Filed Under: Chocolate | Dessert | How To | Videos

How to Temper Chocolate

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
November 24th, 2020
5 from 11 votes
5 from 11 votes

Here's how to temper chocolate! This post covers it all: best chocolate to use, correct temperatures, the microwave and seeding methods, and more! Everything you need for perfectly tempered chocolate is here. Use for chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate truffles, you name it!

Yield: 16 ounces

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

One of the first things we learned in my baking class in culinary school was how to temper chocolate. I was SO excited to learn how to do this because for some reason it always really intimidated me and I never tried to learn it on my own. I have no idea why I was so intimidated, because as I learned in school it’s actually SUPER easy. Really all it takes is a little precision and patience and if you watch the video I made for you and follow the instructions, you will be on your way to tempering beautiful, shiny, hard chocolate in no time!

chunks of chocolate ready to be tempered

Tempered chocolate is wonderful to use when making homemade candy, such as truffles or peanut butter cups or peppermint bark, because it maintains a nice smooth, shiny, and hard texture even at room temperature. It gives your candy a professional quality and makes it much easier to serve and transport, not to mention it just tastes better because you get that wonderful snappy texture. Stay tuned for some recipes utilizing tempered chocolate.

How to Temper Chocolate

TWO RULES for melting chocolate:

These apply to both melting and tempering chocolate.

1. Never heat above 120°F

This will sacrifice chocolate flavor

2. Never expose melted chocolate to water

Any water will cause the chocolate to seize. Even a droplet from steam! You know your chocolate has seized when it becomes lumpy instead of smooth.

If your recipe calls for liquid, such as butter, water, coffee, or liqueur, always melt it alongside the chocolate simultaneously.

What does it mean to temper chocolate?

The process of tempering creates chocolate coatings that are ultra smooth, glossy, and have a crisp satisfying snap when eaten. Anything made with tempered chocolate doesn’t require refrigeration, unlike untempered chocolate which does.

When do I need to use tempered chocolate?

Tempering chocolate is perfect for making chocolate candies, truffles, dipped confections, or chocolate cake decorations.

If you just use melted chocolate to dip, you won’t get a coating that stays snappy. It’ll be dull and soft and will need to be refrigerated just to avoid melting. Tempered chocolate products stay hard at cool room temperature.

When is tempered chocolate not needed?

You don’t need to temper if you’re simply adding melted chocolate into a batter, mousse, or ganache.

How does tempering chocolate work?

step by step photos of how to temper chocolate

The process involves controlling the melting, cooling, and reheating of chocolate within specified temperature ranges depending on the kind of chocolate. Melting chocolate without tempering changes the molecular structure of the cocoa butter to be unchained and unstable, which is why it never goes back to that nice hard and snappy texture.

Tempering the chocolate rechains those molecules and stabilizes the cocoa butter crystals, making the chocolate homogenous again and allowing it to cool back into a smooth, shiny, snappy quality.

Why temper chocolate?

comparison of tempered vs untempered chocolate

Simply put, it’s the best way to get that beautiful professional chocolate coating while maintaining a delightful chocolate flavor. Especially if you want to store or gift something like truffles without requiring refrigeration.

Tempering can be an extra step that feels tedious. There are ‘chocolate’ candy melt products available at many stores that produce that a similar crunchy coating when dipped. Unfortunately, these chocolate compound products aren’t actual chocolate because the cocoa butter has been replaced by hydrogenated industrial oils. They taste artificial and unsatisfying.

What is the best chocolate for tempering? Can you temper chocolate chips?

Only use high quality bars of chocolate for baking (such as Ghirardelli baking bars or even Trader Joe’s Pound Plus chocolate) or coverture chocolate wafers (such as Guittard or Valrohna). If using bars, finely chop the chocolate with a serrated knife. Finely chopped chocolate will melt more evenly.

DO NOT use chocolate chips. These have added ingredients that help them to maintain their chip shape when exposed to heat and will not melt down smoothly for tempering.

Can you temper chocolate without a thermometer?

In my opinion, a thermometer truly is essential to tempering chocolate because it takes the guesswork out and ensures your temper will set up beautifully. Chocolate is expensive so I like to make sure I have the proper tools for success!

