When making candies, having a thermometer handy makes things a lot easy. Even a small temperature difference can make your soft fudge a rock candy! It’s true, candy making is science. And based on the temperature you cook the sugar, chocolate, etc, you get the result that you desire.
So how do you choose which thermometer is the best for you?
There are several factors to be considered before you purchase a thermometer for making your holiday treats. Here are three of the most important points based on which you can make an informed decision.
How do you want the temperature reading to be displayed? There are glass thermometers that use mercury or non-toxic alcohol level to display the readings and then there are the more sophisticated digital thermometers which display the temperature values digitally. They generally have a quick response time. But digital thermometers need maintenance, with frequent change of batteries, and are mostly not waterproof of dishwasher safe.
Almost all thermometers come with a clip that you can attach to the side of the pot in which you are cooking your candies. This is important, as otherwise, it becomes inconvenient to hold the thermometer with one hand and stir the liquid with the other, at the same time. Some stainless steel thermometers also come with a metal lip at the bottom that ensures that the thermometer bulb does not hit the pan at the bottom and shows a reading that’s higher than the actual temperature of the liquid.
While most thermometers that are available in the market are designed to measure temperature within the range of 100 to 400 °F, there are products with an upper range of 572 °F, and a much lower range starting at – 58 °F. Some thermometers also come labeled with temperature zones that indicate soft ball stage (for making fudge), firm ball stage (for making caramel), hard ball (for making hard candy), medium crack, and hard crack for making brittle candies like lollipops.
A Detailed Look at Our Top Recommended Products
These are our top six picks of the many candy thermometers available.
1. Taylor Candy & Deep Fry Stainless Steel Paddle Thermometer
This stainless steel thermometer gives consistently accurate readings, whether you are using it to fry donuts or heat caramel. The temperature range corresponding to the different stages of making candy is clearly written on the surface, making it a convenient option for both professionals and amateurs.
- 12 inches in length
- Readings are shown in Fahrenheit and Celsius (Range: 100 to 400°F)
- Magnified display of temperature readings
- Made of food-grade stainless steel
- Has a heat resistant nylon handle to hold
- Comes with a pan clip which can be attached to a pan of any size
- Can be wiped clean with a damp washcloth
- Dishwasher safe
- Numbers on the display peel off soon
- Not oven safe
- The thermometer tip breaks easily
This thermometer is simple and easy to use. Latch it to the side of the pan using the clip, and adjust the height based on the level of liquid that’s in the pan. Make sure that the tip does not touch the bottom as that might give an erroneous reading. After its use, it’s best not to run it under cold water, as the temperature difference can crack the glass, as has happened for a few users. Other than that, this usually gives an accurate reading, whether you are measuring the temperature of your candy when it’s in the ‘thread’ stage, or the ‘hard-crack’ (when it is almost done) stage. It is 12 inches long and fits well in a pot that has enough depth. A heat-resistant holder makes it burn proof. Though it gives a magnified display of the final temperature reading, you might find it a little strenuous to read it sometimes.
2. Wilton Candy Thermometer
If you have a big family of candy lovers, this large-sized thermometer can be your best bet to making a perfectly textured candy glaze, home-made churros, or hard candies.
- 14.7 inches long
- Comes with a clip that can be attached to the side of the cooking pan
- Readings are shown in Fahrenheit and Celsius (Range: 60° to 400° F)
- Can be cleaned by washing in soapy warm water
- Has a metal lip at the bottom that prevents the thermometer bulb from touching the pan and showing erroneous reading
- Shows accurate readings
- Not dishwasher safe
- The clip that holds it to the pan is not tight enough in some cases
This thermometer is larger than most that are available in the market. It can be clipped to the side of the pan to monitor the temperature of your candy even as it’s cooking. It clips better on pans with a slightly curved top rather than on ones that have straight sides. There is a metal clip in the bottom that makes sure that the fragile thermometer bulb doesn’t touch the sides of the pan. However, this also makes it difficult for the thermometer bulb to immerse in the liquid if the quantity is too scanty. In such cases, you can tilt the pot just a bit, and stick the thermometer in manually without using the clip. Since it has an insulated hold and has considerable length, there is a low risk of you burning your hands. The thermometer can be cleaned easily with just a quick rinse with warm soapy water. Unfortunately, it is neither dishwasher nor microwave safe.
