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.

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4 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

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