Understanding your food thermometers

A critical kitchen tool is a food thermometer; are you using yours correctly?

A food thermometer is a critical tool to ensure foods have reached a safe minimum interal cooking temperature and prevent potential foodborne illness. Do you have a food thermomoter in your kitchen? If so, what kind of thermometer are you using and are you using it properly? The only way to know that your food has been safely cooked is to take it’s temperature using a food thermometer that has been washed, rinsed and sanitized. Food thermometers are an inexpensive and easy to use investment that can help to keep you and your family safe from potentially harmful illness causing pathogens.

There are a variety of types of food thermometers tha can make it confusing when choosing what type you need. The Food Safety and Inspection Service provides the summary below of the types that are available. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you investigate the different types of thermometer and see whaich one is right for you and the foods you are cooking:

Digital Instant-Read

  • Reads in ten seconds
  • Place at least a half inch deep
  • Gives fast reading
  • Can measure temperature in thin and thick foods
  • Not designed to remain in food while it’s cooking
  • Check internal temperature of food near the end of cooking time
  • Some models can be calibrated; check manufacturer’s instructions

Dial Oven-Safe

  • Reads in one to two minutes
  • Place 2-2½ inches deep in thickest part of food
  • Can be used in roasts, casseroles, and soups
  • Not appropriate for thin foods
  • Can remain in food while it’s cooking

Dial Instant-Read (Bimetallic stemmed)

  • Reads in 15-20 seconds
  • Place 2-2½ inches deep in thickest part of food
  • Can be used in roasts, casseroles, and soups
  • Temperature is averaged along probe, from tip to 2-3 inches up the stem
  • Cannot measure thin foods unless inserted sideways
  • Not designed to remain in food while it is cooking
  • Use to check the internal temperature of a food at the end of cooking time
  • Some models can be calibrated; check manufacturer’s instructions

All thermometers are not designed to do the same job. Using the correct type of thermometer is very important to preparing safe food.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources