Introduction: How to Temper Chocolate

Picture of How to Temper Chocolate

The 4 simple steps you need to know to temper chocolate perfectly every time.  There's no magic in getting chocolate to temper - it just seems that way!  Follow these easy steps and never be intimidated by chocolate again.

When you buy chocolate, it is already "in temper."  This means that all of the fat crystals are aligned to give the chocolate perfect snap and shine.  When you melt chocolate to change its shape or use it in a recipe, you are taking it out of temper.  The heat causes the fat molecules get all jumpy and if they aren't realigned correctly, you get what's called "bloom."  Bloomed chocolate still tastes great, it just loses its visual and textural appeal.  But even bloomed chocolate can be brought back into temper!

Tempering chocolate can seem like a big mystery, but all you need is a bowl, a pan and a thermometer to get it right every time.  For the most accurate results, I recommend using an instant-read thermometer.  

Step 1: Setup

Picture of Setup
If you have a double boiler, more power to you!  If you don't, you can set up a simple "bain-marie:"  
  • Rest a metal bowl on a saucepan with 1 inch of water in bottom.
  • Make sure the bottom of the bowl is at least 1 inch above the surface of the water - not resting in the water.
Using chopped chocolate or chocolate wafers, reserve a quarter of the amount of chocolate in a separate bowl to use as a "seed" later.

Grab a silicone spatula and a good thermometer, and you're ready to rock.

Step 2: Melt

Picture of Melt
Bring the water in your saucepan to a SIMMER  (do not boil)

Stir the chocolate continuously until it has all melted smoothly.

Bring the chocolate to:
  • 118oF (48C) for Dark Chocolate
  • 112oF (45C) for Milk Chocolate
Remove the bowl of chocolate from the saucepan and carefully wipe the steam from bottom of the bowl.

ONE DROP OF WATER IN THE MELTED CHOCOLATE WILL CAUSE IT TO SEIZE and, well, ruin it completely.    So, you know, be careful.

Step 3: Seed

Picture of Seed
Now we seed the melted chocolate with the reserved chocolate pieces.  This will help bring down the temperature of the chocolate.

Add in the unmelted chocolate, and stir until smooth.  Keep stirring with your spatula until the temperature of the chocolate reaches:
  • 89-90oF (32C) for Dark Chocolate
  • 86-88oF (30C) for Milk Chocolate
You may set your bowl of chocolate into another bowl of cool water to help speed up this process.

Step 4: Rewarm & Maintain

Picture of Rewarm & Maintain
If the temperature of your chocolate drops too low, just SLOWLY reheat it over the bain-marie until it reaches its proper temperature:
  • 89-90oF (32C) for Dark Chocolate
  • 86-88oF (30C) for Milk Chocolate
Your chocolate is now ready to use!

Maintain the tempered chocolate at these temperatures using both the cool water bath and the bain-marie as needed.

Now wasn't that easy?!


Habibilucy2 (author)2016-07-01

Thank you! What temperature would you bring semisweet to?

denise3000101 (author)2016-01-21

thanks for the clear instructions because everyone i went to it had all these other stuff but thanks for making it easy

Nettscape82 (author)2015-10-20

Can you temper chocolate via the seed method with chocolate that has previously cooled and in bloom?

seepalaces made it! (author)2015-06-16

I'm kind of a kitchen clutz, and if you can teach me, I suspect no one is beyond this recipe.

swordfish72 (author)2014-12-21


Thanks for the clear instructions!

I followed the steps and the instructions but did not manage to get shiny chocolate.

I used it to cover a cake and spread it with a spatula; was that a mistake?

Also, the day I covered the cake was rather humid; could that have been the reason?

urbanbeat (author)swordfish722015-06-10

Humidity will definitely play a role in your not so glossy chocolate issue. Water+chocolate=disaster.. If the humidity is high, I would suggest going for a ganache. It will not give you that snappy finish, but you can get a very nice glossy finish as you have introduced dairy.
If you are looking to achieve that completely smooth finish it is best to have extra chocolate. Place your cake on a cooling rack over top and a lined sheet pan, then simply pour the tempered chocolate over it. It will give you the best possible results as you are not disturbing the cooling chocolate. Hope it helps with your next venture!

cammers made it! (author)2015-05-16

Our white chocolate seemed to work fine following the milk chocolate instructions.

RitaB3 (author)2015-05-11

MomLovesElectro (author)2011-04-26

what about for white chocolate? I can never get it as thin as milk chocolate to dip my strawberries in :/

i'm not sure if white chocolate can be tempered. white chocolate is actually just cocoa butter, and there have been some debates as to whether it is actually "chocolate". i don't think the same principles of tempering apply as white chocolate and... well... normal chocolate are very different. hope i helped!

