My Favorite Candy Making Tools

pecan chocolate turtles

Welcome back to my Baking Basics series!

Since Sally’s Candy Addiction is finally in your hands, I decided to devote today’s baking basics topic around the sweetest dessert of all: candy. All things candy. Get your sweet tooth prepared. Caramel turtles (above!) is a recipe in the book. And so are these red wine truffles. Cheers!

chocolate truffles on a red plate

I know the thought of making candy at home can be overwhelming. Before you begin cooking the candy in Sally’s Candy Addiction, I encourage you to read through my introduction pages. There I walk you through common candy mistakes, candy cooking stages, and key ingredients (and why they are critical). The time you take to read through my helpful tips, tricks, and instructions could save you from ruining a batch of candy.

In all of the cookbook’s candy recipes, I list special tools you need to prepare them. And today, I’m sharing my favorite brands of these tools. So you can start making your candy right away– with the exact tools I use in my kitchen.

Consider this your ticket to candy making success! I can feel my cavities forming already. Must be all the pumpkin spice toffee I’ve sampled in the past 3 weeks at my book signings. Anyway. Here is how to become a fudge, truffle, and toffee pro!

10 Must-Have Candy Making Tools

Candy Thermometer

First, a candy thermometer! Do not fear the candy thermometer. Trust me, I know the thought of using one makes you run for the hills. But let me tell you something: a candy thermometer actually makes the entire candy cooking process EASIER because there’s no mistaking temperature/doneness. For ease, I recommend a digital candy thermometer that clips onto your pot like this one or this one. If calibrated, a candy thermometer is more accurate than using your eyes to detect candy’s doneness.

  • Calibrate: If you think your candy thermometer’s readings are off, you can test it with a pot of boiling water. At sea level, water boils at 212°F (100°C). Each 500-foot increase in altitude lowers the boiling point by about 1 degree. If your candy thermometer reads above or below the boiling point for your location, make the necessary adjustment when cooking candy.

candy thermometer

Chocolate Thermometer

A chocolate thermometer is required for tempering chocolate, which is an option for a lot of recipes in Sally’s Candy Addiction. Here is my favorite chocolate thermometer. For tempering chocolate, tested digital candy thermometer can be used instead. (See above.)

chocolate thermometer in a pot of chocolate

A Sturdy Pot

You can’t get anywhere in the candy making world without a dependable, thick-bottomed, super sturdy saucepan. You already have saucepans in your kitchen, but you might not have the proper pan for making candy. Make sure the pan you use to cook candy is at least 3 quarts and is on the heavy side. You need a very sturdy pan which is KEY to even heat distribution. Thinner, cheaper pans can scorch the cooking candy and/or cook it unevenly. Here are some great choices: Anolon Nouvelle Copper and Cooks Standard. I own a couple pricier copper pots because of the amount of candy I make. In all honesty, you can’t beat their quality. Copper pots are unbeatable!

caramel mixture in a saucepan on the stove

Dipping Tools

You know I’m obsessed with these! Candy dipping tools are my secret to beautifully dipped treats like key lime pie truffles and funfetti buttercreams. These tools are an inexpensive way to make your dipped treats look professionally done. Dipping tools are a must have!

candy dipping tools

2 images of melted dark chocolate in a glass measuring cup with a candy dipping tool and dipping a key lime truffle into melted dark chocolate in a glass measuring cup

Squeeze Bottle

While we’re on the subject of making candy pretty, I must tell you about my little secret: squeeze bottles! Empty plastic squeeze bottles are how I get beautiful and neat drizzles of chocolate, candy coating, or even glaze on top of candy and baked goods. Like the pink stripes on the buttercreams on the cover of the cookbook. Fill them with melted chocolate or candy coating and drizzle on top.

Buy a few squeeze bottles– you can find them everywhere like craft stores, amazon, grocery stores, target, walmart, etc.

Liquid Measuring Cup

Not only for measuring liquids in your baking and cooking, a liquid measuring cup is what I use to dip candies into melted/tempered chocolate. Well, it’s what I use to dip nearly anything into melted/tempered chocolate. Their depth and shape make dipping so much easier. You always want a deep cup or bowl for the chocolate when dipping or coating candies.

dipping a key lime truffle with a candy dipping tool into melted dark chocolate in a glass measuring cup

Kitchen Scale

A kitchen scale is the most used tool in my kitchen not only for making candy, but for all of the baking I do. I measure all of my ingredients to ensure accuracy and precision. A gram is always a gram, an ounce is always an ounce, but a cup might not always be a cup. Grams and ounces are accurate; there’s no denying it. But you can easily overmeasure a cup even by a Tablespoon or two. And that could pose a huge problem in your candy or baked treats. If there is one tool you buy for your kitchen, let it be a kitchen scale. Here is the one I own and love (great quality) and here is another great option.

