The 10 Best Candy Thermometers, According to Customer Reviews
Home cooks know the importance of cooking meat to proper temperatures. One bout of food poisoning from undercooked chicken, and you'll never be tempted to cook from "gut instinct" again. But cooking candies and jellies and heating deep-frying oils isn't quite the same.
There really are no health issues with fudge that doesn't get to the proper temperature or caramel that is overcooked. Instead, the confections will be ruined, and a great deal of ingredients will go in the trash. That's why a candy thermometer is just as important as a meat thermometer for bakers, chocolatiers, and cooks who love to whip up batches of fudge, toffee, brittle, lollipop, and more.
If you're in the market for a candy thermometer or replacing the one you've been using for decades that finally stopped working, there are quite a few things to know about candy thermometers before you buy — like the display type you want and if a strong clip is important.
There are dozens and dozens of models, so we scoured thousands of reviews and polled our own experts to find the best candy thermometers on the market so you can make great candy at home. Take a look at our top picks, and then keep reading about what you should consider before you buy to help you make the right selection for you.
Best Candy Thermometers at a Glance
- Most Popular: Polder Candy Thermometer
- Best Overall and Best Clip-on: Taylor Precision Products Candy & Deep Fry Stainless Steel Paddle Thermometer
- Best Budget: Taylor Precision Products Classic Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer
- Best Digital: CDN Digital Candy/Deep Fry Programmable Thermometer
- Best Instant Read: Habor Candy Thermometer With Super Long Probe
- Best Long Probe: Taylor Adjustable Head Digital Candy Thermometer
- Best for Deep Frying: Winco Deep Fry/Candy Thermometer
- Best Spatula Thermometer: Gourmia Digital Spatula Thermometer
- Best Easy-Read Thermometer: Williams Sonoma Easy-Read Candy Thermometer
- Best Magnetic: ThermoPro TP03H Digital Instant Read Thermometer
- Best Bluetooth Thermometer: Govee Bluetooth Meat Thermometer
Best Candy Thermometers to Buy in 2020
Most Popular: Polder Candy Thermometer
You'll always find this Polder Candy Thermometer among Amazon's top-selling thermometers, and with more than 8,400 reviews, there are many obvious reasons why customers keep purchasing it.
First, it's easy to read. A wide, metal plate surrounds the thermometer and allows for larger print so you can read both temperature and candy style guides easily. Along the sides are six different ranges, with options like thread, soft ball, and deep fry.
Second, reviewers report the clip is very stable, which is important if you're stirring with the thermometer in the pot or pan.
Finally, the price is almost too good to be true. Ten dollars for a highly-accurate candy thermometer is a sweet steal.
Reviewers say the thermometer is a bit too tall in some cases, meaning you'll need lots of liquid in a pan before the temp can be measured. "Good quality but much much bigger than expected. [You'll] need a fair bit of product in the pan before it will reach the scale," one reviewer writes.
Best Overall: Taylor Precision Products Candy & Deep Fry Stainless Steel Paddle Thermometer
If you review any other lists of best candy thermometers, you're going to see this one again and again. That's because this stainless steel option is quite simply the best candy thermometer that has all the bases covered. With oversized numbers, it's easy to read. A large clip keeps it in place so you don't risk dropping it in the hot pot. The nylon handle protects your hand if you need to remove the thermometer while it's been in the pan (others can get quite hot).
It has a good temperature range, too, from 100 degrees F to 400 degrees F, which is adequate for candy making or deep frying. Guides like Choc Melt and Hard Crack guide you as the alcohol gauge rises.
And honestly, the good reviews (almost 2,800 5-star reviews on Amazon) aren't that surprising if you recognize the name. Taylor Precision Products are known for their top-quality thermometers, whether it's for meat or outdoors.
"It was great! I bought this to make sponge candy (a Buffalo favorite) and I was able to use this is the extremely hot sugar! The readings were accurate and clear to see! A must get," one candy maker writes on Amazon.
Best Budget: Taylor Precision Products Classic Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer
If your mother or grandmother made candy when you were younger, this is the candy thermometer you probably remember being in their hands. The classic style certainly has its place — it's very streamlined with no batteries to replace — and it is a real bargain at just over $5.
