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Candy Temperature Guide

How to Test the Temperature of Sugar Syrup

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Candy Temperature Guide

Caramelization occurs at 320-350 degrees

Elizabeth LaBau

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold-water method. During the cooking stage, remove your pan from the heat and drop a small spoonful of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Immerse your hand in the cold water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. By examining the shape and texture of the resulting candy blob, you can determine the approximate temperature of your sugar. This method takes a little practice, and is not as exact as a candy thermometer, but it will do in a pinch!

A quick word of caution: Please be careful when working with hot sugar, especially if you decide to use the cold-water method of temperature testing. Sugar burns are nasty. Hot sugar is almost impossible to quick rub or rinse off the skin, and thus continues burning long after it comes into contact with your skin. Please don't allow yourself to be sloppy or distracted when working with hot sugar, and avoid dangling hair, jewelry, or clothing over the work area.

Now that you've been properly warned, here is a Candy Temperature reference table. Also check out the illustrated guide to candy temperature testing.

Candy Temperature Chart

Name Temp Description Usage
Thread 223-235* F The syrup drips from a spoon, forms thin threads in water Glacé and candied fruits
Soft ball 235-245* F The syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed Fudge and fondant
Firm ball 245-250* F The syrup is formed into a stable ball, but loses its round shape once pressed Caramel candies
Hard ball 250-266* F The syrup holds its ball shape, but remains sticky Divinity and marshmallows
Soft crack 270-290* F The syrup will form firm but pliable threadsNougat and taffy.
Hard crack 300-310* F The syrup will crack if you try to mold it Brittles and lollipops
Caramel 320-350* F The sugar syrup will turn golden at this stage Pralines
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