Three Things to Consider When Buying a Candy Thermometer

Making great candy requires a thermometer that delivers an accurate temperature reading. Here’s what to look for to find the best model.

Want to make your own candy? A good thermometer is a necessity.Photo by David Greenwood-Haigh on Unsplash

Homemade candies are a special treat, but you really need to get the temperatures spot on if you want to get your confections perfect every time. That’s why smart cooks rely on the most accurate candy thermometers they can find. Finding the right candy thermometer isn’t as easy as it sounds, however, simply because there are so many good options out there. To help you make the best choice, consider these three key features.

Pick Your Purpose

Candy Thermometer
This easy-to-read thermometer features six temperature zone readouts including deep fry, thread, soft ball, hard ball, soft crack and hard crack stages. The insulated handle does not retain heat for safe handling.Polder

Candy cooks have several choices in the kind of thermometers they can choose from. Dual-purpose thermometers not only work for candy, but they also provide temperature readouts for frying. Having one thermometer that does multiple tasks will save some room in your kitchen drawer, so if you do a lot of both, this might be your choice. Increments on dual-purpose models tend to be somewhat wider, however, so if you want to get the most accurate readings, a candy-only thermometer may be the way to go.

Manual or Digital

candy thermometer
This probe thermometer is perfect for making chocolate or ensuring meats are perfectly cooked. Digital readouts take only 4 to 6 seconds.Habor

Both types of candy thermometers will provide you with highly accurate readings. Manual readout thermometers never need batteries—a real plus if you’ve ever considered what happens if your thermometer dies during a crucial sugaring stage. However, digital thermometers are easy to read and some models have programmable features that allow you to set a temperature alert. When your sugar syrup reaches a certain temperature, you get a nice audible beep so you won’t overcook. On either model, just make sure they’re easy to read when clipped to the side of a pan.

Readouts are Critical

candy thermometer
This digital model provides a temperature range of 40 to 450 F. It comes pre-programmed or you can program it yourself for super accurate readings.Amazon

Whether you choose a manual or digital candy thermometer, make sure the temperature readouts are easy to read. Candy making changes at warp speed, so you need to be able to tell at a glance when your syrup has reached the right stage. Some candy thermometers also show increments for the various candy stages—thread through hard crack—which is a great feature. You’ll also want a thermometer that goes up to at least 310F (or higher if you’re making caramel coatings or chocolate sauces).