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Published Sep. 9, 2021

If you’re excited to try your hand at making beautiful homemade candies, you’ll need a few important tools before you dive in. In particular, a great candy thermometer can help you dial into the exact temperatures that matter in candy making. Whether you’re tempering glossy dark chocolate truffles or spinning webs of harded colorful sugar to garnish a cake, candy making is a science. And like any other science, it requires precision. 

In addition to adding your ingredients in the proper ratios with careful measurement, you’ll also need to reach very specific temperatures to make sure your product comes out the way you expect. A few degrees Fahrenheit can make the difference between too-soft and sticky caramel that sticks your teeth together like cement and a perfectly buttery, chewable treat.  

We’ve done the research to find the all-around best candy thermometers to help you safely master the perfect texture with your sweet treats every time.

How We Selected the Best Candy Thermometers

Methodology

Many candy thermometers have some standard features that make them easy to use. As a trained chef and product reviewer, I research and test these products. To find the best thermometers for home cooks, I looked into some specific criteria.

  • Display: No matter how accurate your thermometer is, if you can’t read the display at a quick glance, it’s not going to make things easier in the kitchen. All of the thermometers that made the list have easy-to-read displays that keep you moving and in the know.
  • Size: Candy thermometers should be easy to store and maneuver in the kitchen. The devices on this list are lightweight, compact, and won’t take up too much real estate in your kitchen.
  • Versatility: A great thermometer can do more than guide your candy making. These products are useful or deep-frying, grilling, roasting meat, and really any other technique that depends on specific temperatures.
  • Accuracy: If your thermometer doesn’t have an accurate reading, your recipe can go wrong very quickly. The products on this list have a high degree of accuracy that’s proven and well tested. They are also easy to recalibrate if things get off-kilter, which is likely to happen over years of use.

The Best Candy Thermometers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Value: Polder Jelly/Candy Thermometer

Powerful and Budget-Friendly

This inexpensive manual thermometer has an impressive temperature range and a sturdy construction for hands-free temperature measurements while you cook. Polder

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Why It Made The Cut: Polder’s candy thermometer has a wide temperature range despite its affordable price tag. 

Specs: 

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 6.75 x 4.75 x 15.25 inches
  • Upper temperature rating: 400°F
  • Lower temperature rating: 90°F
Pros:Cons:
  • Top rack dishwasher-safe
  • Larger and bulkier than other thermometers
  • Rust-resistant stainless steel
  • Not compatible with all pots
  • Cool-touch handle
  • Pot clip attachment
  • The Polder Jelly/Candy Thermometer is a fantastic and budget-friendly option for more than just candy making. It has a large, clear and easy-to-read display, so you can quickly check your temperature measurement while you’re in the middle of a busy culinary project or working with especially hot liquids. The thermometer has a convenient stainless steel clip in the back that attaches firmly to most standard pots. The clip is adjustable and easily slides up and down so the thermometer sits exactly where you need it. 

    The 15.25-inch length makes this a great option for deep frying and making jam in a large quantity. The thermometer works best in larger, deeper pots that can accommodate its size. There is a rounded bulb on the bottom, so the device needs at least ½ inch of liquid to get an accurate temperature reading. The thermometer ranges from 90°F to 400°F, which is ideal for everything from melting chocolate to deep frying golden donuts to achieving hard-crack caramel.

    Best Round-Faced Thermometer: Escali Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer

    A Kitchen Classic

    This handy clip-on thermometer has a clear round dial that’s easy to attach the side of your pot and read from the top down. Escali

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    Why It Made The Cut: This probe-style thermometer comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and the solid construction you expect from the Escali brand name. 

    Specs: 

    • Material: Stainless steel
    • Dimensions: 2.5 x 5.5 inches
    • Upper temperature rating: 500°F
    • Lower temperature rating: 100°F
    Pros:Cons:
  • Large temperature range
  • 5.5-inch probe may not be long enough for some pots
  • Adjustable target temperature marker
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • NSF certified
  • The timeless Escali Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer has a whopping 500°F temperature range and an easy-to-read dial face. It has a clear red target temperature marker so you can tell from a glance if you’ve hit your target without having to squint at the small numbers and tick marks. Escali has also added handy cues to the dial face to indicate the important temperatures in candy making, including hard crack, hard ball, and caramel stages. 

    The glass-faced dial is shatterproof and you can even pop the entire thermometer into the dishwasher to clean stuck-on caramel or other food after use. It’s also totally oven-safe, which is handy if you’re worried about overcooking a roast or a holiday bird. The dial will give you a clear temperature reading right through the oven door. 

    If you find that the thermometer loses its accuracy (an easy way to test is by submerging it in boiling water, which should read a steady 212°F/100°C), this device is easy to recalibrate. You just need a small wrench to adjust the nut on the thermometer probe.

    Best Overall: CDN Digital Candy Thermometer

    The Smartest Thermometer Around

    This digital thermometer helps beginners and established bakers control the candy-making process for greater precision and fewer mistakes. CDN

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    Why It Made The Cut: This feature-rich thermometer takes the guesswork out of candy production. This is the only thermometer that allows you to program target temperatures so you’re never off by even a degree. 

    Specs: 

    • Material: Stainless steel
    • Dimensions: 14 x 1.25 x 0.75 inches
    • Upper temperature rating: 450°F
    • Lower temperature rating: 40°F
    Pros:Cons:
  • Programmable
  • More expensive than other models
  • Dual display for current and target temperatures
  • Adjustable clip for pot attachment
  • Alert sounds 3°F before target
  • Being able to program your target temperature takes much of the stress of candy making off your shoulders. The large and well-equipped CDN Digital Candy Thermometer has the smart technology to make sure you don’t miss your target and ruin a good batch of caramel or popsicles. It has a 8.25-inch probe that clips comfortably on the edge of deep pots, which is handy for jam making, deep frying and other big-batch cooking projects. 

