The Best Candy Thermometers of 2023
Candy thermometers give bakers the ability to continually monitor the temperatures of their candy concoctions. This level of precision is necessary to create perfectly crunchy peanut brittle, smooth caramel, fluffy divinity, rich fudge, and more. The best candy thermometers attach securely to your pan so your hands stay far away from your boiling candy, provide accurate temperature reads, have an easy-to-read display, and are simple to clean.
Candy thermometers are also important for safety: “They stay in place when you are working with hot molten sugar – you don’t want to have any distractions,” says Sommer.
Sommer and I took these factors into account and also leaned on her recipe-developing expertise to scour the market for the best candy thermometers. After researching the different types of candy thermometers available and reading hundreds of product reviews online, we came up with the four best candy thermometers.
Our top choices include Sommer’s favorite candy thermometer, the Taylor Classic Line Candy Thermometer, which is similar to the one she uses to make her Leche Quemada (AKA Mexican Burnt Milk Candy). Below you’ll find more details about our top picks, as well as important information on how to choose the right candy thermometer for you.
Our Top Picks:
1. Sommer’s Top Pick: Taylor Classic Line Candy Thermometer – $8.50 at Walmart
2. Best Digital Candy Thermometer: ThermoPro TP511 Digital Candy Thermometer – $26.99 at Amazon
3. Best Candy Thermometer for Deep Frying: OXO Candy & Deep Fry Thermometer – $24.76 at Amazon
4. Best Infrared Candy Thermometer: Cuisinart Infrared Surface Thermometer – $33 at Amazon
Reviews of The Best Candy Thermometers
1. Sommer’s Top Pick: Taylor Classic Line Candy Thermometer
Whether she’s making bacon peanut pecan brittle or maple walnut fudge, Sommer uses this style of candy thermometer to ensure that her candy desserts turn out just right. The Taylor Classic Line Candy Thermometer is easy to use, affordable, and designed to generate accurate temperature readings.
The thermometer can read temperatures up to 400 degrees F, and comes with an adjustable clip that you can attach to your pot. This clip allows you to monitor the temperature of your candy hands-free and ensures that the tip of the thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot (this leads to an inaccurate reading).
It also comes with a storage sleeve that features a temperature guide listing all of the temperature ranges ideal for making candy and various deep-fried foods. The Taylor Classic Line Candy Thermometer is also built to last; it’s made of tempered glass, which is four times stronger than ordinary glass.
What Sommer Says:
“I’ve had my candy thermometer for 10+ years. The numbers are large so it’s easy to read and has a good clip on the side.”
- Type: Analog
- Temperature range: 100-400 degrees F
- Length: 12 inches
- Small, easy to store
- Comes with a cooking guide
- Made of strong glass
- Slower reading compared to digital versions
- No protective handle
- Print may be too small to read for some bakers
- Tends to get condensation inside the glass
Buy the Taylor Classic Line Candy Thermometer:
2. Best Digital Candy Thermometer: ThermoPro TP511 Digital Candy Thermometer
The best instant-read candy thermometer is a digital candy thermometer. These products offer lightning-speed temperature readings compared to their analog counterparts. This model from ThermoPro offers just that, as well as many other features that make it a solid candy thermometer.
The ThermoPro can read temperatures up to 572 degrees F, and features a relatively large display that has a backlight for easier viewing. What stands out about this candy thermometer the most is that it’s programmable. You can set your desired temperature ahead of time and once that temperature is reached, the screen will turn bright red, indicating doneness.
The ThermoPro TP511’s screen is also anti-vapor, so you don’t need to worry about the display ever getting fogged up (a common problem with candy thermometers). You can easily adjust the thermometer with the included pan clip or the rotating temperature head, and if the temperature ever seems off or goes a little haywire, there is a calibration function that allows you to easily reset the device.
- Type: Digital
- Temperature range: 50-572 degrees F
- Length: 11.5 inches
- Fast readings
- Ability to program temperature
- Anti-vapor and backlit display for easy viewing
- Requires battery for operation
- Pricier than analog models
- No protective sleeve for storage
Buy the ThermoPro TP511 Digital Candy Thermometer:
3. Best Candy Thermometer for Deep Frying: OXO Candy & Deep Fry Thermometer
OXO is known for its thoughtfully designed cooking tools, and this thermometer is no different. What makes this thermometer great for both candy-making and deep frying is its size. The thermometer is more than a foot long, measuring 16.5 inches exactly. These extra inches (many candy thermometers are 12 inches or less) matter, as the longer length makes it easier to avoid burns that can happen when handling hot oil and boiling candy concoctions.
Our pick for the best deep fry candy thermometer measures temperatures up to 400 degrees F and comes with a handy guide on the thermometer to help with cooking. These markers indicate the temperature ranges that are best for deep frying, chocolate melting, making caramel, and more. The thermometer also comes with an adjustable clip and a rounded foot that helps prevent scrapes as you maneuver the product in your pot.