You can use a chocolate thermometer to register the temperature stages of tempering chocolate, or simply a high quality digital thermometer.

What is a double boiler?

A double boiler is simply a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with about an inch of simmering. You just want to make sure the bowl on top doesn’t touch the water. This allows the chocolate to be melted gently by the heat.

You can use metal or glass bowls for the top part of the double boiler. Glass will take longer to cool down as required to temper in Step 2.

How to save seized chocolate:

The way to fix seized chocolate is completely counterintuitive. It’s done by actually adding a little bit of melted butter, oil, or water back into the mixture and stirring vigorously. Unfortunately, at this point the fixed melted chocolate should only be used for chocolate sauce or hot chocolate and not in a recipe.

tempered chocolate with more chunks of chocolate on top in a glass bowl

Fun uses for tempered chocolate:

5 from 11 votes

How to make
How to Temper Chocolate

Yield: 16 ounces
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Here's how to temper chocolate! This post covers it all: best chocolate to use, correct temperatures, the microwave and seeding methods, and more! Everything you need for perfectly tempered chocolate is here. Use for chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate truffles, you name it!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces (454 grams) baking chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

Tempering Chocolate by Seeding:

  1. In a double boiler, melt 2/3 of the chocolate, stirring often, until the thermometer registers around 115°F, but absolutely no higher than 120°F. If tempering milk or white chocolate, heat to 110°F. Remove from the double boiler. Make sure all equipment that comes in contact with the chocolate remains completely dry. Any water will cause the chocolate to seize.
  2. Gradually seed in the remaining chocolate to bring the temperature down, stirring vigorously and constantly. Stir until the temperature drops to 84°F. This can take some time, usually about 15 minutes so just be patient, it will come down to temperature! A glass bowl will take longer to cool. Speed this process up by carefully placing the bowl of chocolate into an ice bath, making sure not to get ANY water in the chocolate.
  3. Reheat the chocolate briefly by placing the bowl back over the double boiler for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, stirring, until it reaches 89°F. This is the “working temperature.” Do not leave the chocolate over the water or let it exceed 91°F.
  4. You’re done! Test your temper by dipping a small piece of parchment into your chocolate. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. The chocolate should be smooth and firm. If it’s streaky or runny, try stirring in more chocolate to the mixture to bring the temperature down further.

  5. Tempered chocolate can be tempered over and over again. You want to keep the working temperature of about 89°F when working with it. If it goes far below that temperature, set it back over the double boiler until it is 89°F again. If it goes much above that temperature, add more seed chocolate to drop the temperature.

Tempering Chocolate by Microwave:

  1. Put 2/3 of the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Melt at 50% power in 1-minute intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted and smooth. The chocolate should only be between 100 – 110°F.

  2. Add remaining chocolate in small amounts while stirring. Be sure that the pieces are completely melted before adding more.

  3. The chocolate will thicken and become cool, shiny, and smooth as you continue stirring and “seeding” it by adding additional small amounts. When it has reached the range 84-91°F, the chocolate will be tempered and ready to work with.

Recipe Notes

You can temper any amount of chocolate you need, but note that tempering less than 16 ounces becomes a little more difficult.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate, how to temper chocolate

This post was originally published in 2013 and updated with more tips and new photos in 2020. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    georgine bosak — December 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I will try it. I am eating my truffles naked, ok, straight from the bowl with a spoon. So dipped would be a step up.. Thanks so much for this

  2. #
    Guest — December 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    They look yummy! Can you do a brownie video soon? Also, your makeup is gorgeous here! Any chance you can do a makeup tutorial sometime? 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — December 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you for the requests! I’ll definitely consider doing a brownie video and a makeup video would be fun too because I’m slightly makeup obsessed. Check out this Sunday’s post, it’ll be all about my recent beauty faves!

  3. #
    Stephanie — December 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Hey Tessa, Love this! Question – does the seed chocolate need to be tempered, or is it the same chocolate you use for melting?

    • #
      Tessa — December 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks Stephanie! The seed chocolate is the same you used for melting, which should have been tempered when it was manufactured for sale. Make sure to use high quality chocolate that is dark and shiny (no chocolate chips or anything with added waxes, etc).

