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How to Temper Chocolate

Let’s talk all things chocolate tempering and how to temper chocolate at home.

Different shaped of molded chocolate and piped chocolate decorations on a parchment paper.

updated from 2010


Chocolate tempering is the process of melting, cooling, and heating chocolate while controlling the chocolate temperature.

Glass bowl with melted chocolate with a spatula coated with chocolate just above the bowl.

What Is Chocolate Tempering?

Chocolate tempering is crystallization. Fat in real chocolate – cocoa butter is polymorphic. It can crystalize in different forms. But only one of these – known as beta crystals or Form V (beta-V crystals), hardens into the firm, shiny fine chocolate with a snap when you break it. The chocolate you purchase in the store is in the form of stable beta crystals, meaning it’s in perfect temper.

Unmolded chocolates plated on a large white plate.

When Do You Need to Temper Chocolate?

You need to temper chocolate to make molded chocolates, dipped strawberries, and chocolate enrobed candies . When you melt chocolate and get it above 94°F, you also displace beta-V crystals, and your melted chocolate is out temper.

If you use this out-off temper chocolate to enrobe candies, you’ll end up with dull, soft, splotchy chocolate with white/gray streaks. Tempered chocolate sets up glossy and hard.

Tempered and untempered chocolate on a piece of parchment.
  • Tempered chocolate with a snap (image 1).
  • Untempered Chocolate is soft (image 2).
Hands breaking tempered and untempered chocolate.

What Tools Do I Need for Tempering Chocolate?

  • Thermometer – recommended (image 1), if you don’t have digital thermometer test the chocolate using the simple test (scroll further down)
  • Spatulas – silicone or metal, I try to stay away from spatulas with wooden handles as wood can retain water, and water and chocolate don’t match (image 2).
  • Silicone or Plastic Microwave Safe Bowls – for the easy microwave method, make sure silicone or plastic bowls are dry, any traces of moisture will cause chocolate to seize. Glass bowls tend to get very hot in the microwave, often causing hot spots and chocolate burning.
  • Stainless steel, tempered glass bowl – for seeding method over the pot of simmering water.
Hand holding a digital thermometer, variety of silicone spatulas, plastic, glass and metal mixing bowls.

Easy Chocolate Tempering In Microwave

This is the easiest and fastest way to temper chocolate. Chocolate is melted in a microwave, using short heating periods, followed by vigorous stirring. The goal is to keep the melted chocolate under 90F. If you don’t heat it too hot you don’t need to temper it.

  • I used a standard domestic microwave 1000 Watt
  • Pour chocolate (1lb/353grams) into a plastic microwave-safe bowl (step 1).
  • Microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds (steps 2-3).
  • Chocolate will appear unmelted, but there will be a few buttons that are softer or some may be melted, so be sure to stir it. Chocolate starts to melt from the center (step 4).
  • Stir well for 10 seconds.
  • Heat again for 15 seconds. Keep heating chocolate in short interval of 5 second.
  • As the chocolate starts to melt, it’s important to agitate it and check the temperature between the short heating periods. Make sure it’s not going above 90F (32C).
  • Once 2/3 of the buttons are melted, stop heating the chocolate, and continue vigorously stirring the chocolate with a spatula. Agitation encourages the formation of beta crystals. Check the temperature of the chocolate. In case chocolate buttons are not melting and your chocolate is well below 90F, heat it gently for 5 seconds in the microwave. Or use a hair dryer’s gentle heat (step 7). Once you reach 89F-90F your chocolate is ready and tempered.
Plastic bowl with chocolate buttons, and bowl with melted chocolate.

Chocolate Tempering Using Seeding Method

If you heat chocolate over 94F, you need to use a seeding method to bring the chocolate back to temper. The seeding is the process of adding tempered, unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate, cooling it and then raising the temperature.

Fully melt 1lb chocolate to about 115F, but not over 120F (this is when cocoa butter starts to melt).

Glass bowl with unmelted chopped chocolate.

Now it’s time to cool the chocolate to 80F-84F. Pour in 1/4lb-1/3lb finely chopped or grated tempered chocolate.

Keep stirring/agitating the chocolate mass as chocolate cools to 80-84F. This process can take 15-20 minutes. Speed up the cooling but placing the bowl onto a wet cool towel or submerging the bowl into a large bowl with cool water. But be careful not to add any water to the chocolate. Check the temperature frequently. Stir chocolate. Cool chocolate till it reaches 80-84F.

Glass bowl with melted chocolate and unmelted chopped chocolate on the top.

Now carefully using a gentle heat, bring the temperature of the chocolate to 89F-90F. Use a hair dryer or place the chocolate into the microwave for 3-5 seconds, or over the pot with hot water, and stir well, check the temperature, heat until temperature is 89-90F.

Digital thermometer in the chocolate.

Tempered Chocolate Test

This is a simple test. Spread tempered chocolate onto parchment and let the chocolate set at room temperature (65-75F/18-23C). If it’s tempered it should set within 3-5 minutes. If your kitchen is warmer, you can place it into the fridge to set for couple of minutes.

Chocolate that is in temper, sets quickly, doesn’t leave residue on the parchment and has a characteristic chocolate snap.

Hand peeling a small piece of chocolate from the parchment.

How to Keep Chocolate In Temper While Working

When chocolate temperature drops a little, simple heat chocolate in short 3-5 second intervals over the pot with simmering water, or use gentle heat of hair dryer, or use microwave at 50% power for couple of seconds. Stir well and take the temperature. Avoid overheating. Once the chocolate temperature goes over the recommended working tempered temperature you’ll have to start the seeding process again aby adding chopped tempered unmelted chocolate, cooling it and then reheating it.

Plastic bowl with melted chocolate and a digital thermometer inserted in the chocolate.
You can use a hair dryer to gently heat the chocolate.

Chocolate Tempering Problems

  • For an accurate temperature reading, it’s important to take the temperature of the chocolate after stirring the chocolate mass.
  • Keep stirring/agitating the chocolate mass as you temper. Agitation helps create stable beta-V crystals.
  • The ideal room temperature for working with chocolate is 65 -75°F (18 – 23°C). 
  • Don’t introduce too many bubbles to melted chocolate.
  • Check the viscosity of the chocolate you are using. It will help you decide if chocolate will work better for ganache (more viscous) or if it’s better for molding/enrobing (more fluid).
  • Water and chocolate don’t agree. If you, by accident get a drop of water into your melted chocolate, chocolate will seize. Though you can’t use it make molded candies. Seized chocolate can be used to make brownies, chocolate sauce or mousse.
Bowl with seized chocolate.

What Does Chocolate Out of Temper Look Like?

  • Chocolate that wasn’t properly tempered, takes forever to harden.
  • Untempered chocolate sets with a dull finish, and/or white streaks known as chocolate bloom (images 1-3).
  • It doesn’t snap but rather it bends (image 4).
  • And it can have a cake-like texture (image 5).
  • It melts when you touch it.
Plastic bowl with hardened chocolate with white coating on it.

What is Chocolate Bloom

Chocolate Bloom refers to fat bloom and sugar bloom, a whitish coating and/or spotting on the chocolate. Both fat bloom and sugar bloom result in chocolate losing its gloss.

Sugar Bloom can develop on store-bought chocolate that is exposed to some kind of moisture. Exposing chocolate to too much moisture, like storing it in the refrigerator will cause sugar bloom. Moisture draws the sugar to the surface of the chocolate where it dissolves, what we can see with our eyes are white streaks or dots and grainy texture.

Chocolate chips and chocolate nopareils with white streaks.

Fat Bloom can occur when store-bought chocolate is exposed to warm temperatures that cause cocoa butter, fat in chocolate to soften. When fat in chocolate melts, it also separates from other ingredients. It raises to the surface of the chocolate, where it sets and creates a white layer of streaks known as fat bloom. Storing the chocolate at a constant temperature will delay fat bloom.

Fat bloom is also often caused by improper tempering. It can occur when, for example, the center of the candy you are enrobing is too cold or has some moisture on it. And it can also occur if you place chocolates in the fridge for too long, where cold and moisture can promote fat or sugar bloom (image 1).