The analog glass thermometer measures from 100 degrees F to 400 degrees F, and it comes with a clip so it can be held securely to the pan. The internal temperature scale doesn't show your candy ranges, but the thermometer comes packaged in a protective plastic sleeve that's emblazoned with recommended temperatures for candies, jellies, and deep frying.
Even though it's just a few cents more than $5, this candy thermometer comes with a lifetime warranty, so it's a great option for the multitasking candy maker.
"We bought this to make churros and needed to make sure the oil was at proper temperature. This has a nice clamp on the side which is adjustable so you can make it the right length for your pot. Just make sure you read the directions on the package as it explains that you don't want the tip of the thermometer touching the bottom of the pan," one reviewer writes.
Best Digital: CDN Digital Candy/Deep Fry Programmable Thermometer
Rolling liquid sugar and vats of boiling oil are hot, hot, hot. You want to keep a lot of space between yourself and the scorching liquids, and you can with this stainless steel 9 1/2-inch probe thermometer with programmable digital display. Set the thermometer to alert you when your pot has reached the right candy stage (it'll first alert you when you're just three degrees away from your goal, too, so you can prepare yourself), and you can very quickly take your recipe off the hot eye. This will help you avoid overcooking anything and having flaky fudge or shards of sugar.
If you need to keep tabs on the temp as it climbs, the display shows two temps: the temperature set for your recipe, and the current temperature. That way you're not left guessing how much longer you'll be stirring.
For cooks who love deep-frying, this is a great option, too, as you can very quickly and easily see what your oil's temp is. With deep-frying, it's important you don't drop food in when the oil is too cold. The large digital display will help you know when you're in the golden window.
Best Instant Read: Habor Candy Thermometer
Not every meat thermometer can be a candy thermometer, and not every candy thermometer can be a meat thermometer. But this thermometer from Habor can be both — and it reads temps in four to six seconds, which means you're not left standing with your hand over the hot steam of boiling milk or in a hot oven.
The temperature range of this probe thermometer is -58 degrees F to 572 degrees F, which means there's not much in your kitchen this tool cannot measure. Use it of course to make candy, but keep it around for bread baking, roasts, hot milk, even water for pour-over coffee.
With more than 31,000 reviews on Amazon, this probe thermometer still has 4.5 stars, and reviewers like that it's "really easy to use, accurate, and easy to read."
Best Long Probe: Taylor Adjustable Head Digital Candy Thermometer
The digital Habor Candy Thermometer (above) has a long probe, too, but for the ultimate length, you'll want this Taylor Adjustable Candy Thermometer, as its stainless steel probe has a whole two inches on the Habor version.
Plus, the large display digital screen is much easier to read than tiny print on an analogy thermometer, which means you can quickly see the temp of your fudge or taffy, and remove the thermometer (and your hand) so you can get back to stirring.
You can use the thermometer's clip to secure the device to a pan, but reviewers suggest they like using this long-probe candy thermometer as an instant read, inserting it as they go to keep track of the temp instead of constantly monitoring.
And because it's a few more dollars than some of the more economical options, you'll be glad to know you can use this with all kinds of other foods because the temperature scale goes from -40 degrees F to 500 degrees F.
"My husband makes Old Fashion Cream candy and we have been buying a high dollar thermometer that was not very durable," a reviewer writes. "We thought we would take a chance on this one since it was less expensive. He absolutely love this one. We will be buying it from here on."
Best for Deep Frying: Winco Deep Fry/Candy Thermometer
Regular deep fryers will want a dependable thermometer that reads accurately and doesn't require large batches of oil for a measurement. This Winco Deep Fry/Candy Thermometer sits a bit lower than other similar thermometers, so you can measure the temperature of even shallow pans of oil.
And if you're a regular deep fryer, you'll also know that it's a lot easier to clean things by tossing them in the washing machine, and pressing start. Unfortunately for many candy thermometers, regular dish washing isn't recommend (if at all), but reviewers for this tool suggest the ink remains steadfast against washing.
"I use mine at a restaurant multiple times a day and unless you put a scrubber to it they won't come off. We use high temperatures wash and sanitizer to clean it," one reviewer writes.
While this analog thermometer has many positives, it isn't as precise as a digital thermometer, and some deep-frying cooks in the reviews suggested they ended up buying a digital option with a long probe for faster, more accurate readings.
