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10+ Tips For Using Candy Melts

Candy Melts can be great for decorating desserts, but they can be finicky. Before you get started with them, check out this list of Tips For Using Candy Melts to help you avoid mishaps.

For more food ideas, check out all of our recipe posts.

Orange candy melts in a bowl with the words "Tips For Using Candy Melts" digitally written on top.

I love using candy melts. Candy melts make for really easy decorating. They come in a variety of colors and can make you look like a candy magician — with very little effort on your part. But, if you’ve never used them before, candy melts can be a little tricky. So I put together this list of tips for using candy melts.

Read thought these tips before you start any recipes with candy melts. If you already started making a dessert and you’re in a bind, this post will help you out too.

Real quick: Candy melts are a vanilla-flavored confectionery coating. See how the word “chocolate” is not in that definition? It’s because candy melts aren’t chocolate. That’s why, when I use them in recipes, I’ll call the recipe “candy bark” instead of “chocolate bark.”

The good thing about candy melts not being chocolate is you can leave them on the counter indefinitely and they won’t melt. That means you can also leave whatever you make using candy melts (like lollipops) out and you won’t have to worry about them melting.

The bad thing about candy melts not being chocolate is the flavor, well, isn’t chocolate. It’s vanilla, technically, but it’s a little waxy.

You can find candy melts in a variety of colors at Walmart or craft stores in the party section. I’ve never seen them carried at a grocery store.

A fork picking up a pretzel that's covered in green candy melts over a bowl of melted green candy melts with the words "Recipes Using Candy Melts" digitally written on top.

​If you want some ways to use candy melts after reading through these tips, check out our recipes using candy melts for some inspiration.

10+ Tips For Using Candy Melts

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I tried to put these tips in order of how you might be using the candy melts, but definitely read through all of them before you get started.

Vanilla almond bark in a glass in the microwave.

Melt Candy Melts In The Microwave

The best thing about candy melts is they melt so easily. You don’t need to worry about the double boiler method. You just need a microwave.

You’ll want to follow the package instructions, but I usually add my candy melts microwave-safe bowl (a ceramic or glass bowl, usually), microwave for one minute, stir, then microwave for 30 seconds, and stir again. If they’re still not melted enough, continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until you reach the consistency you need.

Green candy melts melted in a bowl.

Candy Melts Can Be Reheated

One of the best things about candy melts is they can be reheated. So if you’re moving a little slowly and the candy melts harden, you can just throw them back into the microwave and heat them up again (at 30-second intervals) until they are melty.

Red candy melts in a bowl.

Candy Melts Can Be Reused

Because of the tip above, I actually reuse candy melts. If I melt more than I need, I simply leave them on the counter to cool and harden. I put them back in an airtight bag and I’m able to reuse them in my next recipe without any trouble.

Red candy melts drizzled on the top half of pretzel rods dipped in white chocolate.

Candy Melts Can Expire

Unfortunately, candy melts don’t last forever. They have an expiration date. Each unopened bag will last for about 18 months — from the date it was made, not from the date you bought it. After that, they’re not really fresh and can be near impossible to melt.

If you’re using Wilton candy melts, the most popular brand, look at your bag and you’ll see a manufacturer’s code. One that reads 1724LS4. That means the bag was made on January 7, 2024. So it will expire July 7, 2025.

When you’re buying candy melts, flip over a couple bags and look at the code. Find the ones that were manufactured last, and those are the ones that will last longer.

If you have an open bag of candy melts, store it in an airtight container or ziptop bag to keep it as fresh as possible. Folding over the top and closing it with a chip clip isn’t the best way to go. You’ll be exposing your candy melts to air and speeding up the expiration process. Then, when you try to use them, you’ll have a clump of candy melts that won’t melt without some assistance from coconut oil (more about that below).

A pretzel being dipped in melted orange candy melts.

Use Shortening To Thin Out Your Candy Melts

If you need to thin out your candy melts, you can add a bit of shortening or coconut oil to your candy melts after you have melted them. The amount you need will be based on how many candy melts you’re trying to melt.

Wilton sells a dipping aid called EZ Thin or you can purchase paramount crystals. Add either to your candy melts to get them to the right consistency for dipping. When you’re making something like cake pops, you want to thin out the candy melts so you don’t end up with a really thick candy melt coating on the outside.

So adding coconut oil or vegetable shortening (not vegetable oil) will help. Adding shortening or a dipping aid will make the candy melts take longer to harden than candy melts without them added, so just keep that in mind if you’re on a time crunch.

Whatever you do, don’t add butter, milk, half and half, water, or heavy cream. Anything with water isn’t going to create thin candy melts. Rather, it will create a hard mess than you can’t thin no matter what you try.

Chopped strawberries and bananas on cutting boards.

Dry Your Fruit

If you’re dipping fruit, like making homemade chocolate covered strawberries or the very popular candy grapes, you’re going to need to make sure that the fruit it completely dry before dipping.

Any liquid, even a little bit of water, that’s on the fruit will cause the candy melts to cease and harden. So, you might be able to dip one or two pieces of fruit, but you won’t be able to finish a full batch.

An undecorated Chocolate Christmas Tree Pretzel Stick on a silicone baking mat.

Rest Your Candy On Silicone Baking Mats

If you don’t own any silicone baking mats and you’re going to start making your own candies, definitely buy some. The candy coating effortlessly pops off the silicone baking mat. You can use parchment paper as well, but I prefer the silicone mats because they’re reusable so they’re more budget-friendly (and we’re always trying to save some money over here).

If you try to skip a liner and instead place the melted candy wafers directly onto a baking sheet or a paper towel, it’ll stick. You’ll ruin the candy pulling it up off those and you’ll end up with pieces of the paper towels in your melted chocolate, making it inedible. 

An OREO cookie being dipped into red candy melts.

Candy Melts Will Cool Faster In Colder Weather

If it’s cold out, or just cold in your house, the candy melts will cool quicker than if it’s hot out (or hot in your house). In those cases, I microwave the candy melts a little longer than usual. That way, they hold a little more residual heat.

If you don’t, there’s a good chance your candy melts will start to harden before you’re done using them. If your candy melts harden too soon, you can always microwave them again. But, if you’ve already combined them with a second color, like when you make a candy bark, you run into a little trouble.

Melted green chocolate all over the top of melted white chocolate.

Candy Melts Harden Quickly

Depending on what you’re making, you might need your candy melts to cool before you can move on to the next part of your recipe, like our Baseball OREO Cookies, which need the red candy melts to cool before we can add melted white chocolate on top. The good news is candy melts take between 5 and 60 minutes to cool and harden completely at room temperature.

If you need them to cool and harden quicker, you can put the your recipe in the refrigerator.

Celebrate Shark Week with this super simple Shark Candy Bark (aka Shark Bark). It's made from three ingredients, including gummy sharks.

​Only Color Them With Gel Food Coloring

If you only have white candy melts at home but you need a color, you can grab food coloring to dye the white candy melts. Just add a few drops into the melted candy melts and stir until you reach your desired color. However, you can only do this with gel-based food coloring. Water based food coloring will cause the candy melts to cease and you’ll have to throw away the hard chocolate.

Alternatively, you can add a couple colored candy melts into white to dye it a different color.

Homemade Chocolate Covered Oreo Baseballs are easier to make than you think. They're perfect for baseball games, gifts for dad, and more.

Candy Melts Work Best In Silicone Or Plastic Molds

If you’re going to be making your own candies and you’re looking for molds, candy melts work best in a candy mold made of silicone or plastic. The treats will easy pop out of those materials.

​You’ll also want to gently tap those molds onto a countertop after you fill them with melted candy melts. That will help to remove any air bubbles that got into the mold, which can cause your candy to not look that pretty. It’ll also help settle the candy melts, so you can finish filling and assure that your molds are completely full before hardening.

Homemade Chocolate Covered Oreo Baseballs are easier to make than you think. They're perfect for baseball games, gifts for dad, and more.

Use A Food Safe Paint Brush

Some molds will have small details that you’ll want to add candy melts too to really make your chocolates look great. The easiest way to do this is by painting those parts with a paint brush.

If you’re going to do this, make sure you pick up a set of food safe paint brushes. You can’t just use a regular paint brush on edible treats because those are not food grade. And you especially can’t use paint brushes that have been used to paint.

White cream in a piping bag with a tip at the end.

Use Piping Tips To Decorate

If you’re going to be decorating using candy melts, pick up a set of piping tips.

The frugal way to decorate is by cutting a small hole in the corner of Ziploc bags and adding your candy melts to the bag. That’s fine in a pinch, but the only design you can get is a line.

So, if you’re going to be making your own candies on a regular basic, purchase a set of piping tips. I have a box of 55 tips and it has really elevated my homemade desserts.

Plus, I use them with reusable piping bags, which is more frugal than throwing away a plastic bag every time I pipe a dessert.

What Tips For Using Candy Melts do you have? Let us know in the comments.