A candy thermometer is designed specifically for monitoring sugar syrup temperatures when making candies, caramel sauces, or other sweet treats. A meat thermometer is used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meats.

TL;DR Candy thermometer Vs. Meat thermometer

A candy thermometer is designed for high-temperature cooking, specifically for making confections like caramel, while a meat thermometer is used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meats to ensure they are cooked to the desired level of doneness and safe to eat.

A candy thermometers usually have a wider temperature range and may come with a clip to attach to a pot, while meat thermometers have a pointed probe for insertion into meat and can be analog or digital.

What is a candy thermometer?

picture of a candy thermometer


A candy thermometer, also known as a sugar thermometer, is a kitchen tool specifically designed to measure the temperature of syrups and other sweet concoctions.

It usually consists of a long metal probe with an attached clip that allows it to be securely attached to the side of a pot or pan. The primary function of a candy thermometer is to ensure precise temperature control during the candy-making process.

Candy thermometers typically have temperature readings ranging from around 100°F (37°C) up to 400°F (204°C). They are particularly useful for tasks such as making caramel, fudge, toffee, pralines.

What is a meat thermometer?

picture of a meat thermometer

A meat thermometer is a handy tool used by cooks and chefs to ensure that their meat is cooked to the perfect temperature.

It consists of a long, pointed probe that is inserted into the thickest part of the meat. The thermometer then displays the internal temperature, giving you an accurate reading of how well-cooked your meat is.

There are different types of meat thermometers available on the market. Some have analog dials while others feature digital displays for easy reading.

Candy thermometer Vs. Meat thermometer – Key differences

CharacteristicCandy ThermometerMeat Thermometer
Intended UseSpecifically designed for making candy, caramel, and other confections at high temperaturesDesigned for measuring the internal temperature of cooked meat and poultry
Temperature RangeUsually measures a wide range of temperatures, often from around 100°F to 400°F (40°C to 200°C)Typically measures a more limited range, often from around 0°F to 220°F (-18°C to 104°C)
AccuracyPrecise and accurate for high-temperature cooking, where small temperature differences matterAccurate for lower and medium temperature ranges, ideal for cooking meats to desired doneness
ConstructionMade of stainless steel with a glass or plastic temperature scaleOften made of stainless steel with a pointed metal probe and a dial or digital display
Special FeaturesComes with a clip to attach to the side of a pot or pan when cooking candySome meat thermometers have an alarm to indicate when the desired temperature is reached
TypesCan be analog (mercury-based) or digitalCan be analog (dial) or digital
Safety ConcernsRequires careful handling due to high-temperature use and hot sugarGenerally safe to use, but care should be taken with the pointed probe
CleaningHand wash with care, avoid immersing the thermometer in cold water while hotHand wash or dishwasher safe, depending on the model
VersatilityNot suitable for measuring lower temperatures accuratelySuitable for a wide range of cooking tasks beyond meats, such as baked goods
CostTypically affordableModerately priced, depending on features and quality

How to use a meat thermometer?

  • Insertion: Insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, away from bones and fat.
  • Depth: Ensure the probe tip is in the center of the meat but not touching bone or the cooking surface.
  • Wait: Allow the thermometer to stabilize and read the temperature, usually within a few seconds to a minute.
  • Reading: Read the temperature displayed on the thermometer.
  • Cleaning: Clean the meat thermometer thoroughly with warm soapy water after each use.

How to use a candy thermometer?

  • Attachment: Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pot or saucepan, ensuring it doesn’t touch the bottom.
  • Submerging: Immerse the thermometer into the mixture, making sure the tip doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot.
  • Reading Level: Check that the mercury or digital display is easy to read and aligns with the scale.
  • Stirring: While cooking, stir the mixture gently and continuously for even temperature distribution.
  • Avoiding Contact: Prevent the thermometer from touching the sides or bottom of the pot to get an accurate reading.
  • Remove from Heat: Remove the thermometer from the mixture before removing the pot from the heat source.
  • Reading Temperature: Read the temperature once the mercury stabilizes or the digital display stops changing.
  • Careful Handling: Be cautious as the thermometer and mixture will be extremely hot; use oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves.
  • Cleaning: Hand wash the candy thermometer with care, avoiding submerging it in cold water while hot, to avoid damage.


Image Credits

Featured Image By – Steven Jackson from USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Image 1 By – Dvortygirl, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Image 2 By – cyclonebill from Copenhagen, Denmark, via Wikimedia Commons


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