  4. #
    Stephanie — December 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, ok – so if you’re starting out with untempered chocolate, you’d need tempered chocolate to seed? Or are all wafers/chips/bars tempered from the get-go?

    • #
      Tessa — December 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Whatever chocolate you start with should already be tempered (otherwise it would be super unstable and wouldn’t have much of a shelf life) so as long as you’re using chocolate wafers/bars made for baking and not just for consumption (like Hershey’s bars or something), you should be good to go. I included a link in the post of my favorite chocolate to use for tempering. In this video I just used Baker’s brand semisweet baking chocolate. Hope that helps!!

  5. #
    Carla — December 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Funny I was thinking about learning how to properly temper chocolate the other day! Great timing 😉

  6. #
    Katja — December 19, 2015 at 1:47 am

    Yeah, thanks. Nou I also know what peanutbuttercups are! I’ll experiment with peanutbutter, butter and powdered sugar!
    Yours Katja

  7. #
    Nancy Hildebrand — November 22, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Short and Sweet Demonstration!

    Thanks, Nancy

  8. #
    Mary — January 25, 2020 at 11:36 am

    How do we do this without a thermometer?

  9. #
    Sam — December 3, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Hi Tessa
    Thanks for a great video. Just wanted to check whether the temperatures are the same for milk and dark chocolate?
    Thanks 🙂

  10. #
    Brenda;Westergard-Van Leeuwen — December 20, 2020 at 11:33 am

    You make it easy for we beginners

  11. #
    Kaitlin — December 26, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    If I need my chocolate to be runny can I still use the microwave to temper it? Also, I’m not sure if I can control the way my microwave heats (I don’t have an option for 50% power) so how many seconds should I heat it?

  12. #
    Sylvia Maiellaro — December 30, 2020 at 9:21 am

    Terrific information! thank you. Very clear clear instructions.
    One quick question; if you temper minimally a pound of chocolate at a time but you don’t use it all, then how do you reheat that tempered chocolate at a later date to use it up??
    Thank you, Sylvia

  13. #
    Maria — January 18, 2021 at 4:40 am

    Thank you

  14. #
    William — January 21, 2021 at 5:35 am

    Hi Tessa, I have made a couple of attempts to make a good fruit and nut chocolate bar. Learning how to temper the chocolate was easy with your directions… and the bars came out just great…such a difference when tempered! Yes is has that look and crisp snap to it. I did it in my double boiler and just added in the fruit and nut mixture to the melted chocolate, then poured it all out on a tray…so easy so good.. I am 72 years old and love trying new things like this. I am already thinking of more possibilities using the tempered chocolate and you have mentioned a few…so more experimenting! Thank you William

    • #
      Handle the Heat — January 21, 2021 at 9:45 am

      This is amazing! I’m so glad you found this article helpful.

  15. #
    Marcia Anne Kimpland — February 4, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Hi Tessa,
    Is it necessary to temper chocolate in order to make hot chocolate bombs?
    Thank you!

  16. #
    Shoshana — February 9, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    I have a question— I want to create chocolate shards, which I saw on the British Baking Show on Netflix. The bakers would pour the chocolate on waxed paper and let it cool and harden. Is this tempering? Or do I have it confused with something else? Also, after I am through cooking, can I add sugar and alcohol to it before I pour on the waxed paper? I apologize if this question is off-topic. Thank you. Shoshana Powell

  17. #
    Mari — February 11, 2021 at 2:22 am

    Hello,

    Just to let you know I finally go around to getting a thermometer and doing this, after about my 1st attempt I started to get a reasonable routine going and it all went well, the 3rd batch being the best of the lot.

    Many thanks, Maria

    • #
      Handle the Heat — February 11, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      So glad to hear that!

  18. #
    Pehr — February 11, 2021 at 8:50 am

    I am working on an old family recipe for a chocolate cake. It has three thin cookie layers separated by a chocolate cream. Then, on top a chocolate glaze. The way I remember it from childhood, the glaze was a hard dark shiny layer. I tried to make it last night. Clearly the “glaze” did not come out as such. My daughter told me about tempering chocolate, which brought me here.

