How do you ensure that your meats are perfectly done? Even if you’ve been cooking for years, it’s not uncommon to mess up on the temperature of your meat. And this could entirely change the quality of the meat and your whole dining experience. An instant read thermometer is one of the best tools to avoid repeating the same mistake. Even the best cooks have one at their disposal.
What is an Instant Read Thermometer?
As the name implies, an instant read thermometer provides an instant reading. It can give you a temperature reading in seconds, essential in a busy kitchen or for a quick sanitation and food safety check. Many models of instant read thermometers can provide a reading in three seconds, and some can take up to ten seconds.
An instant read thermometer is made up of two parts. The first one is the metal probe you insert into the food. The probe has a sensing mechanism to help read the food’s temperature. The second part is the handle with a digital display showing the temperature reading.
Therefore, it is different from other meat thermometers in that you must leave it inserted into the food and take readings while it cooks. When your food has been cooking for a specific time, you can take it out of the oven or grill and then quickly measure the temperature using the instant read thermometer. You can stop the cooking process if the temperature displayed is the recommended internal temperature for that food. It takes the guesswork out of checking your food to ensure it is ready and safe to eat.
Ways to Use an Instant Read Thermometer
You can use an instant read thermometer the same way as any other thermometer. First, insert the probe into the meat or soak it in the liquid (if you’re making soup). Then, insert the probe into the thermal center for the most accurate reading. And also, try not to poke the chicken or other types of poultry too much, as doing so could cause some of the juice to leak out.
Tips When Buying an Instant Read Thermometer
Is this your first time buying an instant read thermometer? Use our guide to help you pick the right one for the job.
Analog or Digital
When buying an instant read thermometer, you get two options: analog or digital. The digital thermometer displays the temperature reading in numerals in the same way as a digital clock.
Analog thermometers display the temperature differently because you read it from a dial. The digital thermometer is more convenient, and many cooks prefer it as it is easier to calibrate. All thermometers must be calibrated regularly to ensure the accuracy of their readings.
Accuracy is the most crucial factor when buying a thermometer. For example, a degree off in the temperature reading could make the difference between succulent meat and a rubbery texture.
Accuracy in reading food temperature is non-negotiable. Ideally, you should have an accuracy rating of 0.7 to 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid any thermometer with a two-degree difference as it is highly significant and could result in your food being seriously overcooked or undercooked.
The speed of providing temperature readings is the primary reason for choosing this type of thermometer. There is a reason why this thermometer was developed to ensure that you have one to use for specific situations.
Ten seconds might not seem long enough to get a temperature reading. However, you might not have the same idea when standing over a hot grill. If you don’t want to risk burning yourself, choose a thermometer that can provide readings quickly. The ideal speed would be up to five seconds. However, it’s easy to find instant read thermometers that can provide readings in three seconds or less.
The higher the temperature range of your thermometer, the better. Different types of cooking require various levels of heat. Therefore, choosing an instant read thermometer ranging from -40 to 400 F is ideal. It means you can use the thermometer for multiple applications and cooking styles instead of buying another thermometer with a different temperature range.
The probe type of instant read thermometers differs in functionality and ease of use. You have two options: stationary and fold-out thermometers.
Stationary thermometers are shorter and easier to maneuver when used in tight spaces. Therefore, they are ideal for checking temperatures inside an oven to determine if the food is ready to be taken out.
The next option is a fold-out thermometer. It comes with a larger screen and a more manageable body. You can use them in a horizontal or vertical position, adding flexibility in checking food temperature. In addition, since you can fold the thermometer, it makes for a more compact design.
An instant read thermometer is battery-operated. If you are investing in one, choose models with a long battery life so you can use it for a long time without frequently changing the batteries.
The average lifespan of a typical instant read thermometer model is at least 3000 hours of battery life. However, you can find many models that offer up to 4000 hours of battery life. You can choose the model according to the frequency of use and how many hours of battery life add convenience to using this kitchen tool.
Some thermometers can produce inaccurate readings when they’re running low on battery. Therefore, the last thing you want in your kitchen is a thermometer with a low battery life .
The best instant read thermometers are built using high-quality materials. However, they are exposed to extreme heat and moisture, so you want to ensure they can withstand these harsh conditions.
Choose thermometers made with shatterproof glass and stainless steel probes. If you can find dishwasher-proof ones, they are a good investment in the long run, especially since you must clean your thermometer.
The final consideration when choosing an instant read thermometer is usability. The primary factors to consider are the speed and accuracy of the reading. However, any added features can bring more functionality that adds value to the investment.
Even when you choose instant read thermometers with extra features, you should never sacrifice functionality. For example, any added features are of no use when figuring out the settings and how to use them is difficult.