The Dos and Don’ts of Candy Making

candy making

We get many questions this time of year about making candy. I thought it might be helpful to list some dos and don’ts to help your candy making be successful.


  • Choose a dry day to make your candy. Just like my grandma always said, never make candy on a humid day! Your candy will not set properly and will be sticky.
  • Use a candy thermometer to check for the correct temperature. Make sure it is immersed below the syrup but not touching the sides or the bottom.
  • Calibrate your thermometer before you use it. To do this insert it in boiling water. It should read 212 degrees F. If it reads above or below adjust the temperature accordingly when making your candy.
  • Cook to the correct stage. Use this link for a list of stages and temperatures.
  • Cook all candy in a heavy, smooth, deep and clean pan.
  • Measure all of your ingredients accurately.
  • Be careful when handling the hot mixture. Take precautions to avoid painful burns.
  • Stand back from you pan when adding additional ingredients to your hot mixtures. Many times a burst of steam will occur which could burn you.


  • Don’t cook the sugar too fast. When it says “bring to a boil” do it slowly rather than turning your burner on high.
  • Don’t use a metal spoon to stir your candy. It will conduct the heat and get too hot to handle. A wooden spoon works well.
  • Don’t substitute ingredients. Use the ingredients listed in your recipe in the same amounts.
  • Don’t double a batch. Make separate batches if you need more than one batch will make. Changing amounts of ingredients will change the cooking time and will result in a failed product.
  • Don’t scrape the sides of your pan when pouring out the mixture. This could cause your candy to crystalize.

If you are looking for some more steps for successful candy making as well as some recipes check out this publication from the University of Illinois Extension on Candy Making.



Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

More Posts

8 thoughts on “The Dos and Don’ts of Candy Making

  1. Do figs that have bee dehydrated and reconstitued with brandy have a ph higher than 4.6?

  2. I make almond brittle every year. I am having trouble with the butter separating from the toffee when I spread it into a cookie sheet. Cannot figure out why?

  3. Hi Ginny, are you using a candy thermometer? And if so, have you tested it, using boiling water to see if the thermometer reads 212 degrees in boiling water. If it reads differently—as mine does– then adjust the temp accordingly. Also, the air may be a bit humid for candy making currently. Please don’t hesitate to call us for a more thorough explanation. Thanks

  4. Hi There,

    I am making caramels and considering selling them. Are they allowed in the cottage food industry. I have been researching and seem to be finding conflicting facts.

    My caramels are heated to 230-248 depending on my ingredients. I do use heavy cream in some. Others have condensed milk in them.

    Thank you.

  5. Hi, assuming that you live in Iowa, you will want to contact the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Call them at 515-281-7102 to speak directly with someone that knows all the rules and regulations and can help you. Thanks

  6. Can I use a Blue raspberry snow cone syrup to flavor my hard candy? I’m supposed to use raspberry flavored oil to flavor it but the problem is my candy turns green instead of blue due to the raspberry oil flavoring being red! and I can’t find a clear raspberry flavored oil anywhere! (well, there’s one but so expensive!). My hard candy recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. If I just add, say, 1/4 cup of blue raspberry snow cone flavor but still cook it to 300F hard crack stage, will I be successful?

  7. You may be successful or you may not be. Is the sno-cone syrup sweetened with sugar or with an artificial sweetener? If sugar, you have better odds of making the candy the way you suggest. Sometimes artificial sweeteners become bitter when heated to high temperatures. As long as you can achieve 300 degrees with a sugar sweetened syrup, you will likely be able to make the candy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to AnswerLine Blog

Enter your email address:

Connect with us!

AnswerLine's Facebook page AnswerLine's Twitter account AnswerLine's Pinterest page
Phone: (Monday-Friday, 9 am-noon; 1-4 pm)
 1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
 1-800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)