3. Polder Candy / Jelly / Deep Fry Thermometer Stainless Steel with Pot Clip
A glass thermometer with a stainless steel casing, this is a no-fuss thermometer that is easy to calibrate, easy to use, and easy to maintain. It can be used for making candies, jellies, yogurt, and deep-fried items.
- Measures 12 inches in length
- Comes with a temperature reference guide that indicates the ideal temperature range for deep fry, thread, soft ball, hard ball, soft crack, and hard crack stages
- Pot clip attachment holds thermometer in place for precise readings
- Temperature is displayed in Celsius and Fahrenheit (Range: 90°F and 400°F)
- Dishwasher safe (top rack only)
- Uses rust-resistant stainless steel
- The handle is insulated and stays cool-to-the-touch
- Temperature reference guide makes it easy to monitor the temperature
- Some find the reading inaccurate
- The numbers on the display come off after a while
Encased in a rust-resistant stainless steel casing, this thermometer can be used without the fear that you might crack it. As with many others, this thermometer also comes with a metal stand at the bottom of the thermometer so that the bulb doesn’t hit the bottom, and always remains half an inch above it. Polder’s thermometers give you the flexibility of either latching it on the side of the pan or let it stand on the base of the pan. Either way, the readings come consistently. Some users have found the readings inaccurate. To reduce the chances of this occurring, it would be a good practice to calibrate the thermometer frequently. Dip it in a glass of ice cubes, and measure after three minutes. It should read 32 °F. If it doesn’t adjust the glass against the stainless steel casing to remove the offset.
4. GoodCook Classic Candy / Deep Fry Thermometer
A glass thermometer with a protective sleeve, this item can be safely stored and traveled with. As a bonus, the sleeve mentions the required temperature for candies and other fried items and can be a quick reference guide for those who are new into the world of candy making.
- Glass thermometer with a plastic sheath
- Shows readings both in Celsius and Fahrenheit (Range: 100 to 400 °F)
- Features an easy-lift clip to attach to the side of any pot
- Made in Taiwan
- Easy to store
- The protective sleeve makes it easy to store after use
- Comes with a sleeve that has quick temperature references
- There is no calibration capability
- Not watertight
With a cute red clip and a snug plastic sleeve, this thermometer gets full marks for its looks. It can be easily stored and carried around, and with good precision, measures the temperature of your boiling oil or candy. The red clip allows it to attach to the side of the pan. However, care should be taken that the tip, though encased in glass, does not hit the sides or the base of the pan, as it is likely to break or give a wrong reading. The thermometer has a fast response and displays the readings in just a few seconds. However, the print is small, and sometimes because of the high temperature, the inside of the glass gets foggy making it difficult for one to read the marking. The thermometer sleeve also includes a quick temperature guide for making french fries, donuts, syrup, fudge, etc.
5. CDN DTC450 Digital Candy / Deep Fry / Pre-Programmed & Programmable Thermometer
This digital candy thermometer comes with pre-programmed candy making and deep frying settings that make it easier to create that professional-looking caramel glaze.
- Shows temperature readings between the range of 40 and 450 °F
- Includes seven pre-programmed candy stages
- Features a nine and a half-inch stainless steel stem
- Comes with an adjustable stainless steel clip that can attach it to the pot
- Comes with a plastic case for storage after use
- Gives an alert warning when desired temperature is reached
- Shuts down automatically
- Works with two 1.5V button IEC LR44 alkaline batteries
- The display is easy to read
- The pre-programmed settings lower the chances of mistakes
- Warning alerts make the cooking process easier
- There is a temperature guide on the sheath for quick reference
- The digital readout is unclear when measuring high temperatures
- Sometimes the reading gets stalled
- Maintenance involves changing batteries often
This digital thermometer can greatly reduce the chances of you overcooking your candy. It is designed to give alert warnings through the cooking process. For example, if you want to cook at a certain range of temperature, you can set it in the thermometer, and it will beep when it’s about to reach the low range, again when it is in the range, and yet again when it has touched the higher range. At any point, it will show both the current temperature of the item that’s being cooked in the pot and the temperature that has been set for it to reach. Unfortunately, the display sometimes seems distorted when used to measure temperatures of over 240 °F. Some customers have complained that the reading gets stuck, and to resume it to work, they have to give it a shake. However, since the thermometer also beeps besides giving a visual reading, your candy glaze will still turn out okay. If you are not clipping the thermometer to the side of the pan, you can dip it while making sure that the tip doesn’t touch the base. This is a good buy if you are looking for a thermometer that will make sure you get your candy consistency right. With features such as alert warnings, automatic off, and pre-programmed settings, this is probably what you want if you are new into candy making.
6. Habor 022 Digital Candy Thermometer with Super Long Probe
This sleek pen-look-alike thermometer is easy to carry or store, and is the best choice if you are looking for a product that can help you not just with chocolate and jam making, but also to get accurate readings of a cooked turkey or milk.
- Gives digital readings within four to six seconds
- The error range is 1.8 °F
- Clear LCD display
- The probe is 4.7 inches long
- Works on batteries
- Shows readings in Celsius and Fahrenheit (Range: -58℉ to 572℉)
- Comes with a user manual and a meat temperature guide
- Comes with a AG13 (also named “LR44”) button battery
- Come with a protective sheath that makes it easy to carry or store
- Gets automatically turned off after 10 minutes
- Has a quick response time
- The battery cover seems to fall off for some
- It is not waterproof
This thermometer is easy to use and store. Like most digital thermometers, this also consists of a long metal probe. It has two buttons apart from the LCD display screen. One button is to select if you want the readings in Celsius or Fahrenheit, and the other is to turn on and turn off the device. Although when left by itself the thermometer does turn off automatically. It can be used for measuring the temperature of a diverse variety of foods including meat, barbecue, water, besides candy. The temperature reading is displayed within six seconds and a majority of the customers have found it to be accurate with an error of maybe a little over 1 °F. There is no mechanism to calibrate it, and you just have to take into account the offset while using it. The probe is long enough and convenient to use. Though there have been some complaints of the battery cover being loose and falling off. Another thing to be careful about while using this sleek item is not to run it underwater, as it is too sensitive and its performance can be affected. A good practice is to clean it with a damp cloth and store it inside the protective cover that comes along with the product.
7. Defull Candy Thermometer
This is a sturdy easy-to-maintain thermometer with a stainless steel casing and can be used for making candies and jams.
- Length is 11.87 inches
- Displays temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit (Range: 100°F to 400°F)
- Measurement accuracy: plus or minus 4°F
- Uses rust-proof stainless steel
- Includes pot clip attachment to hold the thermometer in place
- Comes with an insulated handle
- Includes a hanging loop
- Uses a non-toxic material instead of mercury
- Temperature zones for candy making are labeled on the thermometer making it easier to monitor the process
- It has a gourd at the bottom that protects the thermometer bulb
- Dishwasher safe
- Not applicable for deep frying as that temperature is beyond the maximum limit of this thermometer
- The numbers might fade off
To get the best results hold it in the middle of the pot, instead of clipping it on the side of the pot. The reading is pretty accurate, though some customers found that following the labels for candy stages blindly often failed to give them the desired results. So it would be best to keep an eye on the temperature value rather than follow the temperature zones. Now, the thermometer is easy to use. It can be slid into the pot, or clipped on the side. The height can be adjusted using the clip. It comes with a gourd at the bottom that protects the thermometer bulb from touching the sides or the bottom of the pan. This works best when you are making candy, jam, or syrup. There is no fuss to clean as it is dishwasher safe.
Making candies can be tricky. Using a thermometer to account for the temperature change can help the process. Depending on how frequently and how much you make candies, you can make your choice from the list that we curated for you. Some have digital displays, and some use metal proves to measure the temperature. While all of the above listed thermometers can be used for making candies, some can be even used for checking the temperature of meat, and barbecue. Some have clips that can be latched to the pan, and some come with alert warnings. Whatever your priority might be, the list has that covered. Hope the quick run-down of the best thermometers in the market today helped you make your best choice. If it did, let the candy making begin!