do some basic tests to ensure your temperature is accurate, which we’ll get into below.
CANDY THERMOMETER FAQ
How do I know if the thermometer is accurate?
As we’ve said over and over, accuracy is everything when it comes to candy making. While some thermometers are good to use immediately after purchase, other models require calibration. Even if your thermometer has been calibrated, it’s still good practice to check your thermometer for accuracy from time to time.
The easiest way to do this is to get a read on a pot of boiling water. Put your thermometer in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. The boiling point should be 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. If your thermometer gets this reading, that means it’s accurate!
If inaccurate, you will need to take note of the temperature difference and take it into account for all future cooking. For example, if your thermometer registered boiling water as 210 degrees Fahrenheit, you will have to work that 2 degrees over number into your future candy-making temperatures.
Can I use a candy thermometer to check body temperature?
This answer to this one varies on the type and style of candy thermometer you are using. In most cases, though, using a candy thermometer cannot be used to get an accurate read on body temperature. It’s okay to use as a last resort, but a traditional oral thermometer is recommended.
Can I use a candy thermometer for meat or a deep fryer?
Again, If your thermometer is a probe like one (and not a clip-on), it can be useful for sticking into and reading the temperature of most meats. Probes and clip-ons can also be used to measure deep fryer oil temperature. In fact, a candy thermometer may be the best choice in these instances due to its high-temperature range.
While candy thermometers can be used for meats and/or deep fryers, that does not mean meat thermometers can be used for candy. In most cases, meat thermometers do not reach the high range levels of a candy thermometer needed for candy making.