Infrared thermometers are convenient and easy to use. That’s why they are popular tools in the kitchen because they are handy when cooking and for monitoring food temperature. You can use this thermometer to take temperature readings without touching or being near the surface being measured. But before you purchase one, take time to learn how to use an infrared thermometer in cooking for the best results.
Why Use an Infrared Thermometer When Cooking?
An infrared thermometer is an ideal tool in cooking and for measuring food temperature because it allows you to take the temperature from a distance. It also delivers accurate readings as long as you follow the correct methods of using it. Therefore, you can measure the temperature of any food product, even when in motion.
Measuring food temperature from a distance is ideal when inserting a probe into the food is not possible, or when it is too difficult to get close to the object.
Another reason to use an infrared thermometer is that you can use it to measure surface temperature. For example, you can use it to check if the grill or griddle is at the correct temperature before you put the meat there to start cooking.
The infrared thermometer can take readings fast. It only takes a few seconds to read the temperature, which is convenient when doing quick scans and making a quick check on the food temperature. The only downside is that you won’t be able to use it for checking the internal temperature of food.
Using an Infrared Thermometer When Cooking
An infrared thermometer works by measuring the infrared light and energy emitted by the object being measured. Any object or surface gives off an invisible infrared light or energy. This energy is absorbed by the thermometer and translated into temperature readings, which indicate how hot or cold a given food or surface is. Concentrating the infrared light on a detector called a thermopile allows the tool to measure temperature with the highest accuracy.
Using an infrared thermometer in cooking is very easy. All you have to do is point the thermometer gun toward the object or surface you want to measure the temperature of. Once you have locked in on the target, pull the trigger to display the exact temperature of the target on the display screen.
The following are the different ways that you can use an infrared thermometer in the kitchen and when cooking:
- Use the infrared thermometer to check the temperature of any cookware before you use it. For example, you can measure the temperature of the skillet, pan, or pot before cooking. If you are not cooking with liquid, add oil or non-stick spray to the inside of the pan or skillet. Point the infrared thermometer at the oil and hold it until the temperature reading is on display.
- Use the infrared thermometer to measure the grill before cooking your food. Place cast iron cookware on top of the grill and then close the grill to allow the cookware to heat up. Once the grill has reached your desired temperature, remove the cast iron cookware and place some oil into it. Point the gun to the surface of the cast iron cookware. The oil will increase the emissivity of the skillet, which makes it easier for the thermometer to read the temperature. The temperature reading will be close to the temperature of the grill grates.
- Use the infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of any liquid, such as soups or stews. Stir the soup or stew thoroughly before ladling a small amount of it. Point the infrared thermometer gun at the liquid that is on the ladle or at the surface of the soup or stew. Wait for a few seconds until the temperature reading shows up on the display.
- Use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of a saute pan. Heat the pan like you normally would. Put oil or cooking spray onto the surface of the pan to enhance emissivity. Once the oil has heated, point the gun towards the oil to measure the temperature of the saute pan.
- Use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of a pizza oven. Begin by placing a pizza stone into the oven. Once it is heated, you can take out the pizza stone and point the gun toward it. You can determine the temperature of the pizza oven based on the temperature reading displayed on the thermometer screen.
FAQs on Using Infrared Thermometer in Cooking
Got more questions on how to use an infrared thermometer in cooking? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and some information to help you out.
Can you use an infrared thermometer to measure grill temperature?
Yes. Most grills have built-in thermometers that tell you the internal temperature of the grill, but this is not accurate and reliable. An infrared thermometer can check the temperature of the grates and the actual grilling surface. Therefore, it is a helpful tool when grilling specific types of meat that require varying grilling temperatures.
Can you use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of liquid?
No. Since you need a glass or some type of container, this thermometer won’t be able to give you an accurate reading of the temperature of a liquid. Instead, the thermometer will read the temperature of the container the liquid is in.
Can you use an infrared thermometer to check the food’s doneness?
No. Infrared thermometers only measure surface temperatures. It won’t be able to read the internal temperature of the food. Therefore, it is unreliable for checking food doneness.
Can you use an infrared thermometer to check the oven temperature?
No. While you can point the thermometer gun towards the oven, it will only measure the temperature of the oven walls. It won’t provide an accurate temperature of the oven itself.
Does the angle you hold the IR thermometer gun matter in measuring an object’s temperature?
Yes. You must hold the lens of the infrared thermometer directly perpendicular to the area being measured. This method of holding the thermometer gun creates a tight circle around the area you want to measure.
How often should you clean your infrared thermometer?
It is important to clean the infrared thermometer after every use to get rid of any scratches or stubborn dust or dirt. Any obstruction on the thermometer lens can affect the accuracy of the reading.