- Type: Analog
- Temperature range: 100-400 degrees F
- Length: 16.5 inches
- Extra-long length
- Guide for cooking on the thermometer
- Anti-scrape foot
- Doesn’t list all candy stages on the thermometer guide
- Pricier compared to other analog models
- Slower readings compared to digital counterparts
What Others Are Saying:
Buy the OXO Candy & Deep Fry Thermometer:
4. Best Infrared Candy Thermometer: Cuisinart Infrared Surface Thermometer
This Cuisinart Infrared Surface Thermometer gives you the ability to get instant temperature reads of your caramel or fudge at a safe distance. These reads can be achieved thanks to the device’s laser technology, which can generate temperatures from objects as far as 12 inches away.
This effectively eliminates the need for bakers to get too close to their bubbling candy mixtures. The thermometer can read temperatures up to 716 degrees F, can be switched to Celsius with the push of a button, and has backlit display options for easier viewing.
This Cuisinart cooking tool also has an automatic shut-off and comes with its own battery. When you’re making candy with this, just make sure to aim in direct line with your candy mixture; angling the device may result in your pot getting a temperature read instead.
- Type: Digital
- Temperature range: Up to 716 degrees F
- Weight: 0.5 pounds
- No-contact candy thermometer
- Requires batteries
- Doesn’t monitor temperatures as consistently as a thermometer placed in a pot
- May provide inaccurate reading if angled incorrectly.
Buy the Cuisinart Infrared Surface Thermometer:
Other Candy Thermometers We Researched
This candy thermometer from KitchenAid has a lot going for it. It has a large display for easy reading, lists the candy-making stages on the thermometer, and has a silicone handle so you don’t feel the heat that is trapped in the stainless steel from candy-making. However, since this is designated as a deep-fry thermometer as well, it would be helpful if there were also labels on the thermometer that indicated the best temperatures for deep frying. The KitchenAid KQ907 Candy and Deep Fry Thermometer is available on Amazon for $19.99.
The Williams-Sonoma candy thermometer has an adjustable pot clip, can read temperatures up to 400 degrees F, has a protective handle, and was named the best candy thermometer by the Food Network. Although Williams-Sonoma brand-name cookware is lauded for its quality, without being able to see reviews of the product, we truly don’t know how it performs among the masses. The Williams Sonoma Easy-Read Candy Thermometer is available at Williams-Sonoma for $21.95.
This two-in-one product is pretty incredible, giving bakers the ability to stir mixtures and get temperature reads at the same time. The thermometer can read temperatures between 58 and 572 degrees F and can be removed from the silicone spatula for easier cleaning. This is a cool invention, however, it does require batteries, which can become inconvenient. Plus, the reading may not be as accurate as a thermometer that has a completely exposed probe. The Lightbeam Digital LCD Candy Spatula Thermometer is available at Amazon for $16.49.
This is truly the candy thermometer of the future. Its Bluetooth capabilities mean that instead of inputting your desired temperature manually into the thermometer, you can do so remotely on your smartphone. It comes with a pot clip and contains a convenient alarm that sounds once candy or oil (this can also be used for deep frying) reaches your set temperature. Considering its high price, we’d love to see reviews from fellow bakers before we name it as one of our top picks. Williams-Sonoma Bluetooth Candy Thermometer is available at Williams-Sonoma for $64.95.
The Taylor Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer is the most popular candy thermometer on Amazon, boasting an average of 4.6 rating out of more than 11,000 ratings. The thermometer has a pot clip, lists the stages of candy making on the thermometer next to the temperatures, is big (which is great for safety and easy temperature reading), and can also be used for deep frying. Despite its popularity, and getting the stamp of approval from Food & Wine, the actual reviews of the product on Amazon were very mixed. The Taylor Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer is available on Amazon for $10.12.
Why You Can Trust Us
I’m Rachel Center, a food writer who has covered and tested food products and written about cookware, bakeware, kitchen gadgets, meal prep tools, and more. I’ve interviewed chefs, bakers, sommeliers, and baristas for content brands such as Food & Wine, Real Simple, and The Kitchn. I’ve also been an avid home cook for more than 10 years, testing out new sweet or savory recipes in my kitchen daily.
Sommer and I also utilized her experience creating candy recipes—such as Chocolate Toffee Christmas Crack and Peppermint Fudge—to come up with the best candy thermometers. We also took into account customer reviews as well as a thermometer’s temperature range, performance, ease of use, size, and features, such as if it had a pan clip or programmable settings.
What to Know About Candy Thermometers
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Candy Thermometer
The temperature range for candy monitors is usually between 100 and 400 degrees F, although there are some models (usually digital) out there that can measure less than 100 degrees and beyond 500 degrees F. However, for candy making and deep frying, you don’t need a thermometer that generates temperatures beyond 400 degrees F (375 degrees F is the maximum temperature for deep frying; sugar burns past 350 degrees F).
