High Altitude Candy Making Tips

Here are some tips for making candy at high altitude:

  • Choose the right cooking pan. The pan should be large enough to let the candy mixture boil without running over. It should be heavy and made of a material that conducts heat evenly (aluminum,copper, stainless steal with aluminum core). This will help prevent scorching. I don’t recommend using a non-stick pan, the high heat can damage the surface of the pan. 
  • Use a candy thermometer. This is important because slight variances in temperature can determine the success of your candy. An inexpensive candy thermometer will work just fine but you may want to invest in a higher quality one if you will be using it often. Look for a candy thermometer that measures a range from 100 degrees to 400 degrees; most have graduations of 5 degrees. Better quality candy thermometers have graduations of 2 degrees, which allow you to measure your batch’s temperature more accurately.
  • Test your candy thermometer for accuracy. Because candy making is so temperature dependent, a mis-reading of even 5 degrees can mean a failed batch of candy. To calibrate your candy thermometer, follow these steps.
  • Watch candy carefully. Keep a close eye on the mixture during the last few moments of cooking, as the temperature rises quickly once it reaches 199 º F.
  • If there is excess moisture in the air, cook candies to a slightly firmer stage- a degree or so above what is written in the recipe.
  • Adjust cooking temperature for altitude. Just as water boils at a temperature below 212° F at higher altitudes, all other liquids boil at lower temperatures. When sugar mixtures are cooked at sea level recipe temperatures, faster loss of water causes the mixture to become too concentrated. To adjust candy recipes for high altitude, reduce the cooking temperature. The chart below lists cooking temperatures for various types of candy. 
Sea Level 2,000 ft 5,000 ft 7500 ft
Soft Ball Fudge, fondant 234-240 230-236 224-230 219-225
Firm Ball Chewy caramel 242-248 238-244 232-238 227-233
Hard Ball Nougat, marshmallow 250-268 246-264 240-248 235-253
Soft Crack Taffy, butterscotch 270-290 266-286 260-280 255-275
Hard Crack Toffee, brittle, lollipops 300-310 296-306 290-300 285-295
  • A helpful hint for adjusting your candy cooking temperature is to lower it by 2 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level. So, if you live 5,000 feet above sea level, you would lower your cooking temperature by 10 degrees. 

17 responses to High Altitude Candy Making Tips


    Thank you so much for this information! I found your site while doing a search for high-altitude candy making tips. I added your blog to the link list at my blog, Yummy Montana. I hope my readers enjoy your blog, too!


    I live in Huancayo, Peru at 11,000ft, and found your website when getting ready to make caramels since I certainly know that high altitude does very strange things. Thanks to your cooking temperature chart, they turned out fine. To adjust for the additional altitude past 7500 ft., I used a 5° lower temperature. Thanks for saving me from making a mess!!! Your website is now bookmarked!


    Thanks for the information. I just made a batch of sponge candy and it did not come out the same as when I made it in Minnesota – I now live at approximatly 3,300 feet. Should have thought of checking sooner.


    Thank you ! Thank you!


    I live at about 1700 feet and was having problems making lollipops. Now I know why. Should have know because I pressure can foods and have to adjust pressure and time for altitude


    Had made a batch of caramels (firm ball) in Milwaukkee, WI (elev about 300 feet) and they were perfect. Tried them again at 5000 feet, heating again to 249F and it is hard as a rock! Wish I had thought to look up the alt effect sooner. Live and learn. Will try again tomorrow and will not go above 238F. Thanks for the site!


    I read your advice, but I am still having issues! Uggg! I will try again tomorrow using yet a lower temp…..Thank you for your helpful chart.



    Am I ever so glad to have stumbled upon your blog. I have been searching high and low for tips on making hard candy. I live at 5400 ft, (moved from sea level) and have to relearn how to bake. I am determined to make some brittle candy and caramel. it has been done before in history.
    Thank you for posting this information.

    Merry Christmas!!


    Attempted to make butter toffee tonight in Denver, CO (before I read this page about temperature changes for altitude). It never turned amber brown but it did turn the color of nougat, it almost tastes like toffee. This was my first try at making it.
    Does anyone have a suggestion or two if I ever decide to try it again?


    Hi there. I live at 1,000 metres above sea-level and like the rest of the world use celsius as a unit of measure. Do you have a conversion chart available?


    I am grateful for the temperate difference chart since I misplaced my cheat sheet. For cooking,baking and candy making in Colorado it’s a must. 🙂


    Here is a link to converting American Standard measurements to metric, I hope it is helpful to you

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