Mild fat bloom can also occur when you mold thick bars or other 3D shapes and the chocolate doesn’t cool quickly. The molded side will be fine, shiny and tempered but the inside will have streaks or spots (image 2). You can try to fix this issue by gradual pour, using layers of chocolate to fill the mold, instead of using just one single pour.

Hand holding a piece of chocolate bar with white spots inside of the chocolate bar.

Can I Fix Set Untempered Chocolate?

Yes, chocolate can be pretty forgiving like that. Here you can see a chunk of chocolate I thru out of temper and let it set.

I chopped the chocolate, melted it to 115F and then I followed the seeding method to bring it back to temper.

A plastic bowl filled with chocolate with white, gray layer.

Simple Chocolate Decorations

Brush dipped in chocolate.

Pour tempered chocolate into a piping bag (steps 1-3).

Piping bag filled with chocolate.

Pipe shapes onto parchment and let the chocolate set at room temperature (18-23C). If your room is warmer, place piped decorations into the fridge for 5 minutes to set (steps 1-3). Remove decorations and use them to decorate desserts. Store chocolate decorations in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight and moisture.

Piping chocolate decorations on parchment.
View from the above, parchment paper with piped chocolate decorations.

Molds for Tempered Chocolate

  • Acrylic
  • Plastic
  • Silicone
Acrylic, silicone and plastic chocolate molds.

There are hundreds of silicone molds available. These can also be used to create molded chocolates like these roses.

Pink silicone rose mold filled with chocolate.

Chocolate Tempering Seeding Chart

Chocolate tempering chart.

Fake Chocolate Versus Real Chocolate

How to spot if chocolate is real or not? It’s simple, look at the label of the ingredients.

Chocolate to be labeled as ‘real’ chocolate must contain only cocoa butter. As expected not all chocolates are created equally. Cocoa butter content in chocolate varies as chocolate manufacturers often use different amounts of cocoa butter, creating the desired creamy taste. When assessing the chocolate before you make the purchase of any new chocolate it’s a good practice to check the label of the ingredients

REAL CHOCOLATE is chocolate that has cocoa butter, and no other fat listed on the label is real. Like many of the store-bought chocolate bars (image 1). Professionals use high-quality molding, dipping, and coating chocolate – couverture chocolate. It’s sold in the form of small buttons (image 2).

FAKE CHOCOLATE is chocolate that has vegetable oils listed on the ingredients list. This chocolate is called compound chocolate, and you know it as candy melts. Often Paramount Crystals(not to be mistaken for beta-V crystals) are used to thin candy melts to help make candy coatings more fluid for application (image 4). Compound chocolate is easy to use as it doesn’t need to be tempered but lacks the chocolate flavor and creamy mouthfeel of real chocolate.

Store bought chocolate bars, chocolate button, candy melts in white bowls and paramount crystals in green plastic bag.

What Kind of Chocolate is Suitable for Chocolate Tempering?

You can use any chocolate with cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is added to give the chocolate a creamier taste and cocoa solids provide the intensity of the chocolate flavor.

  • Dark Chocolate – cocoa beans (chocolate flavor), cocoa butter (fat-creaminess), and sugar
  • Milk Chocolate – cocoa beans (flavor), cocoa butter (fat-creaminess), sugar and milk powder
  • White Chocolate – cocoa butter, milk powder, and sugar. White chocolate gets a bad reputation because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids. And instead of dark chocolate color, it takes the color of caramel-like cocoa butter.

Fun Fact: According to FDA, white chocolate has to contain at least 20% cocoa butter to be labeled as chocolate. And dark and milk chocolate have to contain minimum 10% cocoa liquor, no specification of cocoa butter percentage, to be labeled as chocolate.

White and dark chocolate button in the palm of the hand.

Cocoa Percentage

Cocoa percentages can be confusing. In short, the percentage on a bar of chocolate indicates how much of the bar, by weight, is made from derivatives of cacao – this includes both the cocoa beans as well as cocoa butter. This is why two bars with the same percentage, can have very different levels of intensity, flavor and sweetness. Cocoa percentage measure the overall amount of cocoa between cocoa butter, chocolate liquor and cocoa powder.

