How to Soften Candy

Candy is a delightful treat loved by people of all ages. However, there are times when you may need to soften candy for various reasons. Whether you want to use hard candies as ingredients in recipes, avoid the risk of hurting your teeth, or restore the texture of hardened candies, there are several methods you can use to achieve the desired softness. In this article, we will guide you through different techniques on how to soften candy effectively.

How to Soften Candy

Reasons for Hard Candy

There are several reasons why candy can become hard over time or during the cooking process. Some of the common factors include:

  1. Exposure to air and moisture evaporation
  2. Prolonged storage
  3. Incorrect cooking temperatures
  4. Overcooking or excessive sugar concentration
  5. Improper cooling and setting process

Understanding the reasons behind the hardness of candy can help us choose the most appropriate method to soften it effectively.

Why Soften Candy?

Many recipes use hard candies as ingredients, and often, the candy needs to be softened or even fully melted. Additionally, there are instances when softer candies may harden due to oxidation and require rehydration to regain their softness. By learning the methods to soften candy, you can enjoy your favorite treats without any concerns.

Methods to Soften Candy

There are various methods you can use to soften candy. Let’s explore each method step by step:

Softening Candy Using a Microwave

One of the quickest methods to soften candy is by using a microwave. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the desired amount of hard candies on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Unwrap the candies if necessary.
  3. Microwave the candies for 10 to 15 seconds. Adjust the time based on the wattage of your microwave.
  4. Carefully remove the plate from the microwave.
  5. Enjoy the softened candy as-is or cut it into smaller pieces for use in recipes.

For fully melting hard candy in the microwave, follow these additional steps:

  1. Unwrap the hard candies and place them in a zip-top bag.
  2. Crush the candies using a rolling pin until they are in smaller pieces.
  3. Transfer the crushed candies to a microwave-safe bowl.
  4. Microwave the bowl for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula after each interval.
  5. Be cautious as the melted candy can bubble up and cause burns.
  6. Once fully melted, the candy is ready to be used in your recipe.

Softening Candy on the Stovetop

When you need to completely melt hard candies, using the stovetop method offers more control over the melting process. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place the desired amount of hard candies in a large plastic zip-top bag.
  2. Crush the candies carefully using a rolling pin.
  3. Add the crushed candy to a thick-bottomed saucepan.
  4. Heat the saucepan over medium-low heat.
  5. Stir the candies with a silicone spatula or spoon occasionally.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat once the candies have melted completely.
  7. Use the melted candy as desired in your recipe.

Alternatively, you can use a double boiler to melt hard candies. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the crushed candies in the upper portion of the double boiler.
  2. Fill the bottom portion with water, ensuring the water level is appropriate for your double boiler (usually around an inch).
  3. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  4. Stir the hard candies with a silicone spatula or spoon until they melt completely.

Softening Candy Using an Oven

To soften hard candies, you can use the oven method. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. Place the unwrapped hard candies on the baking sheet.
  4. Put the baking sheet in the oven.
  5. Check the candies every minute until they reach the desired level of softness.
  6. Once softened, you can enjoy the candies as they are or cut them into smaller pieces for recipes.

Reviving Hardened Soft Candies

Certain soft candies tend to harden over time due to exposure to oxygen. However, you can easily restore their original texture with the following methods:

For soft candies like saltwater taffy or gummy worms:

  1. Place the unwrapped candies on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Heat the candy in 7 to 10-second intervals until it begins to soften.
  3. Microwave only the amount of candy you intend to eat to prevent rehardening.

For gelatin-based gummy-type candies:

  1. Submerge the candies in a bowl of warm water.
  2. Place the desired amount of candy in a bowl of warm water.
  3. Let the candies sit in the water until they reach the desired softness.
  4. The gummy candy will absorb the water and regain its original texture.
  5. Allow the candies to dry on a wire drying rack before storing them in an airtight container.

For an adult twist when rehydrating gummy candy, you can add the candies to a bowl with enough vodka to cover them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the candies rehydrate for 48 hours. The gummy candy will swell slightly. Afterward, allow them to cure on a drying rack and store them in an airtight container.

Room Temperature Method

The room temperature method is the simplest and most natural way to soften candy. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the hard candy in a dry, airtight container.
  2. Leave the container at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the candy’s hardness.
  3. Check the candy periodically until it reaches the desired softness.