    The recipe I have from my mother is really just an ingredients list. For the glaze 75g chocolate, 85g sugar, and 100g water. Does that make any sense to you? Seems that just chocolate and sugar would make more sense and that the water may have been a misunderstanding from somewhere along the passing down of the recipe.

  19. #
    Christy — February 18, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Are the directions the same in the microwave as the stove top when the temperature has dropped down and you want to temper the chocolate again? Thanks

  20. #
    Norene — March 24, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Very helpful and informative! Her explanation helped me understand the science. It takes a little time to master getting the right temperature, but it happens.

    • #
      Handle the Heat — March 24, 2021 at 9:30 am

      So happy to hear this helped you, Norene!

  21. #
    Ayesha — April 2, 2021 at 9:05 am

    Hi Tessa thank you so much, this is really informative.
    I have a question, say you’re coating a lot of truffles and it will take about 30mins to an hour, how often should you check the temperature to make sure it’s 89°. And what’s the lowest temperature chocolate can be whilst still being able to temper.
    I hope that makes sense and thank you so much!

    • #
      Handle the Heat — April 2, 2021 at 9:44 am

      I’d recommend keeping a thermometer in the chocolate to watch it 🙂 You want to keep the working temperature of about 89°F when working with it — If it cools to about 84°F to 86°F and is still fairly liquid, it can be reheated to a liquid consistency. It would still be considered tempered chocolate; however, if it has cooled and solidified, it would need to be re-tempered. If you keep your chocolate at its working temperature, it will stay in temper for many hours. Good luck!

  22. #
    Lori — April 3, 2021 at 4:10 am

    Thank you!

  23. #
    Marcy — April 20, 2021 at 2:22 am

    Attempted—did not come out the way I had hoped, but no fault of the video (issues with my thermometer and first attempt). Video and directions clear—will definitely try again.

    • #
      Handle the Heat — April 20, 2021 at 8:44 am

      I’m so glad everything was detailed enough for you, hopefully next time your chocolate will turn out perfect! 🙂

  24. #
    PAULA — April 23, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    Is this same method for using chocolate to decoration?

    • #
      Handle the Heat — April 27, 2021 at 9:20 am

      Tempered chocolate is less susceptible to heat and humidity and doesn’t melt…it also has a shiny flawless appearance. Not technically necessary for writing in chocolate, but I’d recommend it ☺️

  25. #
    Lynn Slack — May 3, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    I’m so glad you said to bring it up to 115-120 degrees in a double boiler and 100-110 degrees in the microwave. Other places have said to bring it up no further than 95 degrees with milk chocolate and 91 degrees for white chocolate. If the temperature goes above the temp you suggested for each chocolate and you have to add more to cool it down, is that chocolate then still tempered or do you have to bring it lower than 84 and then raise it to 84-91 degrees for it to be in temper again?

    • #
      Handle the Heat — May 4, 2021 at 7:57 am

      Tempered chocolate can be tempered over and over again. As long as you get the temp back down to 89˚ when you add the seed chocolate, it will be fine 🙂

  26. #
    Patricia — May 31, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I have a question about tempering chocolate in a microwave. So, there is no need to bring the temperature up just like you did when using a double-boiler?

    • #
      Handle the Heat — June 1, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      Correct, just make sure the temperature stays between 84-91˚; otherwise you will have to reheat 🙂

  27. #
    Gretchen Thorsen — June 1, 2021 at 2:52 am

    I watched a lot of video, read a lot of explanation but failed to understand it, you’re explanation is so detailed I finally get it, thank you very much ❤️

    • #
      Handle the Heat — June 1, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      Wonderful! So glad you found this helpful 🙂

  28. #
    Beverely Nichols — June 6, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    Is tempering almond bark done the same way?

    • #
      Handle the Heat — June 7, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      I actually don’t prefer almond bark in recipes. Almond bark is an artificial chocolate made with vegetable fats, whereas regular dipping chocolates are made with cocoa butter. From what I understand, almond bark does not need to be tempered as it’s actually produced for melting-it can simply be melted in the microwave or on the stove and used immediately.

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