Just because the label says, 80% cocoa doesn’t automatically mean it’s the top quality chocolate. Always check the nutritional label.

Dark, milk and white chocolate disks in clear packaging.

Can You Buy Tempered Chocolate?

Pretty much all of the real chocolate-containing cocoa butter you purchase is tempered. From chocolate bars to chocolate-covered candies.

Several packaged chocolate bars and a cutting board with finely chopped dark chocolate.

To Make Tempered Chocolate You Need

  • Get all the supplies in my Amazon Shop
  • Chocolate bars or Couverture Chocolate Disks
  • Bowls : silicone or microwave safe, stainless steel, glass
  • Spatulas without wooden handles
  • Digital Thermometer
  • Parchment

Chocolate Tempering

Step-by-step instructions on how to temper chocolate.
Course Candy, Dessert, Frosting
Cuisine American, French
Keyword chocolate tempering, how to temper chocolate, tempered chocolate
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Author Hani B.


Chocolate Tempering (easy method using a microwave)

  • 1 lb dark chocolate, buttons or finely chopped chocolate bar (453 grams)


Chocolate Tempering (easy method using a microwave)

  • Place chocolate (1lb/353grams) into a plastic microwave-safe bowl.
    Microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir well and microwave again for 15 seconds, then stir well again. Continue heating in 5-second intervals until about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted. Stir well.
    Make sure it’s not going above 90F (32C).
    Once 2/3 of the buttons are melted, stop heating the chocolate, and continue vigorously stirring the chocolate with a spatula. Take your time, and don't rush it.
    If chocolate buttons are not melting and your chocolate is well below 90F, heat it gently for 5 seconds in the microwave. Or use a hair dryer’s gentle heat. Once you reach 89F-90F, your chocolate is ready and tempered.
  • If the temperature of your chocolate goes above 94F, you'll need to follow the seeding method to bring the chocolate to a temper. Details about the seeding method are posted in the step-by-step instruction in the blog post.
A glass bowl filled with melted chocolate.

This post was originally published on March 5th, 2010. On July 5th I updated this post with new step by step photographs and written text.

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  1. I would also add since you don't want to invest in a chocolate thermometer, and for simple cookie dipping you could also try this:
    My mom would do this during the big Christmas cookie baking marathon.
    Melt 2tbl shortening with 1 cup of chopped chocolate./over the simmering water or in double boiler/ Let it cool to the right coating consistency and coat your cookies.It should work pretty well. Chocolate may not get as hard as the one that is tempered.
    I wouldn't recommend using this when making chocolate molds, or coating truffles etc.

  2. Thank you everyone, I hope you are ready to temper some chocolate.;-)

    Shimmering, using my own experience I'd recommend using the chocolate thermometer as it is accurate. I have tried the lip testing technique but I just can tell that way, and you have to remember only a one degree difference can make a huge difference between tempered and not tempered chocolate.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Hi Sandra,

    Your method and explanation seem so easy and doable. last time I tempered my chocolate to dip in some cookies. It was a total disaster. I did dip half of them, then the chocolate got thick and i tried to reheat it a bit, and voila it seized.
    Well I am going to try it this time with a thermometer.

    Just One question though, do you think a quick read thermometer probe will do, I don't have the chocolate one and I don't want to buy one juts for the occasional use.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I've decided I'm giving chocolates to everyone for Christmas and was wondering how I'd go with tempering, I love this and now it doesn't seem so daunting, thanks for posting it and thanks for allowing Sandra to link it!

  5. My sincere thanks Haniela. I have linked this post in my blog. I am sure my readers will enjoy discovering your wonderful blog. Kind regards Sandra

  6. This is brilliant! Thank you so much for taking the trouble to share this with us. I will definitely be having a go at tempering, although I have a feeling that my results won't be as perfect as yours! 😉

  7. Hi Haniela
    This is possible one of the best (easiest to understand simple explanations) I ever read on tempering chocolate. Would you permit me to link to from my blog?. Thanks Sandra

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