This method works best for candies that are not extremely hard or sticky.

Freezing and Thawing Method

The freezing and thawing method can be used for certain types of candies to achieve a softer texture. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the hard candy in a freezer-safe bag or container.
  2. Seal the bag or container tightly and place it in the freezer.
  3. Allow the candy to freeze completely.
  4. Remove the candy from the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature until it softens.
  5. Check the candy periodically until it reaches the desired softness.

This method is suitable for candies that can tolerate freezing without compromising their quality.

Resting Method

Sometimes, simply allowing the candy to rest can soften it naturally. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the hard candy in a dry, airtight container.
  2. Leave the container undisturbed for a few days or up to a week.
  3. Check the candy periodically to monitor its softening progress.
  4. Once the desired softness is achieved, the candy is ready to enjoy.

This method works well for candies that can naturally absorb moisture and soften over time.

Tips for Softening Different Types of Candy

Different types of candies require specific techniques for optimal softening. Here are some tips:

  1. Chewy or gummy candies: Steaming or moisture methods work best to soften these candies without altering their texture too much.
  2. Hard candies: The room temperature or freezing and thawing methods are suitable for hard candies. Avoid using methods that involve melting or excessive heat.
  3. Chocolate-covered candies: Gentle methods like the room temperature or resting methods are recommended to soften chocolate-covered candies without melting the chocolate coating.
  4. Caramels or toffees: The stovetop method is ideal for melting and softening these types of candies, ensuring a smooth and soft texture.

Consider the specific characteristics of the candy you want to soften and choose the most appropriate method accordingly.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While softening candy, it’s essential to avoid certain mistakes that can result in undesirable outcomes. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Overheating: Be cautious when using microwave or stovetop methods to prevent overheating and melting the candy.
  2. Lack of patience: Allow sufficient time for the candy to soften naturally without rushing the process.
  3. Using excessive moisture: When using the moisture method, be careful not to introduce too much moisture, which can cause the candy to become sticky or soggy.
  4. Ignoring safety guidelines: Follow the safety guidelines mentioned on the candy packaging or recipe to prevent accidents or injuries.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure successful candy softening while preserving the quality and taste.

Precautions and Safety Guidelines

When working with candy, it’s important to follow these precautions and safety guidelines:

  1. Read the candy packaging or recipe instructions thoroughly for any specific precautions.
  2. Use heat-resistant bowls or containers when using heating methods.
  3. Handle hot candy or equipment with oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves to avoid burns.
  4. Keep children away from hot surfaces or boiling water to prevent accidents.
  5. Avoid introducing moisture directly to the candy if it’s not suitable for softening.

Always prioritize safety while handling hot candy or utilizing heating methods to soften it.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I melt hard candies in the oven? While it is possible to melt hard candies in the oven, it is not recommended. Hard candies can burn quickly, and there is less control over the melting process in the oven. For complete melting, the stovetop method is the most consistent and safe.

2. What types of recipes use softened candy? Softened candies, such as caramels, can be used in various preparations and recipes. You can add softened caramels to chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or even rice Krispie treats. If your recipe calls for softened hard candies, choose one of the methods mentioned above to prepare the candy.

3. What types of recipes use melted hard candy? Melted hard candies can be incorporated into many dessert recipes. For example, you can use melted hard caramels or hard cinnamon candies to make caramel or candy apples. Add melted caramel candy to rich chocolate brownies or experiment with other melted candy additions to enhance your favorite desserts.

4. Why should hard candies be crushed before using them in a melted preparation? Crushing hard candies helps them melt faster and more evenly. By breaking the candies into smaller pieces, you prevent them from burning or scorching during the melting process.

5. Do I need a candy thermometer for softening candy? No, a candy thermometer is not necessary when softening or melting candy. Candy thermometers are more useful when making candy from scratch to ensure precise temperature control. When softening or melting candy using the methods described in this article, a candy thermometer is not required.


Softening candy is a simple process that allows you to enjoy various recipes and treats. Whether you use a microwave, stovetop, or oven, you can soften hard candies to your desired level of softness. Additionally, you can revive hardened soft candies by rehydrating them. With these techniques, you can make your candy enjoyable and versatile for different culinary creations.

Now that you have learned different methods for softening candy, go ahead and indulge in your favorite treats without worrying about their texture. Get creative with recipes and enjoy the delightful world of softened candies!

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