Best Spatula Thermometer: Gourmia Digital Spatula Thermometer
Gourmia's Digital Spatula Thermometer is a two-part tool, with a temperature reader inserted into a food-safe silicone spatula. A novelty in the candy thermometer world, this temperature-measuring spatula might be a good solution to two problems: needing to know the temp of your food while keeping the liquid moving around the pan.
The probe thermometer, which reads from -58 degrees F to 572 degrees F, can also be used with meats, breads, and other foods that require a temperature check. To get the most use out of this, it would be great when stirring lots of other foods, like sauces, creams, even hot cocoa.
A few reviewers suggest this is a good candy thermometer option if you aren't cooking a large recipe, as many traditional candy thermometers require an inch or more of liquid before it reaches the gauge: "This thermometer is excellent for making small batches of candy. Most candy thermometers are too large for small batches and I've tried at least 4 different ones. I'm very pleased with this product," one reviewer writes.
Another writes, "I absolutely love this thermometer. I love how versatile it is, I use it with the spatula when making yogurt and I use the probe when cooking meat. It comes on and off very easily and it is quick at reading out the temperature. Plus it cuts down on having to have 2 separate thermometers. Absolutely love it and glad I chose this."
Buy it: $18; amazon.com
Best Easy Read: Williams Sonoma Easy-Read Candy Thermometer
Like many of the candy thermometers on this list, the Williams Sonoma Easy-Read Candy Thermometer is set up to read from 100 degrees F to 400 degrees F, which makes it ideal for both candy making and deep-frying. But if you've stood over a hot pot squinting at tiny numbers under condensation, you know how important an easy-to-read option can be. Save yourself and your eyes from the strain with this thermometer with oversized face numerals. On one side, you have Fahrenheit numbers, and on the other Celsius. On the Celsius side, you also have candy temperature guides so you can quickly tell when you're within range of your temperature goal.
"I just used my new Easy Read Candy Thermometer. I Love it! I don't need 4 pairs of cheaters to read it! It's so sturdy and stays clipped on the pan. Love the adjustable clip," one reviewer writes on the Williams Sonoma site.
Buy it: $21; williams-sonoma.com
Best Magnetic: ThermoPro TP03H Digital Instant Read Thermometer
For grab-and-go use, the ThermoPro TP03H has a magnetic back so you can slap it on your fridge for whenever you need it. In addition to this handy feature, it also has a 3.9-inch stainless steel probe, making it great for temping meat as well as candy. And the high precision sensor receives the internal temperature is just 3-4 seconds. The coolest part? It's completely waterproof so you can wash it under running water without any worry.
"It is so easy to use, love the backlight to make it even easy to read. Switching between C* to F* is simple," one Amazon reviewer raves.
Best Bluetooth Thermometer: Govee Bluetooth Meat Thermometer
For the tech-savvy candy maker, or anyone looking to upgrade their old thermometer, this bluetooth thermometer allows you to monitor your cooking from up to 230 feet away — gone are the days of hovering over the stove. Simply download the Govee home app to connect the thermometer to your device.
Set a temp range using the app, and both the meter and your device will indicate when your temperature has exceeded your set range, preventing embarrassing cooking disasters: "I love the alarm functions so I can get an alert when the temperature goes above or below certain temperatures that you can set in the app," says one 5-star reviewer.
Buy it: $22; amazon.com
What to Consider When Buying a Candy, Jelly, or Deep-Frying Thermometer
Before you click 'add to cart,' you'll want to take into consideration a few important factors that set candy thermometers apart from one another — and which might really impact how long or how well you can use the one you buy.
Glass thermometers with mercury- or alcohol-filled bulbs have been widely used for decades, but in recent years, technology has made digital candy thermometers cheaper and smaller. Whether you want the classic glass style or plan to upgrade to digital is a matter of personal preference, but each has some trade-offs.
Analog thermometers are often glass or a combination of glass and stainless steel, and they have temperature scales printed on either side of the gauge. For the glass-body style, the temperatures are usually printed on stainless steel that's suspended in the thermometer body. For stainless steel bodies, the temperature scale is printed in ink or etched and painted on the metal body itself. In most cases, these thermometers have a handy guide to temperature ranges so you can know both where your liquid is in terms of degrees and if it's come into the range you want, like soft ball or hard crack.