In general, there are two types of candy thermometers: analog and digital. Analog thermometers have temperatures listed on them and come with a clip that you can attach to the side of your pan. While inside the pan, the liquid encased in the glass tube on the thermometer rises to the temperature that your mixture is at, letting you know what stage you are at in the candy-making process.
Digital, on the other hand, provides an instant read and bigger display, plus some other bells and whistles such as backlights and programmable settings. Some digital candy thermometers come with pan clips, while others, such as infrared models, don’t, since they require you to hold the device over the candy to measure temperatures. Note: Analog models are usually priced much less than their digital counterparts.
Display is important. If you can’t easily see the temperatures, you run the risk of ruining your candy. The best display is based on your personal preferences. If you don’t want to get your face too close to your candy concoction or are near-sighted, you’ll be better off with a digital thermometer, which usually has a large display and backlight for easier viewing. But that doesn’t mean that analog thermometers have tiny text; Sommer says the temperatures on her analog candy thermometer are big and easy for her to read.
Can I Use a Meat Thermometer for Candy?
You can, but you may get a different experience because meat thermometers weren’t designed for making candy. And since candy-making requires the utmost precision, using a tool that wasn’t made for making candy means that the margin for error is increased. This could result in your batch not meeting its full potential, or worse, getting ruined. Meat thermometers are also shorter and don’t come with a pan clip, so not only are you more likely to get burned from getting too close to your candy mixture, but having to constantly insert the meat thermometer into your pot will just get annoying.
If you’re making something that requires a candy thermometer, but you didn’t know that before starting the recipe, using a meat thermometer in a pinch will do just fine. But if you plan on making peanut brittle, caramel, or fudge even semi-regularly, it’s worth it to invest in a candy thermometer, which is usually the same price, or less, than your average meat thermometer.
Can I Use a Candy Thermometer for Oil?:
Yes! Like candy making, there is a level of precision needed for making delicious, deep-fried foods, such as Sommer’s Best Southern Fried Okra. Optimal temperatures for deep frying are between 325 to 375 degrees F. Candy thermometers allow you to closely monitor the temperatures of your oil in addition to keeping you far away from the scalding hot liquid as it cooks. The directions for using the thermometer for deep frying are the same for candy making: put the thermometer in the oil before you turn on the heat, and make sure the tip doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot for the most accurate reading.
How to Use a Candy Thermometer:
Candy thermometers are incredibly simple to use. Before you do anything, start by checking that your thermometer’s temperature reading is accurate. A common complaint we found in candy thermometer reviews is that temperature readings can be wrong. You can check this by boiling a pot of water. If the temperature registers at 212 degrees (water’s boiling point) and stays there, then your thermometer is accurate.
After you’ve done that, insert the candy thermometer into the pot before adding your ingredients. Initially and throughout the candy-making process, you want to make sure your thermometer is never touching the bottom of the pot. This results in an inaccurate reading, as the candy thermometer measures the temperature of the bottom of the pot instead of the mixture. From there, you’ll start to get readings on your candy thermometer.
Instructions for analog and digital models with a probe are usually the same, though some may vary depending on your digital model. If you are able to program your desired temperature, do that before you put your thermometer into your pot. Infrared models usually just require you to turn on the device, aim, and it reads temperature immediately.
After you’ve finished making your candy, Sommer suggests waiting until your thermometer cools, then sticking the part of the thermometer with stuck-on sugar into a warm glass of water and waiting until that dissolves. However, check your manufacturer’s instructions before doing this, as some thermometers can get ruined if you immerse any part of it in water.
How to Read a Candy Thermometer:
There are six stages to candy making: thread stage (230-234 degrees F), soft-ball stage (234-241 degrees F), firm stage (242 to 248 degrees F), hard-ball stage (250-266 degrees F), soft-crack stage (270-289 degrees F), and hard-crack stage (295-309 degrees F). There are some candy thermometers that have the stages listed on the product, but in the absence of that guide, the only other way to be sure is to know the temperature range of the stages. You can make syrup during the thread stage, fudge and fondant during the softball stage, caramel during the firm stage, marshmallows during the hardball stage, toffee during the soft crack stage, and peanut brittle during the hard crack stage.
The Best Recipes to Use Your Candy Thermometer
Candy thermometers allow you to make all kinds of delectable candy recipes. Check out some of Sommer’s favorite candy recipes that she uses her candy thermometer (our top pick) to make.
- Easy Cinnamon Pecan Praline Recipe
- The Tastiest Turkish Delight Recipe (Lokum)
- Bourbon Salted Caramel Candy Recipe
- Chocolate Toffee Crack Recipe
Prices were accurate at the time of publication.