Definition: Hard-Ball Stage refers to a specific temperature range when cooking sugar syrups. Hard-Ball Stage occurs at 250-266 degrees. This stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If hard-ball stage has been reached, the syrup will hold its ball shape and deform only slightly with very firm pressure. The ball will be quite sticky to the touch.