Pastry Brush

A pastry brush is imperative when making candy. (And pies, of course.) There is no easy way around it. The purpose of a pastry brush in candy making is to help rid the saucepan of any sugar syrup or cooking candy that may have splashed up on the sides. The candy on the sides of the pan can burn and crystallize, ruining your batch of candy. Running a water-moistened pastry brush around the sides of the pan helps prevent this from happening. Read more about this on page 16 in the book.

Crucial, I tell ya!

hand holding a pastry brush in a saucepan

A Wooden Spoon (or two!)

You can’t stir 290°F candy with a rubber spatula and get it out alive. My one and only tool when stirring cooking candy is a wooden spoon. Buy a couple. Nothing gets the job done better.

caramel mixture in a saucepan with a wood spoon

Double Boiler

And finally, my last suggestion for you is a double boiler. Double boiler melting is my preferred method for melting chocolate and the only method you should use when tempering chocolate. A double boiler is a set of two pans, one fitted securely on top of the other. It is the safest way to melt chocolate because you have little to zero risk of scorching it. Unlike the microwave, you have complete control over the melting process. I’ve scorched many, many ounces of chocolate using the microwave and let me tell you… it smells horrific and it’s an expensive waste! Here is a double boiler I own and another one I own. And here is another great option.

Ready to become a candy pro?

I am not working with any of these brands, though some of these links are affiliate links. These tools are the brands of candy making tools that I trust and encourage you to use in the kitchen as well. 


  1. Those turtles look amazing!  Thanks for the tips, Sally 🙂

    1. Laura~ Raise Your Garden says:

      Absolutely scrumptious turtles! Pecans are such a lovely addition to candy. All great suggestions Sally, especially the thermometers! That’s where I bomb candy. I just don’t get it right. And it just realized caramel is pretty much just sugar. I thought there were all these magical ingredients in there. Opps. I guess we learn every day. 

  2. Already bought the scale last week! And I will definitely invest in those candy dipping tools. Can’t wait until Sally’s Candy Addiction comes out in Germany! Only two more weeks to go!! 🙂

  3. Great tips. I can’t wait to get your new book, I ordered it last week, but Amazon said I will need to wait until 2nd week of November (I guess it takes longer to deliver in Europe). Oh, patience, it’s something I still need to learn.

  4. Those dipping tools sure are a good tip! I always use a fork, but I’ve noticed it’s not a very stable tool for beautiful round truffles ^^” And I totally agree on the scale. Luckily, in The Netherlands we all use a scale for baking (rarely do people know about the cup-system hehe..) Thanks for the tips, Sally 🙂

  5. Thank you for this post Sally because I was going to email you asking for a haul or something withto brands you prefer or recommend. It can be very tricky finding what you needing with having to waste money buying things with a trial and error approach so I truly appreciate this. And please don’t hesitate to do it more often.

  6. Dipping definitely takes time and patience to get right. I used to work near a chocolate shop and I’d go there on my break and watch them dipping truffles. It was pretty relaxing, actually.
    New book is looking amazing!!!

  7. Oh wow, what a great list of supplies! Thank you for sharing! Also, those dips look amazing! Can’t wait to try them. Pinning!

  8. Thanks for the list! I have a lot of the things you listed. I actually had no idea there was such a thing as a chocolate thermometer. I will own one soon! 🙂

  9. Sally, thank you again for a wonderful Baking Basics post! I really get excited when I see these email alerts in my inbox =) Truly appreciated, from a co-baking nerd! 

  10. Thank you for the very helpful tips.  I always wanted to make my chocolate truffles look more professional, now I can with the dipping tools that you suggested (just ordered one).   

  11. Thank you for sharing the items you like to use for candy making. I have everything but the dipping tools (I have always used a fork!) but those look to be much easier to use when dipping my candies. I must get some before I begin my Christmas baking! 🙂

  12. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    oooh so many awesome tips! I def need to get those dipping tools and some squeeze bottles!!

  13. Serene @ House of Yumm says:

    Add me to the fork users!! Will definitely be looking into those little tools you suggested!  So many wonderful tips. Thanks Sally! Enjoy the book tour

  14. Stephanie @ smothered in flour says:

    What temperature do you heat your chocolate to melt it that it burns? In my classes we are showed to use microwaves and never have a burning issue. I like to use a infrared thermometer for my chocolate.

    1. It’s only been when I do not open/close and stir the chocolate as I microwave it. A double boiler is just so much easier for me.