Pattus (author)tofu4tortoise2011-04-27

If anyone is interested in the why temper chemistry have a look here...

Basically cocoa butter has 6 types of crystaline form depending on how it was last "set".

We heat to liquify the cocoa butter crystals and then control the setting temperature to make sure we get the most good type of crystals.

Given this then you should be able to temper white chocolate too but the temperatures might be lower again than the Dark and Milk versions that Schoochmaroo listed.

MomLovesElectro (author)Pattus2011-04-27

that's what I was thinking Pattus, through trial and error I think I might be heating it just a bit too high or too long? there has to be a way because Chocolatiers do it all the time and come out with beautiful results. I've come close to it but I added crisco it it to get those results.

LeanneM3 (author)MomLovesElectro2015-05-05

White chocolate is best to be heated to at least 30-31 degrees celcius. I'm a catering student in my second year and it's part of an exam and it's worked every time at 31 degrees so far. I hope this was helpfull

What sort of white chocolate are you using? Some of the common brands (like Nestle and Toll House) contain hydrogenated or other cheap high-melting fats but no cocoa butter at all, which means that they don't melt properly.

The upside to the fact that these "chocolates" contains no cocoa butter is that they don't require tempering - you can hold them close to their maximum working temperature to thin them, which should be around 110 degrees F.

A mid-level white chocolate like that from Ghirardelli usually contains small amounts of cocoa butter in addition to the cheaper fats, and therefore does require tempering.

A high-quality (and, unfortunately, high-price) white chocolate like Guittard's contains only cocoa butter, and none of the cheap fillers.

The higher the cocoa butter content of the chocolate, the better it will look (and taste!) in the final product. Tempered crystals of cocoa butter give chocolate its characteristic high gloss and "snap." Because of this, the best fat to add to chocolate to thin it is cocoa butter! You can usually find sticks of pure cocoa butter at drugstores, usually sold by the skincare products. Just make sure it says "100% pure cocoa butter" or something similar - the cocoa butter blends smell nice, but taste terrible. ;)

shelly.hollatz (author)2014-12-14

Great article. Thank you!

I have been following the instructions on the back-side of the label on my favorite milk chocolate coatings for years, to temper, but really had no idea why I was going through the extra work until reading your article.

Also, regarding white 'chocolate', out is not necessary to temper, since it's considered a coating, and not really true chocolate. You can also purchase milk chocolate coatings that do not require tempering, but they don't taste quite as good as real milk chocolate.

Oh, photos of tempered and bloomed chocolate would be helpful as a descriptor.

Thanks for the article!

hannahlokos (author)2013-04-04

Very helpful!

I just tell my recipients to refrigerate the chocolates if they will not consume because it will melt in no time. After all, they are home made and not for commercial consumption. Easy...

I just tell my recipients to refrigerate the chocolates if they will not consume because it will melt in no time. After all, they are home made and not for commercial consumption. Easy...

ponynicker53 (author)2012-12-13

How/when would you add water based things such as vanilla extract to prevent ruining it?

happymarshmallows (author)2011-04-28

i dont have a microwave so this instructable is really useful :D thumbs up

Cam918 (author)2011-04-28

Always wanted to know how this was done...never seems to work when I try it, unfortunately...

xxev75 (author)2011-04-27

mmmmm chocolate ;)

KEUrban (author)2011-04-27

So I have a question, Scooch... If I have a sous vide, could I just float a stainless steel bowl in it with the temp set to 88-90 degrees depending on the kind of chocolate?

scoochmaroo (author)KEUrban2011-04-27

Yes. FIrst heat it up to the higher temp to get all the fats properly out of alignment, and then keep it at the 88-90 mark to let them settle back in. That would be perfect!

Kaiven (author)2011-04-26

Fingernail polish = win color?
Chocolate... too bad my brother hates the stuff. I'll have to do this for my bacon sometime.

scoochmaroo (author)Kaiven2011-04-26

:D Thanks for noticing!
Maybe I should match my manicure to all of my projects from now on. . .

Kaelessin (author)2011-04-26

HA! that makes so much sense! It's actually the same idea as tempering steel or glass . . .similar processes too (though this one yields tastier results)

It'd be really neat to show the difference at the end with a picture of something molded with tempered chocolate and something molded with untempered chocolate . . . your description is great but nothing quite does it like a picture you know? Just my .02 . . .

scoochmaroo (author)Kaelessin2011-04-26

Now that is an excellent suggestion. I will definitely add that in at my first chance!

supersoftdrink (author)2011-04-26

Now I can link to this instead of including the directions in one of my instructables :)


I don't know what took me so long!

Carleyy (author)2011-04-26

YAY. I have been waiting for this instructable!!!!!!

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
More by scoochmaroo:Halloween FoodSparkle Unicorn Floof HatPumpkin Carving
Add instructable to: