How to Temper Chocolate (in the Microwave or on the Stovetop)

how to temper chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop. chocolate covered pretzels
For a shiny, snappy finish on your sweets!

Knowing how to temper chocolate is a useful skill for creating pretty desserts and candies. As you may already know, melting chocolate doesn’t always result in a nice finish— often, it turns out soft and foggy. For a hard, snappy, and shiny finish, chocolate needs to be heated only to a specific temperature. That’s what tempering chocolate is!

This article will cover how to temper chocolate in the microwave and on the stovetop. Microwave tempering is the easier method of the two, and also allows for smaller quantities of chocolate to be tempered. Stovetop tempering is useful for large quantities of chocolate, and is a slower process.

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how to temper chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop. dark chocolate bar with freeze dried strawberries


Be Ready to Go!

  • Once your chocolate is tempered, you’ll want to use it right away before it cools down too much. Have all of the other elements of your project ready to go.

Small pieces of Chocolate are Essential

  • Small pieces of chocolate melt evenly at a low temperature.
  • Because white chocolate tempers at the lowest temperature, white chocolate chips are small enough and don’t need to be broken down further.
  • Dark chocolate tempers at the highest temperature and melts the slowest, so it needs to be broken down into very small pieces. I put mine in the food processor— it’s loud, but it gets the job done!

Chocolate Quality Matters

  • The chocolate must contain cocoa butter, otherwise it cannot be tempered. Because of this, low quality chocolate chips or chocolate bars may not temper properly. (Check the label!)
  • Trader Joe’s chocolate chips and bars work excellent for tempering. Other great brands are Guittard, Ghirardelli, and Theo.

Stir Slowly

  • Stirring too quickly won’t ruin the temper of you chocolate, but it may produce bubbles in the finish.

Use Dry Tools

  • Water on any tools that come in contact with chocolate can cause the chocolate to seize.

Tempering Chocolate FAQs

  • Once chocolate is overheated, can it ever be tempered again?
    • Yes! So long as the chocolate isn’t scorched (meaning it turns dry and crumbly), the overheated chocolate can be seeded with more unmelted chocolate to restore the chocolate’s structure.
      • “Seeding” is adding unmelted chocolate to the chocolate to help set the structure.
  • How does tempering work?
    • Melted chocolate is heated to a specific set of temperatures, which restores the structure of the cocoa butter, resulting in a professional finish.
  • Do I have to have a thermometer?
    • Yes, you really need a thermometer.
      But— if you want to try tempering chocolate without one, try the microwave method and test the temper of the chocolate before using it.
      • Test the temper by dipping a knife into the chocolate. If it dries glossy and even within 3 minutes, you have achieved temper, and your chocolate is ready to be used.

Recommended Tools

how to temper chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop. dark chocolate bar with white chocolate hearts.
This is a good example of chocolate turning bubbly because I stirred too fast! She’s still cute though.

How to Temper Chocolate in the Microwave

Microwave Chocolate Tempering

12 ounces of chocolate is the ideal quantity for tempering in the microwave. Much more and the chocolate won’t heat evenly, much less and the chocolate is very likely to overheat. It’s nice to have extra finely chopped chocolate on hand just in case the chocolate overheats and needs to be seeded.
Course: Dessert


  • Silicone or plastic bowl
  • Something to stir with
  • Kitchen towel
  • A piece of waxed or parchment paper for testing temper


  • 12 oz chocolate finely chopped
  • A few more ounces finely chopped chocolate in case of overheating


  • Put the chocolate in a plastic or silicone bowl, (glass or ceramic will get too hot.) Microwave the chocolate like this: 30 seconds, stir. 30 seconds, stir. 15 seconds, stir. 10 seconds, stir. (Remember to stir slowly, fast stirring creates bubbles.)
  • Take the chocolate’s temperature. It should not exceed 90F for dark chocolate, 86F for milk chocolate, or 84 for white chocolate. If the chocolate has overheated, add 1/4 cup more chopped chocolate and heat 5 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until melted.
  • Test the temper: put a dollop of the chocolate on a piece of parchment and put it in the fridge. After 5 minutes if it’s solid and snaps when broken in half, your chocolate is tempered. (This step isn’t mandatory, but I like to be sure the temper is correct before using the chocolate.) Do not attempt to keep the chocolate warm by keeping it inside the microwave while you’re waiting for your temper test, it will probably overheat.
  • Use the tempered chocolate immediately. If using to dip, wrap a towel around the bowl, or put it in a dish of warm water (with a temperature equal or lesser than the tempering temperature) to help keep it warm. If the chocolate cools too much, microwave 5 seconds at a time until usable. If the chocolate solidifies in the bowl, you’ll need to break it into small pieces again before starting the tempering process over.

How to Temper Chocolate on the Stovetop

Stovetop Chocolate Tempering

This method of tempering chocolate requires a high volume of chocolate in order to get an accurate temperature read, so the amount of chocolate can be increased but should not be reduced. If you want to temper a small amount of chocolate, try the microwave method.


  • Double boiler or a pot of water with a glass or metal bowl set into it
  • Something to stir with
  • Kitchen towel
  • Bowl of ice or ice pack (only if your environment is warmer than 75F)
  • Butter knife for testing temper
  • Instant read thermometer


  • 24 oz chocolate finely chopped


  • Temper the chocolate: Set up your double boiler and be sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Bring a double boiler to a low simmer over medium-low heat, and reduce heat as needed to avoid boiling and steam. (Steam and water can cause chocolate to seize.)
  • Add two thirds of the chopped chocolate, and stir continuously until the chocolate is uniformly liquid.
  • Using oven mitts, remove the bowl from the pot and wipe away any condensation on the bowl with a towel. Continue to stir slowly, and a little bit at a time add the remaining chocolate, melting completely before adding more. Continue to stir slowly until the temperature reaches 82F for dark chocolate, or 79F for white or milk chocolate. (if your environment is warmer than 75F, have a bowl of ice or an ice pack on hand to move the chocolate on and off of. Do not leave the chocolate on the ice too long, or it will start to set.)
  • Return the bowl to the simmering double boiler, and stir until the chocolate is heated to 88-91F for dark chocolate, or 85-87F for white or milk chocolate.
  • Then, remove the bowl from the heat for the second and final time, and wipe away any condensation. Wrap with the towel to keep warm, and move back onto the pot if the chocolate gets too cold.
  • Test the temper by dipping a knife into the chocolate. If it dries glossy and even within 3 minutes, you have achieved temper, and your chocolate is ready to be used. If it dries dull and streaky, try again by heating and cooling once more (repeating steps 3 and 4.)

My Tempering Chocolate Video!

I made this video as part of my Cooking with Kiya: 2 Minute Techniques series with The Create Channel.

I hope this post helps you create the chocolate goodies of your dreams! Good luck!

These chocolate truffles are especially good dipped in tempered chocolate.

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