  15. Ramona @ The Merchant Baker says:

    Dying over the turtles…definitely one of my favorite candies ever!  Love your tips.  The two top ones you’ve listed for me are the heavy pot and the thermometer.  Couldn’t live without either of those when making candy!  And even though I already have a few thermometers…now I’m going to have to check out that handy dandy chocolate thermometer you’ve shown.. 🙂

  16. Great post on the essentials!  I just bought the candy dipping tools last weekend.  The second I saw your pumpkin spice truffles I knew I needed to run out and get some!  Can’t wait to make them this weekend! 🙂

  17. Great list! Your books just arrived from Amazon today and I CANNOT WAIT TO BURY MYSELF in them before going to bed. I certainly will have sweet dreams.

    I love to bake but nothing is more satisfying than to make candy. I will be making caramels for my Meals on Wheels drivers for Halloween again this year. Every Christmas I manage to crank out between 20-30 pounds as gifts.

    So many people are intimidated with candy thermometers,
    possibly you can share some tips on that for your readers. Being in Minnesota and our unpredictable weather, I have found sometimes I need to use both my thermometer and the old fashioned cold water trick looking for the right consistency.

    1. June, glad you got the books! Be sure to read my cookbook intro for more info about candy thermometers. I teach you how to test your thermometer as well, which helps with accuracy.

  18. What is the difference between a pastry brush and a basting brush?  Are they interchangeable?  

    1. Either can be used in the candy cooking process.

      1. Thanks for the prompt response!!  We are looking forward to your book signing in our area!!

  19. I tested out my new candy thermometer last night (which I promptly bought after getting your new cookbook), and the pumpkin spice toffee turned out amazing! I’m hooked and I can’t wait to try out some of the fudge recipes next 🙂

  20. Hi Sally

    I bought a candy thermometer after getting your book. I was so scared to use it. I thought that a fragile glass stick going into hot bubbly liquid would be dangerous. But I managed to make the dipping caramel, and the caramel turtles. What surprised me a lot was that most of the cookbook fudge recipes also require a thermometer, unlike the fudge recipes on your blog. Hopefully I’ll conquer those too. 🙂

  21. Hey Sally~
    I love reading through and looking at the tools that you actually use in your kitchen… any plans on doing this with some of your favorite baking tools as well? 🙂
    Cheers & Happy Baking!

    1. Yes, I definitely plan to post something like that in the future. Thanks Tierney!

  22. Hi Sally,

    Before anything, I tpuched 60!

    I should say not 1 out of the 60 came out bad.
    Then I decided I am a pro and went on to tackle the Maple Walnut Fudge.
    I don’t know what happened, but my fudge turned out to be HARD caramel!!!
    :-(( I think I need to throw the whole thing away…
    Overconfidence perhaps?
    I am good at following directions…detailed directions.. which is why I love your blog.
    BUt any ideas what might have happened?

    1. I use the same candy thermometer as you do. Once it reached soft ball, I put it in ice water bath. It took a LOOOONG time to  come down to  43C but when it did, it was a chewy caramel! Not something I could pour into my stand-mixer…
    2. I used a wooden spoon. I did not stir.
    3. I used a silicone brush and kept brushing with water on the sides.

    What could possibly have gone wrong? I am so disappointed.. My first failure @ 61st recipe of yours 🙁

    1. Hi Anu! The only way that fudge can turn into a hard caramel substance is if it was cooked too long. Did you calibrate your candy thermometer?

  23. I already have a candy thermometer, but it is not digital. Do you recommend getting a digital one, or do you think the regular one is fine?

    1. A regular one is just fine, but I prefer digital because it’s just so much easier to read.

  24. Hi Sally. Thank you for such great tips on making candy. When I clicked on the digital thermometer you love and own, it took me to the Williams-Sonoma site and there are many choices on digital thermometers. I own a digital one and am not crazy with it. I was getting ready to buy a Thermapen but the drawback to them is not being able to clip it on the pan. Could you please tell me which one you own? Thanks.

    1. Sorry Candice, maybe the link is outdated at this point! Here are the two exact candy thermometers I own.

  25. Thank you so much for getting back with me. Love your blog. It is so informative. I did not know there was a thermometer specifically for chocolate which is a big deal because depending on the type of chocolate when tempering is crucial. Thanks again and God Bless.

  26. Just wanted to add my 2 cents.
    I made alot of hard candy (cooked to 300°) but i find wooden spoons are not ideal for my use.
    My husband spotted this spoon pne day while shopping for stocking stuffers and its now 100% dedicated to my candy making now. Its good to 520° and is weighted so it keeps counter cleaner (ish).
    (Not paid for review or link, just flipping love this thing)

  27. Hi Sally.
    I clicked the blue link to go to the candy thermometer
    That you one and love but The link only took me
    to William Sonoma’s home page and not to the digital candy thermometer. I even typed in digital candy
    Thermometer on the William Sonoma webpage and found one but it probably did not look like the one you
    Use and it had a very low rating for it. So I think I will look on amazon to see if they have the digital candy thermometer you use and love from William Sonoma
    On their website


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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally