How To Pick the Best Meat Thermometer?

When things are hectic in the kitchen or around the grill, a meat thermometer allows you to check progress and put your mind at ease. You no longer have to be concerned about serving raw meat to your friends and family. As a result, whether you’re a professional chef or a beginner home cook, you should always have at least one type of meat thermometer on hand. I’ll show you how to choose the best meat thermometer today.

Why Is It Important To Use a Meat Thermometer When Cooking?

Simply put, using a meat thermometer when cooking is the only way to ensure that your meal is fully cooked and ready to eat. Though you may have a keen sense for when your steak is perfectly medium-rare or a gut instinct for when your chicken is perfectly roasted, only a meat thermometer can confirm this.

A meat thermometer can also help you determine whether a meal is overcooked. When meat is cooked to the proper temperature, it is juicy and tender; if it is left in the oven or on the grill for too long, it becomes dry and flavorless.

Because no two cuts of meat are the same, relying on cooking time to determine when a meal is done is a flawed method. While some pieces may be perfectly cooked, others may be undercooked or burnt. In other words, if you want a stress-free dining experience, a meat thermometer is the only way to go.

What To Look for When Buying a Meat Thermometer?

What to Look for When Buying a Meat Thermometer

1. Temperature precision and range

Look for thermometers that advertise accuracy within 2 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the range of accuracy that most good thermometers can promise. This will assist you in ensuring food safety as well as desired doneness.

2. Temperature range

Consider what you cook the most frequently, and then determine the temperature range that the thermometer can report — and withstand — that works best for you. Larger foods with longer cook times benefit from thermometers with a wide temperature range. However, a narrower range may provide better accuracy or a faster response time. Read the use and care instructions to determine the highest temperatures the thermometer can withstand to ensure it can handle both direct cooking and flare-ups.

3. Probe size

You want a probe that is long enough to reach the thickest part of the food and thin enough not to damage the meat. A shorter probe is fine for small or thin items like fish or chicken breast, but a longer probe — around five inches — is better for larger foods like a large steak or a pork roast.

4. Interface

You want your thermometer’s interface to be clear and intuitive, whether it’s a simple dial or a connected app. You want readability at a glance so you know whether to adjust the heat or stop the cooking process. Stores may have a demo product on display, or you can frequently find a sticker that mimics the readout. When shopping online, watch product videos or test out the app to see if you like the user interface.

5. Battery life

Some grill thermometers require you to replace the batteries on a regular basis, whereas others are rechargeable. Examine the manufacturer’s battery life claims to get an idea of how long you can use it per session and the total battery life.

Main Types of Meat Thermometers

1. Thermocouples

Thermocouple Thermometer

Thermocouples can read temperatures in as little as 2-5 seconds. These restaurant supplies are extremely versatile, measuring both thick and thin foods. They can be calibrated to make reading easier. Unfortunately, they are highly inaccurate during cooking and should only be used when the food is almost done to ensure accurate results. Thermocouples are not suitable for use in ovens due to their sensitivity.

2. Digital instant-read thermometers

Digital instant-read thermometers

Digital instant-read thermometers are frequently less expensive than digital probe thermometers, but they still provide 0.1°C measurement accuracy. Instant read thermometers are intended for use outside of the oven, during cooking, or at the end of cooking to confirm doneness. These have a small footprint, take up little space in a drawer, and are ideal for quickly checking temperatures.

3. Digital probe thermometer

Digital probe thermometer

These consist of two parts: a probe inserted into the meat and a digital display located outside the oven. They’re linked by a thin cable.

A digital probe thermometer has the advantage of staying in the meat in the oven from the start of cooking, so you know exactly when it reaches the proper temperature. The probe is ideal for larger pieces of meat that take longer to cook, such as a turkey or a large roast. Most have digital displays that can be seen from outside the oven. They are typically equipped with alarms that you can set to notify you when they reach a predetermined temperature, so you are always aware of the cooking process.

4. Dial Oven-safe bimetallic thermometers

Dial Oven-Safe Bimetallic Thermometers

Temperatures are read in 1 to 2 minutes by dial bimetallic thermometers. Unlike many of the items on the list, however, these restaurant supplies can be used in foods while cooking – though they must be placed at least 2 inches deep for accuracy. These restaurant supplies are ideal for roasts, soups, and casseroles, but should not be used when preparing thin foods. Because of their metallic nature, these thermometers easily conduct heat and do not always provide accurate readings.

How To Pick the Best Meat Thermometer

How to Pick the Best Meat Thermometer

1. Quick and precise temperature readings

What is most important in a good kitchen thermometer is its speed and clarity—how quickly you can turn it on and see a consistent reading of the temperature inside your dish. A thermometer that can quickly jump to the final temperature is preferable to one that slowly rises and leaves you guessing. A good thermometer should also cover the entire temperature range of home cooking, from below freezing (32 °F) to 400 °F.

2. Enough probe length

A thermometer probe should be thin at the point to prevent juice leaks and long enough to reach the center of large roasts or deep pots. A longer probe also keeps your hands away from the heat and steam.

3. Durable

The durability of a thermometer is determined by how well its electronics are protected from dust and water, as measured by its IP (ingress protection) rating. The IP rating is made up of two numbers that represent how much abuse an item can withstand. The first number (from 0-6) refers to solids, while the second (from 0-8) refers to liquids.

4. Easy to read

To make it easier to read temperatures quickly, we prefer thermometers with large numbers on their digital screens. Backlit displays are also useful when cooking in a dimly lit kitchen or grilling at night.

5. Easy to clean

A meat thermometer must be cleaned after each use, so look for one that doesn’t have small crevices that collect grease and bacteria. Some digital probe thermometers have a dishwasher-safe probe, making cleanup a breeze.

6. Reasonable cost

With a few exceptions, we’ve discovered that thermometers priced at $20 or less are slow, of poor quality, and frequently look identical. We believe that paying an extra $10 or $15 for an accurate, high-quality instrument is worthwhile, but paying much more is not necessary for most people.

How To Use a Digital Thermometer for Meat?

A digital thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat to get the most accurate reading. If you insert too little or too far, the reading will be for the outer part and not for the middle.

If you’re measuring a rib of beef or a leg of lamb on the bone, make sure the tip of the thermometer isn’t in contact with the bone or you’ll get the bone temperature.

When cooking meat on the grill or in a pan, it’s best to take the temperature outside of the pan to avoid getting residual heat from the hot surface.

The thickest part of the thigh, in the gap between the thigh and the breast, avoiding the bone, is the most accurate place to take the temperature of whole chickens and other birds. Once you’re satisfied with where you’ve probed your thermometer, always wait for the temperature to stabilize before taking an accurate reading.