Digital thermometers are instant-read devices that give you a number in a matter of seconds and can continually read as long as the thermometer is on. More advanced digital thermometers, which use long stainless steel probes, may also come with programmable settings that can be set for your desired temperature. Pricier options include bells and whistles like backlighting, timers, and bluetooth connections for smartphones.
Digital displays are often easier to read, so for cooks who have a difficult time reading the fine print of an analog option or can't seem to get the alcohol to line up easily for viewing, the digital thermometer takes out a lot of guessing and wondering. This is an especially helpful capability if you deep-fry regularly. Making sure your oil is adequately heated can mean the difference between perfectly crisp coating and soggy, oil-laden breading.
Handheld vs. Clip-on
Many candy and jelly recipes and most deep-frying recipes require a good deal of hands-off time while the stove eye gets the liquid to its desired temperature or the food cooks to the right temp. If you don't want to be left holding a thermometer the whole time, you may want a clip-on option.
Clip-on candy thermometers are often designed with heavy-duty metal clamps or pins that attach and hold thermometers to pans. Most clips are also adjustable so you can make sure the tip of the probe or the bottom of the bulb isn't touching the hot pan (it'll cause false high readings). Cheap clips will fail quickly and often, and you could lose your thermometer into the molten sugar mixture.
Handheld thermometers are typically instant-read thermometers, and they're designed to take quick readings throughout the cooking process. Since they aren't designed to be left in a pan, it may not be the best option for a recipe that requires very precise temperature ranges. You may be left holding the thermometer over a hot pot for a long time, and that's not comfortable or safe.
As mentioned earlier, not every meat thermometer can be a candy thermometer, and not every candy thermometer can be a meat thermometer. That's because the ideal temperature ranges for candy and jellies are often higher than most meats.
Digital thermometers frequently measure below 0 degrees F and above 500 degrees F. That's a great range for every type of candy, plus meats.
Analog thermometers, like dial thermometers, typically don't go below 100 degrees F or above 350 or 400 degrees. For some recipes, like glazes and hard candies, you'll have to go to 350 degrees F or just above.
Popping oil, bubbling caramel, gurgling jelly — they can all be a bit intimidating, even for the most seasoned cooks. This is where the type of thermometer you use can make a difference in both your confidence and in your final result.
Long probes keep your hands away from the hot liquids. The average probe is less than five inches, but certain long-probe thermometers can be upward of seven or even nine inches. Handles or displays may add a few more inches. This is all the space you'll have between your hand and the liquid, so if you need more inches for comfort, look for the longer style.
If you want to avoid sticking your hand near the liquid at all, except for stirring or plucking pieces of fried chicken from the oil of course, you may want to consider the clip-on thermometer. This way, the display runs constantly while you're cooking, and you can keep your hand firmly on the spoon or spatula.
This is one kitchen tool where you don't need to pluck down lots of extra money for better quality. Some of the least expensive candy thermometers are also among the highest-rated. Yes, you can spend more money on digital thermometers with extra features, like backlighting and Bluetooth connectivity, but you can easily get what you want in a candy thermometer for $20 or less.
Many brands offer lifetime or limited warranties for candy thermometers, even on the cheapest options. But if you are looking to buy a more expensive thermometer style, certainly check with the seller for warranty information.
You're using these tools in more extreme conditions — hot grills, ovens, and pots — so the added protection against defects may be a welcome option. Of course, most of these warranties will not cover typical wear and tear or accidents, so if you're prone to a few of those, the added cost of a thermometer with a warranty you can't use may be more than what you'd spend if you just replaced the tools as you broke them.
Meat and candy thermometers are on the smaller side. They certainly don't take up the space knife blocks or measuring cups do, but candy thermometers do come in a variety of sizes.
Analog thermometers on a stainless steel body can be more than 12 inches long with the feet on bottom to protect the bulb and the handle on top. Digital thermometers often take up less space, with their long, slender probes.
You'll just want to make sure you have a safe place to store whatever style of candy thermometer you buy. Disrupting the bulb or hitting the probe frequently could reduce the thermometer's measuring capabilities. Or worse, they could break. And you may not know it until your next fudge resembles bricks.