    If your food heats up to the full 450°F upper temperature limit, a heat shield protects the digital display from damage. This thermometer display is easy to read and use and runs on battery power (one comes included with the thermometer). You’ll also get a friendly nudge when your food is within 3°F of the target temperature you set, so you can always be ready for the next stage of your recipe.

    Most Versatile: Gourmia Digital Spatula Thermometer

    A Thermometer with Benefits

    Do double duty with this thermometer that’s disguised as a rubber spatula. The thermometer probe in the spatula paddle produces a digital reading on a small display on the handle. Gourmia

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    Why It Made The Cut: This cleverly-designed tool is ideal for multitaskers. It offers a constant temperature read as you stir, so you get an accurate reading of the entire pot, not just a particular spot. 

    Specs: 

    • Material: silicone
    • Dimensions: 15 x 3.3 x 1 inches
    • Upper temperature rating: 58°F
    • Lower temperature rating: 572°F
    Pros:Cons:
  • BPA-free silicone
  • Must be hand-washed
  • Removable spatula cover
  • No clip
  • Digital display
  • The Gourmia Digital Spatula Thermometer is a thermometer you’ll want to use for more than just temperature gauging. The 15-inch temperature probe works as-is or can be covered by the secure silicone spatula for stirring, scraping and serving. The digital temperature display is powered by a battery, which comes included. It also has an impressively quick read-out time. The one-button technology can give you an accurate reading in seconds. 

    And if you don’t need the spatula, simply remove it and use the long temperature probe to take a quick measurement of liquids, meat, baked goods, and more. The length of the probe protects your hands from close contact with hot surfaces. Not to mention, this multifaceted thermometer has a temperature range to handle nearly any culinary project, from a cool 58°F all the way up to 572°F. You can easily take this tool on the go––it’s compact, lightweight, and works like a charm for grilling, too.

    Best Digital: ThermoPro Waterproof Digital Thermometer

    Built to Last

    ThermoPro makes a fully-equipped digital thermometer that’s built for versatility and durability ThermoPro

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    Why It Made The Cut: This is one of the only candy thermometers that can dip into the negative digits, which makes it one of the most versatile in the kitchen.

    Specs: 

    • Material: Stainless steel probe, plastic handle
    • Dimensions: 6.75 x 4.75 x 15.25 inches
    • Upper temperature rating: 572°F
    • Lower temperature rating: -58°F
    Pros:Cons:
  • 3-second response time
  • No clip
  • Ambidextrous display rotates with you
  • Motion sensing on/off technology
  • AAA batteries included
  • While the ThermoPro Waterproof Digital Thermometer certainly works for candy making, it does not stop there. This is a hardy multi-purpose kitchen thermometer that you can rely on for everything from temping stretchy caramel to ensuring your salmon is cooked to buttery perfection. The thermometer is impressively accurate and fast. It has an accuracy of ±0.9°F and a response time of less than three seconds, so you can be as precise with your recipe timing as possible. The stainless steel probe is also on a handy swivel, so the digital display is always easily visible, no matter which way you turn. 

    If things get messy, this device is also surprisingly easy to clean. It has a high waterproof rating, so you can rinse it directly under running water. For storage, there’s a handy magnet on the back to attach to your grill, refrigerator or any other metal surface. Thermopro has also made it easy to recalibrate your thermometer if it gets out of whack. The sturdy casing and easy-to-use features make this one of the most reliable and durable thermometers for home cooks.

    Things to Consider Before Buying a Candy Thermometer

    Power Source

    Basic thermometers have no power source at all, while the more advanced models with digital displays do. In most cases, a digital thermometer is battery-powered. All of the thermometers on this list come with batteries, and most will last for thousands of hours of use. If you’re buying a digital thermometer, check the kind of battery it requires. Some, like AAA batteries, are easier to find than more specialized batteries.

    Temperature Range

    Depending on the kind of cooking you plan to do, you may need a thermometer with a larger temperature range. Generally speaking, the larger the range, the more versatile your thermometer will be. For example, thermometers that can accurately measure in the 100°F to 200°F range will be helpful for temping meat and fish, in addition to high-heat candy or jam making.

    Oven-Safety

    If you plan to use your thermometer for more than candy making on the stove, it may be helpful to buy one that’s oven-safe. That way, you can pop the thermometer in a roast and leave the entire thing in a hot oven without worrying about damaging the device. This gives you a constant and accurate read of how your meat or bird is cooking.

    FAQs

    Can I use a meat thermometer for candy?

    This depends on the thermometer you’re using. The temperature range for cooking meat is much lower than the range for candy. For example, chicken shouldn’t exceed 165°F, while hard-crack caramel must reach 300°F at a minimum. As long as your meat thermometer has a high enough range, you should be able to use it for candy.

    Can I use a candy thermometer for meat?

    Yes, since candy thermometers tend to have a wider temperature range than meat thermometers, you can use most candy thermometers to temp meat, fish, and poultry.

    How do I clean a candy thermometer?

    It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance, but your best bet is to clean your themember immediately after use every time. Especially if you’re working with a substance like caramel that hardens as it cools, warm, and in some cases boiling, water can be your friend to remove any stuck-on bits. Some thermometers are dishwasher safe as well.

    Final Thoughts on the Best Candy Thermometers

    A great candy thermometer can bring your chocolate, caramel, and hard candy-making game to an entirely new level, and make things easier for the cook. While all of the devices on this list help you stay in the know about the temperature in your pot, it’s hard to beat the ease of the programmable CDN thermometer. Whether you use it for candy making or sealing up your homemade preserves, this is a handy tool to turn to for any number of culinary projects.

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