Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
A candy thermometer, also known as a sugar or jelly thermometer, is a must-have kitchen tool for those who experiment with anything that has a temperature that needs to be closely monitored, like caramels or fudge, for example. And though you might wonder if you can use your meat thermometer for the task, the two gauges do have inherent differences, namely that candy thermometers have higher temperature thresholds, usually 400 degrees or more. There are plenty of different types of models—from analog to digital—so which one you settle on is largely a matter of personal preference. Here, a variety of highly accurate models you can rely on when making candy at home.
Not sure how accurate the thermometer you’re working with is? Find out how to test your candy thermometer.
From the same company that makes professional-level thermometers for grilling and cooking comes this best-selling candy and jelly deep fry thermometer. It's made with sturdy, food-grade stainless steel and a comfortable nylon handle and features helpful, easy-to-read candy temperatures on its surface so you know the precise temperature for everything from "thread" to "hard crack." The 12-inch thermometer easily clips onto a pan. It measures from 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to use it for everything from fudge and doughnuts to French fries and fried chicken.
This highly rated candy thermometer is an easy top pick, thanks to three important attributes: It’s easy to read, it clips onto the pot for convenience, and you can’t beat the price. Despite the budget price tag, the thermometer is highly accurate, measuring temperatures from 90 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (it also measures in Celsius). And so you don’t have to keep referring to a guide, cookbook, or computer for reference, the gadget also has six temperature zones—deep fry, thread, softball, hardball, soft crack, and hard crack—printed on the display in large, easy-to-read text.
You won’t worry about burning yourself with this unit, either. It has an insulated handle that stays cool to the touch for maximum safety while handling such hot ingredients. The icing on the cake? It’s dishwasher safe to help make cleanup a breeze.
If you don’t need any extra bells and whistles—just something to monitor the temperature of whatever it is you’re cooking—consider this incredibly affordable thermometer. The analog unit itself is no-frills, just a glass thermometer with a clip that measures between 100 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 and 200 degrees Celsius. The protective storage sleeve does come with a bonus, though: a helpful guide for both candy making and deep-frying. Here, you’ll find details about what temperatures yield different results when cooking with sugar, plus the right oil temps for deep frying various food items.
For bakers who want to get incredibly precise with their temperature readings, a digital thermometer is a better bet, since there’s no question about the reading, right down to the decimal. This model is a very popular option because it has a very large, easy-to-read, splash-proof display that really takes the guesswork out of whatever it is you’re doing. It’s also highly versatile—use it as a candy, jelly, or deep-fry thermometer, or opt to use it for meat and poultry. The temperature range is vast enough for either, as it can safely and accurately read between -40 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit (or -40 to 250 degrees Celsius).
Though the probe is admittedly on the shorter side and there is no clip, there are some other great features that help justify these small sacrifices. The thermometer reads quickly (between 1 and 3 seconds), plus folds in on itself for easy and convenient storage (great for small spaces). As an added bonus, it comes in eight colors, from your standard black to fun shades like pink.
This ThermoPro thermometer is a great digital option that’s much like our top choice for the best digital overall. It has a large, easy-to-read display with a backlight for even better visibility, plus a very admirable temperature range. In just 3-5 seconds, the high-precision sensor on the stainless steel probe can read temps ranging from -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 to 300 degrees Celsius). One of its most convenient features, though, is the fact that it folds in on itself for compact storage and then can be stored on a refrigerator or a knife plate, thanks to its magnetic properties.
When you’re deep-frying, two things are especially handy: a long probe and a secure clip. Both of these things ensure you can constantly monitor the temperature of the oil (a must!) without risking scalding your hands. This thermometer also has a few bonus features that make getting accurate readings more convenient. For starters, it has a large, easy-to-read digital display that lets you really zero in on the exact temperature of the oil.
Another really nice feature to have? The thermometer includes seven preprogrammed candy stages and one all-purpose temperature setting. Just set it and wait for it to notify you when the liquid reaches within three degrees of both the high and low ends of your set temperature range. This way you’re sure to get it just right.
This incredibly sleek thermometer has more than just a pretty appearance. It’s a highly functional tool to have in your kitchen, as it displays the temperature (from -8 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit) of anything you’re cooking—from candy to meat—on a large, clear screen in just 4-6 seconds.
It also has an extremely long probe—7 inches!—something that will make the novice cook feel especially comfortable when working with such hot ingredients as sugar and cooking oil. Another nice bonus is the auto shut-off feature, which kicks in after 10 minutes of inactivity. Overall, this is one of the best values out there.
OXO is one of the biggest names in kitchen tools and utensils, so it’s no surprise that the company’s candy and deep fry thermometer doesn’t disappoint either. The glass thermometer not only includes measurement markings to indicate temperature within 2 degrees in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, but it also has slightly offset large, easy-to-read graphics that include temperature ranges for different candy types. You’ll love the extra-long and convenient clip, too. It attaches, removes, and adjusts with ease, so you don’t have to fiddle with the instrument while cooking at extremely high temperatures.
If there’s any downside, it’s that this thermometer is hand wash only, though that’s a sacrifice you have to make for the vast majority of candy thermometers.
These days, there’s no need to stand in the kitchen hovering over whatever it is you’re cooking. With this Bluetooth candy thermometer, you can get oil ready to fry and address something else without fear of missing your desired temperature range. Simply set your ideal temperature for 14 different types of candy or deep-fried foods, then use the convenient metal clip to attach the thermometer to the pan. (The thermometer accurately measures from -40 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.) Once the desired temperature is reached, the device beeps, but you can also monitor it from a compatible smartphone (iPhone, iPad, or Android).
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited hundreds of articles in the food space for various publications over the course of the last 10 years. Brigitt also attended the French Culinary Institute in NYC. She has two candy thermometers in her kitchen—one by OXO and one by Taylor.