Question of the Week: Candy Thermometers

Deb writes: “Do you have any suggestions for a good candy thermometer?  What do you think of the instant read thermometer?”

There are many types of food thermometers on the market.  In my opinion, every home kitchen should have both a meat thermometer (for safety) and a candy/oil thermometer (for accuracy).  Here, I’ll just review 3 of the most common types of thermometers.

Instant Read – This type of thermometer has a 1″ dial on top of a probe.  It sometimes needs to be callibrated (make sure temp is set correctly) before use by using either ice water or boiling water.  There are both digital and analog types of Instant Read Thermometers.  Cost is approx. $10.

This is good for:  Probing a food to get an instant read on where the temperature is.

The problem with this type of thermometer is: Since it is meant to just probe the food (stick it into the food).  It is not practical (let alone safe) for holding over a pot of hot liquid to gauge temperatures, such as when making candy.

Analog Thermometer – This type of  thermometer is calibrated to gauge the wide range of heat required for working with sugar and oil. It clips on the side of the pan so you can continually monitor the rising temperature.  Cost is approx. $16.00

This is good for: use it for oil or candy to be able to carefully watching the temperature.

The problem with this type of thermometer is: Temperatures on oil and candy rise quickly initially, but then very slowly as it gets to the right temperature.  This means you have to actually stand at the stove watching the thermometer so you don’t over-heat.  Some also find the analog difficult to read.

Digital Oil and Candy thermometer – Use this type of thermometer for professional results. It beeps & flashes when the perfect temperature is reached and it has 14 preset temperatures for all candy & deep frying needs.   It clips on the side of the pan.  Cost is approx $35.00

This is good for: All types of candies as well as oil.  Since it beeps when the preset temperature is achieved, it allows you to walk away from the stove.  It is also the most accurate.

The problem with this type of thermometer is: You should remove the battery from it each time you use.

I have all of these types (and more) in my kitchen, but I always use the digital thermometer for accuracy and convenience.


About bakingway

Baker/Pastry Chef for over 25 years.

Posted on March 25, 2011, in Candy, Question of the Week: Tools and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you SO much for the information…I have always wondered which was best, and now I know! Thank you for the short and concise information you provided!!! 🙂

  2. Thanks Chris,
    This is fantastic information about the thermometers and I always wondered what was correct for candy.

    BTW, do you have a recipee for a candy that is puffed up, tastes like molasses, and melts in your mouth. I remember it from the Danbury Fair when I was a youth and I used to be able to get it from a catalogue from Vermont but now they only carry it chocolate coated. I am sure it has baking soda in it to make it puff and be so light and I would love to have some. Let me know

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